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Forums / Staying well / This bipolar life

Topic: This bipolar life

  1. Kazzl
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    13 June 2016

    Are your moods are like an elevator with no control buttons? Mine are.

    Ground floor ... I feel normal, content, just quietly getting on with ordinary, everyday life, loving my family and friends. This is as it should be. And maybe there's nothing wrong with me after all. Live.

    Going up, top floor. Oh look! There's a shiny thing! I want to sing! Let's go buy stuff! Let's have a big party and invite the world! What could possibly go wrong! Woooooo hoooooooo! Play.

    Going up (a different day) top floor. What do you mean you don't agree with me! I'm right! Why don't you think like me? Keep up! How can you be so illogical? I'll f-ing shred you if you don't do what I want! Rage.

    Going down, lower ground floor. Flat, listless, can't be bothered. Can still function but it's a drag. Cope

    Going down, basement. I'm never getting out of bed again. I'm useless, worthless. Total idiot, how could I ever imagine I could do anything, nothing ever goes right because I'm wrong. I'm a burden to everyone. Hide.

    Welcome to my bipolar world. It's always been my world, but it's only recently I've seen it for what it is. About 15 years ago I was diagnosed with clinical depression during one of my 'basement' times. I had a lot of lower ground floor times too, on and off, and I kept out of the basement (so I thought) with alcohol. Until that took me into the blackest ever basement with only one obvious way out. Having survived doing something very dangerous I realised I had to stop drinking or I really would die.

    I never took much notice of the playful times or the anger, that was just me, I was fun sometimes, and sometimes I was a devastating bitch. Ha! Deal with it people!

    Well, yes, but in time the elevator started going up and down too quickly and, as I became more aware and more knowledgeable about mental health I realised this wasn't good. Doctor. Diagnosis. Bipolar 2. Lithium.

    So, I've started this thread in the hope that other bipolar folks will join me, to share experiences and strategies. In my 'beginners' understanding, we are different from other fellow travellers of the back dog. While we experience depression as many others on this site do, the hypomanic or manic ups and, for some the rapid cycling that can happen, are experiences unto themselves.

    I want to learn more, and I want to share with others. I hope my fellow elevators will join me here.
    BTW, it's a ground floor day in my head today! Yay!

    Love

    Kaz

    31 people found this helpful
  2. Missing user
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    13 June 2016 in reply to Kazzl

    Hi Kaz. What a descriptive and poignant post! Firstly, I'm really pleased that you are now feeling well enough that you have allowed yourself to finally open up this new thread. From reading posts to the Forums over the past 6 months I can see that there are many people out there who suffer from bipolar. And I expect that many will be able to gain insights and comfort by sharing experiences through this thread.

    There does not seem to be a very good understanding of bipolar in the general community. So I am looking forward to gaining a better understanding of the disorder. I'm also thrilled to finally have an appropriate place where I can check to see how you're going, and hopefully give support to you when its needed. (-:

    I'm very happy to read that today is a Ground Floor day for you! Thus you are feeling normal and content. It sounds like the new medications have all settled.

    Love to you Kaz,

    Sherie xx

  3. Lost Girl
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    13 June 2016 in reply to Missing user

    A quick hello from me so I may follow your journey, support you and learn about bipolar.

    Much love to you Kaz,

    Carol xx

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  4. Kazzl
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    13 June 2016 in reply to Lost Girl

    Thank you ladies, what treasures you are. A gift to this site and to me. xx

    Sherie - yes it's taken a while to do this, but I had to get something of a grip on it before I felt I could post about it. It's strange ... the diagnosis doesn't change anything (except the treatment) I'm still me like I've always been. But boy has it open an emotional and intellectual can of worms.

    There's the looking back - if I'd been diagnosed years ago what things might I have avoided? Maybe I'd never have become an alcoholic, maybe I could have helped my daughter (also bipolar I've just found out! She's know for 10 years and not told me until now), maybe I would have understood my mum better (never diagnosed but knowing what I do now, most definitely - my doc says it's genetic). Maybe I wouldn't have done, bought, committed myself to so many things that didn't turn out right. Maybe I wouldn't have had the 'breakdown' that took me out of a job I loved and into drunken dwelling in the basement for a year.

    But then, I know if those things hadn't happened, I wouldn't be who I am and where I am now. I wouldn't have met my Pom, love of my life and everything to me. And I tell myself 'don't look back Kaz, look ahead'.

