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Paula Bostrom

A New Normal

I have been relatively stable for almost six months now. For me, that’s huge. 

I still have small bouts of depression here and there or times where my anxiety spikes and my thoughts race, but so far it’s all been manageable. 

So, why then, do I feel so miserable? 

The problem with attaining stability after being unstable for so many years is that you are faced with many questions. 

What now? 

Can't Turn Back Time

My kids are growing up. I know it's inevitable, but I want time to stop. I know there are many parents that feel that way, but for me it's heartbreaking. 

Group Therapy Provides Hope

I recently joined a bipolar support group. My doctor and therapist have been encouraging me for months to join the group. They believed it would help me "normalize" some of my feelings by being around others who might have the same experiences. 

I put off going to the group because 1) I was either too sick (manic or depressed) to feel like going or, 2) Feeling well again and not wanting to talk about or deal with this bipolar illness. 

But, after struggling though episode after episode, I decided to go and see what I could learn from others. 

Planning Ahead for Your Next Episode

I just finished filling out a WRAP plan with the help of my therapist. WRAP stands for Wellness Recovery Action Plan. The plan can be found at mentalhealthrecovery.com and is free to print out. 

This isn’t the first time I’ve filled out the plan. Years ago while I was in an acute treatment unit for severe depression (before my bipolar I diagnosis) I half-heartedly filled one out as part of a recovery exercise. The plan has you list things to do that will help you maintain your wellness and what happens if things start breaking down.  

Rescued by a Dog

I own a psychiatric service dog. He’s similar to a dog that would assist a blind person, but he’s trained differently. He’s not a therapy or emotional assistance dog, he’s a certified service dog and is allowed anywhere that a dog for the blind would be allowed to go. 

Let me tell you my story and then you can decide if a psychiatric service dog would be right for you. 

Hey Jealousy

I have a friend who is an expert in her field. She is respected by the community and gives presentations from her knowledge base. She is also a talented artist and sells her painted wineglasses at many gift stores in the area. She plays the piano at her church every Sunday. She travels with her husband and two kids and they hike and camp regularly. She also runs marathons. 

She is a very important person in my life and lately I really hate her. I feel awful saying that and I don't really hate her, I am just extremely jealous. 

Nothing to Be Ashamed Of

When I think of myself 10 years ago, I am embarrassed and quite frankly shocked at how judgmental I was towards others who were different than me.  

Ten years ago my mood fluctuations became unmanageable and anxiety and depression left me paralyzed. I resisted as long as I could, but my husband finally insisted I get professional help. 

Bipolar Worries

At my last appointment with my psychiatrist, she told me I have too much anxiety about having bipolar disorder. No kidding? I mean what's there to be anxious about? Being stuck in complete darkness with unspeakable pain that only those who have depression can understand? Or, flying so high you think you're invincible, have no rational thoughts in your head and are dangerously capable of almost anything? Or, being so paranoid you think you're being watched by aliens or believe that there are bugs living in computers and crawling through the power cords into the walls?

Mania

Last year at this time, I was soaring high with my first full-blown manic episode. I was feeling better than I've felt in my entire life. Colors were brighter, music sounded better, and my talents came out like never before. I had recently taken up painting and my work was amazing. Music sounded incredible. I swear I could hear each and every note from every individual instrument that was playing. I'm not a singer, but I sang loudly with songs and I was on key for a change. I had superpowers and was invincible. At least I thought I was.

Paula Bostrom

Paula Bostrom is a freelance media broadcaster and journalist. She lives in Colorado with her husband, two teenagers and her psychiatric service dog Cane, a rescue dog from Hurricane Katrina. Paula was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 42.