Friday, January 3, 2014

A Fresh Start: New Year, New You

I think that January is my favorite time of year. The new year signals a new chance to make positive changes, a fresh start, a clean slate.

2013 was a tough year. I had numerous health challenges with three health issues: The biggest issue was my migraines which lead to a cycle of depression which contributes to a lowered immune system.

Personally 2013 was a year of disappointments. My daughter turned 6 last month, she's in kindergarten. And honestly she is one amazing kid. She is smart, but most importantly she has an amazing ability to connect with people, to read their emotions and a strong desire to help others. Every day I realize how lucky I am, especially consider the challenges I've faced.

I finally realized that I don't need to worry so much about being a mother. I sometimes obsess over all the things I do wrong. I worry that my daughter will grow up and face my same struggles (and demons). But when I really think about my life and my daughter I realize the most important thing is that we try to do our best. I try to be a good mom, wife and friend.

This year I found a new therapist. I finally decided to take my own advice and start therapy again. I am happy to say that my new therapist has made a huge impact on life.

I've drastically changed the work that I do, I have cut back on the work that is stressful and unfulfilling and I took a new consulting gig with a non-profit. I continue to run a consulting business and work with my husband on growing our manufacturing business but now I am following my passion.

I never expected the results I have gotten. In December I was debating what to do with work, volunteering and life. I finally decided I needed to find work that felt meaningful, where I could make a difference and the most important thing work with people who made life easier and not harder.

For over 10 years I have been a volunteer with an organization for women. It is my passion, it is what drives me to get up in the morning. And I work with amazing women. And now I even get paid for it. Deciding to do work that makes me happy has had an amazing ripple effect. Since I made the decision I haven't been depressed or had a migraine. For me that is amazing. I also have not been hypomanic.

And I'm ready to tackle the decision to have a second child. I've wanted to give my daughter a sibling but my physical and mental health have made me worried about my ability to manage a pregnancy. I also still worry about how I will feel during pregnancy. I was super stable from a mental standpoint, but I was physically sick. So sick that I almost lost my baby and then was on medicine from week 7-39 when she was born. And I just don't know how I would manage a pregnancy, an active kindergartner, work and being a wife.

I'm no longer a spring chicken. I turned 35 this year. And I know that the clock is ticking. So I have 8 months to figure it out. Do I go for baby number two or do I adopt or are we happy as we are. I honestly can say my family is amazing. My daughter is an inspiration and delight. My husband (of 17 years) is my rock.

Wish me luck for 2014 and tell me what a new year means to you.

I hope that you have an amazing year. I look forward to hearing from you via comments or email.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Are you Interested in a Bipolar Mom, Mom-to-Be Support Group?

We've done a few support group calls, but we had a lot more RSVPs than actual attendees. So I'm not sure if I should schedule another one.

I find support groups very helpful. The make me feel less alone, more confident in overcoming challenges, but most importantly I meet amazing women who are like me. They struggle and triumph with manic depression / bipolar disorder.

Having bipolar disorder is a challenge for everyone. It is even more challenging I think for a mother.

I hope you all want to talk soon.

Have a Happy Easter and Wonderful Passover.

With Love,

Thursday, August 25, 2011

RSVP for Online/Phone Bipolar Moms & Moms-to-Be Support Group - Sept. 7

Our next support group will be on Wednesday, September 7 at 8PM Eastern

You can call in via phone or connect through your computer microphone/speakers. Please email me at to RSVP and I will send you the call in details.

This will be a DBSA-style group (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) since I'm a former DBSA facilitator.

If this time of day is not good for you, please leave a comment on the best time of day.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

RSVP for Online Support Group for Bipolar Moms & Moms-to-Be on 8/11

I'd like to plan the first group next Thursday 8/11 at 9pm Eastern/6pm Pacific

I've gotten a lot of positive feedback about having a group and the times of when would be best is all over the place. So this first one is scheduled for Thursday evening. We will also have some daytime ones as well.

If we have 15 people or less who RSVP we can do a phone group (since I have a teleconference account that is limited to 15) if more than 15 it will be chat based. So please RSVP to

Mommy Guilt -- And Feeling Guilty About Having Bipolar Disorder

I have come to learn that all of my mom friends universally experience a fair amount of mom guilt. For moms who go back to work after having the baby there is the working mom guilt, which revolves around if the child gets enough attention, if working is the right thing *particularly if you were raised in a family with a stay-at-home parent or if you have a lot of stay-at-home mom friends). On the flip side even stay-at-home moms struggle with some guilt about if family finances and setting an example for their children.

Now some of you may have read the title of the post and thought "feeling guilty about having bipolar disorder. "What I am wondering is how many other moms struggle with going through a period where they feel guilty or bad because of their psychiatric condition. Here is what I mean. I struggle some days with feeling like my family got a raw deal. My husband has a wife who sometimes does not function well. I will admit that during a depression period I push myself to get up to make breakfast for my daughter and then I go back to bed while someone else either my husband, nanny or now preschool will take care of her. During this time obviously I'm neglecting my family, my work (I own my own business so at least I'm not going to get fired completely but I have lost a client because a depression cycle meant I didn't complete a project on time), my house, etc. And if I am neglecting all of these things my husband is the one picking up the slack.

I feel guilty that my 3 1/2 year old knows that sometimes mommy doesn't feel well because her head hurts. (Which for me really means I either have a migraine or I'm feeling unwell on either side of the bipolar spectrum). I worry that what if growing up with a "crazy" mom has a negative effect on her.

