Rainbow people

We are a bipolar self-help group,
We are named RollerCoaster.
We share coping strategies.

We don't have funding,
We don't have premises, but...
We do have each other.

We meet here,
We meet there,
Where community meets unity,
We meet 1st Saturday monthly.

We welcome friends & family.
We would love to hear from you.

We only have limited places.
We urge you to contact us promptly.

Tel: Bob St. Albans 01727 851809.

Please print & display our poster.

Mental Health Survival Guide:

Tips for a good night's sleep. - Avoid caffeine like the plague all day and every day. That means no tea, no coffee of any kind, no chocolate and no cola etc. Endeavour to calm yourself down before bedtime. Don't take exercise in the evening. Video screens e.g. television and PC monitors can aggravate you with their indiscernible flicker due to their construction and operation. Record your evening programmes and watch them in the daytime. Similarly use PC for e-mails and browsing during the daytime. No eating or drinking after your evening meal except of course a small drink of water to accompany night time medication. This will reduce the likely hood of stomach activity and you will not require to get up in the middle of the night to use the toilet. Make your bedroom a place of rest. Not too hot. A cool bedroom is better for sleep than a hot one. 18ºC is ideal. I have a CD player with gentle instrumental music to soothe me to sleep. Avoid watching TV, eating and discussing emotional issues in bed. The bed should be used for sleep and making love only. If not, you can end up associating the bed with distracting activities that could make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Keep a regular sleep schedule. Follow these tips and there's a good chance that you will sleep like a baby all the way through the night and awake refreshed.

Free Bipolar Mood Chart - A useful tool that some bipolarites use every day. EVIDENCE WHEN FILING FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY: A very useful part of your medical evidence, it can show exactly how your mood swings interfere with daily living: Download Chart. Best to use a fine nib black pen for purposes of photocopying the chart.


Single Point Of Access,
(for emergency mental health care)
Tel: 0300 777 0707

Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Trust,
99 Waverley Road,
St. Albans,
01727 804674

Mental Health Helpline
01438 843322 between 1900 and 0800 hours

Herts Help
Local advice information and support to make life easier, including advocacy support.
Telephone: 0300 123 4044
E-mail: info {{A//T}} hertshelp.net

CALM Campaign Against Living Miserably
Tel: (night time) 0800 58 58 58

Bipolar UK
Support line: 0333 323 3880
09:00 to 17:00
Or leave a message but may take a few days to reply.

KEEP HOLD OF YOUR APPOINTMENT LETTER! It saddens me to have to say this but in my experience the mental health services are slack. Time and again I've been confronted by reception with: "You're not on the list." and turned away. Last time it happened I fortunately had my appointment letter and the receptionist was able to go the extra mile for me. I could hear her challenging onwards from duty officer department to around the building. It took a while but without the letter well... If they can't cope with a simple thing like an appointment time then what else are they screwing up I muse. Oh yes, my Lithium test results went astray several times which meant I had to go for retests that to mind wasted resources. It wasn't just me either. Having said all that relatively trivial stuff above I am well and enjoying my good health so thank you HPFT.

Influenza - I believe that influenza can be deleterious to my mental health. It may be debilitating to my mood through exhaustion and/or sleep disruption and affect the efficiency of my medications through sweating, vomiting and diarrhoea. The combination of all these factors may predispose me to an episode of severe mental impairment. Influenza may precipitate me into a lingering malaise and recovery through convalescence could take a long time. Consequently, I want to avoid the aches, pains and fevers of flu and the difficulties it brings to my well-being. For most people, flu will just make them feel miserable but they will get better on their own after the virus runs its course. But if you have a medical condition which puts you in the 'at risk' category you are more at risk of becoming very unwell because of flu. I request flu vaccinations every Autumn in the belief that they benefit my health. Also, my having the flu vaccination may benefit other people as I am one less person to pass the flu on. I can't prove my belief, I have no statistics, it is just the way that I feel. As a self employed sole trader I simply can't afford not to pay the 20 to have the flu vaccination administered to me privately. If you live alone you may be especially at risk without someone to care for you and give you drinks and such like. You could die of dehydration. If you ask your GP practice nurse nicely she might give you the influenza vaccination for free. You have to look after your body... it's the only place you have to live. Some people stay the same, miss the changes, won't face up to them and leave the future up for grabs. Individual ambition serves the common good. I am most fortunate to receive care that enhances my life. Sink or swim, do or decline. Stay well.