    The trouble with looking ahead though is that knowing how unrealistic and misguided I can be, how I can overreach and 'get a bee in my bonnet' about things, I now doubt myself. I decide to do something - is it a good idea? Why do I think everyone will agree? Will they? Maybe I'm wrong, just having a bipolar moment, tomorrow it will look as ridiculous as it is.

    I guess where I'm at now is being aware that I must not let it stop me entirely ... I could be wrong, I might have silly ideas, I might get angry and say the wrong thing, but if I doubt myself all the time I'll be immobilised. And hiding in the darkness isn't an option. Been there too many times, and I survived for a reason. To be here, now, with my love, my kids, my friends, and to help others. And I'm staying.

    Thanks for your kind words lovelies. Love youse. xx

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  5. Kazzl
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    15 June 2016 in reply to Kazzl

    I'm such an impatient bugger. Two weeks on new medication and I feel no different. I want it to work NOW.

    I'm still cycling ... good for a few days before and during the weekend, then right down on Monday and yesterday, although that was probably inevitable given the events in Orlando.

    Last night I was a mix, sad and sinking but couldn't shut my brain down. Not hyper in my body but a million miles an hour in my mind. When I slept I had very strange dreams.

    But today so far I'm better than I expected to be.

    Anyone out there got good tips for slowing a racing mind? And if anyone has gone onto lithium, how long was it till you knew whether it was having an effect? This is exhausting.

    Thanks, Kaz

  6. Gruffudd
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    15 June 2016 in reply to Kazzl

    So calming the savage Robbie I do have experience in. I go with the tried and tested distraction followed by something that slows me down. Food, TV, Internet, exercise distracts. The calm comes from the bath, drawing...

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  7. blondguy
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    15 June 2016 in reply to Kazzl

    Hi Kazzl

    Great post! I will be learning at lot from it. I recently saw a movie that actually 'embraced bi-polar' in a caring way which helped me understand the symptoms

    "Infinitely Polar Bear" A movie written and produced that respected the illness. It is available and recent.

    I had a 'racing mind for so long the anxiety levels exacerbated to such a high level I had to go AD's...as well as the various coping mechanisms the AD's did slow my mind so I could function effectively in life...Paulx

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  8. Kazzl
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    15 June 2016 in reply to blondguy

    Thanks xx

    Rob I like the distractions too, I'm just not good at focus when I'm like this. I want to do them all and more all at the same time.

    Paul - I'll have a look for that movie. Thanks mate!

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  9. Lost Girl
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    15 June 2016 in reply to Kazzl

    Hi Kaz,

    At the height of my anxiety, exacerbated by the ADs I was on, my mind was racing like you describe.

    Like you I felt the need to do multiple things at once. The combination that worked best for me was watching a very calm tv show, something slow paced. In my case I watched Heartland. I either crocheted or coloured in the adult colouring in books (with gel pens because pencils were too slow), and (you may laugh), I ate carrot sticks because it helped further occupy my senses. I also used a heatpack because of my pain but it is possible that something like that or a hot water bottle might help occupy other senses for you helping the mind to feel occupied. This worked for me until the meds evened out.

    I hope this may help in some way.

    Kind thoughts,

    Carol xx

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  10. Kazzl
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    16 June 2016 in reply to Lost Girl
    Thanks Carol - I've wondered about colouring in. Might give it a go. I'm impressed that you took so many actions. I need to make myself do that instead of just staying 'stuck' in my thoughts. Cheers hun.
  11. Kazzl
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    17 June 2016 in reply to Kazzl

    Flat as ... not quite in the basement yet but I feel like I'm heading there. It's Friday night, I should be relaxed and happy. Nothing bad happened today, nothing good either, just feel like I can't be bothered with the world. Feel raw, like my mind has a gravel rash and every thought aggravates it.

    Another two weeks till I see my doc. I am so tempted to starting upping the medication but I know I'd tell someone else not to do that. Might see if I can get an appointment earlier. My doc said last time if the medication isn't effective I'll need to see a psychiatrist who can develop a more complex drug treatment. Hate this. Hate being in the hands of the pharmaceutical companies. I just want the damn things to work!

  12. white knight
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    17 June 2016 in reply to Kazzl

    Hi kaz,

    I've found that my mood stabilisers only help me with overall mood not spontaneous "tip my bucket over" conflicts.

    My AD's help me with keeping my depression at bay....also only most times.

    With this in mind and reading about your GP suggesting psych visits for more complex medication it struck a cord with me. I felt like saying to you...yes do it.

    Bipolar in my experiences (diagnosed type 1 2003, correctly diagnosed type 2 2009) is more fickle in seeking the right meds for you.

