Week 9: Ketogenic Diet Experiment for Mental Health

This week has been crap! But seriously, I have had 4 cheat meals, and none of them were really planned. Most of them were related to my church calling. I volunteer with young women ages 16-18. They are so much fun and I love the calling. However, our church culture is centered around food. So many times we have treats. It is a bonding thing that extends to our entire American culture.

I, however, have gained a couple pounds this week. I broke 120! I know that is many people’s goal to get down to or goal to lose, but I’m still going to go at least to 125 maybe even 135. It is a healthy weight for me. Also, I can tell that my tummy is more toned. This tells me that hopefully I have lost fat and gained muscle.

My hubby didn’t lose this week but basically maintained. He isn’t sleeping well. He is in a lot of pain as he has kidney stones. Hopefully, they can pass and he can start getting better sleep again. He loses a lot more when he sleeps the full amount and regular hours.

Keto is going well, but we could both do better. Him with sleep, and me with staying on plan a little better.

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On another note, I have been writing up a storm. I finished my first romance novel, and I started on my second one. I am editing the first and working with my incredible cover designer. She is also helping me with a couple other projects including getting my cover done for my first book for print.

I’m going to include a few reviews on the back cover as well as a short synopsis. Then it will be available for print. I know some people want that option as it is easier to share and give as a gift as well as reference and take notes in for the future.

I’m also considering creating a companion workbook but it’s not exciting me right now. I’m trying to ride my energy and put it in the most productive places.

Unfortunately, that is something you learn to do with the hypomania as a bipolar person.

I’m working hard though to work during the depression as well. I watched a YouTube video on just that. A family member shared it with me. I love that she was kind enough to read my book and knows what to recommend to me. I loved it.

Until next week, remember to follow me on Instagram @balancingmybipolar for recipes and to follow my keto journey daily.

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Week 8: Ketogenic Diet Experiment

We both forgot to do an official weigh in today so I will update tomorrow. I did one midday though and I think I’m seeing progress.

I finished my second book last night. I have decided to write fiction for now. Mainly clean contemporary Christian romance novels.

It is so much more fun to write to be honest. My memoir book Balancing Your Bipolar was somehow heart wrenching and raw and difficult and it’s still hard for me to market and share. This book though is the type of book that I love to read myself. I’m hoping that will make it easier to market and share.

My garden is coming along beautifully and I’m so pleased. Back to Eden gardening makes the garden look so pretty. I love it and I’m excited for summer to harvest.

I have been busy with many things some of which I will share more of once they are ready. I so enjoy writing and learning all about everything that goes with it.

Done is better than perfect!

My house is looking so much better!

I found a blog called A slob comes clean a few months ago now and I love it! I have now bought both her books and listen to her podcasts almost daily while I’m cleaning or working in the yard. So much of what she said clicked and it has helped my home a ton. Remember the post about my Kitchen and the disaster state it was in? This blog and the books have helped me stay out of disaster state for months now and it feels amazing!

I have decluttered:

some which helps and I also started the weekly tasks this week. So as to avoid getting overwhelmed I decided on Tuesday to just do one bathroom rather than all 3. I did the one we use the most and the one I had already decluttered the most. I then worked on another day decluttering my master bathroom and I will go from there. I figured if I did them all and burnt out then I would go months again without clean bathrooms. Where as if I do one and do another next week and wipe down the first and then another and wipe down the others by week 4 it should be easier and way better.

So far so good, as I ran errands Wednesday, and Thursday I mopped my kitchen and attached laundry room floor. It was bad this week and took longer but hopefully next week I make it to the dining room and it’s easier.

Tomorrow I will be vacuuming which has been done more recently and with a 5 min pick up shouldn’t be hard.

The laundry is going well too. Although I’m struggling with putting it away I’m still excited with how much easier Monday laundry days have been in general.

Now to the point that sparked my desire to write this post. I don’t know what to write on my blog but I want to blog. I know to some degree I need to just get started and try. I need to practice and do, to get over my fears and find out what I don’t know that I don’t know. Where I need to learn and stretch and grow. Also what my audience wants and what I want the blog to be too. Who my people are? Who my tribe is? What my passion is around balancing my bipolar?

