Lauren Polly was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was 14 after her parents found a suicide note she’d written.
She took large amounts of pills to control the manias and depression, but some of them had horrible side effects. It took years, but with the help of doctors and self-empowerment skills, she is living a productive, drug-free life.
Now, she wants to share those skills to help others.
“It just seemed like the outside noise started to become so loud that it felt like it was coming from inside of me,” Lauren said.
Those days are a lifetime ago for the 37-year-old. Years ago, she traded psychiatric meds for holistic treatment. As she mastered techniques to take care of herself, her doctors gradually eliminated drugs.
“Being able to actually have life tools and skills to be able to handle the ups and downs and really be present and accountable for what you’re doing. That’s the key,” she said.
Lauren says it wasn’t easy and is still a daily commitment. She wrote “The Other Side of Bipolar” to share her lessons with others.
Number one is the hardest: Stop judging yourself.
“We live in a world filled with judgement,” she said. “So being able to come out of ‘there’s something wrong with me I need to fix’ will actually start to give you a lot of space in your own world.”
Second, add positive things to your life.
“If you’re only trying to fix one thing and not using your energy to add things and really develop all of you, you come up short, and that leads to a sense to a lot of sense of dissatisfaction,” Lauren said.
She takes bars sessions, where a facilitator clears “bad energy.”
“There’s a set of 32 points on the head that when lightly touched will dissipate and release stuff that’s stored up that may not belong to you,” said Gabrielle Vena, a life coach and Access Consciousness facilitator.
Third, include your body in your plan with a good diet and exercise.
“It changed my self-esteem, my confidence,” Lauren said. “There’s just a lot of wealth that can come when you're working with your body in a positive way.”
Lauren works every day to move beyond her diagnosis.
She stresses that she learned life skills with professional help before eliminating any of her meds and worked with a doctor the whole time. Now, Lauren works as a life coach, helping people to empower themselves.
BEYOND BIPOLAR AND … DRUG FREE!
BACKGROUND: Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings. These mood swings cause emotional highs such as hypomania or mania, and lows such as depression. These mood swings can become life altering and affect sleep, judgement, activity, and behavior. These episodes can occur rarely or multiple times a year. There are several types of bipolar disorder. Bipolar I disorder means that at least one manic episode occurred, and that it is followed by hypomanic episodes. Bipolar II disorder means at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode, but never a manic episode. Cyclothymic disorder is two years of many periods of hypomania symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms. Other types of bipolar disorders are induced by certain drugs and alcohol. However, drugs and alcohol aren’t the only causes. Medical conditions, such as Cushing’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and stroke can all be causes as well. It is also important to note that bipolar II is a separate diagnosis from bipolar I. Manic episodes are severe in bipolar I disorder, whereas individuals can be depressed for longer periods in bipolar II. The diagnosis of this condition usually occurs in the late teenage years or early 20s.
TREATMENT: Recommended treatment for bipolar disorder is usually accompanied with daily medication. However, acquiring daily skills and habits can eventually help eliminate the usage of psychiatric meds. Sticking to a daily schedule helps patients to control their mood. Daily tasks include exercising at least 30 minutes a day. In addition, one could consider limiting caffeine, and eating healthy meals. While there is no specific diet to help those with bipolar disorder, eliminating a “Western style” diet rich in red meats, saturated fats, trans fats, and simple carbohydrates can help with overall health. Taming stress is key in managing bipolar disorder. Techniques that could be used in this instance include yoga and meditation.
PROFESSIONAL TREATMENT: It is important to use professional help during any approach to treating bipolar disorder. Seeking a psychotherapist means finding a treatment plan that is right for the individual. Besides seeking a therapist one can attend a local Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Seeking professional help can aide in times of a crisis, and when symptoms become too severe. Therapy and professional treatment can also aide in addressing traumatic issues and taking positive actions moving forward.