A Letter from Michele
to her sister Tedi
-this story was sent to me by email from a lady who has suffered from the effects of Bipolar Disorder for her entire life,
and is learning now, half a generation later exactly
what it was she was up against.

*reprinted with permission of the writer*
Michele Wells 
A Letter from One Mood Disordered Sister To Another...... 
Hey Seester! Nov. 14th Sunday afternoon- rainy! YUCK! Gray day! DOUBLE YUCK! 

I'm finally back on line! Our damned servor goes up and down like a yo yo! It's really annoying!
Sorta like having your phone go off and on whenever it wants to! 

Well, I've been doing some SERIOUS research -in between cooking dinners and regular 'life'
stuff- on Bipolar and Mood disorders overall. And I'm pretty amazed at all that is on the web
about BPD and even rapid cycling and all. I want to share some of these sites with you and see if
you can read some of the stuff I've read so we can discuss it together. It's been a real eye opener
for me. 
Tedi, I don't want to alarm you -and I'm probably not even telling you stuff you don't already
know [WAYYY better than me!] but I am AMAZED at how similar the patterns are between
what I am reading about and your situation! -And even mine own! Even right down to finding out
[late in life -AFTER diagnosis] that your own Mother has the disease- and denied it! [I read this
several times in many first hand accounts on the web.] It's so similar that it's haunting. 

Also, all the problems with taking various meds and how ALMOST EVERY SINGLE BP
FEMALE HAS A THYROID PROBLEM!!!! [ upwards of 85%] 

Hair loss and dry brittle hair and weight gains are the most common side affects of Lithium and a
few other Rx drugs you must take. Some more than others,... But of course the Alternative is
,....not acceptable! 

There's some really good information out there and these folks all help each other by talking about
their own experiences and problems -including a whole site about weight gains and which meds
are responsible and some things you CAN do to help getting rid of it. It is going to be REALLLY
hard to lose it Tedi, but once you do, the secret is to KEEP it off by changing HOW and what you
AND what you do. 

What helped me was two things. neither of them is easy -but they are all that works for me. 

1.] Force yourself to get out and at LEAST go for a walk everyday. OUT IN THE DAYLIGHT
preferably. THis will ALSO help with your depression and anxiety. Pure physical excercise for the
sake of it. NOT "working" or indoors stuff! GO OUTSIDE and IN as Bright a sunlight as you can
You wouldn't beleive how much of a difference it makes on your mood! At least it did for me! As
time goes on you will get more and more into it and your energy and metabolism will go up. This
will begin to increase how fast you burn up fat. THIS IS THE BEST THING ALL AROUND

THis is especially true during the fall and winter when your depression is likely to be greatest. It's
actually related to Sunlight! [Or lack of it!] 

2.] DON't eat anything fatty or salty or sugary after 6:00pm!!!! I know this sounds impossible- but
it isn't as bad as it sounds. Drink juices, or teas, or [best] bottled water instead. If you're
REALLY hungry after then have a salad or raw crunchy veggies or fruit but NOT anything
cheesey, starchy, or greasy! Especially not meats! What I did was make my biggest meal in the
mid morning or mid afternoon. I will even pig out then if I feel really hungry. I can eat whatever I
want -even ice cream and big old hamburgers in the middle of the day. Then I make the rest of the
day light snacky things like a cup of yogurt, some salad, a peanut butter sandwich or cereal. Of
course, my biggest problem was portions too. Whatever I felt like was a good portion- I could
probably cut in half and not go hungry! [THat's still my biggest weakness!] 

I'm beginning to think that's why I am so attracted to this climate. After reading about the different
types of BP -I am more and more realizing that I must have it too- it's not nearly as extreme or
chronic as yours- but when I read about the CYCLOTHYMIC [I'm not sure how to spell it tho']
It SHOOK ME UP! Because I recognized so many of the symptoms! I obviously have some of
the symptoms Tedi! So I guess you're not as alone as you think! I need to get a blood test anyway
[for menopause] so I might as well have this checked out. I KNOW I've definitely had manic
states. Of course, the 'self medicating' with illegal drugs too,.. I realize that alot of what I have
done to maintain and live [like move away from cold and dark climates- and MOTHER! ] were
probably an unconcious effort to take care of my problems. It also explains the distrust and mood
swings and failed relationships, doesn't it? Hmmmmmmm!!!!!! 

