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The Path of Least Resistance

~~ Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) ~~  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 



by Carley Cooper

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How often have you wondered over the years why it seems that you didn’t get an easy path like others do?  Everyone has bumps in their path that they have to climb over, get around, or sometimes even blast out of the way.  For me, my biggest obstacle is Bipolar Disorder.  It is something that I can’t get away from.  It’s there staring me in the face daily.  I can’t take a vacation from it.  Whether I’m feeling good or not; I’m still bipolar.  It took me many years to get the proper diagnosis.  I finally know what’s wrong with me.  I finally have a good medical team; and support from other sources.  I have found though, that it’s all limited.  Meds stop working after a while, the best counseling or therapy can’t prevent episodes from happening, friends and loved ones get tired of the roller coaster and walk away.  I’ve learned in my life that often other people just can’t take it anymore and push me away permanently.  It’s another obstacle that I have to live with.  I’m broken, and others can only offer so much support before they run out of energy themselves. 

I have always felt that if I could only help my friends and family understand it more than maybe they would have more tools to work with.  Maybe they wouldn’t walk away so quickly.  Maybe you have felt the same way, so I’ve compiled a list of resources that will help you to better understand this beast that we’re fighting.  If you a sufferer than this should give you some insight into your symptoms, and possibly give you something extra to talk to your doctors about.  I learned things about myself from some of these things that I wasn’t aware of before.  I learned about symptoms that I didn’t  know were symptoms.  If you’re someone who is living with a loved one who is suffering and you want or need to understand more this should  give you some insight as well. 
 

The Basic’s off Bipolar Disorder (BPD):

  • There are 2 types:
Bipolar 1 – More severe; often known by behaviour that will put the sufferer in danger.  For example, during a mania period s/he may believe they can fly, and attempt to jump  off a roof. 
Bipolar 2 – Less severe; sufferers do not usually put themselves in danger. 
  • Extreme mood swings beyond that of a normal healthy person.  These mood swings go from extreme depression to a manic high and back again.  The time limit in between mood changes vary from person to person. 
  • A depressive or a mania period is commonly referred to as an episode.  Some will have an episode that can last as long as years.  Others can have episodes that change in a matter of half an hour, and then back again.  These more frequent changing episodes are called ‘Rapid Cycling’. 
  • Severe changes in energy for most people accompany the changes in mood swings.  This can mean little to no energy that is needed to live life and care for one self.  It could also mean extreme energy highs that don’t allow the sufferer to stop and rest. 
  • Characteristics of a Manic Episode:
- Extreme irritability or distractibility
- Excessive high or euphoric feelings
- Sustained periods of impulsive, unusual or bizarre behaviour; often accompanied by risk taking.  (Which could possibly allow the sufferer to unknowingly put themselves in danger.)
- Increased energy and activity
- Rapid talking – the sufferer will talk fast and for prolonged periods, sometimes leaving the listener unable to understand what they’re talking about.
- Rapid thinking – often called racing thoughts.  Thoughts come at a rapid speed and usually about random subjects that are unrelated to each other.
- Hyper sexuality – often with the need to have sex several times per day.
- Provocative or obnoxious behaviour
- Agitation
- Decreased sleep
- Unrealistic beliefs in one’s on abilities
- Poor judgement
- Poor concentration
- Loss of appetite – sometimes forgetting to eat for, as long as, days.
- Addictions and Substance abuse
- Denial of a problem
- Often people are afraid to follow the path of happiness because they do not know if what they are feeling is really happiness or a mania episode. 
- In full-blown psychotic episodes paranoia, hallucinations (including sound, smell, and visual) and delusions are also possible.
  • Characteristics of a Depressive Episode:
- Persistent, sad, anxious or empty mood
- Feeling guilty or worthless
- Hopeless or pessimistic feelings
- Loss of pleasure in usual activities
- Decreased energy
- Loss of sex drive
- Loss of memory or concentration
- Irritability or restlessness
- Sleep disturbances or increased sleeping
- Loss of or increase in appetite
- Persistent thoughts of death
  • BPD can result in:
- Inability to function – which also varies in intensity from person to person.
- Damaged relationships – BPD sufferers have a difficult time keeping and maintaining relationships and friendships. 
- Bad work performance
- Suicide
  

More information can be found at:


Video Resources: 


Here is a list of videos that I have found to be helpful and informative.  Though there are many videos you could watch; these are those that have touched me; the ones I could relate to the most.  Most of these are a maximum of 12 minutes long.  A couple of the documentaries listed that are longer, I’ve noted the length of time.  Each of these videos contributes some important information to understanding the overall picture of Bipolar Disorder.  I suggest that over time, you watch all of them.

