Busy week

I find it funny as you get older your opinion on things change. For example I used to love when the holidays came up at school but now I don’t want the school’s on holiday because SIL1 is about more and if I go into town before 4pm, town is full of teenagers.

Last week was half term. I liked it because I was given the opportunity to hang out with my brother. I didn’t really know what I was going to do though because any movement I make in the morning SIL1 would have commented on and it would have stressed me out and my dad wasn’t picking me up because he wasn’t coming into town. He offered to pick me and GC up every morning, take him to work and me back to his. He did which was awesome. The week in that respect actually worked out really well.

Monday, GC had the dentist and had a surprise tooth out (we thought it was just for an x-ray). Tuesday, I had the dentist which I am glad for because my gums have been bleeding a little bit and the wisdom tooth that got a cavity because I couldn’t brush it due to it not coming through the gum surface yet has began to come through and is sensitive but thankfully my teeth were fine and I’ve gone from an appointment every 6 months to one every year. On Wednesday I had an appointment with my psych nurse. Thursday, I had a baby first aid course from 9am until midday and GC had the dentist again later in the day for another tooth out. The baby first aid course went really well, I passed but GC had given me a cold which weakened immune system and has opened me up to an ear infection and tonsilititus. But thankfully Friday and the weekend I can rest.

I try not to get too busy in one week and only have one big thing per week. But I seem to manage to have a week or fornight free and then just coincidentally book everything in the one week. Sometimes I like it because it gets rid of the stress in just one swoop with no weekend of worrying but other times I feel very tired or sick and wish I had a few days to recover.

Though Monday I had a lot more energy to move about. Instead of napping during the day, I got up and sorted of the bed I would be living in for the next few months. That includes moving light furniture, tidying the floor, unpacking clothes and basically just moving things around. But for the last few nights I’ve been having pretty intense nightmares so I’ve not been sleeping too well. It does begin to add up. I’ve found myself being more snappy and irritable than usual which isn’t necessarily just down to no sleep, add in pregnancy and that’s not exactly a recipe I’m happy about.

I have an appointment for the 15th March with the perinatal mental health clinic. I know they’re the people who help you before the birth (as well as for a year after) with mental health but that’s pretty much it. I googled the service but only found the local address. When on the phone with them they told me they would send me a questionnaire but the paper work they sent me was more just about correspondence rather than a mood questionnaire.

The physical aspect of the pregnancy varies. Sometimes I feel not too bad, a bit of energy and a more positive outlook on pregnancy and the baby and how both of those things relate to myself. Other times I feel quite depressed. I get told it’s normal to feel that way, that worries such as “am I going to be a good mother?” and “is the baby going to be okay with me as it’s mum?” and such doubts like that. They say that normal and I do believe to an extent it has to be but it’s gotten so bad that I’ve debated getting rid of the baby. I never would because I know I would regret it and when I feel it’s heartbeat or the baby moving, I know I care and probably even love the baby but I still feel bad about those thoughts and the fact that sometimes I feel very disconnected with the baby.

A doctor told me once to think of the baby as a parasite, taking everything I need and making me sick and how would I be expected to always love something like that. You put it like that and I understand why they aren’t so worried but I am worried and surely that has to count for something.

Bipolar Disorder: Stress, Cortisol, Prevention

Genetic predispositions to emotional and mental health disorders are the real deal. But a predisposition doesn’t equate to a future diagnosis.

It’s often a matter of side-stepping a disorder by making environmental adjustments.

Here’s an example. An infant may come into this world with a genetic predisposition to alcohol abuse and dependence. However, if she/he never drinks a drop (the environmental adjustment), the disorder won’t present.

It’s no big surprise – genetic predisposition is a factor in the development (I didn’t say diagnosis) of bipolar disorder. A Canadian research team has come up with one such predisposition.

Theirs is the first study to show that elevated cortisol levels are much easier to come by for a child of even just one bipolar parent (vs. a child with neither parent bipolar).

These over-the-top cortisol levels manifested as a result of an environmental factor – exposure to typical childhood life-stressors. So you could say that these children are genetically predisposed to poor stress coping abilities – as well as bipolar disorder.

(Incidentally, research tells us that children who have just one parent with bipolar disorder are four times more likely to develop a mood disorder. That could be bipolar disorder or unipolar depression.)

Interestingly enough, the research team had already determined that cortisol levels of children with a bipolar parent ran higher than non-bipolar-parent children.

They did more work with these very same children – measuring cortisol levels during chronic and one-time stress episodes. And they found reactionary cortisol levels were unusually high, as well.

So it’s a matter of a biological sensitivity to stress, and the subsequent cortisol spike. And that may well explain why these children develop a mood disorder(s).

No matter how you cut it, the stress/cortisol issue is a major indicator of future illness.

Prevention

According to the study’s senior author Mark Ellenbogen…

“We believe this sensitivity develops during childhood and our suspicion is that if you could teach both parents and their offspring on how to cope with stress, how to deal with problems before they turn into larger significant stressors and difficulties, this would have a profound impact.”

Makes sense to me. So what can you do to keep your child’s (and your) stress – cortisol – levels under management? Here’s a short list…

  • Consider Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Maintain a healthy diet, to include sufficient protein intake
  • Minimize the ingestion of sugars
  • Minimize (avoid) caffeine intake
  • Consider anti-stress supplements (B vitamins, Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, etc.)
  • Exercise
  • Get enough sleep
  • Grab a massage
  • Meditate
  • Laugh
  • Okay, for adults only – safe and responsible sexual intercourse is really helpful

That’s All Folks!