Anyways, I'm really looking into this stuff on the web. I just typed in a search question. "Where
can I get medical information about BiPolar disease?" 
You type it in just like that - with quotes around it, and I did this search by going to a search
engine called Cyber411.com. 

You type in your url /go to space [you know that little bar up top after you go to "search the web"
spot type in- "cyber411.com" and hit search. It will take you to the cyber 411 search engine page.
I bookmarked it so I can just click on it cause I use it so much. It's way better than Yahoo or any
single search engine cause it searches a whole bunch of them at once. they have a thing called
smarter search: you click on that and you enter the question -just like how you would ask it! Like
what I typed above. 

It's cool because it searches several places at once so you come up with alot more sites. I didn't
even get through half of them yet Tedi! I am learning ALOT about this! One thing that is really
frustrating is that they really don't have [medical profession] alot of knowlege yet, and even though
the pharmacalogical treatment has come a long way, it's nowhere near perfect and it doesn't
always help. 
Yeah! Like YOU don't already KNOW that! ;^) 

Well! I just thought you should know what I'm finding and learning. 

There's tons of medical stuff and lots of personal accounts and all kinds of information too. I even
signed up for a chat room about BPD under the "about.com" site. 

WEll, as far as Jon and Mother and the whole damned REST of the family,...isn't it ironic how
Mother used to go to great lengths to keep US apart? And now she's ignoring BOTH of us??? [
Actually Tedi, I personally think that's for the best- for you and I especially!] AS for Jon, well he
may have done this and that- and I certainly won't deny that he has, But I don't feel the least bit of
guilt about having accepted anything from him - after all, WE both gave him alot too! So I'm not
even going to dwell on any of that. The Only thing that bothers and frustrates me is that I [and you]
can see much more plainly from the outside -and the externally imposed distance- what is going on
with him -and mother- than he can see for himself- and there's nothing we can do about it except
be there when he falls-or realizes what's going on. 

We both have to remember that Jon was alot younger than we were and he doesn't have alot of
the same memories. He probably doesn't remember most of Mother's insanity or her actions when
she was manic or depressed because he was just too young, and we BOTH [as well as everyone
around us] tried to protect him from seeing the screwy stuff. So we can't really blame him for not
realizing what the root cause of alot of this is. He doesn't believe it because we all did such a good
job of hiding it from him! But I can even remember now -[weird how this only just came to mind
while I was searching!] I can almost bet that I remember when Mother was diagnosed to the
DAY! We lived on Traver Road, and it was right after Jon was born! She was so upset and crying
one day after coming home from the Dr's and I asked her what was wrong and she TOLD me that
the Dr. thought she was very sick and "needed some more tests" and that her thyroid might not be
working and that she had a "hormonal Imbalance". She was very upset because the Dr. told her
they weren't sure 'how to treat her'. I remember her trying to explain it to me and how filled with
fear and anguish she was! She kept saying it was like a cancer but in her mind. She had an
"imbalance" she was extremely worried about the reactions of others and what would happen to
her. It's amazing that I ever forgot about that day. 

I recalled this and remembered that this and many later incidents was what made me become such
an avid reader, because I felt that was my only weapon to resolve this. I HAD to find out what
was wrong with her and "save" her, because she kept emphasizing how they really didn't know
anything about what was wrong with her. It was after this that she began to take various
medications -and of course back then they were REALLY experimenting with that! That's when
she began taking Ritalin and downers and all sorts. It took a long while for her to really go over the
edge really. But AS I'm thinking about this now, I can see why Jon wouldn't believe either you or I
about all this- because he was just too young to see these things. 