BIPOLAR DISORDER ISSUES


An Overall Look at Bipolar Disorder

From teamThrive with Bipolar Disorder

Living with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder Documentary

Bipolar State of Being Videos  (This is a video blog of a woman living with BPD.  I find her video’s wonderful as I can relate to so much of what she goes through.  I’ve chosen these as the once that I can relate to the most, but she’s posted many others.)
   
Documentary: Stephen Fry Story
  

OTHER MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES


Documentary on Mental Illness

Social Anxiety Documentary: Afraid of People  (57 min.) - (Social Anxiety has been a very big part of my life for many years.)

Schizophrenia: A Recovery (26 min.) - (Though this is not BPD, it can give you a glimpse into the world of mental illness.  There is hope though, as this very brave young man shows.  My hat is off to this guy!)



Strictly for the non-sufferers who need to understand this, just let me give you this advice from the perspective of a suffer.  This is what we need most:
  • start by always having patience.  Don’t ever forget that the person you’re looking at, is suffering even when it doesn’t necessarily appear so.  Please be patient, caring, considerate, compassionate, and above all don’t judge.  Basically, love them purely.  I promise you that there is no greater therapy, comfort, advice, medication or support that you can give. 
  • Next, love them enough to want to inform yourself.  I know from experience that it hurts when I get brushed off as though I were a pesky mosquito.  To have someone love me enough to want to educate themselves for me, would show me a world that I have rarely seen before. 
  • Next, understand that when mistakes are made, relationships are damaged, harsh words are spoken, impulsive decisions are made; it’s all part of the disease.  This is not who your loved one is naturally; or highly unlikely.
  • Pray, constantly on their behalf.  Often times your loved one is not capable of knowing the best choice to make.  You can help by praying for this. 
  • Stigma – it’s real, it stare’s us in the face daily.  Do your part to kill it.  Help to inform others. 
  • Rejecting the sufferer, if you love them at all, should be an absolute last resort! 

I hope these lists help you in some way; that your struggles may become easier, if not disappear completely.  For myself, well I haven’t always been the one to chose the path of least resistance in this journey that is my life.  As a matter of fact, even when I do have a choice, often I chose the more difficult path.  Some would say this is... well, crazy.  I’ve certainly been accused of worse.  Of course, those are the paths where I have options and choices.  Mental health issues, in any format, is always the more difficult path; and it is not by choice that we who are suffering follow this course.  The difficulty level is escalated by medication side effects, that are as long and varied as people who are taking them; and the stigma in the world today regarding mental illness.  If I told someone that I had Cancer, Diabetes, AIDS, Crones Disease, or any of hundreds of other health problems; people would not judge me or be afraid.  The first mention of mental illness means I have often lost a potential friendship before it even got started, damaged current ones, or have been rejected by a (potential) dating partner. 

However, I have learned that I am an over-comer.  It has taken me a long time, but I’ve come to see that there is strength, pride in my accomplishments, and a bigger lesson to be learned by accepting a challenge.  My current obstacles have  left me feeling very tired; mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I would love to have a vacation from it now and then, but I can’t.  The best I can have is a quick pit stop.  More often than not I feel alone, isolated and rejected; but I never give up hope.  My hope comes from my faith in Jesus.  I am grateful for Him.  My heart is troubled for those who are sufferers and not believers.  As much as I go through on a daily basis, I know Jesus gives me hope.  Not only for my salvation, but as a child of God I know that there is a very real possibility of me being cured one day (if it is in His will).  It is a huge advantage over nonbelievers.  I also know that there is a very real possibility that my issues could in fact very well be in part, if not all, from spiritual warfare.  The ‘symptoms’ of my struggles also fit into that category, but that’s a whole other blog post.  God is in the miracle business.  I am His child, and He loves me.  There was a time when I lived very successfully without medication for about four years.  I only went back on medication when my life was filled with extreme stress (an abusive situation and having to face a possibility of being homeless).  My faith in Jesus gives me the hope that one day I will be medication free again; and it will last forever this time.  I will be able to live a healthy, productive life without rejection or stigma.  You see, I know that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)).   




