Saturday, November 14, 2009

When Medicine Makes You Worse Not Better

The past year has been both one of the most amazing and hardest years of my life. And I realized when I talked to my doctor last week that I have been getting worse not better with all the meds.

I reached a high point of 5 different medicines. Three I take everyday and 2 as needed. This is the most I've been on since I came out of psychosis 6 years ago.

We decided together that we need to re-evaluate. So I am getting off Abilify and Zoloft. Amazingly enough being on Lamictal, Abilify and Zoloft has made me MORE depressed not less.

In the two weeks since we started reducing my dose ... I feel amazing. Like the old Rachael.

Anyone else have a situation when you got worse not better on meds?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why the Mean Comments?

For the most part I love writing this blog. I wish I had time to do it more often. I get amazing feedback via email from women (and a couple men) about how my blog has helped them. Inspired them or made them feel just less alone.

And then there is this one:
"Odd that your IQ level is so high, but you don't know the difference between "to much" and "too much." Check the "Sleep Sleep Sleep" post at the top of the page."

Seriously ... I don't believe that I ever said on here that I had a high IQ (maybe I did but I doubt it). I write stream of consciousness and sometime I type too fast. Maybe instead of making a snide comment you could send a nice message like - "I was reading your blog and noticed a typo I wanted to bring to your attention: XYZ.:

This comment was left for me months ago and it still bothers me. So there it is ... if you don't have something nice to say, then don't say it all all.

I have put very vulnerable information out here on this blog. And to receive criticism about grammar is ridiculous. I would much rather read and email criticizing me as a mother than my grammar.

Soon I'll have some new posts about being a bipolar mom and issues with medications.

If you ever have a question ... drop me a line at bipolarpregnancy @ I am willing to help in whatever way I can.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Looking for Guest Bloggers

I'm looking for guest bloggers for both this site and my soon to be live site

Email me at bipolarpregnancy @ if interested.

If you have already emailed me I apologize for the delay I have spent the last several weeks in a severe depression. But I'm doing much better now.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

When to Have a Second Baby

Sometimes I think I am truly nuts. I'm beginning to think about having baby number two. Why is it crazy? My daughter at 21 months old is really quite a handful. And truthfully I've had stability problems for the last year. I've suffered several bad depressions and a couple small hypomanic periods.

I've always wanted at least two and was thinking that I should be completely stable for a year before I have a second baby, but now I'm thinking if I have to go through all the turmoil, maybe now is the time.

And for me surprisingly enough pregnancy was easy mentally. In fact easier than the last year has been. Of course because I had hyperemesis pregnancy was not easy. I was sick the whole time ... and I mean really I threw up the night before my daughter was born because I took my zofran late.

Anyway, what do you all think about the timing?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Life as a Bipolar Mom

The emails and comments that I've gotten over the last month have overwhelmingly said that you want me to continue on with this blog. I'm glad to have heard from so many women that my blog has inspired you to know that you can have a baby, and breastfeed even though you have bipolar disorder. It's also been great for me to connect with so many of you. Sometimes it can feel like I'm the only one learning to juggle life with a baby and my illness, but then I just have to open my email and I find so many other women who I have so much in common with. If you haven't emailed me directly, please feel free to contact me at

I had a good suggestion from two women that I find someone who is currently pregnant to do some guest post writing. I thought that was a great idea, so if you are interested in sharing your story on this blog please email me.

Later this week I'll be doing a post on breastfeeding and meds. I breastfed for a full year while on a low dose of Lamictal ... I'll share my struggles and challenges so that if you are currently pregnant you know what options are out there once the baby comes.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Life After Baby

This blog started out just about being pregnant and bipolar. Over the last year and a half I've sporadically posted about life as a bipolar mom. I wonder if my readers want to hear about that or if you'd prefer that I just stick to posting relevant news about being pregnant. Drop me a line at bipolarpregnancy @ and let me know.

Here's an update on life as a bipolar mom ... it's hard! I know that motherhood in and of itself can be challenging, but I've had to face that additional challenge of trying to control my mood while raising my daughter. Let me first say being a mother is one of the best things I've ever done, but I could not ever do it without my husband. He is my rock when I fall apart. And I have had numerous challenging days were I feel like I've come undone. By come undone I mean that I have fallen into depressions and haven't been able to be the primary caregiver during those times. My husband has to take over.

I didn't really anticipate that I would face that challenge. I've said before I was stable -- no depression or mania for almost 5 years before becoming pregnant. The medications and my lifestyle kept everything in sync. The hormonal changes after pregnancy are still affecting me and I just haven't been able to get my med cocktail just right yet.

So there it is motherhood is amazing and wonderful ... but being bipolar makes it hard. Want to hear more about life as a bipolar mom ... let me know.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sleep, Sleep, Sleep

I've always found that sleep is one of my biggest challenges. When hypomanic I sleep too little, when depressed I sleep too much. So this article in the New York Times about sleep was interesting and I wanted to share it.

