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Staying well, catching episodes early?


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Hope you don't mind, Linda, But I copied your last post to "Staying well is SOO hard" in here to start a new thread (that doesn't begin with my dump!)

I wrote:

... And I'm slowly learning that when the self-criticism increases, it means I'm getting depressed again.

You wrote:

I am glad Luna, you are recognizing when your mood changes. Me too... Mine is whether or not I can wipe my kitchen counter!!

sounds soooo stupid but my family knows I like and need a clean and organized house and they do a real good job but I have I guess a little OCD with my counter needing to be clean so if I can't even wipe off crumbs, I know my mood is changing...

And when I am depressed I know I am coming out of it when I go in for my hot tea and I pick up the towel to wipe it...

It's the oddest thing but it has consistently been that way since I got sick!!!!!

I don't know if it's mental or physical trigger but I just know that is my indicator!!!!

How about you any other things you can see immediately as your mood changes?

I've been really thinking about this since you wrote it, and I'm wondering: if we can catch a mood shift EARLY enough, can we head it off? How much is just going to happen regardless and how much can we influence? How much is chemical, how much is psychological and how much does the psychological influence the chemical?

When taking my rubbish to the kerb is something I have to WILL myself to do, that's a bad sign. I mean, I want to get rid of it! When getting dressed or taking a shower is something is have to THINK about, that's not good. But I wonder if there aren't even early indicators. I like yours of wiiping the kitchen counter!

Art making is my passion, almost an obsession. When I don't really feel like it, perhaps that is one? I have to think some more about this...

What about others? What are your very early indicators?

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Well Luna I am glad we can talk about this because anything that can help is good right??? :)

Yes your usual obsession with art is definalty an indicator.... and I'm sure you will now see even the earliest sign of a switch either way, depression/manic...

Now if its chemical I guess you cant change it but cope but better till it changes again? If its an environmental trigger, then those you should try and recognize.

Do you keep a mood chart? I used to and I think thats how I figured it all out....


For me, I have always said this and I think it just confuses the professionals but my normal personality is hyperthymic. A personality, or above normal below hypomanic.

I have always had a natural way of just doing things. I think that is why I could have all my kids. I did knowearly on there was no way I was going to be superwoman and have a carreer after college and a family.

My husband runs 2 business' so for us to share the staying at home role was just not there. So that was my path and I did it, crazy at times like as soon as he got home I bolted out to "shop" then came home and everything was fine. So I think we all have our "breaks" or "naps" or obsessions that we NEED to do sometimes to get by.

And I used to get mad and angry at things or people and yes I think the difference is that is what a "normal" reaction, now it can put me into the panic attacks and that too deprends on my cycle.....

But what happens when that doesn't work anymore either because of physical or mental reasons. Physical is acceptable because your mind still works but the mental disability is far worse.....

So the chemical problem I have puts me into a more resentful place because "it's not me" I do feel like jeckyl and hyde with a personality disorder!!! and believe me I have questioned many times and my pdoc says he has seen me for 4 yrs good, bad and ugly and he still believes the "biology is clear" it's bipolar although when depressed, i can resemble personality disorder traits.... gee wonderful :)

So I can change in a heartbeat. I could go to the bathroom feeling one way then come out another, so like where is the trigger?? The point is there just isn't one. The staff at the hospital noticed it at first and that is how I learned more about it for myself.

I just know what i can and cant do when I go down and I have no idea how to change it. Especially the SI and it is real for me, i have too many attempts for it not to be.... and I wont reach out for help when it gets real bad because I dont want help....

I tried the DBT, the mindfull stay in the moment and basically fix it with problem solving skills but I can't seem to change what changed me to change it back!!!!!

What do you think your habits are?

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Luna and Linda,

I want to suggest an idea to you and others with Bipolar Disorder that, yes, it results from a chemical imbalance, but, it is untrue that you cannot influence it. Actually, Cognitive Behavior Therapy has been used to help Bipolar patients not only identify when their mood is about to change but to modify their thoughts so that they avoid going into a depression.

What do you think?


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Yes I know what you are saying Allan but I have seen too many "might be triggers" that don't and then I have seen "no triggers" when I flip. So it's the inconsistancey that troubles me.

And I'm not the negative thinker and then to modify them, nothing seems to have helped because I feel "stuck" in a different world then I normally am in and I can't tap into the skills. The down feelings/moods are just there and then I get so frustrated because I don't know why I went down and then I just hate living in a head I don't know...

Does this make any sense?

