Coping with Illness

Deleting Emails

For the past few weeks (three?), my son and I (and my husband, but he’s taking care of us) have been sick with gastroenteritis. I haven’t been able to keep up with my usual writing, or with sharing mental health resources on social media. To cope with the many emails piling up, I’m deleting most of them. Yes, I could schedule sharing them, but I simply don’t feel up to it.

When I checked my email this morning, I saw that I had incurred a late fee and interest for a missed credit card payment, which I thought I had already paid online. (Called the credit card company and had the charges reversed.) If I can’t pay bills on time, I need to cut back and focus. I pride myself on managing money well (my last paid job was as an investment analyst for an entrepreneur).

Honestly, all I’ve been up to is watching TV and doing jigsaw puzzles on my iPad. Far cry from workaholic investment analyst.

Finished Scrivener Tutorial!

Just finished Scrivener tutorial. Considering massaging blog posts into book(s).

October 2015, I last modified the import of my blog into Scrivener thinking I’d massage my writing into a book. The next month, my mother had a stroke. Never got back to the book or to figuring out Scrivener. Just finished the tutorial.

Enrolled in National Association of Memoir Writers‘ online memoir writing course and will be attending the Southern California Writers’ Conference later this month. The conference features memoir writing this year!

My first Scrivener project contains my outdated blog dump. Sometimes I edit old posts and pages, so I need to figure out how to import my current version of this site. Haven’t had luck so far today. I did create a blank new project into which I plan to organize my writing under four categories:

  • Kate — fictionalized autobiography, starting at the beginning…
  • Bipolar — mental health focus
  • Parenting My Son — my son has struggled with migraines since he was two
  • Parents with Dementia — both my parents have dementia and live in memory care

Wish me luck. I may go nowhere with putting together and publishing my writing. I may not. At least I’m writing here. Actually, I’m pretty happy with blog writing.

Hypomania, Praise, and Self-Talk

Hypomania Praise and Self-Talk
Photo thanks to Gustavo Espíndola

The praise came. Kitt loved to please. The more praise she received, the better she felt. The more she achieved, the higher she soared, until she couldn’t. Her body couldn’t keep up. She broke down, couldn’t get out of bed, and beat herself up for falling, for failing.


Talking to Yourself in the Third Person Can Help You Control Stressful Emotions

The simple act of silently talking to yourself in the third person during stressful times may help you control emotions without any additional mental effort than what you would use for first-person self-talk – the way people normally talk to themselves.


Role of Reward Sensitivity and Processing in Major Depressive and Bipolar Spectrum Disorders

blunted reward sensitivity and processing are involved in unipolar depression and heightened reward sensitivity and processing are characteristic of hypomania/mania

Bipolar & Dementia

I fear dementia. Both of my parents have dementia and live in a memory care community. They love one another and seem happy where they are now, but it took a while to make that happen. They wanted to maintain their independence. Understandable.

I fear dementia. Though I hope by avoiding alcohol and taking my bipolar medications, I can stave it off. (Alcohol is a neurotoxin, and I have a family history of alcoholism.)

Still, I fear a downward spiral. That fear I want to overcome. Face it. Stand up to bipolar disorder and dementia. Take care of my brain.

Even if my bipolar disorder progresses, even if I get dementia, I can still love and be loved, just as my parents still love and are loved.

Bipolar Disorder & Dementia Research

Analyzing six studies, researchers concluded  in “History of Bipolar Disorder and the Risk of Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis“:

History of BD [bipolar disorder] is associated with significantly higher risk of dementia in older adults. Future studies are necessary to evaluate the potential mediators of this association and to evaluate interventions that may reduce the risk of dementia in this population.

Diniz BS, Teixeira AL, Cao F, Gildengers A, Soares JC, Butters MA, Reynolds CF 3rd
The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 2017 Apr;25(4):357-362. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jagp.2016.11.014

ALPIM Anxiety-Laxity-Pain-Immune-Mood

Many of us living with mental illness have other chronic illnesses. Often we are not treated for our “physical” illnesses, as many doctors dismiss them as psychosomatic. “Mental” illnesses ARE “physical” illnesses, and “physical” illnesses affect our “mental” illnesses. We are not just our brains, just our bodies, just our minds, just our feelings, or just our souls. The more we learn, the more we understand interconnectedness and comorbidities.

The ALPIM Spectrum

In the Spring 2015 issue of the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, researchers proposed The ALPIM Spectrum:

  • A = Anxiety disorder (mostly panic disorder);
  • L = Ligamentous laxity (joint hypermobility syndrome, scoliosis, double-jointedness, mitral valve prolapse, easy bruising);
  • P = Pain (fibromyalgia, migraine and chronic daily headache, irritable bowel syndrome, prostatitis/cystitis);
  • I = Immune disorders (hypothyroidism, asthma, nasal allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome); and
  • M = Mood disorders (major depression, Bipolar II and Bipolar III disorder, tachyphylaxis. Two thirds of patients in the study with mood disorder had diagnosable bipolar disorder and most of those patients had lost response to antidepressants).

Study Conclusion

We conclude that patients with ALPIM syndrome possess a probable genetic propensity that underlies a biological diathesis for the development of the spectrum of disorders. Viewing patients as sharing a psychological propensity toward somatizing behavior essentially denies patients access to care for the diagnosable medical conditions with which they present.

– J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2015 Spring;27(2):93-103. doi: 10.1176/appi.neuropsych.14060132

Download the Study

Should you want to read the journal article, I purchased the pdf version: A Novel Anxiety and Affective Spectrum Disorder of Mind and Body—The ALPIM (Anxiety-Laxity-Pain-Immune-Mood) Syndrome: A Preliminary Report (J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2015 Spring;27(2):93-103. doi: 10.1176/appi.neuropsych.14060132). No copyright infringement intended.

Associations in ALPIM Domains

ALPIM SYNDROME FIGURE 5. A Schema Demonstrating Significant Associations Within and Between ALPIM Domains. Anxiety - Pain Attacks (included in Phenotype). Laxity - Joint Laxity Syndrome (Beighton), Mitral Valve Prolapse. Hernias. Scoliosis. Double-Jointedness. Easy Bruising. Pain - Fibromyalgia (included in Phenotype), Headache, Prostatitis and Cystitis. Immune - Asthma, Rhinitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Hypothyroidism. Mood - Major Depressive Episode (included in Phenotype), Bipolar II Disorder, Bipolar III Disorder, Tachyphylaxis. This schematic diagram depicts, via line connections, significant associations within and between the ALPIM domains (see the Results for a description). Table 2 repors corresponding significant probability levels, odds ratios, confidence intervals, and Wald statistics. ALPIM, anxiety, laxity, pain, immune, mood.
J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2015 Spring;27(2):93-103. doi: 10.1176/appi.neuropsych.14060132

Diagram of Comorbidities

FIGURE 7. The ALPIM Syndrome: A Neuropsychosomatic Spectrum Disorder. Schematic Venn diagram showing the hypothesized spectrum of comorbidity in patients having a core anxiety disorder with laxity, pain, immune, and mood disorders. The overlapping circles demonstrate that comorbidities exist along a spectrum, in which a patient might have anywhere from just one disorder under one domain to multiple disorders under multiple overlapping domains. ALPIM, anxiety, laxity, pain, immune, mood.
J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2015 Spring;27(2):93-103. doi: 10.1176/appi.neuropsych.14060132
Bipolar III is cyclothymia, a “milder” form of bipolar than bipolar II.