My name is Lynne Jenkins and I have a manic-depressive illness. I was diagnosed when I was about 28 after having a nervous breakdown. I can’t say exactly when my mood swings began but there were signposts along the way. It is just that no one recognized the symptoms as such when they first occurred.

   I could tell you about my hospital stays, the drugs, the strange things I did, waking up in restraints or the suicide attempts. I could tell you about the many new current theories. Instead I will tell you what I did to heal myself and what I do to manage my illness. I have now been drug-free for over 24 years.

  Back in the '60s there was a lack of information about the illness. Then mood disorders were considered to be rooted in psychological trauma. An unhappy childhood could condemn a person to lifelong depression and it was presumed that psychoanalysis or long-term psychotherapy was the way to exorcise the traumas of the past. Currently the psychiatric and medical professions regard bipolar disorder as a biological brain condition, which has a genetic basis and involves disturbed brain chemistry. Originally a doctor told me it happened because I was too fat and did not get enough nooky.

  When I incurred this illness there was little support or information available. I was on my own. My family and those around me were in denial and I believe my Higher power pointed the way. It was not until four years ago that I learned I had a serious illness. It was such a relief as I had always blamed myself as did those around me.

  So what did I do? What didn’t I do on my journey? Luckily I had a therapist who loved me and he was the one who told me to come off the drugs because eventually they would harm my liver and kidneys. The starting point is different and the causes are unique for everyone. First off, I am not advising anyone to come off their drugs. That is between you and your doctor. I did not do this all at once – it was a progression.

  When we look to the wisdom of the ancients most had a system of managing their health by employing nature’s elements, earth (food, oils, herbs and colours), air (oxygen), fire (physical exercise), and water (fresh, life-giving water that makes up over 90% of our bodies). If any of these aspects are out of balance, we become out of balance. So I learned over time that this condition required a multidimensional approach.

• I had my allergies checked and learned I had many. I eliminated most wheat, gluten and milk products, and I am still working on my diet. I did not get allergy shots. Instead I underwent NAET therapy for allergies, and am currently going to a Chinese herbalist and acupuncturist.

• I joined a gym. As well, yoga helped me tremendously (I found out what a poor breather I was) and learned that as I breathed my emotions came up.

• I went to every seminar and therapist that would help me release my emotions. Once the backlog was out I would no longer go out of balance as much. (I came from a British family and I was a “stuffer.”) Therapies included reiki, craniosacral, rolfing, therapeutic touch, holotropic breathwork, soma emotional release work and rebirthing — which is the profession I am in at this time. Like an onion I began to peel off the layers. Wholistic therapists are not threatened by people letting out their emotions and nobody gave me a Valium, or a sleeping pill.

• I began to listen to positive thinking tapes — I had to change my core beliefs about life and myself.

• I joined Weight Watchers but was unsuccessful. (Chinese Medicine theory believes that many people with mood disorders have too much “heat” in the body. I have too much heat and too much mucous. If one has too much mucous one cannot lose weight.)

• I learned to say “no” and to set boundaries.

• I found a naturopathic doctor and therapists who believed in me and the non-use of drugs.

• I began to take courses in every therapy I could afford and was interested in. I became a professional rebirther, reiki master and an NLP master. There were some good therapies and some bad — I have had feathers flicked over me, eggs rolled on me, my grids changed and much more. I have come out of therapies black and blue but from each one I learned something.

• I practised self- responsibility. Where was I not taking responsibility for myself, where did I not love myself? This hit home the day I realized the only person who would be with me from the day I was born until the day I died would be me and the Creator.

• I asked the Divine to heal me.

Mental Aspects
Does manic depression arise from something I am thinking? For example I have noticed that if I do not problem-solve I will go over and over the same material working myself into a negative state. Many of us have stinking thinking. Our minds can make us sick. We must focus on our intention. Up to 90% of what we do is intention. We can use our will to help us develop the four aspects of our nature. Yogananda says “The greater the will, the greater the flow of energy.” Our will power is the force that helps us to make decisions and then act on them.

  We must develop a positive mental attitude. We have to change our beliefs and focus on what we want, not what we don’t want. We must move onto a higher consciousness because our body is influenced by the mind and spirit.

  During my downs I would chastise myself repeatedly and dwell on every failure throughout my life. Now I catch myself and say “stop” and reframe what I am saying.

  Even though I am now normally positive and outgoing, I still can become pessimistic and withdrawn, but I assure myself it will not last long and honour the reasons why I am “down.” I do not make myself wrong for feeling “blue.”

Physical Aspects
  Detoxing, nourishing and strengthening the body helps to reduce stress and tension. And disease cannot occur in a well-oxygenated body. All disease stems from unhealthy cells and when our cells are healthy there can be no disease.

  It is very important to detoxify, which does not necessarily mean a three- day fast. Take the number of years old you are and divide it by 10 and that is the number of years it will take to do a thorough detox. Heavy metals found mostly in the brain work like an antennae. They pick up the electromagnetic or geopathic interference which exacerbates the symptoms of mood disorders. It has been found that prison inmates have a high consumption of sugar and junk foods. People lose control of their lives in some cases because of multiple food allergies and disturbed blood sugar metabolism which affects their brain processes. Research has found that these same people become much more grounded on a healthy diet. Research further shows that chronic malnutrition leads to biochemical imbalances and there is little doubt that this plays a large part in behaviour disorders and personality malfunctions. Correcting your diet leads to positive changes in behaviour. Depression can wreak havoc on the immune system.

