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Hello! I'm a writer from central New York who has bipolar disorder. Among other topics, I write about mental illness and writing. I have short stories published in Lynx Eye, Lost Coast Review, The Outrider Review, Sliver of Stone Magazine, The Mondegreen, The Linnet's Wings, Cobalt Review, Breath & Shadow, The Round Up, Postscripts to Darkness, Masque & Spectacle, and several other journals. I have a poem in The Poeming Pigeon, essays about mental illness in The Ram Boutique and Amygdala Literary Magazine, and an essay in Parts Unbound: Narratives of Mental Illness & Health, a book that was published by Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective. My story "Santa Lucia" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I've written three novels entitled Purple Loosestrife, Hoping It Might Be So, and Dark and Bright, all of which are as yet unpublished. I'm working on a memoir about my experiences with bipolar disorder. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in English from SUNY College at Brockport. I hope you enjoy your visit to my blog!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bipolar Disorder and Traveling This Summer

I went on a week-long trip to Vermont this August and made it through without getting sick! I'm not implying that Vermont would have made me sick--not in the least--nor am I talking about a bipolar episode, but rather sick as in gastroenteritis.

Ever since I was a little kid, I've had a strong tendency to get sick while on vacation. In recent years, I've gotten sick both times I've gone to Hawaii. The first time, I was so sick with some sort of abdominal ailment that we thought I might have appendicitis. I ended up spending a night at a hospital in Waimea, getting hydrated and finding out that I had gastroenteritis. The second time, I got sick while on a snorkeling trip. It seemed to be motion sickness, but it continued for two days. Same symptoms as on my previous trip, hence another bout of gastroenteritis.

So it's a victory for me to get through a week of traveling without getting sick. But the question remains, why do I get sick in the first place? I think it's due to my bipolar disorder and the trouble dealing with stress and change that it can bring. Even good stress is still stress, and even fun change is still change--I don't think my body really knows the difference, and so illness sets in for a couple of days.

With bipolar disorder, routine is a very good thing. Regular sleeping, eating, and exercising are so important for staying balanced. And just the routine things one does from day to day are integral to maintaining wellness. When any of this gets disrupted, something might give, and for me while traveling, it's often been, well, my stomach!

I ask myself, what was different about this trip that kept me well? I believe part of it was sticking to my same sleep routine. Vermont itself is a lovely and relaxing kind of place. I didn't feel rushed to get a lot into a day and my eating schedule was pretty regular, too. Then there's going from New York to Vermont--no jet lag! I also managed to get in some writing and reading which felt so good mentally. I happened to bang up my toe really bad the day before we left for Vermont, so exercise wasn't all that possible, but I did manage a few little hikes. And as odd as it may sound, I think hydration--just being sure to drink a lot of water--is really important when you're on a trip. I drink a great deal of water every day at home, so I made sure to do this in Vermont, too.

I think that these tips are good for anyone who may have trouble traveling, not just someone with a mental illness. You've got to take care of yourself and not let even the good stress and the fun change get you down.

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