Monday, February 25, 2008

Working & Depression

It is so hard to imagine working - productively - while going through an episode of BIPOLAR Depression. Honestly, the last 20 years of my life became a trial and error horror for me because of this.

The details of that can wait. What is important now is - How to be productive at work while going through BIPOLAR Depression.

Getting diagnosed is the most important step before one can manage working while going through BIPOLAR Depression. Accepting ones condition is the next step.

Getting over those two hurdles takes some time actually, and is actually no joke at all.

I got diagnosed 4 years ago. My condition cost me my marraige, and I kept moving from one job to another.

I now work for myself. Managing my Depression is therefore very important for me. Being productive is vital to my existence. If I don't work, won't get paid. I somehow lost more than a fair share of contract because I failed to manage my Depression.

This time, I have learned to take charge of my life and be productive even when I am depressed.

I slice my work into small chunks of do tasks. I attach time frames to these tasks. I see to it each task is broken down into two hour chunks. I give full concentration to the small task I need to complete. After completion of that small task I take a break. This break can last up to 3 hours. Then I tackle the next task on the list. I see to it I am able to do 3 to 4 tasks each 24 hour period.

In between tasks I insert mundane chores like desk cleaning or floor sweeping or checking of my email or expense recording. This way, I am still able to accomplish office maintenance work. During these breaks I either listen to music or watch news on TV. I also see to it I am AWAKE through out the break.

I avoid napping or just sitting down like these were infectious diseases. If I get bored, I resort to sketching or body stretching.

I get energized during the breaks. Which gives me momentum to continue on to the next task.

I did not have this system before. Now that I have installed this BIPOLAR Depression Work management plan, I am able to finish my work.

I hope to reap the benefits of this system 8 months from now.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Spending & Bipolar Depression

Bipolar Depression is triggered by runaway hormones. Responding to the sad feeling comes in different ways. The most common reaction is to stay home and wallow in self-pity and anger.

Another way of reacting is to contrive ways to feel good. This is where spending comes in. Usually this spending leads to binging on food, drinks and having a good time - in an effort to drive away the sadness and bad feelings.

But the sadness and bad feelings never go away. Instead, they stay and grow bigger.

I have been through this. I always end up losing all my money during these moments. Which leads me into debt. I end up borrowing money from any one. Nevertheless, I am able to borrow money and pay the money back. But it took me time to repay.

To avoid runaway spending I made a spending budget. The details in this budget are divided into monthly and weekly expenses. I also set aside a monthly savings goal.

My monthly budget cover utility payments, food & groceries and medical expenses. The weekly budget covers transportation, communications.

I know that there are other things I have to cover in my budget. I have not included them for now. I realize I need to keep my life as simple as possible.

I keep a detailed record of all my earnings and expenses and savings. I do this every evening.

I see to it my spending follows my budget. Not following the budget gives me feedback I am off track. Today, even the urge to spend outside my set budget serves as an automatic feedback to me something is wrong. Since I live alone, this mechanism gives me instant feedback about my mood status.

This may seem hard to overcome. But I realized the perception is far from the truth. Managing my financial situation is actually very easy.

I find it easy to manage my self now because of the goals I have set for myself. The desire to make these goals come true and live my dreams are more powerful than the grip BIPOLAR Disorder has had on my life.

Reaching this point in my life was not easy. I find myself in a much better place now than where I was before. In fact I can say with confidence now - I WILL BE WHERE I WANT TO BE!

What that is, is for me to keep and share later when I am there already. By the end of this year, I will be able to share to you the map. I am still in the process of verifying its accuracy.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Personal Finance and Bipolar Depression Management

This past week was really tough for me. I went through a minor Depression episode. Meaning, I felt weak and lethargic, I wanted to sleep all the time, keeping my concentration on work was very hard, and I had unexpalinable back pains.

Sticking to the routine I put in place got me through the week. Work was slow, nevertheless I got my work done.

Personal Finance is an area I need to work on next. I was able to stick to my budget, but the funds I had was a little bit short to get through the week.

