Will I Always Feel this Bad, Julie?

Oh, I do know how you’re feeling. The bipolar can be so rough sometimes. Here is one way to lessen the pain felt by bipolar mood swings.

Treat bipolar disorder as an illness.

It’s no different than having diabetes. If one had diabetes and had trouble with energy or felt faint when standing up, the natural response would be, oh, this is my diabetes! Why is it so different when one has bipolar?

When we’re depressed, or overwhelmed or we feel that life is hopeless and that we’re helpless, we go straight to blaming ourselves….

Why do I feel so bad!

What is wrong with me!

I’m a failure!

My life is worthless! 

..instead of reminding ourselves that feeling bad is a symptom of the illness called bipolar!

Let’s change this behavior.

It’s normal to feel bad when you have bipolar. It’s a symptom.

The goal is to reduce the intensity and length of symptoms that make you feel so bad and work towards having more when you feel stable. Reminding yourself that bipolar is an illness and that feeling bad is simply a symptom that can be managed is a good place to start feeling better.

So, to answer your question, will I always feel this bad? No. If you learn to manage bipolar disorder using the ideas in Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder (or any system that works for you!) the times you feel bad can be reduced.  For myself, I noticed that the intensity of how terrible I felt started to decrease once I used the system I now teach.

Eventually, not only did the intensity decrease, the amount of time I felt bad decreased.

Today, 20 years into my bipolar management ‘career,’ I can say that my days of feeling bad still feel freaking bad, but they’re truly, truly much less intense and of way shorter duration than in the past.

Management is HARD. Lifestyle changes are HARD. But I sure as heck choose difficult changes over felling bad all of the time.


PS: If you truly feel bad all of the time as compared to feeling bad during episodes and eventually getting better once they end, please ask for more help. Bipolar is episodic. Feeling bad over long periods of time is an indication that something else is present along with the bipolar.

How to Talk to a Loved One about Bipolar Disorder Treatment in Portland, Oregon

Parent or Partner of a person with bipolar disorder in Portland, Oregon?

I hope you will join me for my next Meetup group: How to Talk to a Love One about Bipolar Disorder Treatment. We will meet on Saturday, September 21st from 4:00-6:00 PM.  You can learn to talk to someone about bipolar, even if the person has lack of insight, can’t get help or refuses treatment. There is hope.

Click here to read more about the event.



Do I Have Bipolar Anxiety or a Separate Anxiety Disorder?















This blog is extra information related to my Bp Magazine Blog Making a Living When You Have Bipolar Anxiety. 

How much of your behavior is anxiety? It’s a VERY untreated component of bipolar as well as a very common secondary diagnosis for people with the illness. Remember, if a person has anxiety when not manic or depressed, it IS NOT bipolar disorder. All symptoms of bipolar are attached to mania and depression.

I have a serious frontal lobe head injury that exacerbated my coexisting anxiety disorder. If I am really honest with myself about what I live with daily, it’s pretty overwhelming.

– Psychotic disorder that started at 16. I often have signs of schizophrenia due to the chronic nature of my psychosis. I get psychotic when depressed or manic (dysphoric mania) and separately when stressed. I definitely have anxious psychosis.

– Bipolar two that is almost bipolar one that started with hypomania at age 17. I will have a full blown manic episode if I use anti depressants, cannabis marijuana or steroids just to name a few on my forbidden to touch list! This means I am in between bipolar two and one. I took charge of my mania ten years ago and it saved my life. Mania is the MAIN PROBLEM IN BIPOLAR.

When you combine bipolar and a psychotic disorder it’s called schizoaffective. If you have bipolar and full schizophrenia, it’s two separate diagnoses. I have schizoaffective leaning towards schizophrenia. I am not scared of that word. It is just an illness of the brain.

– Anxiety disorder. I’ve had panic attacks all of my life and didn’t know what they were. My bipolar comes from my dad’s side of the family. The anxiety is from my mom’s side. No one in her family tree has bipolar, but they have anxiety and depression. I literally have no idea where the psychotic disorder comes from as I don’t have much contact with my dad’s side.

Knowing your partner’s symptoms is essential. We have very distinct mood swings as well as combined mood swings. Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder (for partners)  and Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder (for all of us!) will help you unravel all of this. My Health Cards are being edited (I know, it is taking me forever to do this project due to my own symptoms) and will be available soon.