FLU KILLS - Influenza is dangerous, highly contagious and largely preventable. You can carry and pass the virus on to others without having any symptoms yourself, so even if you consider yourself healthy, you might be risking the lives of others. Protect yourself, your family and your colleagues - be a flu fighter, get your flu jab. Source: NHS hospital poster.

This web site is especially for those whose time is restricted and maybe can only be here during tea breaks or lunch time (I promise not to tell your boss if you are here any other time). Better still, bookmark the page and you can come back anytime! This web site is not intended to be a full statement of the law - more a tactical handbook that will hopefully be a helpful resource. Please continue to feel free to download, print off bits or pass on ideas... Please don't sell material on though and it would be much appreciated if you mentioned the source if you are using content elsewhere.

Well Being - I associate being well with drinking copious amounts of water daily usually when waking up in the morning. Water on its own is boring and also in extreme circumstances too much water on its own can deplete salts in one's body and even cause death. So I drink diluted fruit juice and weak Barley Cup hot drink. (I use Barley Cup from Holland & Barrett to avoid caffeine.) I believe that water is good for me generally. It is essential. I also believe that dehydration can predispose one into mental illness. My urine should be pale lemon. If it's darker than that I know to drink more water. Fluids++. Second to the water I associate being well with my medication. Followed by this - My doctor said: "People who exercise often find that things that were bothering them go away."

Health E-news: BEWARE CAFFEINE ! - Caffeine can affect the Lithium level in your body if you are on Lithium medication. It is generally accepted that the therapeutic level for Lithium medication is 0.4 to 0.8. Any lower than 0.4 and the dose becomes ineffective and you may become ill. Any higher than 0.8 and the dose becomes toxic and yes you guessed it, you may become ill. My consultant psychiatrist was concerned that my Lithium level had dropped to 0.45 over the period of a year. In passing he mentioned that caffeine could affect the Lithium level. My wife said: "He's drinking decaffeintaed coffee so that's alright." Doctor: "No, you will be lucky to get half the caffeine removed with decaff." Me: "Well, Earl Grey is weak so that's okay." Doctor: "Earl Grey as well." So I've stopped consuming products with caffeine e.g. tea, coffee, cola and choclolate. Subsequently I had a blood test and the level returned to normal at 0.63 - middle of the range. Well, I'm glad we got that sorted out!

Table salt can affect lithium level blood test result as used for treatment of bipolar. When the body takes in table salt it may detect that it has too much and tries to compensate by excreting the therapeutic lithium salt. Changing your intake of table salt can affect your lithium treatment for bipolar / manic depression.

Medication - ALWAYS TAKE A COLD DRINK WITH TABLETS - Many tablets e.g. Lithium are 'slow release' that means they have a delayed adsorption rate coating that is undermined when taken with a hot drink. Always take tablets with a cold drink. Also avoid "sparkling" effervescent drinks "with bubbles" as I believe they can affect the absorption rate of medication.

My mom used to insist that I take vitamins. I asked my doctor about this and he said: "Well, they won't do you any harm." So to keep my mom happy I take vitamin pills. When the time came for me to take Lithium I decided that I should consider it as a dietary supplement like vitamins. After all Lithium is a naturally occurring salt (Lithium Carbonate).

I believe that my bipolar affective disorder is predominantly a genetic issue. Metaphorically speaking; Genetics load the gun and enviromental factors pull the trigger. My lithium medication appears to enhance the functioning of my brain so it is a good thing that I take it. After all, why should I settle for what I was born with?