Guilt, guilt, guilt. I know that guilt serves no practical purpose. I know that all it does is serve to make me feel worse. And I also know that I do the best that I can on any given day. I didn't ask to have bipolar disorder. I didn't cause bipolar disorder through behaviors. I inherited it. And that also makes me feel guilty, because although I knew we had some mental illness in my family I did not know the extent and severity of the mental illness and other neurological disorders that can be found in my gene pool. And then I feel guilty and worry that I may have passed on the genes to my daughter and may pass on to future children.

So does anyone else feel like this?

So, now I will share what I tell myself. I remind myself that my husband always tells me that my good qualities have always outweighed the crap he deals with because of this illness. And he says although when we got married I had not yet been diagnosed with bipolar disorder I was seeing a psych doc and being treated for other disorders (ie misdiagnosed) so he always knew I was nuts and loved me anyway.

As to my daughter I know the chances of her inheriting bipolar disorder is only 15-30% so there is a 85-70% that she will NOT have bipolar disorder. If she was to have it I would be better able to help her than my parents were with me. Medications have improved. Back when I was diagnosed there were only 2 FDA approved medications everything else was off-label use. So there are great strides.

But the most important thing I remember is -- although I have had many struggles to overcome, and I have spent many years with suicidal ideation on a daily basis that was constant and maddening and resulted in several serious attempts (and miraculous saves by others), I am happy to be alive today with the life I have.

And when I really look at it as odd as it may be sometimes I think if given the choice today have this life of struggle or a normal life I would choose to have bipolar disorder. For me I learned to harness the upside in the creative potential and also I've spent years helping others because of the illness through my prior work as a DBSA support group facilitator, the one-on-one help I've given people who are newly diagnosed and through email exchanges and such with women through the blog. It has given my life purpose and meaning that my business work doesn't do.

Enough rambling. Now that I have gotten that off my chest the guilty feelings are all gone. I'd love to hear if anyone else feels the same way,

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Online Support Group for Bipolar Moms & Moms-to-Be

I'd like to start an online support group for bipolar moms & moms-to-be. It would be a weekly chat or teleconference. Anyone interested?

It will be a DBSA-style group. (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance). I'm a former DBSA facilitator. We could do a video webcam version, phone session or chat room I know Skype has a video group function actually.

If you are interested what day of the week and time of the day would you want to do it and are you interested in phone, webcam or chat? I personally think phone or webcam is best.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

An Antidepressant that works in HOURS not weeks! The hope of Ketamine

New research suggests that using Ketamine could produce an antidepressant effect in hours not weeks for bipolar patients with treatment-resistant depression.

I've been struggling for weeks now. The bottom line is since my daughter was born I just haven't been able to find the stability I had before her birth. I keep falling into the "rabbit hole" ... aka deep hole of depression.

And when I'm depressed it can get bad. Bad as in mommy doesn't spend much time out of bed. It goes like this. Mommy wakes up and watches TV and says to herself please don't wake up dear daughter until my nanny gets here or daddy wakes up. Then daughter wakes up and I get to play mommy as best I can for a little bit. I manage to make some oatmeal. At some point within an hour or so nanny gets here or daddy is up. And here's where I should be going to my office to work. But nope depressed Rachael goes back to bed and watches TV, or stares at the ceiling, or hides under the covers wanting to just disappear. I stay that way until lunch. Where I pull it together for about 45 minutes long enough to make lunch for me and the little one, check email and maybe return a phone call to a client.

And then after lunch I go back to bed (note should be going back to work). Where I stay until 3:30 when my nanny leaves. Then I play mommy, read books and put my daughter down for a nap. She sleeps and I normally would go back to work, but depressed mommy goes back to bed.

I then get up when she gets up. I call the hubby when she gets up and he comes home. He makes dinner while I entertain my daughter. And then after dinner I go ... can you guess where? Yep to bed. Normal Rachael makes great homecook meals, BTW. Depressed Rachael doesn't make any dinner at all.

Yes, this is sometimes my sad life. And my daughter she comes in and asks me "Mommy is your head feeling bad? I hope you feel better soon. I love you." She's two and a half. It kills me that she sees me go through these times.

So, when I saw the article about Ketamine I was SUPER excited!!! Can you imagine that a treatment on the horizon for bipolar patients that can work in HOURS for depression? I've been doing it all - I've done everything. And my depressions keep coming back. So I hope this research leads to some kind of readily available treatment.

Ketamine Lifts Depression Symptoms in Bipolar Disorder Within an Hour
People with treatment-resistant bipolar disorder experienced relief from symptoms of depression in as little as 40 minutes after an intravenous dose of the anesthetic medication ketamine in a preliminary study; while the patient group was small, this work adds to evidence that compounds in the class to which ketamine belongs have potential as rapid and effective medications for depression, including bipolar depression. The potential for side-effects makes ketamine an impractical drug for standard use, but it provides a way to test this approach for developing novel treatments that act more rapidly than existing ones.

So check out the article

This may sound crazy - but I'm seriously wondering if the ketamine people use recreationally (yes illegally) would have the same effects. I am desperate. I've tried so many meds, I've done supplements, I work out religiously (well not when I'm majorly depressed). I just want to be like I was in 2004-2007 - stable no ups, no downs just good. I mean during those years I was so good I sometimes doubted that I was bipolar at all. And now it is quite clear that my bipolar I diagnosis is accurate. Of course now I'm bipolar I with rapid cycling. Luckily I've stopped the ultra-rapid cycling and the even worse ultra-ultra rapid (cycling within 24 hours) which was the worst torture that I've ever experienced.

So here's to hope that something good is on the horizon.