Feelings are just visitors


This post is inspired by the graphic above that I saw on my Facebook newsfeed from a site called Recovery 4 All: https://www.facebook.com/recov4all?pnref=story

This seems to be quite genius advice. Feelings come and feelings go. How simple! But… yes there is a but, can people with mood disorders do this? I know I can hang on to feelings for days. It wouldn’t be so bad if the feelings were good ones, but they usually are not. The feelings that hang on to me or to which I hang on are usually negative ones, like anger, fear, anxiety, unease, just bad feelings. I wish I could say to them “You have overstayed your welcome. Please go now.” And sometimes I can. But the majority of times they ARE me, so I cannot ask them to leave. Finally, when I realize that they really are NOT me, then I can ask them to leave. Then they lose their power over me and I gain myself and my life back. I wonder, if I had this made into a bracelet or something very visible to me, if I could stop being the captive of these negative feelings?

I recently learned how negatively stress affects you depends wholly on how you view stress. Link: http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend?language=en  This is a quote from the TED lecture: “When you choose to view your stress response as helpful you create the biology of courage. stress gives us access to our hearts, the compassionate heart that finds joy and meaning in connecting with others and yes your pounding physical heart working so hard to give you strength and energy. And when you choose to view stress this way, you’re not just getting better at stress, you’re actually making a pretty profound statement, you’re saying that you can trust yourself to handle life’s challenges and you’re remembering that you don’t have to face them alone.” This is incredible! Your outlook on stress can affect whether you die of a heart attack or thrive and live healthily on. If this can be done with stress, why can we not think our way out of feelings? If we can, then we can have more control over our lives, and we can live the lives we want to live, without anger, fear, anxiety, worry, and unease. I mean, stress is no small thing, and if we can mitigate its effects upon us, then it is possible that we can control our emotions and mitigate their effects upon us. Gives me hope! Hope and resilience, my two best life fellows.

My Psychiatrists and Resilience


When I was diagnosed with bipolar d/o in 1986 in New Orleans, my doctor at the time was an exceptional one. He was there for me whenever I needed him, in fact he even opened his clinic on weekends if one of his patients needed him. He listened to me, he prescribed state of the art medicines, he adjusted the doses when my side effects got too severe. When I went into hypomanic phases, he kept in very close touch with me, talking to me daily and adjusting my meds daily. I even had him as my psychiatrist when I moved out of town, even out of the United States to Turkey! We had phone sessions and it worked well. I still think he was one of the best doctors I had, empathetic, always there, listened to everything I told him. Finally, he took a job as the head of the Psychiatry department at a state hospital after hurricane Katrina wiped out not only New Orleans but his private practice as well. After that, he couldn’t be my doctor because he didn’t have insurance to see private patients anymore. I was pretty devastated. He had been with me since this awful, hellish roller coaster ride began, from 1985 to 2005, 20 years! All through the ups and downs and smooth patches. Of course, it had been hardest in the beginning and he had walked me through it. Through my first full blown manic phase, when I called him at 3 am screaming and yelling about people trying to prove I was schizophrenic, ugh … He was there when my husband proposed to me and we got married, there when I moved to Istanbul and the stresses that brought on, he was there when my son was born, a very joyous occasion. He was there (on the phone) when I bought my first house. In short, he was there through many major milestones in my life. I, haha, of course, tried to talk him into seeing me any way. But he didn’t concur… I was very upset, it is always a very traumatic time when you change psychiatrists. Of course, I was afraid I wouldn’t find anyone as good as him, who would understand me and listen to me and be such a good psychopharmacologist and psychotherapist. And I lived through this stress and went to a few psychiatrists who didn’t mesh with me (and one who sexually harasses me) and I suffered. Then in 2008 I found my next amazing psychiatrist. He listened, treated me extremely well, was trained in the psychoanalytic fashion and knew about drugs as well. However, to my dismay, he retired in 2011. Then again, a couple of years of limbo and one awful psychiatrist later, we moved to Louisville. I came to Louisville in very bad shape. Too many stresses, selling our house, leaving my son behind in Buffalo, leaving all my friends behind, one very, very sick beloved cat, and MOST importantly of all, I constantly took sub therapeutic levels of Lithium. I came to Louisville in an almost full blown manic phase and here I found the best doctor I’ve ever had. I was so lucky! He is extremely intelligent, works for the University, he has his own lab, he teaches, he is up on ALL the latest research and he treats patients and is an expert in mood disorders. I hit the jackpot with him, haha. I am so glad he is my doctor. He knew to increase my Synthroid dosage when my endocrinologist didn’t know. He knew that because Lithium blocks the action of thyroid hormone, I should be on higher levels of Synthroid. He has me on safe and therapeutic levels of Lithium and Seroquel. I am hoping, for my sake and my family’s, that he doesn’t retire any time soon. Fingers crossed.

But if there is one thing that my relationships with all my psychiatrists have taught me, it is that no matter what, I will survive. I will miss the good ones, and I will not look back on the bad ones, but I will survive. And so will you, my fellow readers, writers, moms, dads, brothers and sisters, my fellow people. Both you and I, we will. We have coping skills, we have communication skills, we have resilience. We will survive and we will thrive.



Some words that have the power to change your thinking, the power to pull you up by your bootstraps, the power to pull you out of the seemingly bottomless hole that is depression and anxiety:

RESILIENCE, that is what we have, what we are to recover over and over again from black depressions, from the mean reds. We get up over and over again and brush ourselves off and go on! How resilient is our spirit, how resilient are we! I marvel at this ability.

PLASTICITY, this is what our brains do in learning or after any experience. An experience leaves a mark on our brains, good or bad. But this is not permanent. Our brains have the ability to form new connections and lose old ones. This happens between neurons. Once it was thought that an adult brain is like a structure made of stone. There is nothing further from the truth, the brain is undergoing changes all the time, whether it be in repair, or neuronal cell growth or growth of axons and dendrites. This all makes our brain very adaptable and repairable and changeable! So if we have undergone bad experiences, our brain can recover from those through plasticity!

HOPE, well what can I say about this word? This is the little, four letter word my world rests on. It is so powerful that even in the darkest of circumstances, just say it and things will get brighter. Your heart will get lighter. You will breathe easier. Take it away and , oh no I can’t even fathom taking it away. Always have hope, as long as you live and breathe!

STRENGTH, we with mental illnesses all have to be strong. We go through hell so many times that the word hell sort of loses its meaning. My muscles are getting stronger because I have a FaceTime personal trainer and that is just fab. But my mind has to be strong, my heart has to be strong, my will has to strong to withstand this sick disease. We all do. And we all are, that is why we are still here. We are strong for our children, for our friends and loved ones and we are strong for ourselves!

OVERCOME, when I am in a very depressed state or manicky phase, I do have lucid moments when I tell myself that I will overcome this too, just like I have been doing since 1985, yes I will overcome.

and a sentence: THIS TOO SHALL PASS, everything passes, good, bad, indifferent things pass. So of course whatever phase you’re in, it will pass.

Take heart my friends and stand tall and strong, easier times are ahead. I am sure of it!