I mean, think about when we lived on Inderkill Farms? Remember how she stayed in BED for
about two years?? All the curtains closed in a dark room? Always drugged out of her mind and
sleeping? I used to have to plead with her just to eat! I don't even know if YOU remember that!
THAT's when she realized how badly she was affecting me. I started to hide in my room and
became so withdrawn that the folks at school called her. I wasn't going to school anymore. I
remember that period of my life like some long strange and painfully warped delusional dream! So
full of mixed emotions and warped perceptions! So much anguish! And SO WEIRD! It doesn't
even feel like it was me so much as me watching somebody else! I was lucky to have Dagmar [the
therapist] -even though at the time much of what she said didn't really make any sense to me- later
on -in bits and peices -it all started to come together. 

Come to think of it- maybe that's why all of mothers [boy] freinds were manic depressive! She
probaly met them during counseling! It all fits doesn't it? I mean she never said how or where she
met them did she? It was always her bringing these guys around -like stray animals- it wasn't ever
Daddy. [He only brought home "sleep in maids" ;^D] How prosaic! How telling about the both of
them! I am not condemming either one of them here. Just thinking about it and assimilating what it
all means. Yep, I am convinced that Mother has known for a very long time there was something
wrong with her. She might be calling it something else, but she knows, of that I am positive. I think
Her mother was too, and THAT's why Mother was raised by her Grandmother! 

WEll anyway, as for Jon I hope he realizes what it's all about before it screws him up big time -or
gives him another heart attack! That's all I'm worried about- is that he gets to a point where he
feels betrayed -yet again- by Mother- and then it will all break down on him. He will really need
somebody to trust then. We all seem to have a horrible problem with trusting those that we
should- and instead surrounding ourselves with those we really have no business being around! 

AS for YOU my dear! Let's keep fighting this together! that's the only way I know how to
approach it. Like a fight! Because it IS. Everyday waking up to the music of "Rocky" in your head
and saying to yourself "I can beat this- just for today- I can force myself to move and push myself
to climb out of the pit." 
Everyday when I am depressed I say this in my head and I sometimes am grouchy at first -but then
as I get into doing something- it gets better and I feel better. I might sometimes screw up by getting
overwhelmed by how much more i "should" be doing...but that's my own personal hell of a
challenge to try and overcome. Accepting whatever little I can accomplish as "okay"! [This is a
concept that has caused me so much pain and arguments with loved ones!] I suspect that this is a
big problem with all of us. We can't accept our own humanity-nor our own limitations as
acceptable or tolerable. We are trying so hard to fix ALL that we know is very broken and we
and we alone- know how profound the break is, and we are SCARED TO DEATH and we don't
believe we can survive without heroic measures being taken! 
So we lash out at everyone around us who seems to be so perfectly oblivious to our plight and
dire condition- and we wind up isolating ourselves from the very thing that helps! Acceptance,
Comfort and Support from others! 

We've somehow deluded ourselves into thinking we are not worthy of this -until we have single
handedly saved the world and ourselves too- and made EVERYTHING "perfect"! What a
hopeless set up! No wonder we get so depressed! 

Anyway, I'm going to go out and get some sun! It's a shitty gray day here and we've had over a
week of this crap! It's too dark in here and it's making me sleepy! This is how I fight it! Sometimes
I just get real tired and give in to it and SLEEP during the day-but I try to only sleep during the
NIGHT. I notice if I defy the "normal" sleep patterns and stay awake too long at night- or sleep
too long in the day, it REALLLY screws me up! So I am almost MILITANT about going to bed
at least by midnight. If I can't sleep- I'll take excedrin PM and drink milk until i fall asleep.
[NOTHING STRONGER AND NEVER ALCOHOL!] I won't get up and I force myself to lie
there until I go to sleep. If I don't, I know it's disastrous for controlling my moods and I lose my
ability to think rapidly. Sometimes nothing works and I am a shit head the next day until I finally get
too physically tired to stay awake anymore. I realize this for what it is and so try to keep myself
sleeping on schedule. Here's what I have personally come up with- for myself....maybe it'll help
you too! 


