Have you noticed how it's recently become fashionable to define as a pansexual?
I was told that a pansexual is somebody who could potentially be attracted to anybody, regardless of their gender or orientation. At first this confused me because I thought 'bisexual' pretty much had that covered. So I investigated further.
The definitions in conventional web dictionaries did little to help my confusion but after a little research I came to the conclusion that pansexuals reject the description 'bisexual' because they reject the implication that there are two distinct genders and prefer a term that's more inclusive of trans and gender fluid people. If I am mistaken can somebody please correct me?
Whilst I respect that this is a very valid sexuality, I think 'bisexual' better describes me as I am primarily attracted to very feminine women and very masculine men, although I suppose technically, I am open to finding love wherever it may present itself...
No no no! I will not take on an identity that involves renaming my blog! Darn these technicalities.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Have you noticed how it's recently become fashionable to define as a pansexual?
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Food and mental health are closely related. What I present here is a list of diet-related ideas that may help to manage bipolar disorder. It's compiled from my own experience and internet resources. This list is not intended to be a weight loss program, although I do recognise that many medications make weight gain a familiar problem.
1. Keep meals regular
Routine is key to managing bipolar disorder and eating at set times each day can really help with your mood. Having three meals spread out throughout the day will help to keep your mind and body stable, ironing out the peaks and troughs that occur when you skip meals.
2. Eat home-cooked meals
Most ready meals and takeaway foods are packed with badness that could be avoided with a little home cooking. Unfortunately preparing a healthy meal can seem daunting unless you're feeling really stable. One solution I've found is to cook with another person such as a friend or family member - it takes away the pressure but helps keep you active. Another solution is to cook enough for two when you're feeling well (it's really not that harder than cooking for one) and either save half for tomorrow or feed somebody who will be happy to cook for you when you're in need.
3. Balance your blood sugar
The more uneven your blood sugar supply the more uneven your mood and the sudden peaks caused by junk food can cause unwelcome highs and lows. It's best to eat foods which provide a slow release of sugars, e.g. whole foods, fruits and vegetables. Although our meds often demand sweet food, it's best to avoid caffeine, sugar and refined carbohydrates, if possible!
Note: If you really can't part with chocolate, try replacing low quality snacks like Smarties or Mars Bars with Green & Blacks chocolate which is at least free from nasty additives and offers a range with high cocoa content (thus less sugar).
4. Avoid alcohol
In addition to the effects it has on your blood sugar, alcohol can accelerate mood changes and despite it's tendency to lower inhibitions, is ultimately a depressant. Whilst nobody likes a hangover, one can cause bipolar people to get out of routine prolonging the negative aftereffects of drinking. Alcohol also interacts with many psychiatric medications and is therefore best avoided all round.
5. Omega-3 oils
Found in fish, these oils are thought to have a profound impact on mood. Countries with populations which eat more fish have been found to have lower incidence of depression. However there are vegetarian alternatives such as flaxseed oil and walnuts.
6. Up your magnesium
Magnesium is important for the regulation of impulses in the nervous system and neurotransmitter production. Psych Central recommends whole grains, legumes and especially dark green leafy vegetables. Pumpkin seeds and salmon also have magnesium.
7. Up your Calcium
Calcium and magnesium work together to regulate the nervous system so if you increase your magnesium intake, you'll need a little more calcium. It's found in high quantities in dairy but you can find it in many other foods such as seaweeds, nuts, seeds, beans and oranges.
8. Seek out Vitamin B
Depression, anxiety, and fatigue can result from vitamin B deficiencies. The Bs have a generally energizing effect and help build up the immune system.
B1 (thiamine) can be found in yeast, liver and cereal grains and depletion is associated with emotional disturbances.
B3 (niacin) tends to be found in foods that are good sources of protein such as red meat, poultry, fish and nuts, although potatoes, pasta and yeast extract also contain this vitamin. Deficiency can cause irritability and insomnia.
B6 (pyridoxine) Good sources include meats, whole grain products, vegetables, and nuts. Low levels can lead to depression.