I think some of that is just being honest. Honestly maybe this post is the place to start. Maybe recording my thoughts on my mental state through depression. My frustrations with not being able to be social and donate my time by volunteering and doing it all. My frustrations with dinner being hard and cleaning being hard and showering more than once a week being hard and doing anything. My worries for my kids and what they need me to be. Letting go of some of that guilt too. Improving one step at a time. Acknowledging myself and giving myself some credit that my book is actually helping some people. Reading it again and facing the reality that it could be better and my fears and hypomania may have rushed it. But realizing that I made a decision to do that and it’s okay.

This is what I’m feeling right now. Unfiltered maybe crappy, definitely less than perfect but “done is better than perfect” and it’s real and it’s what is reality right now, not my made up dream in my head.

Balancing Your Bipolar

My book Balancing Your Bipolar is now live on Amazon! It has been a crazy few months and many things have changed since the last time I posted. I have been busy with the book but I hope to be posting more regularly here now that the majority of the work is done.

I am learning a lot about myself and how to push out of my comfort zone. Publishing a book has been very exciting but very scary as well.

It is nerve-wracking and stressful to put myself out there. I also hit a depression cycle right after I finished final edits of my book. Talk about bad timing!

I have had to put the techniques I wrote to work on myself and I have seen great results. It is not perfect, nor easy but it is completed and I keep telling myself I can do hard things.

Now a little about the book:

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Balancing Your Bipolar: A Holistic Approach to Living a Life You Love helps loved ones and people who have bipolar to work to have a life of balance and learn to love their life. It also shares my story, to help you know what is possible and that I have been there.

Some of the tools you can learn in the book include:

  • managing activity level
  • managing food issues
  • building a basic exercise routine
  • dealing with other’s perceptions
  • managing your expectations

You will also learn the basics of bipolar disorder, and how it can really feel to be trapped inside a body that won’t always cooperate.

 

I hope you will check it out! I would love to hear what you think let me know in the reviews or comments below!

My Book Cover and Title

I would love feedback on my cover and title. What do you like what don’t you like and what could be more clear.

The book is a memoir of my life focusing on my diagnosis of bipolar and creating balance with my new self and how others with mental illness can accept their diagnosis and create balance too.

Also if you would like to be part of my launch group and receive a free copy of the book and help promote please join me here: https://m.facebook.com/groups/772839569583820

EDIT: I should mention my amazing cover artist is my sister in law Ariel Edwards.

Also I’m considering other sub titles such as replacing “ups and downs” with bipolar or mental health.

A Hilarious Afternoon with Love and Logic

Friday I went shopping with all of my available kids twice! I forgot that my friend who can’t drive a car right now needed to go shopping too. When I got home she texted me and even though I was just done shopping, I piled the kids in the car and headed back to the store with her to go shopping.

Before leaving, I finished up balancing my budget and entering my receipts in Ibotta. I got back $16.25 and only spent $80!!!! That part was awesome.

So I piled my three girls in the backseat and went to pick up my friend and away we went. I had bought the girls new water bottles that day and they were guzzling down water on the way there. As soon as we got there Taylia asked for the bathroom so we split up and I took her to go. We then met back up and here comes the love and logic piece. I told my girls “I let girls stay in the store with me who don’t cause problems”. It was a perfect opportunity for a lesson in store behavior since I didn’t need to be in the store. I had already shopped.

Addison tested first and I warned more than is advisable but as soon as she started screaming we took off outside. Taylia was upset saying but I didn’t cause problems but she needed to come with me. I took her hand and she was calming telling me “I’m going to bite you if you don’t let me stay!” I eventually let go and she followed me luckily. Addy of course screamed bloody murder the whole way.

As soon as we got to the car I buckled up Addy and waited outside for a bit. I then discovered Rachel had had a blow out. So I changed her diaper on the front seat and then threw it away. I had been smart and parked by the cart collection which had a trash. Then Addy said “I won’t cause any more pwobelems (problems)” I had the presence of mind to say “I know you won’t and I’m happy to let you try again next time.”

Then after letting Addy out she wanted to change her wet diaper so back to the trash I went all while the women in the car across from me is watching me I’m sure thinking I’m crazy. When I get back Addy had peed on her pants. So I put them aside and put on a diaper for her. Then Taylia says she has to pee again. There is no way I’m going back inside so I give her a diaper and help her put it on. She pees in it and I’m out throwing away yet another diaper.

By this time we have run into our bishop the leader of our church, his son and family, the relief society presidency member who is my friend and my other friend texted she was there too and she is my visiting teacher. They of course are all asking if I need help lol. “no, I’m just having a Love and Logic lesson.”