    The main symptom left in me is spontaneity from other people. I call it " pushing my buttons". Eg I could have a good calm conversation with someone and agree on a plan

    If the person repeats themselves about my tasks I can flip out. One work colleague reminded me 3 times to put a cover over my baked beans in the microwave all within one minute.

    I couldn't tolerate it. Don't know it that'd you but your OP was quite accurate.

    Tony WK

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  13. Kazzl
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    17 June 2016 in reply to white knight
    Hiya Tony - thanks mate. I'd settle for a more stable overall mood right now! Things have always pushed my buttons but I used to be a lot better at not letting them explode me. Or at least I'd bounce back quickly if they did. I don't feel I have any defences at the moment. None of the usual protective processes like reasoning or ignoring or dismissing. It's exhausting.
  14. Lost Girl
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    17 June 2016 in reply to Kazzl

    Hi Kaz,

    Getting in as early as you can to see the dr sounds like a plan.

    I have done a little reading, not much, on bipolar. I am wondering if you have tried some exercise. I read that the chemicals released during exercise can help towards mood stabilising. I know it's late at night now but the internet would probably have free classes to follow in things like zumba for example that might help with both mood and sleep?

    I know that's probably not much help so here's a gentle hug instead.

    Kind thoughts,

    Carol xx

  15. Sharny
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    17 June 2016 in reply to Kazzl

    Thank you for sharing your post Kazz. It's interesting hearing of your thoughts and the journey you've had. I think you are strong willed and incredibly self aware which can only be two traits to take with you along the way. It's a tough illness at times. I've had high anxiety at times with the hypomania, I used cognitive behavioural therapy to combat that, I use meditation to calm my setting when I feel edgy, I know when the irritability is surfacing.

    To be honest, I'm reluctant to chat about my 3 years on pharmacy. It's not that I don't want to give tips etc but more that I believe each persons experience is different and how they respond to treatment can vary quite a bit. Obviously I chose to leave pharmaceuticals and try just natropath/ homeopathic , cognitive behavioural therapy and meditation because I felt thats what I'd like to do but again its individual stages and how they want to support the illness.

    Thanks for sharing Kazz.

  16. Kazzl
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    17 June 2016 in reply to Sharny
    Hi Sharny thanks for posting, I'm glad you're here. Have you been through the rapid cycling? More like a rollercoaster than an elevator.
  17. Missing user
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    19 June 2016 in reply to Kazzl

    Morning Kaz. I hope you have gotten yourself out of the basement by now? And are you in the elevator or the rollercoaster?

    Have you been able to enjoy your weekend so far? Like us up here, I think you are likely to get a wet day there today. Hopefully you can do something you enjoy doing - Did you watch the Wallabies last night? Dissappointing again werent they? They had an absolute glut of possession, but couldnt do anything with it. Oh well. Bugger that Eddie Jones and also assistant coach Ella!!

    I note your comment above: I don't feel I have any defences at the moment. None of the usual protective processes like reasoning or ignoring or dismissing. Why has this changed Kaz, why do you feel you have lost your usual protection processes? Is it the new medications, or something else? If this doesnt improve, I think it would be worthwhile to see your Dr before the 2 weeks when your next apt is. 2 weeks is a long time when you are feeling like you are. And even if it is just a matter of reassuring you, then its worthwhile.

    You are back at work now arent you, rather then working from home? Is there any chance that you can work from home again for a while?

    From what I have read, it is a bit of a trial and error thing with getting meds right for bipolar. A very complex procedure. Hopefully in the end they will get it right though. Patience though Kaz ............

    Thinking of you with much affection Kaz. Now sending a big cyber hug your way - down the Pacific and Hume Hways and into the ACT. Catch it on its way through wont you, otherwise who knows where it may end up. (-:

    Sherie xx

  18. white knight
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    19 June 2016 in reply to Missing user

    Hi kaz

    No defences? I've been describing this feeling over the years (to my dear wife) as "being fragile"

    Don't know about you but when I'm good I am so for a couple if days and allow "water off a ducks back". Then, wham, the irritability of which you speak comes oh so fast. Unfortunately 80% of the time, my wife is the recipient.

    This means a shirt time later i do apologize and " nip it in the bud". My wife has depression, no hypomania, and between us we have a high level of acceptance of our quirks of flying off the handle.

    It means we have accepted we won't ever be stable.

    My depression has drifted away a lot, unless under severe stress. My dysthymia the same. So my bipolar 2 is now more prominent and its unpredictability harder to fathom.

    I've tried looking for triggers and that hasn't had any conclusion. I'm convinced it is chemical in origin.