1.] Force myself to get outside in the sun for at least an hour everyday -sometimes more if I'm
feeling really down. 
2.] Best thing is to combine #1 with alittle FUN excercise activity. Whether it's gardening, walking
and taking pictures, going for a walk in the park, or walking to a shop or library. GETTING OUT
and MOVING around! A VERY HEALTHY way to improve mood and health.It seems to be
much more important for mood disorder folks than normal folks. It is like my insulin! If I don't take
it- I fall into a "MOOD" coma! You will find it curiously frustrating to accomplish this - because if
you are like me you will resist this- even though it is fun! [especially if it is deemed "for fun".Our
personal brand of guilt resistance!] ] You MUST take this seriously and DO IT! It will amaze you
how much it helps when you do! 
I also do this when my rages or anxiety gets too much. At first you'll say! "I don't have time [or
energy] for that sillyness now"! But you will and you SHOULD make the time whenever you
NEED it. And this is when you need it most. 

drugs or alcohol. I know I have been VERY LUCKY with this. But now that I am completely off
of everything Tedi, I can't begin to impress upon you how much STRONGER and more levelled
out I am! Even without any prescription drugs! I truly believe that one of the reasons I haven't had
to take Rx drugs yet to help me is because I never used alcohol and I take vitamins and go outside
alot. At first it's really tough to do this- not bullshitting yourself into slipping into it-out of habit -
and ease. That's why I think the ONLY way for us, is to quit COLD! You just have to bite the
bullet and GO FOR IT. At first it's all you think about. [doing it] then after awhile, you don't. Then
one day you go "Damn! I haven't even thought about it!" When you can get this far- even if you
slip once in awhile- this is the sign that you CAN do it and get off everything!!!! FOR GOOD! 

4.] MAke a mission of learning about and liking yourself. You know the effort and passion that we
keep putting into all these failed relationships? Well, when I was FORCED to be alone - I began
to take that effort and transmit it into learning, and accepting and APPROVING of MYSELF. I
became GLEEFULLY selfish and self-absorbed at times! NOT all the time- but just certain times
where I wouldn't allow myself to feel guilty about anything I thought or did and I sought out things
that I wanted to do - not "HAD" to do. At first it was hard. I couldn't stop trying to 'justify'
everything. Now I realize it's the only way NOT to lose sight of your self and your own self worth.

5.] Keep a journal! This can be the most daunting- and yet the most rewarding thing of all. Think
of this book as a freind who is there whenever you need it and one that is UNCONDITIONAL. It
can be on the computer, or in a regular book [I actually keep BOTH!] It comes and goes with the
need and desire to write or figure things out. It REALLY helps me face my own patterns and helps
me identify my own "bad habits" as well as any cycles in my mood! At first you may be "shy" with
yourself- because you will [if you are like me] constantly inhibit your writings as if somebody else
will read them. Keep writing until you are writing for YOURSELF! You can write all the rage and
stupidly hurtful and cruel and nasty things you feel [but shouldn't really say-or act out] you can also
write about your fears and and your hopes and your dreams and all sorts of stuff that no body else
cares about except you. This is something that helps you TWICE [or more!] 

The first time it helps is when you write it- I call this during the "urge". It's a much safer and less
destructive way to vent and let loose with feelings that might be out of control. It often has a
stabilizing effect too. AS if writing it- somehow gets it out of your system. The second time it helps
you is later on, maybe even MUCH later on, when you pick up your journal again and you read
something that you wrote before! It is ALWAYS an eye opener and you can often learn alot
about yourself and your relationships by doing this. Remember this isn't some sort of Bible or Rule
book and just because you wrote something or felt something one day- doesn't mean you have to
ALWAYS feel that way! I learned this very important lesson from my own journals. 

WEll, that's about all the "rules" of life I can think of! 

I'll try to put together an email for you with the sites right inside of it dso you can just click on them
and read them with out searching for them for hours. 

I love you Tedi bear! I hope this helps and that it makes you smile! 

Write me and tell me what you think! 

I gotta get out for alittle while now. Sitting in this chair is driving me crazy! Literally! 

Your Beeger seester, 

Lynn Michele 
P.S. Give Trey and all, some pets for me will ya? 

Salt Cay Sunset House 
Salt Cay, Turks & Caicos Islands 

email Michele

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