So then my poor friend has trouble with her transaction and it takes longer than anticipated but we make it home and after dropping her off my daughter goes into manipulation 101 saying how it’s not fair she can’t go to her school carnival and I’m saying “I know…” My Love and Logic brain dead parent phrase to avoid arguing. Then come to find out later the carnival was cancelled due to weather.

I just have to laugh at the ridiculousness of the day. But I came out in one piece and I didn’t lose my temper or yell! Progress!!

Shift in Direction

I have decided to make a shift in how I will be running my blog. Instead of writing my blog and then coming out with a book I’m going to start writing my book now. I think because of this that I will be mainly focusing on my project 333 posts and my side posts and holding off on my memoir post for now until I have a better idea what direction I want to take with them.

 

I would like to get the book written and then be able to take a chapter or an idea from the book and elaborate some from it. I don’t want to duplicate content too much but I would like to make some of the content free if people want that option.

 

I will continue posting on a weekly basis and maybe twice weekly sometimes. I have been thinking about the book and waffling with what to do about the blog. Now that I have decided how I want to move forward I’m hoping I will be able to do so with confidence.

 

I would like to make my first food post soon. I think it will be when I make my keto enchiladas for Conrad. I have been eating about half keto half regular recently. I am not ready to take the full plunge, especially while nursing. However, I enjoy cooking that way and I think it can be a great option for many people.

 

When I do make the enchiladas I will get footage for a video. Until then I will have to figure out a logo for my videos and how I want them to look.

 

I love cooking and it is definitely something I want to share with you all.

College and Acceptance

Shortly after coming to BYU I made an appointment with an on campus psychiatrist for a second opinion. I was convinced I was not bipolar. I sweet talked my way into hearing what I wanted to hear before he received my medical records. He said I could go off cold turkey from my medications and that they were basically just making me fat and tired, and to contact him with any troubles. I took that and went cold turkey and never looked back even when he called my apartment worried after receiving copies of my records. I still feel bad about that sometimes but I am glad that I got off the mood stabilizers when I did. I don’t like the side effects.  

 

I did well the first semester at BYU, but then the fall semester I crashed. I had broken up with my boyfriend and I had very few friends and I was struggling. My best friend was deferring a semester and out of the country for some of that time, and I really didn’t have anyone else. I dated and went country dancing frequently and I went to the classes I was liking and doing well in. I ended up failing one, getting A’s in two and a C- in the other. I failed half my classes the next semester as well and ended up on academic probation for the spring.

 

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That first fall semester I dated quite a bit. I went from having kissed three boys to 11 in 4 months. Some were innocent and some were more questionable morally but I was very hypomanic for those times. A classic sign of the hypomania is hypersexuality. Luckily because I don’t have mania I got the mild end of that. Between that and my upbringing, I didn’t do anything too life altering.

 

The winter term I swore off boys and then met the man I would later marry. I got to know him better but still hadn’t told him about the mental illness in my life. I have only recently accepted my diagnosis fully, but at that point, I was flat out hiding it from everyone around me. I did my best to hide it and he was none the wiser for months. I was failing my classes however and didn’t reach out to my professors for either pride or fear.

 

I did eventually tell him at least the basics although I don’t think he fully understood what we are dealing with until the last year or two. I told him when we were engaged which is what I would advise others to do as well. Either then or before then, but I wouldn’t recommend waiting until after you’re married as I believe it can be grounds for an annulment.

 

I was hiding it from everyone including myself and didn’t let him help until recently. We became really good partners when I crashed the summer of 2015 and hit low enough to finally accept the diagnosis and start trying to manage it rather than run from it. Before 2 years ago, we were good partners during the lows, when I had to accept that I had a problem, but when I was up I was constantly running from ever going down again.

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The problem with running from going down is I would distance myself from my husband who could tell when I needed help. Another problem is the more I run from going down the longer I stay up. This tends to make my downs worse. It’s like the downs are a direct reflection of the ups.

 

Recently in the past few years, I have found that when I recognize that I’m hypomanic and limit myself and regulate my activities the downs are much better. I have a number of strategies that I have tried over the years to help make the downs better but none of them helped with more than the short term until I started going to the root of the problem. The problem I thought before was the depression and keeping it from getting too deep during the depression. I have come to realize though that it is much more effective to limit the height of the ups to limit the depth of the downs.