Cost-Effective Ways to Fight Insomnia
HOW much would you pay for a good night’s sleep?

If the sleep peddlers have their way, quite a bit. Sleep is a $23.9 billion industry — if you count things as diverse as mattresses, white noise machines and prescription pills — and it has more than doubled in the last decade, according to Marketdata Enterprises, a research firm in Tampa, Fla.

The market for insomnia drugs alone is expected to grow 78 percent, to nearly $3.9 billion, by 2012, as drug makers scramble to bring more pills to market to compete with name brands like Lunesta, Sonata and Ambien CR.

There is even a new event, the National Sleep Foundation’s Big Sleep Show, to promote sleep-inducing products and services to the tired masses. It occurs several times a year, and the next one is set for August in Dallas.

Sleeping is a serious problem for millions of people. The National Sleep Foundation (which receives financial support from pharmaceutical companies) estimates that 20 percent of Americans, up from 13 percent eight years ago, sleep fewer than six hours a night. The lucky few who sleep a full eight hours or more dropped to 28 percent, from 38 percent, the foundation said.

Read the full article here

Friday, May 22, 2009

Talking to Friends and Family about being Depressed

I was talking with my sister yesterday and she was completely surprised when I said I was depressed. In fact her comment was you were fine when I saw you Wednesday. She said you were happy ... at which point I told her that when I left your house to go "shopping" I was really just crying in my car for two hours.

I have always had an amazing ability to "pull it together" for a few hours so that others don't know how I am feeling. My sister said that she doesn't understand why I would hide what's going on from her. And I guess the answer is that my pride gets in the way. I have long struggled with my "perfect" image. When I was pregnant I was at a conference and heard a speaker who was talking about being your authentic self. Something in her talk made me realize that I do not show my authentic self to pretty much anyone except my husband -- not even my closest friends.

And I'm not neccesarily talking about just telling people about being depressed or that I'm bipolar. Whatever the struggles I have -- I tell no one.

It goes beyond my illness. I would be horrified if someone arrived at my house and it wasn't clean. In fact, I wouldn't let them in because I wouldn't want someone to think I was messy. I guess I want others to think that I'm perfect. I'm happy, life is good, there are no problems here.

It's a tough act to pull off. Especially when I have days I can't get out of bed. This past week when my nanny asked if I was ok or sick or something ... I made up some excuse about a bad period and headaches ... when the truth is she noticed I haven't been working when she is here I have instead been staying in my bedroom ... staring at the wall and hoping that I can gather up enough energy to be mom once she leaves.

Does anyone else do this? Pretend that everything is OK-- even to your loved ones.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Therapy ...

I've long told people (maybe even preached) that therapy is something that everyone needs. Whether you are bipolar, depressed or have no history of psychiatric illness, therapy can help you learn more about yourself, help you control your triggers (for me stress) and overall add to your sense of well being. As long as you are working with a good therapist who you trust.

It may come as a shock to some people who know me to find out that I actually haven't seen a therapist in years (at least 3 years). So why not? My last therapist was great, but I moved across the state. And honestly I have trust issues. I find it very hard to trust both doctors and psychologists. And honestly as someone who scores fairly high on IQ tests it is hard for me to trust in a doctor who I feel isn't at least as smart as I am (I know this sounds egotistical - and maybe it is).

I've been bouncing around for months between depression, stability and hypomania. I am so ready for it to get back to normal. I've said it a million times on this blog, but before having my daughter I was stable for almost 5 years. I had actually started to think that maybe I wasn't really bipolar.

Earlier this week I had to call my psychiatrist after-hours, which is something I try and never do. I was slightly hypomanic and was crawling out of my skin. I was so angry and irritable about everything. And yet at the same time I was sad and could cry at a moment's notice. I guess I was in a mixed state. During our conversation my Dr. asked if I had thought about going back into therapy.

So I decided to call my old therapist and was disheartened to find out he can't see me right now. He is the only therapist I've ever trusted. I felt such a connection with him. And he was amazing with me. I saw him off and on for 6 years. I guess I wasn't just dishearten I am devastated. The the one person I trust isn't available to me any longer.

And now I don't know where to turn. He recommended that I see someone else in his office, but honestly I just can't do that. I wouldn't be able to walk into that waiting room and see someone else. Not to mention that I don't want to drive two hours to see someone new.

I had such a great relationship with my therapist ... really great. And I guess now that I've been gone for so long, that's over. And I am mourning the loss.

So the question I now have, should I look for someone else? Can I even start over again? Would I want to start over again? Therapy makes me feel raw and exposed. And the only way to make progress is to open yourself up to someone completely.

And if I decide to go into therapy again, where do I start? I found my old therapist through a friend's recommendation, these days I don't even know who I'd ask to begin to search for a new one.

