Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Inside the mind of the Bipolar

By Megan Wood megan.wood@gazette.com - Published: September 10, 2013

The highs and lows of life have been extreme for Joy A. Paz.

In "The Agony and Ecstasy of the Bipolar Mind," Paz explores the mind of a bipolar person, much of it through her own experiences.

The 67-year-old Fountain resident lives with bipolar disorder, as does her husband. Diagnosed at 35, Paz realized she still could live a normal life with the help of medicine.

"When I had the manic side, I was totally optimistic. I had so much drive, so much energy. I was real witty," Paz said of her life before she began medical treatment.

Triggered by stress, the downside of this type of bipolar is lack of energy, depression and anxiety.

"The depression was excruciating. I was very quiet and withdrew from society," Paz said. "But then it was a cloud that lifted, and I was fine."

Paz first took lithium to control her mania. She said the drug quenched her creativity, inspiration and intuition. She eventually switched to lamictal, a medicine she credits with giving her back the inspiration and motivation to finish her book while still controlling her mania.

In her book, Paz explores four topics: how bipolar affects people, how much the subconscious mind influences the conscious mind, how to utilize various healing methods and how her relationship with God has remained strong.

"It was like writing a diary to try to help me cope with what was happening," Paz said about how she started writing the book to help her deal with her and her husband's ordeals with the disorder. "Then I thought, with all my experiences, I really need to help people."

Paz said she heavily researched her book before starting to write in 2004. She attended seminars, listened to webinars and wrote from her own experiences.

A person can have manic bipolar, depressive bipolar or experience the highs and lows of both, she said.

Paz said both her father and her father-in-law lived with the disorder, so she suspected both she and her husband might suffer the same fate.

She and her husband both have severe cases of bipolar, but while hers is controlled, his is not.

Paz and her husband have traveled to three continents together and were missionaries in Brazil for eight years.

While in Brazil, her mania reached an all-time high, which she later recognized as very dangerous.

"A real mountaintop experience - I have to remember to get my sleep, or I could get high," Paz said of her manic bipolar. "And that's OK, but I can't go out of reality. When you go out of reality, you have an emotional crisis."

Paz outlines various healing methods in her book, including hypnosis.

"I want to whet the appetite. There are among us truth-seekers," Paz said. "I wanted to find out all the knowledge, insight, understanding."

The first-time author and mother of two loves refuses to let bipolar disorder define her life.

She enjoys visiting Garden of the Gods and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and dining out at her favorite restaurants.

"Retirement is so much fun! Because I can do what I want when I want. I have a lot of hobbies, I ride my bike, I enjoy life," she said.

"I've fulfilled all my dreams, plus some."

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