 

So far I haven’t had a big down in about a year. We will see how that continues but at the time I was pregnant which is another factor all in itself.

 

I have made huge progress however by accepting the diagnosis and I would never go back from what I have gained from that. It is such a better place to be. I now have hope and empowerment rather than fear and pessimism.

My Diagnosis Age 17

The winter before I graduated high school it all came to a head. My parents left the state to take care of grandkids for three weeks, my mom for 4 weeks. I lived with my brother and did well I think but when they came back I felt overwhelmed and trapped. I spiraled into some kind of mixed depression state and became extremely paranoid and increasingly unable to function. In my opinion, the final straw is all tied to my wisdom teeth removal:

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When I was 17 we found out I needed to have all 4 of my wisdom teeth removed. So we were referred to an oral surgeon or whoever it is that does that. When we met with him I had a lot of questions ready to ask him but he mentioned that if we changed the date of the operation we would save a lot on insurance. It threw me for a second and I started asking questions and my mom I think got embarrassed or concerned and overrode me and basically told me to stop and that is how it had to be. I didn’t really care so much about that change as much as I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to ask the questions that I had planned.

I didn’t get to ask anything about what medications I would be administered during or especially after the surgery. I was rushed out before I could do any of these things. I felt out of control and like I was treated like an out of control child. Needless to say, after that I changed my medical forms so that my mom could no longer make final decisions for me so I would be treated more as an adult. It didn’t always end up working that way but it made me feel better.

After the surgery, I was prescribed oxycodone which I took the first day or so. It was causing strange distortions at night that I would see almost like nightmare hallucinations. It also brought back a very real fear of drowning that was triggered by my swishing my mouth with salt water to kill bacteria. I stopped taking the medication and rinsing very quickly. Luckily I was given a syringe to swish with which helped keep off the infection that started to cause pain. My mom didn’t know or hear about the problem I was having with the medication and she tried to force me to take it to get sleep once I stopped sleeping well. I was barely sleeping at all and going into a full blown mixed state of some sort. I was somewhat depressed but also paranoid and manic. Experiencing hallucinations and OCD cleaning habits and paranoia that my parents were trying to kill me.

This time got really scary really fast. My parents had already helped me drop some classes at school and rearrange my schedule. I also had an appointment I believe in February to see a psychiatrist whom I had seen in my freshman or sophomore year who dismissed me as a normal teen in one of my up cycles. Now she diagnosed me bipolar in early 2008. I was 17 and put on the lowest dose possible half a rhysperdol. A quarter of the normal dose. I don’t remember being informed of any side effects or being told to have regular checkups for my health. I should have been. I got one of the rare side effects which are bleeding with bowel movements a problem that still flares occasionally 9 years later.

Also from what I understand this is a heavy duty mood stabilizer that can greatly affect health. I should have been monitored and it was rough on me. It basically made me sleep and eat which was good at first but then made it hard to function. I got a D in one of my classes for the first time. Mainly this was due to absences. It was my last class and I would frequently skip and go eat and then go home and sleep.

I was eventually able to graduate a trimester early in mid-March and quit my job and moved to Provo Utah with a job interview at the MTC bookstore lined up. I got the job and lived with my brother and his family until my room opened up on campus in April and I could start classes and living there. I never walked for my high school graduation although I did graduate. I was already in college.

Memoirs of a Bipolar Girl

So I want to start this post by introducing my new blog, balancing my bipolar. I have a very high drive to figure this out to mitigate the negative effects on my family and magnify the positives. Yes, I do believe there are positive aspects of having bipolar.

I am going to share my story in hopes of finding common ground with others going through similar trials either themselves or their loved ones. I hope to decrease the stigma of bipolar disorder and to reach out to those looking for support and understanding.

My schedule will tend to be one post on my story a week and one post about a topic that helps me balance my bipolar. I reserve the right to adjust this and/or take breaks as necessary. I have a mental illness myself after all. However, I will do my best to manage this and be consistent.

I don’t take any medications or go to traditional therapy. I haven’t for many years. However, I am not a doctor and I don’t recommend anyone stop or start taking any medications. This is my journey and I am pretty sure I have bipolar type 2 which doesn’t have mania only hypomania. This is milder and I have never been hospitalized. I find this works for me, but as you will see as I share my story, I do adjust my life heavily from the norm to make everything work well.

I’m excited you have chosen to join me on my journey. The next memoir post will be what I consider the beginning for now.

Blythe