Thinking of coming off your psychiatric medication cold - turkey without medical supervision? Think again! I'm not a doctor or a nurse I am a services user just like yourself. I have met several fellow patients who discarded their medication and they all ended up back in a mental hospital. Don't let it happen to you. You might do it once, twice, maybe thrice but after that you will probably damage yourself and forever be a burden to your family and the National Health Service. You won't get back what you have lost. Generally, most psychiatric medications don't cure the illness they just mask the symptoms. It is your right to refuse medication but you should tell your doctor of your intention so that all of the options open to you can be discussed. Freephone: CALM - Campaign Against Living Miserably on 0800 58 58 58 to talk to a mental health care professional anonymously. All of the above represents my personal opinions only. Best wishes and stay well, Benefits Bob the Welfare Weasel.

Say no to that joint my friend. The Home Office is responding to new research evidence from Holland which links cannabis with an increased risk of mental illness e.g. schizophrenia. "Development of psychosis harm from the use of cannabis is four times higher for the 10% of the population predisposed to it." Source: Professor Jim Van-Oss of Maastricht University. Mental health charities have welcomed moves to promote a review of information and to bring attention to higher strengths of cannabis known as skunk. "More and more people with mental health difficulties are using cannabis and we can see a direct link between cannabis and their problems." Source: Mental Health Community. Hash, bhang, black, blast, reefer, joint, blow, dope, ganga, grass, marijuana call it what you will cannabis is not as benign as previously thought. "Don't take cannabis." Source: Psychiatrist.

Welfare Benefits are for the middle classes? Yes, too right they are. Watch TV documentaries about people failing medical assessments (they appear with relentless regularity) and ask yourself were there many middle class claimants falling through the net? No, of course not. If you have the benefit of a good education, are articulate and fit enough to be dilligent then chances are you will make the most of your opportunities. You won't neccessarily (never could spell that word) get the benefit you seek but your chances will be enhanced. Not fair! I hear you cry. That's right it's not fair but what is fair is that if you have access to the Internet then you will have an equal and fair chance to optimise your chances, whether middle class or not, by using Google. If you don't speak up now there will be no one left to speak up for you. Keep on keeping on.

Promote Dental Hygiene Campaign - Depressed mental patients' possible self neglect regarding poor dental hygiene leading to gum recession and eventual loss of teeth is a worthwhile campaign issue. This campaign is I believe achieveable, non political, of timeless value, virtually free and of benefit to many psychiatric patients. I am presently pursuing this campaign via my web site, the mental health forums I attend and talking to anybody who will listen. You can make a difference; join the campaign now by protecting your teeth from gum recession and propagating the knowledge. Toothbrushes are available, to patients in National Health Service psychiatric hospitals, on request to the staff.

Many mental patients lose their teeth because they are predisposed to self neglect. When ill and left to my own devices I tend to self neglect. Good dental hygiene is important for healthy teeth and gums. A dental hygienist has advised me that some people need help with brushing their teeth. An electric toothbrush may be appropriate providing it is used gently. I use the Oral-B Professional Care 7000 electric toothbrush (Which? best buy) powered by Braun, available from Boots or Superdrug on special offer for just £33 (was £45) and replacement FlexiSoft brushheads only cost £3·50 each. It removes plaque efficiently. I love it! :) p.s. Remember to floss. I use Oral-B Essential Floss twice a week together with Oral-B, or Listerine, mouth rinse available from Superdrug and Boots. Helps me to do more to keep my teeth and gums healthy.

My professional patient duties are:

Diligently take my medication
Drink plenty of water to flush out medication toxins
Maintain my dental hygiene

Issues such as a dishevelled appearance are relatively trivial and will be resolved with time.

Interestingly I attended a ViewPoint meeting recently and dental hygiene was raised as an issue. The comment was that there needs to be an enhanced promotion of personal and dental hygiene to allow people to be more acceptable in society. Often it is easy to correct a dishevelled appearance but it takes a lot longer, if ever, to repair damaged teeth and gums. Prevention is better than cure. For many psychiatric patients, who are fortunate enough to receive help, their mental health will improve significantly. Upon recovery you will be thankful that you persevered with your dental hygiene régime. Be true to your teeth or they'll be false to you.

