Facing Bipolar Disorder

Hi Ben,

I am a 55 year old women who was diagnosed two years ago with mild bipolar spectrum disorder. I have battled this all of my life. I am highly functional though it has certainly taken its toll on my life.

I am interested in implementing every holistice measure I am able to in order that I may stay off psych drugs yet be stable.

Your website has been a great source of encouragement and information for me.

I would like to know a list of your recommendations. I am back on True Hope as I had stopped it an am now recovering from a low to moderate depressive phase. If I had read your recent newsletter sooner I definitely would have put ice water in my right ear.....

I have a djembe and enjoy drumming though do not drum frequently. I know EFT but have not been consistent. In fact I am most consistent about being inconsistent..

I am going to start wearing blue light blocking glasses at sundown to encourage earlier production of melatonin. I wear a light blocking soft eyemask when I sleep. My BPD kicks in when my sleep cycle is messed with. This past episode came on the heels of my second half marathon......

I want to schedule a psychotherapy session with you via skype. In January when I was depressed, I made a deal with my psychotherapist that I would begin Lithium or Lamictal if I went through another episode. So, despite my May episode, I do no want to start any medications. During this episode when I was desperate for sleep, I tried 0.5mg Risperdal two evenings in a row with no benefit...... I would have been better served trying more holistic alternatives.

Any help you can give me will be so appreciated.

Best wishes.

Ben's Answer:

My top recommendations for an integrative/holistic approach to managing your Bipolar symptoms can be found here on the Alternative Bipolar Treatment page of the site. I am currently adding some additional information pertaining to the "ice water in the ear" method that you saw in my newsletter. The research behind that method is compelling, and so far I've seen encouraging results with those in elevated/mixed states, but have not yet seen anyone use it for depression (but theoretically that should work as well); I don't yet advise people to do this, but to simply read the research and decide for yourself. It's a simple enough intervention to try.

Drumming may be another promising avenue for Bipolar disorder as the alternating right/left movement and vibration definitely has an integrating/synchronizing effect between the right and left hemispheres of the brain and produces a calm state (hand drumming - such as djembe drumming in particular).

For sleep issues, I've seen some people have a lot of success with using total darkness during night time hours - which can be done using an eye mask for sleep. This also serves to reduce mood instability.

I'm always available for consultation should you need more personal guidance.

Best wishes,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT

Santa Rosa Psychotherapist

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