Losing a Battle with My Bipolar Brain

August 19, 2014 Natasha Tracy

Your bipolar brain can need battling on many fronts. Here's what I've learned about losing battles with my bipolar brain.I eat too much ice cream. I admit it. Häagen-Dazs and I have far too close a relationship. And the fact that this close relationship exists indicates that I’m losing a battle with my bipolar brain.

Why Do I Eat Too Much Ice Cream?

Eating ice cream is a way of making yourself feel good. No one needs to eat ice cream. People simply want to eat ice cream. And they want to eat ice cream because eating it releases pleasure chemicals in the brain that make them feel good.

As for me, I tend to not feel good. I tend to be depressed. And so my body is looking for a way, any way, to make myself feel better. I don’t do drugs, I rarely drink and I no longer self-harm so the thing that my brain thinks will make me feel better is ice cream.

The Battle in My Bipolar Brain – I Know Ice Cream Doesn’t Work

Your bipolar brain can need battling on many fronts. Here's what I've learned about losing battles with my bipolar brain.The thing is, I’m a smart cookie – I know that ice cream doesn’t beat depression. Ice cream probably won’t even momentarily help. Ice cream is just a false panacea that my brain grabs onto because it’s desperate. I totally get this. The psychology is painfully simple.

And yet I can’t seem to stop eating ice cream. I know I shouldn’t; I know it’s not good for me; I know that it won’t really help and yet I can’t seem to stop. I lose that battle with my bipolar brain.

I Feel Bad about Losing the Battle with my Bipolar Brain

And I have to say, I feel like a failure because I can’t get a hold of this particular habit. I feel quite bad about it. I feel quite bad about giving in to this craving. I feel bad about even having this craving. Losing this battle (I suppose losing any battle) really sucks.

Battling the Bipolar Brain

But, the truth is, I lose many battles with my bipolar brain. If I won every battle, I wouldn’t be depressed in the first place. The gosh-darn bipolar part of my brain is just stronger than I am in many respects and apparently craving ice cream is one such respect.

So I’ve learned that I have to lose a few battles to win the war. And make no mistake about it, I do, in general, win the war against bipolar. I work hard. I have friends. I’m what some might call successful. So if I lose a battle now and then, it’s okay. It’s no use in being down on myself for not winning every bipolar battle. I’m not perfect and sometimes I lose. And that’s okay.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or Google+ or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at Bipolar Burble, her blog.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2014, August 19). Losing a Battle with My Bipolar Brain, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 14 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

November, 11 2014 at 4:17 am

I agree with Jordon whole heartedly. 'My obsessions for ice-cream (etc.) are not alleviated by not eating ice-cream. My obsessions are relieved by focusing on something else.' It's all about balance. I always used to crave sweets & caffeine when I was severely depressed in part because I was tired and my poor brain was looking for some quick energy. Also because I didn't eat properly because I had an eating disorder. I find now that if I eat healthy most of the time and get enough sleep I tend not to crave junk food. As long as my energy out exceeds my energy in I can still loose a little weight, albeit much slower than I used to. I know being on medication can make us gain weight. If that's a problem for you my suggestion is that you talk with a nutritionist (I did because I had become a pre-diabetic) and your pdoc. Maybe he can put you on more weight neutral medication like Abilify and Lamictal. It takes a lot of discipline to live a bipolar life and no one is perfect (and that's coming from a perfectionist). We ALL slip up now and then. The trick is not to get stuck in that negative pattern of thinking and behaving. So we have some ice-cream (etc) now and then, big deal. Just eat less of it and not as often. If your addictive brain says you must have it maybe you're lacking something more nutritionally sound in your diet. If it doesn't contribute to a BALANCED / STABLE lifestyle than don't do it. Try to distract yourself with something that is good for you instead, like going for a walk in the fresh air. Sorry, enough preaching!!!