Survival On A Psychiatric Ward - No coins to telephone a friend then dial: 0800 REVERSE where REVERSE = 7383773 for a reverse charge call.

To prove that you did in fact post an item ask for a free Certificate of Posting at the post office.

How much does Mental Health Survival Guide cost? - This Mental Health Survival Guide web site is free (to all users). Free to access, free to read, free to print, free to upload, free to download, free to host, free to link, just Free. In other words, it is free, zero cost, nada, no hidden fees, free. For more information, read the Fine Print: free, free, free, free, free! We all have to pay for everything in this world one way or another. There is nothing free except the grace of God and of course this Mental Health Survival Guide!

Cutting cinema costs via the Cinema Exhibitors' Association national card scheme can reduce the expense of a visit to see the latest films. Card holders will be able to get a free ticket for the person who accompanies them, every time they go to the cinema. To qualify for a card someone will need to meet one or more of the following criteria:

Be in receipt of Disability Living Allowance
Be in receipt of Attendance Allowance
Be a registered blind person

The CEA card is valid for one year from the date of issue and costs £5·50 to process. It can be used in the cinema of Odeon and other major chains as well as in some local independent cinemas. For further information ask at your local cinema. If you have any difficulty, please contact at this address: CEACARD, Po Box 199, Deeside, CH5 9BW Tel: 0845 123 1292 or visit Web Site where participating cinemas are listed and you may print an application form.

Helpful Medication Hints - Taking medication for the first time can be a little daunting but with some helpful aids & tips your fears can be alleviated. I use a PILLMATE pillbox. This is a pillbox which has sections divided up into days of the week i.e. Monday to Sunday. Each day has four section including Morning, Noon, Evening & Night. You place whichever tablets you need to take at a particular time into the section i.e. I take one tablet at night. You can then dispense your week's worth of medication into the box. Using this pillbox means that it helps you to organise your medication & when you need to get a repeat prescription.

I also use a PILLMATE pill cutter. This is a small plastic device with a blade which enables you to cut tablets in half. This is particularly useful if your medication dosage is reduced. Both the Pillmate pillbox & pillcutter can be bought at chemists including Boots. The pill cutter is even available in different colours!

It helps to get into a routine of when you take your medication. Try to take it at the same time each day so it helps you to remember to take it. If you take medication in the evening, perhaps switching off the television, taking a bath or reading can help to relax.

When Taking a Holiday Abroad:

1) Make sure you have enough medication for the duration of your holiday. If necessary, contact your G.P to ask for extra meds.

2) Make sure you pack some meds in your hand luggage as well as or instead of your suitcase. This is because if any of your luggage gets lost, you will still have some medication with you.

3) If possible, obtaining a photocopy of your repeat prescription is a good idea. If in any emergency a doctor will be able to see what current medication you are taking and customs officers may require to see it to validate any medications you are carrying.

I hope these tips help you & make your life a little easier.

Source: Charlotte Gibson.

What is a SCAM? - Scheming Crafty Aggressive Malicious. A scam is a scheme to con someone out of their cash. Many scams take the form of bogus and fraudulent offers sent by post, telephone or e-mail. Every year, three million people fall victim to scams, losing an average of 850 each. Fake lottery and prize draw wins, bogus psychic predictions, get-rich-quick investment cons and 'miracle' health cures are just some of the tricks scammers try. Though anyone can fall for a scam, the elderly and vulnerable are more likely to be targeted. Anyone who thinks they have been the victim of a scam, or suspects a scam is being attempted, can contact Consumer Direct on Tel: 08454 04 05 06 clear, practical advice. For free copies of more information Freephone: 0800 389 3158.

Always carry a bath plug about your person. Bath plugs are notoriously difficult to come by on NHS psychiatric wards so use yours for yourself and make friends by lending it out.

That's all for now. Stay blessed, Bob.
R o l l e r C o a s t e r
 Leaning left aiming to do what's right