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Thanks so much for your input, Allan, much appreciated. :)

My psychotherapy since I was dx'ed (such as it is, only a session every 1-2 months) has been focused on how to manage the BP. "Manage, not control", my therapist says. I've never regulated my life, despised following any routine except that imposed by work or children, ("that's for boring people and I'm more colourful than that") gone hell-for-leather when manic and gone to bed when depressed, again as much as work and children allowed.

Once my therapist got me into the IPSRT routine, taking care of my sleep, eating regularly, not taking on too much when manic and to keep “going through the motions” when depressed, I've been very impressed by just how much I CAN control my moods with what I do. I mean, all you can do with the drugs is take them! And I’m glad to hear you say that the swings can be helped by examining the thoughts.

I'm not quite there with catching my unhelpful thoughts early enough, though. When manic, I seem to lose 40 years(!) and go very quickly to "what do they know anyway, I'm just going to have FUN and blow the consequences". Similarly I go fast the depressive way and don’t catch it until I start longing for bed as soon as I get up. The meds have helped to reduce the severity, as has the routine, but I still cycle continuously. :)

Hence the interest in how much is psych and how much is bio and how much the psych influences the bio. I guess there isn’t a quantitative answer to that. But if I CAN get greater control over the bio if I work on the psych, then I’ll keep working on it. And if that involves catching things early, then I want to learn to do that too. Now I need to find out HOW. (The last two years have been turbulent to say the least: 4 hospitalisations, an incapability to work, money problems and a relentless stream of trials of drug cocktails. I want my life back!) I’m just not fast enough with that.

Linda: I’m so sorry to read about how yours is so out-of-control and not med-responsive. :D Perhaps your “case’ is more bio?

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Hi all,

I also suffer from Bipolar Disorder. I was dx'd in 2004 & have been off & on my meds since then. Meds are probably the hardest part of it, for me at least. Anyway, sometimes I notice warning signs of either being up or down. When I'm tired more often & especially when I want to take naps (and it's not explained by lack of sleep or nutrition), I usually know that I'm headed for depression. Even something like noticing that I'm being harder on myself than usual or talking down to myself more than usual can show that. And it's easy for me to spot the mania ... all I want to do is clean. Or wanting to do something spontaneous. I'm very much a control freak & have to make plans all the time. The random desire to go on a road trip, just pack up & go (which has happened quite a few times), is a definite sign of mania for me. I don't think there are really any signs that come about sooner though. If so, I've never noticed them.

I'd really like to do some research/reading on Cognitive Behavior Therapy. It has also been suggested to me that it could be beneficial in regards to my eating disorder. Allan (or anyone that knows!), can you refer me to some good resources on learning more about CBT? Online resources, a few good books... whatever you know :rolleyes:

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Hi Amberlyn, You are like me, a safe manic? we clean.... and are you productive at that time like, paint, decorate, rearrange all the furniture? My husband says good thing he is not blind, he would always stub his toe!!

I am always rearranging the furniture all over the house while I clean. :rolleyes:

My whole family has just learned to see it and not comment anymore:)

But, it is nice finally understanding why we do the things we do.... ;)

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... But, it is nice finally understanding why we do the things we do.... :)

I'm SOOO in agreement with you there. The dx was a shock, but also a relief. It's so much better to KNOW and understand - and I felt vindicated too.

Amberlyn - there is an online CBT program called MoodGym (google it) that you work through, that you might find helpful.

And thanks for sharing your warning signs. Being harder on myself is definitely one of mine too.

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I'm a safe manic these days. I have been known to blow money that I didn't have ... & I've had the sexual mania a few times too. Now I just get excited about scrubbing the house. Haha. And I want to go on a roadtrip every once in a while. Haven't really been one to rearrange the house though. Too much work for me, especially since I have a bad back. And I'll have friends/family see me cleaning and just look at me and say "Manic?" I'll nod & they let me continue. I mean, come on, who is going to object to me cleaning everything?? Haha

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Funny Amberlyn.... yes how can a husband complain of a clean house and gee maybe that explains my 7 kids?? :(

I doubt he minds AT ALL !!! :) or ME!!! :D

And yes that explains all my driving,

I call it "driving everywhere to no where"

Yes and the shopping, it might not be shopping for a car but bringing home socks and underwear for everyone is a clear cut case of MANIA!!! :(

So I go from shopping to crying in 2 seconds flat, my poor kids they have had a real life case of PSYCH 101. And, they get A's in it!!!

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