Nipping a manic attack in the bud

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over the last week, which has been quite busy by my standards I have found it increasingly difficult to sleep.  Flight of ideas, musical ear worms and all that jazz.  My husband made me aware that I was going high and begged me to get some help.  So, ignoring him I went off to do my volunteer work, but a good friend suggested I ring the surgery asap. Result - have been prescribed some sleepers.  Will see consultant later this month.  I feel glad that I could be seen so quickly and sad that I was too unwell to do the full day volunteering.  I should know by now that for me lack of sleep is a warning sign that mania is round the corner.  Yet when I went on Lithium 2 years ago I thought it would be a 'magic' panacea to bring a halt to these mood swings.  I wake up feeling pretty lousy and over the last week I end the day on a definite high and unable to sleep.  I would welcome insights from those of you who are on Lithium.  I tried CBT tecniques on my racing mind last night and to no avail.  A frenzied search of my meds drawer garnered 2 Lorazepam which definitely helped me get 2 hrs sleep.  I thought Lithium would totally free me from these attacks.  Any ideas?

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  • Posted

    Hello, Clare,

    I didn't find lithium to be of much use either, although sodiium valproate helped with the mania, but, alas, not with the depressions.

    However, for the past year, I have been on 200mg of lamotrigine and 100mg of quetiapine, and I find it works like a treat. I take the quetiapine at night, and sleep well, I'm s little groggy in the mornings, but a couple of cups of strong coffee help. The weight gain can be s problem, but joining a gym or taking up running, or even a brisk walk and sensible diet helps. It's something worth discussing with your doctor. All medication is trial and error, unfortunately. I hope this helps. Take care, you'll find peace in the end. I did! Frank

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    • Posted

      Dear Frank, It's not that I think the Lithium isn't helping - just that I was under the misapprehension that I would never experience highs whist on it.  To date I think being on Lithium has helped me identify the impending high as it is developing so I have been able to manage the mood swing better than I have in the past.  I have tried the meds you mention and unfortunately had a very bad reaction to both!  I will persevere with Lithium and continue to be vigilant.  BTW, I too find an exercise regimen is of use.  Now I must get back to making blackcurrant jam, cheers, Clare
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  • Posted

    Hi Clare I too take Lithium along with an ante depressant.  It is brilliant that you listened to your friend and contacted the surgery in good time.  Once you feel rested again you can go back to your volunteering.   Maybe like me you sometimes wish you could just be like anyone else, however, most people with some sort of illness have flare-ups from time to time.  I find that regular exercise works for me.  It has to be something you want to do and not what you think you should do.  Maybe something with relaxtion incorporated.  I have also learnt not to fight the racing thoughts but to get up and make a cuppa, and do something read or iron even!  then I take a power nap when I need it.  I have been taking Lithuim for 7years now so maybe it will take a little longer for the moods to subside.  I am sure the sleeping pills wil be the right option for the time being smile
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    • Posted

      Dear Jo, Thank you for your helpful insight.  I too find regular exercise is good for general health, but when I am high I tend to overdo it and walk for miles until I am so exhausted the thoughts which have been roiling around come down to an acceptable level.  I have not reached that point this time.  The sleepers are definitely helping and I am concentrating on writing, domestic duties and when calm enough reading a book of short stories by Jane Gardam that my sister sent me.  My husband is being supportive.  He dreads my high periods more than when I am depressed.  I am glad you are a long term Lithium taker and feel reassured that it is worth persevering.  Maybe my consultant will recommend upping the dose.  Anyway, thank you again fo responding to my post. What do you call an Irish guy bouncing off the walls? Rick O'Shay, x Clare
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  • Posted

    Hello again, Clare,

    Sorry, I misunderstood what you were driving at. I also still have highs and lows even on the meds, just not as erratic, extreme or protracted. Exercise IS great for helping your mood and aiding sleep. Unfortunately, when I'm little high I overdo it and come crashing down fora few days. So about forty minutes, or even half an hour,is fine, I think. And volunteering is great for taking your mind off things and being in company. I volunteer for a mental health charity, believe it or not. A quiet walk through the woods is very effective for a racing mind (a forest bath, as the Japanese call it). I even try meditation, and it does help, but it can be a little tricky in the beginning. I once went to a class when slightly high, had a fit of the giggles, and was asked to leave the class for disruption! Anyway, I'm sure things will settle down for you soon. Take care and good luck with the jam!