  In one study, people with bipolar disorder who were given fish oils did better than those who did not receive this dietary supplement. Lynda Hamilton in her wellness course states that often bipolar people make wrong choices with food, being big coffee and cigarette people. This was rampant in my family. In the past year I have become almost coffee-free and am down to five cigarettes a night. It is a daily battle and hard to break a 50-year old habit.

  The highest concentration of neurotransmitters in our body are found in our gut and not the brain. Epilepsy and schizophrenia symptoms have improved or disappeared when gluten has been removed from the diet in sensitive individuals.

  If you are prone to depression, insomnia, migraines, weight problems, hyperactivity or mood swings you may not be getting enough tryptophan. Eat foods such as cottage cheese, brown rice, nuts, avocados, dried apricots and fermented soy protein, including organic tempeh and miso.

  If you crave carbohydrates it may be a cry for seratonin. The link between mood and carbohydrates is strong. Carbohydrates directly affect the level of tryptopan that is sent to the brain.

Emotional Aspects
   We are our emotions. Good health requires free flow of emotions. Manic depression may be one way emotions show themselves. What emotions do I need to express? It is enough to feel my own feelings and be responsible for myself. I can empathize with others but I don’t have to feel their feelings or be responsible for them.

  How we perceive what happens to us, the weight we lend to our life experiences, determines how they will register in our bodies. Emotions play out biologically. Remember, it is usually an emotional block that brings about a physical disorder. Many people are in denial about their emotions because they don’t feel good or are not in keeping with the person’s self image.

  The journey of healing is similar to doing laundry in a washing machine. When the soap and water touch the garments, grime is loosened and it rises to the surface. If you looked into the washing machine during the agitation cycle, you would be repulsed and think that the clothes are getting dirtier. Actually they are getting cleaner. The muck must be extracted before it can be discarded.

  Giri means having a commitment or obligation to society and to oneself. Each person has a commitment to live out his or her role in society in a truly honourable way and to treat with the same honour each person that we come in contact with. If everyone is practising giri this invokes trust in the universe as a whole and there is little need for civil or criminal law. I have done much better since I found my life work.

  Find a reason to live. Tap into a Higher Power. We must also be healed of spirit. What those in the west view as mental illness, the Dagara people regard as “good news from the other world.” The person going through the crisis has been chosen as a medium for a message to the community that needs to be communicated from the spirit realm.

  Am I taking time to be creative, go inside, meditate, or pray? Do I need to go to church or join a spiritual group, or buy some inspiring books? I cannot always be in a giving position or “on”. I have to take time for myself. I can only give from a full cup. I don’t do extremes any more. I am no longer over-responsible at the expense of myself. Am I taking time to relax?

  I believe we can manage our illnesses. I believe we can heal but all healing takes time and hard work. A thorn hurts as it goes it and it hurts as it is pulled out. We must make the effort to do what it takes to heal our lives.

  I believe we have to start putting as much energy and money into researching mood disorders as we do physical diseases, or viruses. We have to start understanding. We have to stop locking our people with mood disorders away in prisons, or letting them wander unprotected on the streets. We have to care because a society will be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable people.

  As one of my clients put it: “get rid of anything and anyone who does not love you support you or is good for you.”

Know Your Triggers
  Now when I become depressed I check in with myself — have I used up too much energy, am I cold? Hungry? is it my thinking? And I nip it in the bud.

The Downside of Drugs
  Lithium can cause hypothryroidism. Quitting Lithium can send you into a manic episode.

  Drugs do not conform to the ancient, earth concept of healing because drugs are a non-living form of chemistry and suppress symptoms — except for antibiotics. Drugs are not sufficient to produce life and have no life-giving power apart from the cooperative life force of the patient. Modern science excels in diagnosis, microsurgery and in acute emergency care. However, in preventive therapy and in the case of chronic, long-term therapy, drugs do not supply the living chemical elements needed for life and health, while foods, herbs, oils and colour are a natural living supply of life-generating elements. Herbs are a living source of chemicals.
Never stop trying. Never give up. We cannot just expect our drugs to change our lives. We have to take responsibility for our wellness.

  Currently, I very quickly notice when I am “off” or in a negative state. If I am tired, why? Do I need to get some sleep, do I need to eat? Am I drained? Do I need to drop some people, or chores out of my life? I focus on what I want not what I don’t want. There is always another level we can reach. Currently I am going to the gym three times a week and I walk a lot — I do weights, aerobic and sometimes yoga and pilates.

  I am still working on my diet and as often as I can afford it I eat organic. I eat very little meat and I take probiotics. I am coming off estrogen and am stopping smoking. I drink very little alcohol and tons of water.

  I am still detoxing and go to a Chinese acupuncturist herbalist twice a month and I get as many treatments I can of massage, rebirthing, reiki, reflexology and I meditate. I also go to a sweat lodge usually monthly. I also do a lot of organic oils. I want to do Semor Matrix work and if I could afford it I would go to a naturopath and a homeopathic therapist and nutritionist. Life at last is good.