Bipolar IN Order? How well does Tom Wootton’s approach work?

If you believe you have bipolar disorder or any kind of disorder that seems or sounds a bit like bipolar then it is worth knowing about Tom Wootton’s Bipolar IN Order.

https://www.bipolaradvantage.com/lp/building-your-team-lp/

This may not be for everyone, just that if you don’t give it a go you will never know.

Best wishes

Roger

Fasting responsibly to improve mood in longer term

I’m not recommending the Master Fast System – just that this article and the 12 minute embedded video is making me think how, it seems, we have all been programmed to believe we cannot go for more than a few hours without eating.

Recently, I’ve been eating later in evening again and earlier in morning again and gut-pain, poor-sleep and troublesome-moods have returned. So, I’m going back to no food after 6pm and no food before 10am = 16 hours not eating and 8 hours eating. In recent times that is when I felt and functioned best.

Article and embedded video: http://www.corespirit.com/happened-body-didnt-eat-21-days/

If little time and prepared to hear the most gruesome bit then listen from 5m 30s… on to where Alanna Ketler says, “a foot and half long”.

This does highlight many of the benefits for those who have the willpower to fast for longer periods.

Best wishes

Roger

Sharing Wellness – Pay It Forward

About 5 years without needing medication and 17 years since hospitalization, I am spending a lot less time on bipolar and a lot more time with family and working on new business ventures.

I am keen to ‘give back’ locally – kind of ‘pay it forward’… If you live near Nottingham in the UK you will be very welcome to join us at any of these events. The first is this Monday 19th Sept 2016.

SHARE Wellness

Printable pdf of this invitation: sharing-wellness-in-a-well-bingham-invitation

Ups and Downs – Video – Alice Hicks and Roger Smith #bipolar

Alice and I made this film at Rethink’s London  HQ on the Thames just before the 2012 Olympics.

Ups and Downs video on Utube

 

Still acting as if… #bipolarwellness

More than a year ago I wrote about ‘acting as if’. It is a way of staying well, feeling well and achieving more. When we act as if we are well we will most likely appear well and most likely feel well. The opposite would be to act unwell, to appear unwell and feel unwell. There are reasons to act unwell but it is not a great way to live in the long-term.

Acting well, does not require any great effort. For most of us it is a habit. It is the habit that causes us to say, “ I’m fine” when someone casually asks how we are, and a moment later we think, ‘well, really I’m feeling a bit rough this morning’.

I act as if well almost all the time. The main exceptions are when I am at home. At home I tend to share my aches, pains, anxieties…

By putting all my unwellness into my time at home – largely into the hours of darkness, allows me to carry on acting well all day when out and about. Recently I have met several people I have not seen for years, who have exclaimed, “Wow, you’re looking well”. People are easily fooled by a bit of weight loss, tidy hair, neat clothes and a smile. They are not aware unless I say anything of how little I have been sleeping or that the weight loss seems to be related to serious health issues.

However, there are ‘downsides’ to always acting as if well when you know you are not well. It is reasonable to do this for a while, but if you know things are getting worse…. If you feel you are becoming more ill then at some point the acting has to stop. This is not about having a breakdown in front of the boss (Done this! It is rarely a good idea!). It is more about finding someone you trust and sharing your concerns. Ideally this person you trust will also understand that feeling bad and feeling anxious about feeling bad are natural and not a sign of weakness.

For me, I have reached a point where I cannot carry on doing everything I have been doing. I am fortunate that my only kind of regular employment is with a mental health charity, who understand anxiety is normal and anxiety can from time to time be disabling. I have not forgotten though what it is like to be unsure how your employer will react to admissions of emotional weakness. It could be that you will never feel able to act anything other than well when at work… even so, everyone needs sooner or later to find someone they can share their anxieties with… we all need a time when we can behave just according to our feelings, and for a while forget about the clever idea that our feelings usually follow the way we act.

I would love to hear your views on this article.

– – –

Training ourselves to be less bipolar #KitJohnson

I’m plenty old enough to remember Bob Geldof and the Boom Town Rats in their prime and so was especially attracted to this article from Kit Johnson. His explanation of how brains work… it seems very believable to me. And besides, does it matter if his theory cannot be proved. The fact that what he says works makes it well worth repeating. Have a read…

http://kit-johnson.com/silicon-chip-inside-her-head-is-switched-to-overload/?goback=%2Egde_164693_member_162336619

If you are wondering where the idea of ‘the silicon chip inside her head is switched to overload‘ comes from – here is a link to wiki…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Don%27t_Like_Mondays

UK Number One single 28 July 1979 – 24 August 1979

Food colours and moods #azodyes #hyperactivity #dangerousfoodcolors

Do colorants added to our food and drink affect our mood?

