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Paula Bostrom

My Experience Losing Weight On Bipolar Meds

I think it’s safe to say that many of us who have bipolar disorder struggle with weight gain. 

The main reason is that medications can affect our appetite. My medication makes me crave sweets like never before. A woman I met in my bipolar support group had just been diagnosed with the disorder and subsequently put on a mood stabilizing drug. Within a matter of weeks she had gained 20 pounds. The weight didn’t just suddenly appear. It happened because this woman couldn’t stop her cravings for donuts. 

The Perfect Storm

I’m writing this three days fresh out of an acute treatment unit. It’s a locked facility similar to a mental hospital, but smaller. 

It’s not the first time I’ve voluntarily admitted myself to this unit due to extreme symptoms and personal safety issues, but it’s been at least two years since my last visit. 

Finding a workable med combination and being committed to therapy has kept me on track for the most part. Any episodes I’ve experienced over the past couple of years I’ve been able to manage at home with the support of family. 

Law Enforcement Learns About Mental Illness

Last month I participated in a Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) with local law enforcement. These officers, dispatchers, and prison guards were learning how to improve their interactions with people who have mental illness. 

It is a week-long training put on by our region’s mental health center. Counselors talk with participants about mental illness and a troupe of actors even come in to role play. Different situations are presented by the actors and the CIT participants have to interact with them. 

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 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.