March 30 was “World Bipolar Day,” when those of us, like myself, reflect on what this condition means.
Wearing my mask as I walked around the block early this morning -- “Caw! Caw!” went the crows -- I remembered all the incarnations I went through since I was first locked up at Norristown State Hospital for the worst three days of my life.
It is important to realize that things change. An open mind is much needed. Back then in 1984, I was told “Stay on your medication and never go off.”
Staying on lithium would ruin my kidneys and I would get a transplant courtesy of my daughter, the writer Sarah Lynn Deming.
Many people partner with their psychiatrists and psychotherapists to keep this treatable condition well-managed.
This is very important.
Working with my then-psychiatrist -- who is now retired -- I attended Hahnemann University to get a master’s degree.
New Directions Support Group has been the largest and most helpful support group in the Greater Philadelphia Area.
Every single individual gets individual attention.
We know that mood swings -- from uncontrollable “highs” to uncontrollable “lows” that bring on suicidal feelings must be attended to.
While we can’t save everybody, we do try.
Since we cannot attend live evening meetings at Abington Presbyterian Church or Daytime Meetings at the Willow Grove Giant Supermarket, we Zoom several times a month.
We have a “Call Team” if someone is thinking about taking his or her own life.
Music, believe it or not, has saved people’s lives.
“Hip-Hop Saved my Life” is a viral video from Lupe Fiasco’s album, “The Cool.”
It’s also common knowledge that the ageless Bruce Springsteen suffered from depression, as described in his 2016 autobiography “Born to Run."
And, yes, indeed, he ran into some trouble when police found him driving under the influence. Addiction to drugs is common among people with mood swings.
Here are a few common-sense ideas to help you cope:
Exercise, which helps both your body and mind.
Eat nutritious foods and minimize junk food. As Mark Hyman, MD, says on his PBS program, “The most important tool you have to change your life is your fork.”
Stay connected with other people, difficult to do during the pandemic. We are “herd animals” and when we miss our herd, depression or drug-taking may happen. Monitor yourself and call a good friend to discuss.
While the telephone cannot compare with visiting someone, it is the next best thing.
Just do it!
Learn new skills during the pandemic. My friend, Scott, taught himself to make quiche with asparagus and cheese.
Redecorate your house. Use a Dumpster and get rid of everything you do not need. I have created a quiet Reading Room, where I listen to music and read from the library books I check out from the Upper Moreland Library.
Satisfy your curiosity. My mother died at age 97. I wrote our family doctor and asked him if she had been in any pain. He honestly answered me, “No, the morphine she was given, lifted her spirits.”
Help others. Every day I call my elderly friends -- Freda and Bernie who moved into a retirement community -- and check on them. Ten years has made quite a difference in their lives, which reminds all of us -- Have you prepared your wills? You must let your family members know where it is.
In this spring season, bring daffodils to your neighbors. Nothing is as cheerful as a flower. It is like a huge smile.
Ruth Z. Deming