The simple answer is that a lot of people never notice any effect from additives such as ‘sunset yellow (E110)’ and ‘ponceau 4R (E124)’.

Many people know they are affected. They only need to consume the tiniest amount of any of the colours known as AZO-DYES to have dramatic changes in energy level. When these changes in energy lead to sleepless nights or nightmares or hallucinations the disruption to a person’s life can be huge.

As well as those who know they are affected and those who seem to be unaffected, there are millions of do not realise that these additives are affecting their moods. They put poor sleep down to other things. They may simply accept changes in sleep, energy levels and their ability to concentrate to be ‘random’.

Avoiding these colours is not easy. Sometimes governments help, such as the USA government banning ponceau 4R, whereas in the European Union it is simply labelled as E124 and allowed to be added to a range of foods.

Maybe your own moods are not affected. Maybe you have never lived with a child who has destructive-hyperactivity fueled by these additives? Even so, think about this… The American government believes ‘ponceau 4R E124’ is so dangerous that any food that contains it is seized and destroyed. Are they over-reacting? I think not. The UK Food Standards Agency has been wanting six of these dyes to be banned since a 2007 study indicated these chemicals are bad for us.

Here is a recent update from the Food Standards agency http://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2012/july/burger-king-coca-cola

Separating mental health from physical health isn’t working #crisishouses #NHS #rethinkmentalillness

MENTAL ILLNESS SERVICE?

In the UK the National Health Service has a clear division between physical and mental health. It is crazy. It does not work.

Have you ever met someone with a significant physical health problem who was not anxious about it?

Just about as rare is to find someone with a long-term mental health diagnosis who does not have physical health problems.

My recent experiences with the NHS are of the two parts of the NHS passing patients between each other. Doctor’s who treat only physical health say, “It is all in the mind” and refer anxious patients to psychiatric services. Psychiatrists with more time to listen to their patients get to hear more about their physical health problems and realise that much of the emotional distress is coming from lack of treatment for physical health conditions.

The overall effect is that the NHS has developed a MENTAL ILLNESS SERVICE and not a service focused on well-being and recovery. Patients within this service are labelled as unwell and these labels (such as bipolar, schizophrenia and personality disorders) lead the overworked staff in the mainstream (physical health) part of the NHS to discriminate. This discrimination takes the form of directing the limited resources for diagnosis and treatment away from those considered as mentally ill.

Three weeks ago I asked a nurse why she did not ask a patient about an aspect of their physical health. She thought for a while then said, but she has a psychiatric disorder and would lie. The assumptions that go with psychiatric labels are staggering. The patient was in fact suffering from food allergies, exhaustion and dehydration but the psychiatric label was enough to stop any physical health intervention at all.

What can be changed?

Fortunately some changes are underway. One change that needs to be rolled out across the country is to replace most psychiatric wards from places where people are detained in distressing conditions with staff who have largely lost hope… with crisis houses, where people who are stressed out and need respite can go to have a few days away from the pressures of work, family and modern life. That is what psychiatric patients are telling me they needed to avoid long stays on what they see as mental illness wards.

Here is an initiative in north London that is already underway…

http://www.rethink.org/how_we_can_help/news_and_media/local_press_releases/event_marks_official.html

(link working on 20th July 2012)

Through our new social enterprise Rethinking Health we are keen to work with others towards developing services for all aspects of health and well-being.

Choose your mood

For more than a year I have asked training course participants if this statement is ‘true’, ‘false’ or ‘maybe’…

“I choose my mood and am in the mood I want to be in most of the time”

I have been surprised that many nurses, social workers and similar participants say this is not true for them. They then say it is not true for the people they are paid to help.

Surely we should be able to choose our mood most of the time. If we find that our moods are almost entirely depend on our circumstances there is a huge risk that we could become increasingly unhappy and dissatisfied.

If we are going to help others recover from mood disorders and help others with choosing their moods we first need to practice choosing our own moods.

We can help clients, friends and family better when we are able to choose our own moods.

See: What is emotion?

