a positive post on coping

Over the years I’ve written intermittently about my mental health. When I moved to the UK, I sent for my US therapy and treatment records and after reading through them discovered that, although it had not been formally discussed by name in my sessions, I’d also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in addition to ADD (or, ADHD, depending on the day). Bipolar makes perfect contextual* sense and has helped me to understand my behaviour patterns more in the last year or two than I ever have.

Normally, I’m a bit of a mental health loner. When I was younger — undiagnosed and a bit of a misfit anyway — I would retreat into my room, art, music, or any other distraction that seemed normal for an only child, until the episode wore off. As I get older, my symptoms are changing and intensifying. It’s only because I needed help through a deep depression that I sought professional help a handful of years ago, and out of that period learned part of what’s going on with my messed up little brain.

And here’s where it gets positive.

Be it considered herbal quackery or natural miracle, I have started on St John’s Wort. I’ve been taking it for just shy of a month and today I doubled the introductory dosage. I have a close friend who suffers with the same combination of symptoms that I do and today I emailed him a promised progress report regarding my self-treatment, which in a nutshell involves:
– St John’s Wort
– Omega 3-6-9
– a ‘one a day’ style multivitamin
– Sea Kelp**
– Horsetail (aka Silica)**
– Iron**
I also try to get a sensible amount of sleep, am reintroducing yoga, and consume more fruit and veg daily. Here is an excerpt of the email I sent to him this morning:

I am slightly more focused. I am less hard on myself when I’m not as focused and seem to be able to pick a task that is ‘completable’ to remain positive and productive.
I have fewer dramatic depressive dips. I seem to be able to recognise and refocus/redirect myself a bit better when I feel an unhealthy change bubbling under the surface. I had never been good at seeing the sinking ship before, but I think I’m a bit better at judging the contributing conditions now.

At the very least, I feel like I’m doing something to try to get control and that, be it a placebo reaction or not, matters tremendously. I’m not just sitting here letting bipolar and ADD kick my ass. I’m certainly not kicking its ass, but I’m at least not letting it take my lunch money anymore. If St John’s Wort and Omega 3-6-9 are helping me achieve that, cool. If I believe them to be helping and they’re not really doing much chemically, I don’t care. I feel more in control and that counts bucketloads.

Since mental healthcare in the UK is so difficult to get*** (even for those with a documented treatment history) I am doing all I can to make my situation better. A small improvement through doing things that are healthy for me anyway would be a welcome difference. I will never be ‘well’ but with a little perseverance and strategic changes in the way I eat, exercise, and supplement, perhaps I can get by without pharmaceuticals and function at a more reasonable daily level.
I’ll let you know how it goes, but for now I’m pushing ahead and staying positive. 🙂

* My family has a history of bipolar disorder/manic depression.
**Items marked are for hair/skin/nails benefit and are only listed here for the purpose of providing a complete picture of my daily supplement intake.
*** On the NHS

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6 thoughts on “a positive post on coping”

  1. Hope it is all helping. As you know from discussions with you and others I reckon I have ADD, especially when I look at my childhood. My mother even agreed when we were discussing it recently, no one knew about it back then I was just a day dreamer.

    I have been taking St John’s Wort to deal with the dips for many years, long before I knew about ADD.

    Last night I read the wiki entry on ADD and realised that a lot of my other, negative, responses and behaviours may be linked to it.

  2. The two are very intertwined for me. ADD causes depression causes ADD causes depression… rinse and repeat.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if your situation is similar.

    Will keep you updated on my progress. 🙂

  3. Hi jEN

    I haven’t been around your site for a while, but I just wanted to tell you how much I admire your ability to talk about your life in the way that you have here.

    Something for me to aspire to…



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