The incoming week will be quite a challenge. I have 2 out of town trips and a very important dinner meeting to attend. I need to prepare for the trips and the meeting financially.

I still have to sit down and prepare my budget for next week. This will be challenging indeed.
Managing Bipolar Depression and Personal Finances are the two most challenging aspects in my life. I am now given the chance to deal with both together. The coming week will be a dry run on how I will manage Finances and Depression.

My life is one nice challenge after all.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sleeping and Bipolar Depression

Sleeping and Bipolar Depression have very strong links. For me, feeling sleepy all the time and wanting to keep on sleeping is a sign of the onset of depression. When one spends a lot of time sleeping, the sense of accomplishment and achievement simply disappears. Uncontrolled sleep results in a lot of undone or unaccomplished chores and work, which leads the way to a downward spiral of negativism which expands depressive feelings.

Arresting this deep seated desire to keep on sleeping is very challenging. Bipolar Depression is in fact so hard get away from and carry around.

Experience has taught me to keep to my routine. I implement specific adjustments to my routine.

Usually I feel weak and my body is so heavy to carry around. So I tend to start my day slow. But I keep focusing my mind on getting something - no matter how small - done. From that small accomplishment I get a short REWARDING burst of Accomplishment I use to move on to the next chore.

I drive away that Drowsy dreamy feeling with a mug of Hot Coffee and quick exercise movements. I actually force myself to do this. Then I take a hot bath or shower.

This tactic took me quite some time to put together. Sticking to a routine and going through that routine is an important strategy.

Placing that sleepy feeling on stand by mode is very important. This allows me to get to work mode, allowing me to accomplish tasks I have set for the day. While working I listen to music that brings happy thoughts, keeping me awake. I also see to it my breathing is brought into my awareness. The rhythm breathing brings into conscious thought keeps me awake and in touch with the ideas in my head.

This process I am presenting now may seem hard. Installing it inside my head and using it for the past 4 weeks or so has brought wonders. Using the process is almost unconscious for me now.

Dealing with my Bipolar Depression in this manner has helped me gain more control over my life these days.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Depression Management

Getting DEPRESSED for no reason at all is part of being Bipolar.

I used to stay home and get paranoid, paralyzed by fear of sounds outside my house, accomplishing nothing at all. These episodes could take at least 3 days to 3 months. Life became one living hell for me. What I lost along the way has left deep scars inside me. But those scars have healed and here I am now, living life differently.

I am going through a minor depression now.

I feel tired, with unexplainable body pains all over. I get scared inside every time I hear sounds out side my house. To top it all, I don't feel like doing anything at all. Staring at the ceiling seems to be the best thing to do, with curtians drawn down to block the sunlight out.

This time though I have changed directions.

I see to it I get at least 8 hours of sleep and rest. Meaning I don't do anything at all, except close my eyes. I my mind starts to wander, I go into meditation mode - I count my breathing cycles, and focus my mind on the flow of air in and out my lungs.

Every time my mind wanders off, I bring it back to counting my breathe. Before long, I realize I am fully awake and had been asleep. When I wake up, I check how long I have been in bed. If my stay in bed is less than 8 hours, I keep my self in bed by going back to meditation mode.

When it is time to wake up, I "force" myself through the routine I have established.

  • yoga stretching and exercise
  • room cleaning
  • cooking my meal and enjoying it
  • bathing and personal care
  • then work

I see to it I eat 3 times every 24 hour period. It is important to realize a BIPOLAR persons daily cycle is much different from the normal persons cycle. For BIPOLARs Day and Night only means the availability of light and darkness. The energy to work and interact with other persons is not governed by the usual day and night concept of normal people.

Getting work done in a DEPRESSED Mode can be herculean. What I do is to cut down my work into small part, then I spread these parts into several time periods. Sometimes simple tasks would take me days to do. A clear example is doing a report that is at least 10 pages long.