Crises change lives

After winning an Olympic swimming medal, Steve Parry was asked how he came to be so good at swimming. He said that at age six he could not swim when he fell off a canal boat and had to cling to the boat for ages to avoid drowning. He agreed that if this had not happened his parents would not have taken him for swimming lessons and he would have been unlikely to have made the Olympics.

Millions of people have been through a crisis and the experience has put them on a new path. Having a mental health crisis is often taken as a sign that it is time to change something in our lives.

Steve’s parents could have just noticed that he had a tendency to fall off boats and decided not to take him on any more boats. Our doctor’s may notice that stressful events cause us to have mood swings. They may recommend we avoid certain situations or give us medication. Neither of these options seem like the swimming lessons opportunity to me. Medication might be more like a life jacket – well worth having at times but not ideal to wear every minute of every day for the rest of our lives.

After psychiatric admissions in 1997, 98 and 99 my ‘swimming lessons’ for me was a Wellness Recovery Action Planning course, since which time I have stayed out of hospital and consistently needed less medication.

Wellness Recovery Action Planning – Leicester 6th Sept and 8th November 2011

Taking a break

bipolar balance

knowing our limits

A long time ago when I was very anxious I was given a drug to calm me down. I calmed down too much and I was given a drug to pick me up. I picked up too much and was given a mood stabilizer. With this came a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. These days, some might say that this was ‘Bipolar 4’ – The type induced by taking inappropriate medication.

For my quest to make it easier for people to be ‘undiagnosed when they never had bipolar disorder’ or ‘when the risks of becoming unwell again have receded’ it is paramount that I stay well.  If there are doubts about my health there will be a lot of people not wanting to listen to the ideas I put forward about recovery after bipolar diagnosis.

I have been busy for a few weeks with submission of the manuscript for our book on bipolar diagnosis for nurses.  This is now with the publishers with the publication date set for 12th December 2011. Now, I feel I can pick up the blogging again.

Doubters might say, “That proves he has a mood disorder. He blogs every few days then has to stop for a month – clearly he can’t cope.”

More realistically we all juggle the projects we are involved with, stopping and starting. Recognising how much we can realistically achieve and what can be stopped and restarted is a sign of healthy thinking. If I am at fault, it is in my feeling that I need to apologize for not blogging… This is driven by anxiety not by bipolar disorder.

Act as if #choosingyourmood

mood-act-as-if

sad inside – ‘putting on a face’

With the training I do, I have found that people who suffer from mood disorders and perhaps surprisingly those who care for them have low expectations of being able to choose a mood and then be in their chosen mood.

People who are making good recoveries from mood disorder and people who I see as doing very well in life have far stronger beliefs in their ability to choose their mood.

I have previous written about how people choose their moods by first choosing an attitude. Put simply this is a matter of ‘act as if’.

If you were to change your breathing to be rapid and shallow, like a person having a panic attack, you will almost certainly start to feel anxious. Please do not try this if you are prone to panic attacks. In fact there is no need to do this at all, as you already know it is true.

mood success

Good behaviours can create good moods

If you, now, change your breathing to be both slower and deeper, like a person doing yoga, you will almost certainly start to feel calmer. If you are not familiar with this technique for lessening anxiety, now is the time to meet with an expert who can teach you more about breathing, as it can be the simplest and least expensive way to take more control of your mood.

This is what ‘act as if’ is about. If you act like an anxious person, you will become slightly more anxious. If you act like a depressed person you will become slightly more depressed.

If you act like a calm person you will become a little calmer.

It works!

When it comes to mood we all already do some acting.

  • Can you think where sometimes acting can get us into trouble?

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Aiming to be calm

Do you remember learning to drive?

It was long time ago for me. More recently I have taught family members basic driving skills. Driving can have some similarities to the blue tree exercise. If the instructor says, “Don’t drive on the white lines” the pupil starts looking at the white lines and sure enough they either drive on the lines more or they lose focus on other aspects of their driving. To get better at driving, or anything else, a target to aim for is better than one to avoid.

dark mood road

“Looking ahead”

It has taken me decades to realise that a focus on avoiding anxiety, depression and over-activity is rarely as effective as when we focus on being calmer.

If you are thinking, “Don’t some people get a bit too calm and isn’t that a problem too?”

Yes, some people do get too calm, but in the busy world we live in, it is not so common and may never attract health professionals.

