Brenda: - You know, what do you consider a major bipolar episode?


David: - Okay one would be a completely depressive, bedridden, not getting up, almost suicidal, or the manic side completely up, up, up, doing irrational things over and extended period of time, um, being personally destructive to yourself or those around you.


Brenda: - Okay, on the manic side probably only a couple, on the depressive side a lot, well over a dozen of non-functioning, in bed, don’t talk to me, lights out, door closed, don’t want to talk on the phone, you know, thank goodness there is someone else to take care of the kids, well over a dozen of those.


David: - What was your husband doing during these periods?


Brenda: - He just, you know, he learned to recognize that okay it was one of those times and he just left me alone, other than saying did I need anything and then just took care of the kids.


David: - Do you think, if you were to go back in time, for those people listening, that are supporters, was that the right thing to do, if you were to tell other supporters, would you say that, here is what my husband did, what tips would you have for those who are listening that are supporters?


Brenda: - I don’t think he could have done anything  better, that was the best thing he could have done for me, just be there to take care of me and seen if there was anything I needed and made sure that I wasn’t going to hurt myself, he kept an eye on that.  At times I would say to him “you need to hide the medication”, then he knew it was serious and he would be on more major alert.  Other than that, one of the best things I could do, as a supporter is that, what can I do to ease your load and can I get anything for you.  If it gets to the point, like if he had thought okay she is going to try and take her life again, I told him and made a deal if I ever got to that point I would be honest and tell him so he could take me to the hospital.  But maybe someone wouldn’t be so willing to do that, so they may be too afraid to say that so if you know, kind of keep an eye on the signs so you are aware of it and take them in if they need to, other than that just be there for them and watch out for them.


David: - Right I see.  Did he know, that when you are in that state really the doctor should be called?


Brenda: - You know, I don’t know if he knew that, I could ask him?


David: - Probably not, neither did my Dad.  My Mom for years was in bed, she obviously got up but I remember for many years my Mom had covers over her head, lights off and my Dad didn’t know, he should have called the doctor because that is a sign that something is wrong.


Brenda: - True, I never really thought about it other than we had that thing where I told him I would be honest with him and I guess when you are a struggling young family, my thought was that is just another doctor bill you know, so for me it was just, let me see if I can get through this on my own, and I did, it would pass eventually.


David: - How long did it take?


Brenda: - Sometimes it could be days, it could be weeks, I don’t think ever more than a couple of weeks would have been the longest and during that time there were times I could get up and function a little bit, but mostly it was just days or a weekend.


David: - Can you describe, you know how there are some supporters and I totally don’t agree with this but my brother is like “just snap out of it”,


Brenda: - Yeah my Dad, boy don’t you just wish you could.  You don’t have any control over that, you want to, I didn’t want to feel that way, I didn’t want to lay around in bed but I absolutely could not function.  I could not get out of that cloud, you just keep walking around in a dark cloud and you feel like there is no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel, no light anywhere, and I could be in a room full of people and I could still feel completely alone, and just surrounded in darkness and sadness, and you sometimes feel like you are drowning in sorrow and it is a horrible feeling and it is a horrible feeling, I really didn’t like going through that.


David: - Wow, so now, were you able to work during any of these periods?


Brenda: - Yeah I worked at home.  I did data entry for most of that time, so I could work as much or as little as I wanted to so I would take work when I felt I could handle it and I didn’t take work if I couldn’t.  So that was kind of nice to have that kind of job, I was really fortunate to have that and by the time my medication got regulated, then I was able to hold a full time job.


David: - Okay so you are able to hold a full time job, interesting.  So what were the keys to that success getting you into a full time job?


Brenda: - It was definitely getting on the right medication.  And then also having the support system of family, friends, therapists, somebody to talk to and after I had my youngest when I went through the worst Postpartum Depression I joined a support group that was free which was nice, we met once a week which was all women suffering and it was so nice to know you were not alone and to talk things through and having an amazing counsellor who would give you suggestions.  Winter is always hard for me as its so cold and coming from sunny California to Utah was really difficult so to be cold and dark, it just got to where it was harder and harder to function and I remember one time in November she handed out this bit of paper and she talked about how even though it looks like all the trees are dying, if you look at a tree in November when the leaves are falling off, it is actually beginning to bud again and that gave me such hope that spring was just around the corner and so now I don’t look at it as I did, its not as difficult to get through.  It is still hard, the last winter was my best winter and this one has been even better so that is good.


David: - Right.  So is working important, is exercise, eating right, is regime, structure any of that stuff?


Brenda: - I think it’s very important keeping busy and keeping your mind busy.  If you are just sitting around all the time you are opening yourself up to all kinds of thoughts coming into your head that are not going to be healthy for you.  If you can work that is fantastic, hobbies are great also and having friends you can do things with is great and exercise, I am not an avid exerciser but I get exercise in my job and hanging out with my kids and stuff but I really should do more exercise.  Nutrition is vital to any health issue; in the food that you are eating today you are not getting as much nutrition as you think you are.