~~ Dear God ~~  Thank You for the path that You have chosen for me, and the obstacles that You place in front of me.  Help me to overcome each one in a way that will make You proud of me, and will help me to help others the most.  In Jesus name, AMEN.




35 comments :

  1. Comments from thread on FB group 'Christian Bloggers Network':

    DT: Great list of resources, Carley Cooper. Wishing there were more awareness and less stigma attached to mental illnesses.

    Carley: Thank you. It was born out of my own frustration with stigma.

    DT: Don't give up, my friend. If we each do our own little part, it will become a reality.

    Carley: Thanks. :-)

    DT: I am praying for you.

    Carley: Thank you so much. Hugs

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  2. My niece has bi-polar and it has been a difficult path for her.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing. I hope the resource list that I've shared can be of some help to her or those around her. Blessings to you, and to her. HUGS.

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  3. Cool!
    That is great information. I did not have time to read it all but at least I now know where to find the information.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. I'm glad you liked it. I hope it helps people to see this list. I'm sure there is tons of stuff that I could keep adding here if I wanted to, but this should cover the basics well to help people have understand. Which, hopefully will give sufferers more support, and help end stigma with those who don't. There is a lot of video there to watch and I know people couldn't watch them all at the same time. It would be good to bookmark it. Blessings to you. HUGS.

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  4. Carley, these are excellent resources, and I hope to be able to come back and look them over, and even share with a friend who also is bi-polar. I would say that I am level 2, but this friend is definitely level 1. It is scary sometimes not knowing what to do for her. I am glad that we have medical care that can help us. It is when we are open and honest about our own struggles that we can most help others. When we are open, then they are likely to share their own struggles. I am well aware of my issues. I also at times rapid cycling, but not always. You are a real help to many. Encouraging those who are supporters of those with bi-polar to be as supportive as they can.
    Thank you dear sister.

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    Replies
    1. You are so very welcome. Thank you for sharing and for the encouragement. I hope that even just one person can be blessed by this resource list. It would make my journey worth it. Blessings to you. HUGS.

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  5. NDTEACHER1April 25, 2012

    Thank you for posting this.

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    Replies
    1. You are so very welcome. I hope that it blesses you or someone you know. Blessings to you. HUGS.

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  6. POETLKNG2LOSEApril 25, 2012

    My daughter also has bipolar as well as some other medical conditions that plague her. Now she just found out last week she might have celiac disease. Please pray for her.

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    1. Thank you for the feedback; and also thanks so much for sharing. I will indeed say a prayer for your daughter. Blessings to you and to her. HUGS.

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  7. I BELIEVE THE BI POLAR HAS GIVEN YOU POSITIVE INSITES IN LIFE THAT OTHERS MISS ! I BEEN READING YOUR BLOGS AND YOUR WITNESS HAS HELP ME FIND MYSELF AND MADE ME A BETTER PERSON ! GOD USES YOU WELL MY FRIEND ! Hugs. You can do it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you sooooo much for the amazing feedback. You are such an incredible blessing to me. It's feedback like this that helps me to know I should keep going when I start to doubt myself. Again, thank you. Big blessings to you and your family. HUGS.

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  8. I don't know if I could handle being Bipolar! I've worked with people in the School Board who were Bipolar. I went with the flow as it were and helped him stay out of trouble. He did try to fly on a couple of occasions! Then the team adapted and kept him on ground level! Thank you so much for the rest of the information... I knew there was more to it but I didn't know it was that much! My prayers are with you Carley!