The health profession likes calm people. Remember calm = positive feelings with lower energy. When we are calm we feel good and so will rarely trouble our doctor. (Besides, people who are calm all the time probably have not read as far as this… if you are a calm all the time person and have read this far please send in some tips :-))

More seriously though, do you agree that bipolar tends to be seen in people who fail to be calm when in front of health professionals?

Photo: www.geraintsmith.com

We need to have the right target

In the battle against bipolar disorder diagnosis we need to have a target… something to aim for. I started out by learning about self management of moods. The target was to stay well, however, I found it limiting as the target is a bit vague and did not seem to tackle the root causes of mood instability. When I learned about mental health recovery through studying WRAP I set up www.bipolarrecovery.org. I seemed to have taken a step in the right direction in looking towards recovery and not just managing the disorder.

However, I was still accepting that bipolar disorder was a real thing, like a real illness that had definable causes and in some way separable from other illnesses and disorders. After more than 10 years of study I can say that bipolar disorder is no more than a way for health professionals to quickly tell each other that you have various symptoms. It is controversial and for some shocking to hear this, but please stay with me.

There are a great many symptoms that go with a bipolar disorder diagnosis. The symptoms range widely including; not sleeping enough, spending more than you can afford, talking too fast, appearing to be over-ambitious… yet none of these are unique. People can experience these four symptoms and many of the other listed symptoms of bipolar disorder and not get the diagnosis. While others who only have a few of the symptoms can be given a bipolar II disorder diagnosis. This is a variety that has less extreme highs.

Avoiding any bipolar diagnosis, recovery after a diagnosis and eliminating the diagnosis all start with having some knowledge of bipolar disorder and this means having some knowledge of the symptoms the health professionals are noticing. If we are not careful this can be become a huge task as the symptoms are so various and most seem no more than extremes of what everyone does. Too much focus on symptoms can also be self-defeating.

It is like me saying, “Do not think of a blue tree.” If you did not think of a blue tree just then or have still managed not to think or imagine a blue tree in any way at all, then I would like to hear how you managed this. :0)

Thinking about symptoms can be like this. To avoid, overcome or eliminate a disorder we have to be a bit cleverer than just looking at what we are trying to avoid.

Giving people choices

Giving people choices is mainly what this whole web site is about.

If you do not yet have a bipolar diagnosis then you have a choice of trying to get the diagnosis or avoiding it. It may sound strange that people want to be diagnosed. The thing is that when we get desperate it can seem that almost any diagnosis is better than having one professional after another look at you and say, “We have no idea what is wrong with you.” Or “We cannot understand why that medication didn’t work for you. Let’s try this new one.”

There are only so many times you can hear this before you want someone to say they know what is wrong and that they have a plan for you.  A Community Psychiatric Nurse told me, “If you are going to get a mental health diagnosis then the best one to have is bipolar disorder.” I suspect this was not an official view, but certainly it is a common view when looking at a choice between; bipolar, schizophrenia or borderline personality disorder. Bipolar disorder has a lot of stigma attached but nothing like those other illnesses. I interviewed a man who had been physically attacked when his neighbours discovered that he had a schizophrenia diagnosis. Fortunately this does not seem to happen with bipolar (well I have not heard of it in the UK)

In the media we see many examples of rich and famous people who:

  • have been diagnosed with bipolar
  • are said to have bipolar disorder even though they have no such diagnosis
  • and some who may say they are a bipolar type of person with little evidence of any disorder

A lot of these people seem to be doing OK. Even those who struggled for a while often seem to be doing okay again. All this celebrity bipolar can make it seem like an OK thing to have. I am hearing, “Bipolar, that is the latest celebrity ‘must have’.”

The biggest impact of seeing bipolar celebrities is likely to be on young people who are yet to see close up how awful it can be for those who have been diagnosed. Very few people are lucky enough to be diagnosed and then be able to claim to have ‘Bipolar Lite’ – the variety that gives you the creative, energetic, humorous edge with not so many of the dark days and destructive flings. Stephen Fry must be one of the most famous bipolar people. He is open and honest about having problems however, what most of us see is the cheerful confident and competent Stephen. It is not his fault but it all adds to the illusion (or delusion) that bipolar is not so bad and a diagnosis could be a way to a better life for those who have struggled with depression and changeable moods.

If you have avoided the diagnosis so far, you have a choice, you can start finding out how people control their moods. Start talking to people who have been through the bipolar thing and come out the other side. How did they eliminate their disorder? If they have also eliminated their diagnosis, how did they do this? What they did will give you clues for avoiding the diagnosis in the first place.