    Like someone flicks a switch!!

    Tony WK

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  19. Lost Girl
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    19 June 2016 in reply to Missing user

    Hi Kaz,

    Best wishes for getting an early appointment tomorrow. I hope that your GP can see you quickly so you can talk through options.

    Thinking of you,

    Carol xx

  20. Kazzl
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    20 June 2016 in reply to Lost Girl

    Morning lovely friends. Thank you all for your kindness. Sherie you asked what's changed ... very good question hun. I don't know really. And it's not just now, it's really what made me suspect there was more to my condition than depression and why I went to the doc initially. I guess the difference is that I have had to drop right down on the ADs before I started the new drug, which hasn't really kicked in yet, so in some ways I'm not as medicated as I was. I got your hug, thanks lovely, sending one back to you. xx

    Tony - yes I'm looking for triggers too. But I don't know if that's it, it's just a cycle I seem to have been in for months. I'm starting to see patterns. Up for a few days, down for a few days, stable for a few days. Thanks for sharing mate.

    Hi Carol hun, I'll call today and see what I can do. Feeling pretty good this morning, and I have singing tonight which is fun. Thanks hun.

    Hi Sharny - hope you've had a good weekend. Thank you for posting here.

    Kaz xx

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  21. blondguy
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    20 June 2016 in reply to Kazzl

    Hey Kazzl, I just read Tony WK's post...It feels like Im reading my own words...its remarkable

    Just a friendly reminder that "Infinitely Polar Bear" A movie that embraces BiPolar and mental illness is on high rotation on Foxtel movies at the moment..under the Premiere station :-)

    Kind Thoughts Kazzldazzle

    Paulx

  22. Kazzl
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    21 June 2016 in reply to blondguy

    Thanks Paul xx

    Tony - it does seem to be chemical in origin as you say. Here's a quote from the Black Dog Institute:

    'While we don't yet know exactly what causes bipolar disorder, we do know that it appears to have primarily biological underpinnings. However, its onset is often linked to a stressful life event. And while the causes of bipolar disorder are still unknown, there are a number of factors that are believed to play a role, including genetics, brain chemicals, environmental factors and sometimes medical illnesses. Bipolar disorder is frequently inherited, with genetic factors accounting for approximately 80% of the cause of the condition.'

    I'm fairly sure that's the case with me. My doc said it can be genetic and I can see it now in my family.

    From other things I've read, it's not unusual for it be diagnosed later in life in people who have already been diagnosed with depression. The thought is that while we go to the doc when we're depressed we don't during the 'ups' provided the hypomania isn't too full on (I have had times when it was, but I was drinking at the time and put it down to that). For me, it was only when the rapid cycling started that I (knowing more about mental illness now than I used to) recognised the symptoms.

    I'm hoping this thread will be a place for other bipolar folks to talk about their experiences if they wish, not just about me, so if there's anyone else out there who would like to join in please do.

    A question for fellow bipolars - do you always know when you're 'changing state' so to speak, do you feel it coming on or does it happen suddenly?

    Cheers everyone. xxx

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  23. white knight
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    22 June 2016 in reply to Kazzl

    Hi kaz,

    Very interesting as to possible causes if bipolar.

    My sister and I now swap stories and can relate to each other. My brother took his life in 1979 at the age of 27. He was so moody. I believed all 3 siblings had bipolar early on in life.

    I've also read by googling "children of borderline mother's" about common mental illnesses children of BPD mother's sometimes end up with. (This can be unfair on some bpd sufferers so please note this does not happen in all cases, that illness has enough stigma issues). Such children can suffer a wide range of issues like depression anxiety and bipolar.

    It highlighted for me the parent mental illness factor which might not be a factor but is worth knowing

    With my possible BPD or narcissistic mother (in denial, not diagnosed) the unpredictability, screaming, threatening suicide (I was 9 or 10 yo then and onwards), golden child one day, demon the next etc, would I feel provided the foundation for bipolar in us kids.

    Good for discussion

    Tony WK

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  24. Kazzl
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    22 June 2016 in reply to white knight

    Hi Tony. Yes I can see it in my family too, undiagnosed of course. And one of my kids has it, diagnosed 10 years ago apparently, didn't tell me unfortunately.

    Thinking about my mum, and my daughter, I realise how fortunate we are to be of a generation that knows about and is starting to accept mental illness. While it's still scary and exhausting, at least we can talk about it, get treatment and help others understand.

    Cheers

    Kaz

  25. white knight
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    22 June 2016 in reply to Kazzl

    To right kaz

    In the RAAF in 1974 as a male if you cried you were tormented by all.