September, 16 2014 at 5:26 am

I always wonder about the motives of folks who come on blogs and say negative things about it. What is the point? The blog is free to read. If you don't like it, don't read it. If the author is giving out inaccurate information or something like that, OK, that's something to comment on (I disagree with Natasha plenty enough). But that's not what's happening here. ??? Why? Why?

September, 15 2014 at 8:45 am

I have read many articles by Natasha Tracy and I have yet to learn anything from any of them. This one is full of insightful gems like: "The gosh-darn bipolar part of my brain is just stronger than I am" – fluffy, shallow statements of the obvious. If this writer has any real knowledge about bipolar, she has a very poor ability to write about it.

September, 15 2014 at 8:37 am

It's true. I want to lose weight. I want to eat healthier. But even getting to that challenge tells me that I have come a long way towards getting control of my bipolar. Not to say I am in total control, but it's been 2 1/2 years since my last hospitalization and cutting. I find now that I can actually spent some mental energy thinking about exercise, about what I eat, about my spiritual life. Even then, I allow myself certain indulgences such as frozen yogurt or angel food cake once in a while just because I want to, or just because I'm proud of making it through a rough day, or because it was a terrible day. As to the latter, I find that yogurt is head and shoulders above ripping my arm to pieces. I guess what I'm saying is bipolar is a long shadow to travel with, so when I want frozen yogurt once a month, what the hell?

August, 30 2014 at 7:23 am

The comments about alcoholism and addiction leaving people with the cravings for sweets. I have been clean and in recovery programs for many years.
It was especially difficult for me to come to understand the difference between my bi-polar and my depression and my addiction issues where abstinance and a recovery program could restore me to sanity.
I have had 14 years of recovery twice. This time, I decided to take a look at what the differences are and try to avoid my dark journey into active addiction.
There are differences.
At least for me.
It is not at all helpful to have my bi-polar depression and anxiety or my mania to be included with the usual run of the mill recovery solutions.
My bi-polar requires medication to begin with, and the mania while entertaining to others and fun to start with are horrific in their real and actual destruction that plays out in my life in the wake of lost employment, suicidal attempts, lost relationships and the depth of immobility and depression that inevitably follow s or even accompanies my manic states of intense energy and obsessive thinking.
I have had to finally remove myself from the recovery fellowships because of the ongoing lack of support, judgments and just plain ridiculous suggestions that others have voiced and put on me over the years.
Today, I am part of the mental health group in my local area, and I see a psychiatrist and gp for my medical guidance as well as participating in ongoing personal assignments on coping with my mental illness.
My obsessions for ice-cream are not alleviated by not eating ice-cream. My obsessions just focus on something else.
If I refrain from it by some miracle, then the depression hits me hard and the non stop crying and the isolation and suicidal ideations put me in the hospital confused and alone and frightened about what is happening to me.
Today when an obsession hits like ongoing eating of ice-cream, I realize that I probably need to talk to my doctor and may need to use some additional medication until my obsessions settle down and my life takes on some semblance of daily routine again.
Fighting bi-polar obsession with feel good remedies that ultimately are based in self control is like telling someone with schizophrenia to just stop being psychotic.
My problems are not a result of addiction, in fact, my addiction is very likely the result of my bi-polar.
Turning the statement around has allowed me to once again begin to participate in my world and to have some degree of understanding about my relationships with myself, my thoughts and my actions.
If a medication is required, and that should be discussed with a psychiatrist and your family gp, then self control is just not going to do the trick. In fact it might just kill you....Robin Williams is certainly an example of what bi-polar without medication can do to some of us.

August, 30 2014 at 7:04 am

I know what you mean about the ice-cream!! :)
A few substitutes I have discovered are:
Greek vanilla yogurt and frozen berries.
Frozen fruit and milk, vanilla in the blender
ice-cold homemade lemonade with frozen berries blended in
Frothy milk drinks mixed with coffee and vanilla and natural sweetner
Of course there are lots more, it was just hard for me to start thinking outside the box (of ice-cream lol)

With Vigor
August, 28 2014 at 5:11 pm

A couple people have already mentioned that giving up alcohol has led them to eat more sugary treats. I would tend to agree but I think it is more like we are trying to get back to when we were kids and having a treat made us happy.