    Ray

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    1. Thank you so very much Ray for sharing, and especially from the point of view of someone who's around it, but doesn't have it. I am sooo happy to hear that your team adjusted to help. I've heard way to many stories that are the opposite... the sufferer is rejected, fired, or asked to leave because others just don't want to help. It's nice to hear that your group was willing to adjust. If more people were willing to do that, then stigma would start to die. Thanks. Blessings to you and to your whole team. HUGS.

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    2. Thank you Carley! The Lord works in mysterious ways! Our group is unique in the way that we have one that's ADHD, One Bipolar, one that has severe Autism, ... the list goes on but we still are able to work with each other at the college... It's truly a special place!

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  9. My daughter also is Bi-Polar and who knows what else....I realize it is not her fault, but I cannot help her unless she is willing to try. This has me struggling with fatigue, chronic pain and, not to mention financial burdens. She is nearly 33 years old and has been on her own for 14 years, meaning she does not live with me. She has a 12 year old son who lives with his dad, now.
    She would not take her meds as she should, she lost her job and so insurance too, now she says she cannot afford her meds, but she calls me in the middle of the night, usually drunk, threatens me or herself. I am at the end of my rope! I have God , He is my strength , but she refuses to let Him be hers. She wants everything her way and will not bend the tiniest bit. ...I think I am done.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so very much for sharing your story. You are not alone when you keep your faith in Jesus. As a sufferer, that's often hard for me to see myself, but I never give up hope. I will pray for your daughter, and your family. God is in the miracle business, and He loves you and your daughter (even if she doesn't know it yet!) Blessings to you and your family. HUGS.

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    2. I really don't know much about Bipolar. My mother in law struggles with it and I think my husband has it too. What are some signs? I know he loses his temper very easily and he goes from one extreme to the other quickly. I will pray for you guys.

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    3. I will pray for your situation Tanya. I've included a list of characteristics in the article I wrote along with a list of websites and videos you can go to for more information and help. Blessings to you and your family. HUGS.

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    4. I'm so sorry

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    5. Thank you, but web sites and articles are no answer. I have all the info I need on her mental illness....I can not help her! That is all I am saying. I will never lose my faith in God or Jesus our Savior.Please do not take this wrong, but.... I did not ask for nor do I need advice, I love my daughter as much as the day she was born, but I (nor anyone else!!!!!) can help her, she has to deal with it herself.

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    6. I said some prayers for her. Hugs.

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  10. ANGELREJOICES54April 25, 2012

    THANK YOU SPARKYCARLEY, AND THAT IS A GOOD QUESTION FOR
    I KNOW THAT OUR LIVES ARE PLANED OUT, BUT WITH THE HELP OF
    GOD I THINK I WOULD NOT BE WHERE I AM NOW IF MY LIFE HAD NOT
    WENT THROUGH SOMETHINGS.

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    Replies
    1. You are so welcome. I'm glad you liked it. Thank you for the feedback and support. Blessings to you. HUGS.

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  11. I praise God for the calling you have accepted to be a faithful follower . You assembled with great diligence a grouping of the best resources available and I pray you have some of the best medical experts to advise you well. I’m in adoration of our God who’s word and instructions for our life truly hold up to the test of time in helping us live loving and productive lives. Thanks for sharing such a personal experience with us, Carley. You are brave. May we be understanding when life is not so kind with what you have to manage. -- Evelyn

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    1. Thank you Evelyn. Sometimes I don't feel very brave. Truthfully the whole list was born out of the frustration I feel when others judge me. I just want to feel somewhat normal and others like me to feel the same. Thanks for reading, and for the encouragement. It means more than I can say. Blessings to you. HUGS.

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  12. Replies
    1. You are welcome. Blessings to you and your family. HUGS.

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  13. MRSBECHTOLDApril 26, 2012

    You're right. God gives us challenges that we may grow and trust in Him that much more. Thanks be to God that He directs our paths.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. I hope God brings many blessings to you and your family. HUGS.

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  14. SANDRALEETApril 28, 2012

    The Bath of lest resistance is the easy bath.The way of the world.You my dear on not on it.Mental illness is not a sin.God made us that way .God dose not make mistakes.He has a purpose for each of use.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading, and thank you sooo much for the support. It really does mean so much to me. Blessings to you. HUGS.

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