This will take me a week to finish, with a lot of cramming in the last day with out management. I can finish this now in 3 days at most. The first day, I do my research and initial outline. Then on the second day I do a preliminary draft - half of it within the first 3 hours of starting, and the last half, towards the end of my day. I take a 3 to 4 hour rest in between. On the 4th day I review and evaluate what I had done. Sometimes I get this funny feeling my work is sloppy. I just let it be.

I actually feel it's better to have something than have nothing at all.

There are time when I need to get out of the house to attend client meetings, which usually take up 5 to 8 hours.

I prepare for these meetings the day before. I write down what I have to say and try to anticipate what will happen during the meeting. During the meeting, when things turn out different from what I have anticipated, I keep quiet and keep notes. When things turn out the way I foresee things, I join the discussions based on the script I have prepared.

This is so awkward I know. But when one is depressed, we either say something totally wrong or end up combative and so negative about what is being discussed.

So keeping notes and keeping track of what everyone is saying - using pen & paper - keeps me in the loop.

And part of Depression management is taking medication. I'll discuss depression medication in a later post.

Another aspect that needs full awareness during a DEPRESSION Episode is MONEY. Spending has this magical effect of lifting ones mood, achieving this seemingly artificial sense of happiness.

So when depression sets in, keep your money and ATM and Credit Cards away from you.

This is all for now.

Routines dampen Depression

Feeling bad and sad is one thing, getting Depressed is another. Today, I felt a bit slow and depressed. I had no reason at all to feel bad or sad. This gave me the opportunity to test my plan on how to minimize Bipolar Disorder induced Depression.

I actually slept late last night - almost 3 a.m. already. I make it a point to sleep or stay in bed for 8 hours straight. My phone rang 6 hours after I went to bed, I had to answer the call, but I stayed in bed for another 2 hours, just to make sure my body was properly rested.

Bipolar Depression gets worse when one is not properly rested. But the length of time to rest needs to be properly monitored. I made it a point to get out of bed after 8 hours of sleep and rest so I would be able to accomplish something for the day.

When I got out of bed, I had my exercise routine. I still had a hard time stretching my back and lower legs and tendons. The needle like pain in my lower legs and tendons were a bit bearable now. I was sweating profusely in the middle of my first set. This time I was able to do 2 sets.

After a spartan breakfast, I focused on getting my work done - which was actually very minimal. Then I spent the rest of the day evaluating my finances and my work flow.

I am more stable now compared to last year. I can control my depression and therefore I can get things done. The rest of the day went through just fine. I have 2 new possible projects in the horizon.

From my experience, it is important to establish a routine and to set a flow of things that need to be done for the day. Following this flow gives me control over my moods and structure allows me to get things done.

I have used this strategy for only a few days, I still do not know how to use it in the event my creative abilities are impaired. I have a plan though. So I am looking forward to the incoming STUCK UP episode so I can see if my plan will work.

I will start working on the BIPOLAR Pinoy blog tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Better Style

I changed the look of this blog. Part of the reaching out plan.

I do hope the redesign will make posts reader friendly. I didn't take a snapshot of the old lay out. Part of leaving the past and moving on to the future.

I will also be starting another blog about Bipolar Disorder - as an illness - to be a parallel blog to this online journal.

Both blogs will complement each other.

Letting others know: Managing Bipolar Disorder

Today I set my sights to share how a Filipino is managing Bipolar Disorder.

I started blogging in 2004 to keep an electronic diary of my moods and what not. After a cursory review of where I have been and what I have been doing with my life and what I intend to do, I realize this blog can be a tool to reach out to other people, to share to them how I have managed Bipolar Disorder in my life.

But how do I bring the rest of the world to this Filipino Bipolar Blog?

The answer to that question is not easy. I have a lot of learning to do aside from writing about my life and everything else that is happening around me.

I have to learn how to optimise this blog so search engines can place this Filipino Bipolar Blog on the first page. I also would like to see this blog make it to the top 500 Filipino blogs for 2008, and at the same time earn money for me.