My blog for Bp Magazine Making a Living when You Have Bipolar Anxiety explains what it’s like to live with anxiety and panic attacks.


Three Unexpected Signs of Bipolar Depression from Julie’s Bp Magazine Blog

There’s weepy, sad, and needy depression—and also irritated, unloving, and restless depression…

I remember the day I realized that my definition of depression was VERY limited.  For three years after my bipolar disorder diagnosis in 1995, I wrote down every symptom I had at the time and each one I could remember from the past. Soon, I had thousands of symptoms. This eventually turned into my Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder.  I also tracked my mood on a chart for 12 years in order to figure out my mood swing patterns. You can see one of these charts in the appendix of Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder.  The following article from my Bp Magazine blogs synthesizes my thoughts on how very different depression can appear depending on what type of depression a person experiences.

I now divide depression into weepy and agitated depression.  This explains why some of us are just downright mean and nasty when we are depressed, while at other times we might be clingy and weepy!

From the blog:

Depression can make us weepy, sad, and needy—but did you know it can also make us really irritated, unloving, and restless? So many of my relationship problems stemmed from the negative filters of depression. I didn’t even know that I was an incredibly positive person until my depression was brought under control.

Sign #1: Irritation

Irritated depression makes me kick and punch things, have terrible road rage, see the dirt of the world instead of the beauty, and experience the most caustic, negative, and judgmental thoughts you can imagine. It’s awful. I’m a witch. It’s as though I put on negativity glasses and the lenses make it impossible for me to think a nice thought or say a nice word.

Click here to read 3 Unexpected Signs of Bipolar Depression on Bp Magazine.



Julie, can you be more positive! PLEAAASSSSEEEEEE!

I know I can write a lot about what is not working in our current mental health system. I know that I talk about the abuse many family members and partners experience if a loved one has untreated bipolar. I know that I have compassion for all of us who have the illness, especially if we also have secondary diagnoses such as psychosis.

Where are the positives? Oh, there are SO MANY. I am alive and you are alive. I know that I have bipolar disorder and a psychosis disorder. This helped me figure out why my life was so chaotic for so many years. I call this my get out of jail free card!

I am so thankful for my diagnoses. They saved me. For 15 years, I thought I was the problem. Now, I can figure out if my current melt down is illness or personal choice. This really, really makes a difference in my life for the better!

Another positive? There are books that I can read and learn from every day- at my fingertips. I recently lost my beloved cat. It was so intense. I love/loved her so much. I got online and found help! One vet blog said, “When you lose a pet, don’t worry about how intense your feelings are just because it is an animal. Instead, remember that love is love.”

We are so lucky! Help at our fingertips! This is new for many of us.

There are helplines and hotlines to call. There are people like Martin Baker who write about friendship and mental health and how important online friends can be.

There are easy ways to figure out what is happening when we get sick- we just type in our symptoms and right  before our eyes, a variety of explanations that we can then peruse.

I need to remember to write about the positives. There are many.



Julie A. Fast Workshop for Parents of Children with Bipolar and Schizoaffective Disorder

Julie will teach her When Love is Not Enough: Helping a Child Say Yes to Treatment workshop on Sunday, August 4th from 4:00-5:30 PM PST.

This is a phone based workshop. Julie will talk for 60 minutes on the topics described below and will then answer audience questions for 30 minutes. The cost is kept low so that as many parents as possible can participate.

Cost: $49

Julie will cover the following topics and teach the system she has used for 20 years to help parents who have adult children with bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder find stability.

Does this sound familiar?

  1. You have provided a home for the child, but the child doesn’t pay rent or for anything around the house.
  2. The child says his or her healthy is his or her business and not yours.
  3. You are either deeply worried your child will die or are scared that your child will harm you or someone else in the house.
  4. Your child is angry and verbally or physically abusive. This is often done through texts. 
  5. There is cannabis marijuana use or drinking- with a possibility of other drug use.
  6. YOU feel out of control – if you kick him or her out, what will happen! But if the person stays, you are a hostage in your own home.

If you experience any or all of the items on this list, you will find help and peace in Julie’s workshop.

Parent of a child with bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia? Join Julie on The Stable Table on Facebook. This is a closed group for parents, relatives, friends and health care professionals who care about someone with a serious mental health disorder.


Online scheduling