David: - Right.  So now you went to the psychiatrist and you desired to wean down your medication?


Brenda: - Yeah probably about 8 months ago, about a year and a half ago, almost 2 years I was getting to the I don’t want to be here state again in my life, I was really sick in bed all the time and had forms of arthritis and fibromyalgia and I was in so much pain all the time, it was getting too much and I could feel myself getting to the stage that I didn’t want to be here and it was scaring me so I had been praying (I am a praying person), saying to God I don’t know what to do, it is in your hands if I am to stay here and not too long after that, within days I was working, my Dad had a little store in Salt Lake and I was working for him and a couple walked in, they were ordering some stuff for their business and they started talking about this nutritional supplement they were taking and in my head I heard you need to do this and you need to do it right now so I didn’t let them finish, I said I wanted some more information and I got it then I started taking their products almost a year and a half ago and I have a completely different life to I did back then.


David: - Now so you got this product, did you talk to your psychiatrist?


Brenda: - Not until I had been on it several months, I felt like, even if it was going to help me with the arthritis and fibromyalgia I thought anything it is going to do for me is going to be great and the first thing I noticed an increase in energy and that was amazing, I have never been a morning person and all of a sudden I was getting up before my alarm went off and my family were like who are you!!!  That was the first thing then I was able to go off my stomach medication.  I had stomach issues, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and acid reflux from all the medication that I had been on and those were the first things that were able to go which was great and then I thought Bipolar was a different ball game, I had no intention of ever going off that medication I figured if I had to stay on that then it was okay as I’d rather be able to function and have the life I was having, I didn’t expect for that to happen but as I got more and more healthy I started noticing that I was feeling better and I went to my doctor, told them I was taking this nutritional supplement and this is what it is doing for me, what do you think of the possibility of being able to some day wean off this and she said if you feel it is going to work for you then  you can do it, just be willing to go back on it if it doesn’t and keep in touch with me and let me know what is going on and that is what I did.  So I stayed on it, it was the last medication that I went off and I was on 5 different Bipolar meds, and I weaned off each one a little, a little and a little until the Seroquel because if I didn’t take it I didn’t sleep, and so I thought if I am on that one for the rest of my life that is okay, I figured I was going to have to take it if I was to get any kind of sleep so when I got down to that one I thought just bite the bullet and see what happened and that was back in August and um, so I weaned off that, I was taking 200mg, then I went to 100mg to 50mg and then to nothing, had a couple of days with only a couple of hours of sleep and now I went back to having 8 sometimes even 9 hours of sleep at night without a pill to do it, which is a miracle to me.  I feel more balance and normal now than I ever did being on the medication and being regulated, that was as normal as I thought I was going to get and to feel today where I am even more feeling what normal is, I don’t recommend anybody going off medication without their doctors approval and I don’t have any problem if I start to feel to need it then I will have no hesitation going back on the medication.


David: - What would you say were the key things for you to wean off the medication?  I guess the first and foremost was to talk to your psychiatrist right?


Brenda: - Yeah definitely don’t just go off your medication because you think that you can.  Never a good idea to do that and especially if you are not having something to substitute for that, I have looked into other natural things but it never did anything for me, and the product that I take is not a medication it is nutrition and what I have discovered is when you give your body the right nutrition it knows what to do with it.  I wouldn’t even do that without talking to somebody and making sure you know you are taking the right product and that you are taking the right combination, I had to try different ones to get to knowing what was going to work for me and I have also discovered how many shakes I need to take in a day, if I take 2 it is not enough, I need 3 or 4, most people take 2.  So you have to listen to your body and you have to be willing to do what is necessary.


David: - Interesting now is there anything else you are doing that is important; obviously you are getting sleep and exercise but is there anything else?


Brenda: - You know not really.  I live life, I am really busy, I work 3 part time jobs, I’ve got 2 teenagers at home and I keep busy and it is just wonderful to be able to do that.


David: - So you have 2 kids left at home?


Brenda: - Yeah


David: - You have made it 66% there!


Brenda: - Yep!!


David: - That is very very good.  So any other tips for people?


Brenda: - Get a support system if you don’t already have one.  Even if you don’t have family or friends, go online and look for support groups, chat rooms, you have to have somebody to talk to, that is really important to be able to unload and most of the time, people aren’t looking to fix your problems, it is just nice to have someone to talk to and have ideas on how you might deal with different things.


David: - People are going to contact me because they are going to have questions, and are going to want to model you, how can they get hold of you?


Brenda: - You can email me or call me on my cell phone number.


David: - Keep it by email as this goes out to a lot of people!!  My number used to be on the website and I am still getting 5 calls a day!!!


Brenda: - Definitely email me if you want to know more about the nutritional thing I am doing and promise me you won't just go off your medication because you feel like you can.


David: -  Brenda thanks a lot, I appreciate your time it has been a fantastic interview.


Brenda: - Thank you David it really nice to meet you.


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