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Hi Erika. I am glad you you are actively motivated to try something to help your depression. Unfortunately, not sleeping wreaks havoc with your DNA and can also trigger mania. Antidepressants given without mood stabilizers or antipsychotic drugs can also trigger mania, especially in those with bipolar disorder. Mood stabilizers like Lithium, Lamictal, and Depakote are usually first line. I have been on many different medications for bipolar disorder in the past, heavily medicated on max dosages and up to 4 drugs at a time. For a few years now, I have been on a minimal dose of Neurontin, which I was told “doesn’t really help bipolar” so it was the last drug I “got to” try. It helps curb my social anxiety enough to challenge my internal “fright zone” and get out and do things. Yes, drugs that help one person may not help everyone. Side effects of the drugs that help can often be mistaken for disease continuum, resistance, recurrence, or even initial trigger. Minimal pharmaceuticals has helped me, taking leave of therapy after 16 years has helped me, seeing my physician regularly to investigate any health issues that may be going on helps me (check your thyroid levels; this is a huge reason for tiredness and feeling depression; some of the medications may even be responsible. I developed anemia after donating blood and would have thought it was “just my depression” had I not mentioned it to my doctor who wrote me a script for blood work. Ask for scripts for bloodwork if you feel fatigue!) Allowing the feeling of being depressed has helped me to feel that, depression as an emotion in and of itself, without judging it as something to fight, which actively continued its spurning into a huger episode; holding me back from living life and requesting more of the medication that was keeping me out of it. Anger for not being able to cope with this invisible disorder was also unbeknownst to me for a very long while. Sleeping and eating regularly, healthfully, are the number one telltale signs that you are okay. A few sleepless, thought-filled nights may be okay but ruminating and not sleeping enough is not okay for the long haul. Keep an eye on that antidepressant and keep in touch with your doctor. Please get enough sleep. Your bipolar body will seriously thank you. I love that you write; I think that is your tool to work through your struggles as well as who you are, an artist. Your concise descriptions of your disorder moved me to feel connected enough to share today. Writing is my most precious tool, too. Keep in mind, all of what you have tried in the past has brought you to now in your living with this disease. Befriending it and pulling into yourself can be quite challenging through the waxing and waning years of a lifetime. But that is the part where things start to hurt, focusing your helpfulness and caring through others; that often work best for me. When you meet with your pain is where we begin to grow. I think you may already know that. Keep in touch with your people and let them know when you are taking a break from being social…so they won’t think you are isolating, but only welcoming some much needed down time, so that you can show off your better self as you continue to grow, your Gifted Healer Toolbox. I am going sky diving for the first time today. This was not a desire or bucket list thing. Not a bipolar risk-taking stunt. I am going as an Aunt, because my niece invited me and I said yes. We are jumping out of that plane together. My niece, has bipolar disorder too. Happy Landings!

Thank you my new friend, Erika…for writing today.