So I want to ask my readers, how do you pick a new therapist?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Being Bipolar and Being a Mom

Being a new mom this last year has been challenging (and so worth it as it has been incredibly rewarding raising my daughter). I know that many women struggle with the transition to becoming a mom, but I wonder how much of my struggles have been because I have bipolar disorder. I know my recent problems with rapid cycling have obviously been a result of having bipolar disorder, but prior to that the way that crying and tantrums make me feel is that because of my personality or because I don't handle stress well and is that related to the disorder or is it just who I am?

I don't know why I've been thinking about it lately. Maybe because I currently have a heavy dose of guilt. Guilt that I'm a working mom and sometimes wonder if my nanny has too much impact on my daughter's life (even though she is only with her 20 hours a week I still feel guilty). I feel guilty sometimes when I think what if my daughter grows up and thinks she has a crazy mother. A mother who can't always keep it all together. She has a mother who currently struggles with keeping the depression and hypomania away.

I also can't help but wonder what would have happened if I hadn't had a baby. Would I be going through the struggle of keeping myself healthy? I was completely stable for almost 5 years. No major episodes in 5 years. That's a long time. And then I decided to get pregnant. And pregnancy changed everything. I switched up my medicine, I went off my medicine for the first trimester, then I went on a low dose. I stayed on a lower than normal dose for a full year because I was breastfeeding. And in the last few months I think I am paying the consequences of those medication decisions. I never in my life was a rapid cycler until about 5 months ago. And I have lived with bipolar disorder for 16 years -- more than half of my life (although only properly diagnosed for the last 6 prior to that I was treated for depression and anxiety disorders).

Anyway, the point of this rambling is to just wonder how has being bipolar affected how good a mother I am or am not?

I mostly beleive that I am a great mom. I spend a lot of time with my daughter doing things like baby sign language and playing, but I still wonder one day if my "craziness" will affect her.

Saturday, February 7, 2009 Article: Do Pregnancy and Bipolar Disorder Mix?

I was interviewed for this article which was just published on It shares the experiences of several women who are/were pregnant and taking or not taking bipolar medications.

Do Pregnancy and Bipolar Disorder Mix?

As recently as 10 years ago, doctors advised women with bipolar disorder not to have children. While that thinking is now dated, bipolar women often face tough decisions about how to handle their medication during pregnancy.

Most drugs prescribed for bipolar disorder carry some risk of birth defects, yet women who discontinue medication risk relapsing into a manic or depressive episode; during the postpartum phase the relapse rate is as high as 50% to 70%, by some estimates. Even more alarming, bipolar women are 100 times more likely than other women to experience postpartum psychosis, a severe mood disorder that, at its very worst, can result in infanticide.

Read the full article here

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Talking About Being Bipolar

Like many of the readers who contact me, I've long struggled with when and if I tell people that I have bipolar disorder. Of course my whole extended family and many friends know, but it isn't the kind of thing that you shout out to the world.

Recently someone I know who is a friend on facebook posted something on my wall referencing me being bipolar and I didn't know what to do. I ended up deleting their post because I use facebook to network for work. When I'm not taking care of my beautiful little girl, I'm a web developer and IT consultant and several of my clients are connected to me on facebook and twitter.

It's funny because it isn't as if I am hiding my condition. I was interviewed in the book - Taming Bipolar Disorder (which I recommend anyone with bipolar disorder read, especially if you are newly diagnosed) and they used my full name and my company's name.

And most recently I was interviewed for an article about bipolar disorder and pregnancy. The article is scheduled to be published on in the next 2-3 weeks. I'll update this when the article is up. In both of these instances I thought it was important to be willing to use my full name to let people who are also in the same boat with bipolar disorder know that they are not alone and that being bipolar isn't anything you need to hide.

There have been numerous times when I felt nervous about telling a new friend that I am bipolar. I always worry that they might think I'm crazy and not want anything more to do with me. Luckily that only happened once.

What's your experience with telling people you have bipolar disorder? Leave a comment or email me at bipolarpregnancy @

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Resolution - to Get Back on Track

The past year I've had some of the best moments of my life. It's the little moments I cherish. Like when my baby (who turned 1 two weeks ago) runs over to me and hugs me. Or when she gives me a kiss. She is an amazing little girl and as cliche as it is, she is the light of my life.

Unfortunately 2008 has also brought some not so happy moments. After years of stability I've been struggling off and on since my daughter's birth in Dec. 07. I never thought that it would last this long. There have been days when I didn't want to get out of bed and days I was flying high with hypomania. There were also days in the last month of rapid cycling between depression, hypomania and extreme irritability. I have recently added Abilify to the Lamictal and Ativan and hope that it will get me back on track.

So my New Year's Resolution is to find my mood stability! I know that medicine is only half the battle the other part is up to me with exercise, good nutrition, supplements and maintaining a good attitude.

I have been blessed to have virtually "met" many wonderful people through this blog. I wish all of you success in your pregnancies.

Best wishes for a Happy and HEALTHY 2009,