I see this realization as a reasonable outcome from what I have been doing since the start of this year. I have been spending at least 2 hours each day blogging, and 3 hours reading other blogs.

So the book I plan to write will take shape through this blog.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Managing Life and Writing a Book

Our lives are lived one day at a time. What you do with each day adds up quickly to determine how you live your life.

I have known the statements above for quite a long time now. In fact, it seems I have known them since I was a kid. So I tried to make make my life conform to my goals and ambitions. Funny things was, no one told me I had this brain disorder called Manic-Depression, and that some how, this disorder was actually controlling my whole life, without me or any one else out here knowing.

It took 37 years of my life before I got diagnosed. After so many errors and a lot of deep wounds and scars. I now live alone and I strive to support my self, and manage my life on my own.

The last 3 weeks of my life has been about getting hold of my life, and gaining control. It has been a hard three weeks. Very hard actually. But I know I am on my way to regaining control.

These are the first few steps I took to regain control of my life:
1. Accept the reality of the disorders' presence.
2. Learn as much as possible about the disorder
3. Inform people about the presence of the disorder in you

As I moved on with my life, I realized there were still other things I had to do to regain control of my life. This realization came to me just a few months ago, around 4 years after I got diagnosed.

These were the additional steps I realized I had to take to regain control of my life:
1. Always step back and see life from a "better" stand point.
2. I have a choice over my emotions and mental state, even if my feelings are out of whack.
3. How others view me and their opinions about me is not me. I know who I am and what I can be.
4. Stick to a time and finance budget. Even if I have to become a control freak
5. Keep a record of each day.

All of these may seem so complicated and hard to do. But that's just how it is to be able to manage a Bipolar Life.

All of these realizations have encouraged me to put my whole life in writing. And that's what I will do. Writing a book about my life will be a major project I will undertake this year.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Yoga Stretch! Nice and refreshing...

I started my exercise routine today. I chose YOGA STRETCHING to loosen up my back. I had a hard time doing the routine on the right known as Adho Mukha Svanasana. I grabbed the photo on the right from a blog of an Overseas Filipino Worker based in Singapore.
I had a very hard time keeping the soles of my fee flat on the floor. I will work on this slowly. Hopefully in a few weeks I will be able to restore suppleness in my body.
I'm new to YOGA, so I have to do a lot of research about this discipline on the net. I chose YOGA due to its meditative nature, and the benefecial effect of restoring balance in the body. I hope to be able to reap the benefits from YOGA.
This is just the start. I spent around 10 minutes doing the routine, yet I sweat profusely and I felt my whole back loosen up and relax, as if I had my back massaged for an hour.
It took me quite some time to reach this way point on my mental map.



I'm in the doldrums. Moving, but not getting anywhere. I didn't prepare for this situation. I have to devise a way out. Until know, I don't have the fiantest idea how.

I am in PROCRASTINATION MODE. I have not done anything for the last 4 days, except sleep, eat, watch tv, surf the net, and mope.

My immediate solution is to listen to all my U2 mp3's. Somehow, I have this feeling I'll get a kick somewhere inside me. I can choose to play Vertigo again & again & again.....

I am also in deconstruction mode. I am in the process of trying to identify the triggers behind this procratination. I do hope to find the triggers in a couple of days. When those triggers are found I can install mental software to diffuse them when our paths cross.

Hehehe. . . . . seems like a tall order at the moment.

But I really have to learn how to diffuse those triggers, so I can start moving towards my destination in this interesting journey.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Bipolar Disorder is like a Coin - it has Two Sides

BIPOLAR Disorder has two inextricably linked manifestations - Mania and Depression. Both the extreme end of the other. One has to recognize the presence of a continuum that exists between both.

I have lived with these extremes. The days I spend between these poles are brief passages of time, compared to the weeks and months I live in the poles of this disorder imposed on me.

I hope to be able to describe to you later what it is to live inside the spectrum of this disorder.

