Thursday, April 21, 2016

Living with Bipolar Disorder: Food Addiction & Family

I've discovered that when my eating is really out of control, my bipolar symptoms are at their strongest. I've learned there's a connection between compulsive overeating and other eating disorders, and bipolar disorder.

My therapist told me today that when my bipolar symptoms are under control, my eating will be more balanced as well.

That's really helpful to know.

The past few weeks I've had very strong manic and depressive episodes, and I've self-medicated by eating a lot of carbs, sugar, dairy, and chocolate. I can see that I'm using them alternately to calm, soothe, comfort, stimulate, and sedate myself.

And I know what I can do to help - make sure I have more fruit, get more exercise, etc. But when I'm depressed I don't have much energy to do all of those things. I don't feel completely helpless - I see that I'm making progress and for sure even just knowing these things about my condition really helps. Knowledge really is power! But I do feel discouraged a lot of the time when I see what I "should" do but physically I don't have much strength or willpower to do it.

Another thing is I don't tend to have all the time I need, either. Between my health related classes, appointments, volunteering at causes related to my life purpose, and just R&R, I don't have much energy left over for much else. But I see that needs to change. I need to restructure how I spend my time, because buying fruit and exercise has become mandatory. It's part of my holistic treatment for my bipolar disorder. I can't get much done without taking care of that.

I'm excited about making my schedule match the most important things I need to do in my life.

As I continue to learn how to manage my bipolar disorder, I will then be able to make more progress in becoming a balanced and normal eater for the first time in my life.

Looking back now I can see that even as a child, my eating was disordered, but it was likely due to my bipolar disorder, not just being a compulsive overeater.

I remember my uncle catching me eating almost an entire loaf of soft white bread once. I was somewhere between age 4 and 8. Apparently he'd counted the slices before I left for school in the morning, and when I returned and ate, he then counted them, and there were a whole bunch missing. I was mortified. Very embarrassed and ashamed. I wonder how my self-esteem might have been different had someone diagnosed me as having bipolar disorder (and not just a greedy child) and told me that something in my brain was making me eat this way.

I can also now see why I attended an anonymous 12-Step program for people with compulsive food behaviors, for 27 years, with very little results. Because I wasn't treating the bipolar condition.

Today my psychiatrist and I upped my dose of medication again. I don't discuss the drug or dosage because it could encourage someone to take it even if it's not right for them, and also it could change at some point before I updated my blog, if I even do update it at all on the subject of medication. I just don't want to mention it because I'd have to keep that info current. And I already have enough on my plate!

So I just wanted to share this - because I know the more I write about my problems, the easier it'll be to solve them. I'm always lamenting I don't get enough time to write. Now I'm noticing all the many pockets of time there are available in a day. I can always squirrel away a bit here and a bit there. And hit send.

So now I have hope. Even though my stomach is stretched full with food, my head hurts from hypertensive dehydration and I feel totally lost and out of control, I have hope because I can also see just as clearly the madness that's out of my control. I'm fine. I'm with God and God's always with me here. I'm fine. I just have to know that I'm crazy and I'm fine! It's when I think I'm fine that I'm stark raving mad. Am I making any sense? :) When I know I'm not okay, I feel okay.

Depression has a look, you know. I look depressed now. And it's not just a lack of grooming (don't worry, I'm showered - I just don't give an eff about my hair and clothes!). It's a physical look. I know that look now, because I'm learning about my bipolar condition. I can see that I'm depressed. And now I know why my paternal grandmother always looked so grumpy. In every picture, she's stern and angry looking. Mean. Bipolar. She was diagnosed in her late 80s in the nursing home. It is such a relief knowing it's hereditary. Somehow feels like a blessing.

I wonder what my grandmother's life might have looked or been like had she been diagnosed in her 20s, or even her teens,  on a medication that really worked for her, and in regular psychotherapy. What her children's lives might have looked like, and what mine might have looked like.

But she was living in Haiti in the 1930s & 1940s. Expecting that kind of mental health treatment and sophistication there would've been like expecting them to have cell phones.

I am very grateful for being in the USA when I am.

Grateful for diagnosis (early) and treatment (early but inconsistent), which continues and improves.

Thanks for listening. Time to hit send. :)


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