B12 (cobalamin) Is found in virtually all meats but also in milk, cheese, eggs, yeast extract, some fortified breakfast cereals and seaweed. It helps the body turn food into energy and also helps with cognitive deficits.
9. Schedule your grocery shopping to best fit your needs
It's always good to have some no-nonsense foods in the cupboard for days when you really can't face going to the shops, such as eggs, cans of soup and frozen ready meals. However, if you have the chance, shopping for groceries on a daily basis can helps to combat an unpredictable appetite. Whilst it's not a good idea to let your moods dictate exactly what and when you eat, frequent shops give you a wider variety of options. Perhaps you didn't think you could face eating until you were standing right in front of the bacon section, or on another day, the fresh pasta isle.
10. Check for food allergies and intolerances
Food intolerances can affect your mental health as well as your physical wellbeing and it's always worth being open to the possibility that removing one or two problem foods from your diet could have a positive impact on your mental stability.
Food for the brain
Mental Health Santuary
Weight Loss Resources
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Whilst bipolar disorder doesn't usually flare up until early adulthood, there are marked differences between children who will later develop the illness and those who won't. The most common sign in children is raging - tantrums that go on for hours and hours, usually without logical causes. As a child this was a big problem for me and my family yet my parents managed to control my mood swings almost entirely through diet.
After a test for food intolerances, we avoided dairy and food additives, particularly artificial colourings, and life got much easier. It was only when my problems worsened at 19 that I started to require drugs and therapy.
Susan Jane Murray, a former Oxford student was taken ill with an immune disorder three years ago and returned to good health using careful diet management. She's put together a website about food intolerances, packed with recipes and information. What we eat is as important for our mental wellbeing as it is for our physical and a food intolerance test is something you may want to consider if you have an ongoing mental health problem resistant to conventional treatments.
Regardless as to whether or not you have any allergies or intolerances, it's well known that food and mood are closely related. During the next few days I will compile a list of ways to help control bipolar disorder using diet and post it for you, here on this blog.
Friday, May 09, 2008
Dear person who has never walked even a step in my shoes,
Try rolling a dice every hour and if it lands on a six, you're going to spent the next half an hour feeling that somebody hates you or that you've done something terrible.
Try taking every slightly irritating thing somebody else does and blaming it on yourself. Then multiply that feeling by ten.
Try organising your life when you don't know whether you'll be well enough to do something until half an hour before the event, knowing there's a significant chance that you won't.
Try having to persistently study your own thoughts and perceptions to check that your illness hasn't caused you to make thinking errors.
Try rushing out of a room every few days in case someone sees your eyes welling up.
Once a week, try cooking a meal without making eye contact with anyone in case they notice your pain.
Try waking up ten to twelve hours after you went to bed feeling hung-over and nauseous from the mood stabilizers you've taken the night before, every day.
Try a day or two without exercise and feel your body prickling all over and find everything in the world makes you frustrated and angry. You can't sit still, you can't focus on a conversation and whatever you're doing, you want to be doing something else.
Try dealing with a problem, such as moving house and realise that just two hours of house hunting leaves you exhausted and with a sense of despair.
Try watching your family and friends cry because they can't always make you better.
Think of something you feel insecure about and repeat it to yourself 100 times an hour.
Try doing anything else during that hour.
Try finding yourself in fits of laughter one moment and floods of tears the next.
Try a day or even a week of feeling you're cured, only to then realise that the delusion was caused by mania, then having to come to terms with having a serious illness all over again.
Try suffering from the depression that follows mania and truly believing that you will never, ever get better.
Try spending at least a dozen days a year believing that every person you care about would be better off if you were dead.
Try having people judge you and criticise you for the lifestyle your illness forces you to live.
Try not to judge.
My doctor and a mental health charity, both of whom I trust, have been trying for weeks to get me CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) support during what has been a very trying time, yet the community mental health team have still not intervened.
I actively seek help but many people with severe mental health problems are resistant to treatment, partly due to the self-hiding nature of the illness, how do these people ever get the medical support that they need?
There are services which kick in if you're having a crisis, are suicidal or have self-harmed, but when it comes to preventative and ongoing support, the system repeatedly fails me.