August, 28 2014 at 5:05 pm

THIS IS hysterical.....if ice cream is the cure than i will soon notify my doctor, I think if that is what makes you happy go for it
I love this blog ,, When it comes to being bipolar i know nothing else i do not see me any different
Yes wish i had more friends but people do not get it
Ice cream thats funny .....At soon to be fifty two with coming up on two years sober I say that is great that you can fill a void.
What i miss is true love you can not buy that at the grocery store

August, 22 2014 at 4:04 pm

I have days where I eat tons of creamy smooth yogurt...can't get enough!! I have so much guilt from eating at all and days, like today, are so much worse..I have binged all day and deep inside I know why but I can't stop....

Good girl now
August, 22 2014 at 1:29 pm

I have noticed that when alcoholics quit drinking, they crave sweets, especially ice cream.
I love chocolate and feel like I have to have it everyday.
Everybody has their own little craving.

August, 21 2014 at 12:32 pm

The answer to your dilema is to make the ice cream good for you right? Make your own, add nutrient rich extras like, chia seeds, nuts etc..even avocado, make it yourself and this will also help your depression as the experience of creation is good for the brain and so are nutrients with omegas and goods fats :)

August, 21 2014 at 7:46 am

Peanut butter!

August, 21 2014 at 7:19 am

I think of it this way. I'm going to give in to cravings sometimes. Everyone does, bipolar or not. I quit not prescribed drugs, I gave up alcohol, and I gave up smoking...alot of things that at least temporarily chased the chaos in my brain away. I "allow" myself caffeine (though I limit the amount by only putting on or 2 cans in the frig at a time) and I eat my chocolate chocolate chip haägen-dazs without guilt, as a reward for staying away from more dangerous mood altering chemicals

August, 21 2014 at 6:03 am

I love ice cream too, but I don't keep it at home. I just go out to a really nice ice cream parlor with a friend occasionally. I think the occasional ice cream with a friend could help when you feel that you're sliding into depression!

August, 21 2014 at 5:51 am

Hmmm this seems more about the depressive side of bipolar - not sure why but having ice-cream for me would entail getting out of bed, getting dressed and leaving the house so that would be victory in my depressive state - everyone is different I guess. I know I am losing the other swing on the bipolar pendulum when I can't control the urge to have high risk sexual adventures ...not that anyone really talks about this in public let alone to their Pyschiatrist in a closed in room where taking breaths seems like a struggle. Being depressed seems a whole lot better than this scenario. Lol - laughing about it is better than crying.

Cassandra Quinonez
August, 20 2014 at 10:53 am

I've heard that sweets are often craved by people with bipolar disorder. I don't know how accurate this is, but I know that I can never win the battle against ice cream. During a manic phase I can eat an entire quart of ice cream without thinking about it.

August, 20 2014 at 6:30 am

I have a love affair with ice cream too, and I do tend to overeat it. It comes to my door twice a month-Schwans makes the best in my humble opinion. That's a good thing,otherwise I'd be eating it continuously. Why I eat it/binge on it, I haven't decided yet. It might be depression, boredom, or possibly an addictive personality-my dad was an alcoholic. It's something I need to think about.

August, 20 2014 at 3:24 am

Um, why so much fuss about icecream? Get some nice icecream or sorbet without too many chemicals in it, or make your own and enjoy.
Life is about enjoying little things. Nobody needs to travel, eat pleasurable food, have sex, listen to music or buy shoes. You don't even technically need meaningful relationships or art. But what is life if you strip it of all these?
For me enjoying icecream is actually a WIN, as is enjoying anything. It's not illegal, immoral, not overly highly taxed....... and if you get a sorbet, doesn't even make you fat.

August, 19 2014 at 11:51 am

I crave really good french fries or Lays potato chips. and I have to lose that battle every once in awhile. I'll take this over substance abuse any day!

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