4 weeks ago, during the Holidays, I spent time to read the book written by Garret Loporto The Da Vinci Method. Loporto presents within the pages of the book a tantalizing promise to those who are ADD/ADHD and Bipolars. He posits in the book the theory that Leonardo Da Vinci's genius resides within those who are afflicted with ADD/ADHD and Bipolar Disorder. The book is an easy read and is inspiring at best. Loporto focuses on the Energetic manifestation or mania of the "artist". He emphasizes in the book that this large store of energy can be harnessed towards higher levels of achievement in life. Levels of success comparable to those successful men he lists as present day Da Vinci's. Those who are unable to harness this energy are labeled as "neurotic artists". All they have to do is to apply the method he presents in the book.

Towards the end of the book Loporto reveals that the absence of a method is the method itself.

What the book fails to reveal and present is the nightmare the "neurotic artist" goes through when the other side - depression - dominates. The book is silent on how to deal with the depression and paranoia the "artist" goes through.

The absence of this very vital detail may be intentional or part of the revelation - the absence of a method is THE method. The book gives false hopes to those who suffer the conditions Bipolar Disorder imposes on a person.

The book offers a glimmer of hope since the reader is taught how to harness ones Manic Phase. But is sorely lacking on how to deal with the other extreme.

I have made it my purpose to fill this gap, so Depression - no matter how extreme - can be managed.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Out of the Abyss!

At last I have crossed the abyss. I have reached a ledge from where I can stand and start exploring this new and interesting terrain ahead of me. The land unfolds before me on each small step I take. I see nothing ahead of me. The map I have inside my head provides me with directions and signpost indicating where I am in this new territory.
In a few days I hope to reach my first major destination. I still do not know what this place is. It is only shown in the map I have inside my head. I can only tell you about this place when I get there. I am confident I will get there. Not because I know the way, but because the map I have inside my head serves as an accurate guide.
I am a little bit manic now. The difference this time is I can channel my manic energies and guide its flow into constructive and productive pursuits. I am in control of my mania. Before, my mania was controlling me. Now I am harnessing the energy my mania releases everytime it comes.
I am aware of the hidden dangers threatening my journey. These dangers may not be shown on the map in my possession. Yet I have installed contextual mental software to deal with this unknowns.
I may seem strange right now. In time I will be able to reveal what I am experiencing now. That time is almost near.
When that time comes, everything will be very clear and my journey will be interesting. When I get to my first destination, I can start sharing how I got hold of the map.
I will share my journey with you, when I am halfway to my destination.
Do take time to visit this blog.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

On the Road!

I will be starting a Training series on Urban Planning today in Digos City. I still have no idea how many participants will attend this first session. I am estimating at most 7 people. This is a comfortable number for me.

I have reached the other side of the abyss. I have waited, the opportunity has come. It is now time to put to the test the Mental Operating System I have installed and the new set of mental software that I have acquired.

I know these tools will need fine tuning. So the coming days will be very exciting for me.

So just watch and learn.... I will be documenting everything I will be going through in this blog.

By the way, I have not taken my mood stabilizer - Lamictal - for a week now.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Isn't it So Unfair....

I just read a news report on the net that the American Food and Drug Administration found out that Epilepsy Drugs may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Two drugs mentioned in the study were Tegretol and Depakote. I had been on these drugs for a time.

I still clearly remember how I felt when I was on these drugs. I was taking these during my manic pariods. I had to shift to other drugs since they were wreaking havoc on my mind and my actions. I still remember turning violent one time when I was on Depakote. Tegretol brought me to the Edge of suicide one time. What stopped me was the thought of my son.

I find this report timely, and the drug companies so unfair. I really do not know how many people with Bipolar Disorder out there have been prescribed by their doctors with these drugs. It is a well known fact that people with Bipolar Disorder have suicidal tendencies. These drugs only serve to intensify the desire.

I hope doctors will stop prescribing anti-seizure or epilepsy drugs to those who have Bipolar Disorder. I hope doctors in the Philippines stop prescribing these drugs.

Those who have Bipolar Disorder should demand from their doctors the same.