    Frank

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    • Posted

      Dear Frank, I can readily understand why you would be completely the right person to work in mental health.  In the noughties I had a brilliant job working  on a country house estate with people who varied from the autistic to bi-polar and shizophrenic.  We managed the woodland, had 3 greenhouses and a lot of grass cutting and flower beds to keep us busy.  Unfortunately the Govt withdrew the funding and this marvellous project was closed down. Now, many years later my husband and I have a bungalow with a garden the size of 2 allotments.  We have made it into an edible landscape interspersed with loads of perrenial flowers. However, I still miss the interaction with my old clients.  I enjoy the volunteering and have been in the village community choir for a year.  I'm also getting back into creative writing which keeps the brain cells working. I like your Japanese 'Forest Bath' analagy.  As for meditation I go once a week to a Julian meeting - loosely based on the wrtings of Julian of Norwich who was a medieval anchoress and one of the first women to learn how to read and write.  Each week one of our group does a short reading which has taken their fancy and then we all silently muse for 3/4 hour.  I didn't go this week because I feared being a disruption. I have a bi-polar friend who goes to a Quaker meeting and it sounds similar.  Did you go back to your meditation class?  Must go, bread in the oven time. Clare  
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    • Posted

      Hello, Clare,

      It's kind of you to say I make a good advocate for mental health. I went to the west of Ireland as a young man in 1991, when I was 19, and ended up working in a homeless hostel, where most of the residents had substance abuse problems and mental health issues, as you can imagine. Quite often, psychiatric services used us as a dumping ground for people who had been discharged from hospital who were really still not well (to free up bed space) and whose families had rejected them because of the stigma if having a 'loony' in the family. Very sad, but I enjoyed it and had a great rapport with the lads. There was one guy there who was as mad as a hatter, but if you spoke to him of Wiliam Blake, he would speak lucidly and with joy. But then after 1998, we had to become more accountable and produce quantitive reports and justify our funding, and the heart went out of the place, and out of me. Despite the fact I was struggling with my bi polar, I felt more at home there than anywhere else! The charity I do work for, Moodswings, is less an organisation than one big extended, slightly bizarre, family!

      I had heard of Julian if Norwich, but never read her. My old violin tutor was obsessed by The Cloud Of Unknowing. And I still do meditation. A friend once advised me to join the Quakers on account of 'Quakers always get their oats"! Typical. And that's my story. Nothing special, really. Take care, Frank

      PS) I'm glad to see you bake bread. I'm a dab hand at the soda bread myself!

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    • Posted

      Dear Frank, I am wondering where you were in W. Ireland.  I spent a year in West cork 1999-2000.  I was based in Clonakilty and had a marvellous time juggling 3 jobs: picking leaves on an organic farm, making batik scarves and riding young horses. Unfortunately it all ended with me having a major manic episode and I ended up in Bantry psychiatric unit.  But even that was a generally good experience.  We had an outing in the minibus so I could check out the wellbeing of one of the young horses I knew.  I love your story about the project you were involved with.  I also feel that you are now doing good work with 'Moodswings'.  My husband is finding my present 'elevation' a little worrying but I feel I am doing ok and just to have some creative ideas for my short story writing makes me feel all is ok.  I see my consultant soon so have that to placate my hubby.  I dislike feeling like a moron when I am depressed.  My late mother once said she thought that I came over as 'retarded' when suffering from depression.  But my family just can't hack it when I am the other way so relationships have suffered over the years.  Balance is all.  Have planted out 2 Salvias, 1 Hebe and 3 Penstimon this am. Have also had cups of decaf with 2 friends in the village.  They talked more than me, so I know I am ok!  Do let me know where you were in Ireland? Clare
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    • Posted

      Hello, Clare,

      I lived in Galway from 1991-2002, although by the age of 20 I was living in a cottage out in the Gaelteacht with a sophisticated intelligent French girl who was the first person in my life to ever make me feel loved or appreciated (poor old me!). She took me under her wing, culturally speaking, and helped me out of my shell and enabled to blossom as a man. A beautiful wonderful woman, I regret letting her go a little to this day.I'm still in touch with some of the people I worked with at the homeless shelter, I go every year to see my friend, who has a farm not far from Tuam. He has horses, cattle, hens, and he breeds and trains birds of prey for a living. Ad long as I do some jobs round the farm for him, I receive free bed and board. Not bad, eh? The other two friends I see, one is a hypnotherapist, and the other is a Buddhist monk who works in a wet house in Limerick. The whole eleven years I lived there was a great learning experience, and I sometimes regret returning here, but I felt it was time to move on. Alas, I have not had a relationship for 15 years, I had a major crisis in 2000, and again in 2004 (I became manic to the point of psychosis) and it robbed me if my self esteem and self confidence, I became isolated and started drinking heavily, and it's only in the past three years that I feel I'm starting to get a handle on life. I went to the woods this morning, lay on my back in a clearing and looked up at the clouds (what John Constable called 'skying'). Anyway, enough rambling from me, I hope to talk to you again soon. My gooseberry bushes have started fruiting already! Take care, Frank

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