    Society has a long way to go but it is far better than it was.

    Tony WK

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  26. Missing user
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    30 June 2016 in reply to Kazzl

    Hi there Kaz. Just been thinking of you and wondering how you are getting along. I note that we havent heard from you in over a week.

    As your daughter with bipolar would have been through what you are going through now, ie diagnosis and likely medication, has she been helping you through this period of transition? Perhaps as a bit of a sounding board and someone to compare notes with. It does seem surprising that you never knew, or indeed that she never said anything to you about her diagnosis. I understand you have a good relationship with your daughter. Although you have said that looking back now, you can see the signs. I guess thats fairly typical isnt it?

    Anyway Kaz, I just wanted you to know that I have been thinking of you, and I'm sending some well wishes your way and a hug. I hope you are keeping warm down there in the ACT, where I know its been very cold.

    Sherie xx

  27. white knight
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    30 June 2016 in reply to Missing user

    Sherie, you are a darling. So thoughtful

    Kaz. I've been analyzing myself. As you know we are going around oz. Currently south of Bunbury.

    Anyway we just spent 3 days in the perfect camping ground. A beach, only 3 other vans perfect weather and heaps of yellow ingnecked parrots feeding from your shoulder. Plenty if rest and no TV, radio etc. Bliss.

    We left there this morning and we needed to find a dump point, do shopping and refuel before locating our next free camping ground.

    We couldn't find a dump point and we got held up by admirers of our tiny van we made ourselves (it looks cute as a button).

    That was enough to tip me over the edge.

    So after an hour of wanting to take it all out on the world we stopped for a coffee looking out on the beautiful Bunbury harbour. Then I decided to try to be positive.

    We did food shopping and found bargains at the supermarket. Then the next town there finally was a dump point. We've settled in our camp ground. What did I realise?

    That rest and holidays make no difference to the mood swings.

    That my mood stabilisers might not be effective enough

    That when things go pear shaped it sets me off like triggers

    That its extremely hard seeking any positive thoughts. Even though I'm a motivated positive person

    That sometimes my own recommendations to others like change of environment do work but not immediately. Its like I can't break away from my mood for about 3 hours.

    Tony WK

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  28. Kazzl
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    30 June 2016 in reply to white knight

    Hi Sherie, thanks for checking up on me! You are a treasure. I'm pretty good today thanks, ground floor (that could change on Saturday haha!). I'm learning more and getting better at handling things I think. Still riding the elevator but I'm more alert to what's going on I guess.

    The daughter I mentioned is the one overseas, my eldest, and yes we get on but we don't talk so often. The one you're thinking of is my youngest in Canberra.

    I have met some other people in Canberra who have bipolar and it's wonderful to be able to talk about it with them. I feel very fortunate to have found them. Amazing to hear someone else describe exactly the same things I experience haha.

    Aaaaahhh Tony, sorry to hear about things going a bit pear-shaped mate. I know that getting thrown off schedule or having plans changed can be hard to handle. And it is exhausting not being able to escape our heads.

    I know you're a long way from home, but are you able to call your doc to talk about the drugs? Might be worth a try. I'm enjoying hearing about your travels - keep it up!

    Cheers my friends

    Kaz

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  29. Missing user
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    30 June 2016 in reply to white knight

    Hi Tony. I read a little about some of your trip early on, where your friends drove off ahead of you and you subsequently broke down. No wonder you were annoyed! I think anybody would have been. Are you still travelling with those people, or have you cut them loose since then?

    Also I was wondering about your little dog - Miss Rosie if I recall correctly? Have you taken her travelling with you, or did you have to leave her with someone whilst you're travelling?

    I cannot claim to know anything about bipolar, so I am unable to offer any advise. But please know I care and feel bad that things have not been easy for you. As Paul would say ....... be kind to yourself. (-:

    Sherie xx

  30. Missing user
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    30 June 2016 in reply to Kazzl

    Hi Kaz. Yes I was aware you had one daughter overseas and one nearby. But I wasnt sure which one had the bipolar. But I knew that your daughter nearby had a recent health scare. How has she been by the way?

    Pleased to hear that things are starting to become a little easier for you. Perhaps the medication is working after all. Lets hope so anyway. Might just need a bit of fine tuning down the track.

    And thats great that you have met other people in the ACT who also have bipolar, so you have a bit of a support crew there for each other.

    It does sound as though things are finally starting to look up for you. Its been a hard road for you, I know.

    Anyway, if I am not talking to you before the weekend ....... have a good one. Love to you.

    Sherie xx

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