How to Prevent Bipolar Disorder in the Children of People with Bipolar Disorder

If you love someone with bipolar and this person has children… the children can have bipolar as well.

Here are a few tips to help you navigate this tricky situation.

1. Bipolar is GENETIC. The child either has it or doesn’t. But this doesn’t mean it is going to express itself. In order to make sure a child with bipolar in the family never gets the kind of bipolar that comes from an outside substance, please do the following.

– No SSRI or SNRI antidepressants ever. This is a solid NEVER when there is bipolar in the family.

– No steroids of any kind. Always look for alternatives. Steroids greatly increase the risk of genetic bipolar becoming active bipolar.

– NO CANNABIS. I can’t stress this enough. Today’s weed has very high THC and this THC leads to bipolar symptoms including mania and psychosis. Drinking is a better choice if a person insists on using a substance. I don’t recommend any CBD products as they are too tainted with THC in my opinion.

– No travel without a good plan in case a young person gets sick in a foreign country.

– Teach all children of people with bipolar the symptoms of bipolar. Get them involved in a family management plan starting as soon as they can talk .

This is a good place to start. My nephew David is 16. I’ve taught him all of this since age 4. I did it in a non fearful, exploratory, let’s be detectives about the brain manner.

The following article from my Psychology Today blog  is an example of how I teach parents to talk to kids about suicidal thoughts. You can use a similar process for all bipolar mood swings.

3 Strategies to Talk With Kids About Suicidal Thoughts


Growing Older with Bipolar Disorder?

Growing older with bipolar disorder? Well, we all are. I have not found this illness any easier to deal with as I get older, but I always remember what my amazing therapist told me many years ago, “Julie, the illness is the same, but your ability to deal with it has changed dramatically.”

True. It can be the same for you. It doesn’t matter where you start, it just matters that you start. We need a plan. This illness is too strong for us to handle on our own. If you are in your 50s like myself or older, it’s never too late to start anything when it comes to managing this illness.

1. Stay curious and be open to new ways of thinking. This helps with depression and reminds us that the world can be a beautiful place.

2. Ask for help even if you feel you can’t talk. Depression tells you that you can’t talk, but the voice is there. Depression doesn’t actually change our physical abilities. It changes our feelings about our physical abilities. Read Get it Done When You’re Depressed before you think there is no help for you. This book works.

3. Get help for mania before you get manic. Depression has a huge treatment window, mania can have a few hours. Mania must be prevented. Use The Health Cards and the Mental Health Recovery and WRAP® – Wellness Recovery Action Plan program.

4. Get help for addictive behaviors. This is not only about drugs and alcohol. Ice cream is my heroin. Anonymous sex can be addictive. Co-dependent behavior is addictive behavior. Notice that I am not saying get help for addictions. In my experience, very few of us with bipolar are actually addicted. I have found the most of us are self medicating. There is a big difference. I overeat when I am sick. I am rather normal around food when stable. I can’t speak for everyone with bipolar, but I can speak for many.

Click here to read my article The Bipolar Disorder “Not-So-Great Coping” List from Bp Magazine.


Guest Post: Julie Foster Nurse Practitioner in Portland, Oregon on Steroids, Allergies and Bipolar Disorder

Julie Foster-Pohala Clinic

Julie Foster Nurse Practitioner in Portland, Oregon

by Julie Foster

Bipolar disorder author Julie A. Fast has been a client of mine for over 10 years.   We often discuss over the counter and prescribed medications that can cause mood swings for people with bipolar disorder. She’s currently writing an article on the topic and asked me to describe my process of prescribing steroids if a person has bipolar disorder or depression and what I use instead of a steroid when helping a client who has bipolar disorder or depression manage allergies or asthma.

Julie A Fast: Julie, When you have a client with bipolar who has severe allergies, how do you talk with them about the effects of steroids on bipolar disorder if they have an allergy doctor who wants to prescribe prednisone? What is the plan if the person can’t take steroids, but they have terrible allergies?  Steroids are known to affect the mood. For many people with mood disorders, they can cause mania and depression. 

Julie Foster: In general I do everything I can to avoid steroids in the general population whether it be for allergies or other needs. However with my Bipolar patients,  I am extra cautious. Unless I have exhausted all other options and the person is finding no relief either completely miserable or their breathing is comprised I do not prescribe.

Allergies are on the rise as we are exposed to more environmental debris and toxins and the effects of modernism on our immune systems.  Here are my suggestions for clients who want to manage allergies without the use of steroidal drugs.

  1. Look at the diet.Many allergies come from the foods we eat.  Eating a healthy diet can be hard for people with mood disorders as food is often used for comfort, but small changes can make a difference. Look for what is called a clean diet, one free of preservatives, hormones and GMO food.  When possible, limit refined sugars (look at the label and if it says high fructose corn syrup- choose something else) and white carbohydrates and go for natural fruits and vegetables. This is never easy when you are not feeling well, but over time you will feel better and will hopefully have less allergies- which was the original goal!
  2. Think about your life rhythm.  This includes the circadian rhythm of sleep and the rhythm to your work and relationships. How is the stress in you life? Our bodies are connected to our minds. A high stress level can affect the immune system that then affects our ability to handle allergens.
  3. Try healthy remedies. Homeopathic remedies including Sabadila, Euphrasia comp and Allergist.  Use Vitamin C up to your bowel tolerance (if the tummy has trouble, lower the dose) and add steaming and sweating to your daily regime.  Use an air purifier at home and try a honey remedy (Julie, explain this one- what do you do with the 1 tsp of honey?)

Julie A. Fast:  Julie, when you have bipolar disorder, it’s essential you check everything you put in your body to make sure it doesn’t lead to mood swings. How do you help clients figure out this maze of treatments and medications when they are having trouble  breathing as well as having mood swings?

Julie Foster: Some of the herbal and supplement options for allergies can affect the mood of a person with bipolar which is why I go with the above plan first.  Congestion from allergies comes up when the body cannot eliminate properly. Another natural option for managing allergies is proper digestion.    Acupuncture is a good option as well as massage and maintenance through osteopathic or chiropractic adjustments. People with bipolar disorder and depression can find steroid free ways to manage allergies and asthma.

A note from Julie Fast: If you are in Portland, Oregon, please call to make an appointment with Julie Foster to talk about bipolar disorder. She regularly works with my coaching clients and is a great help for the whole family and partners who want to work together to manage bipolar disorder. 

Bipolar Disorder and Money

Ideas for Saving Money when You Have Bipolar Disorder 

I just cut up my credit card…

This may have not been too smart business wise, but I felt it was necessary. I put everything on the card and it’s not like I was going on spending sprees- it was mostly normal stuff like groceries and dinner as well as my business stuff.  But now that I have made a commitment to be 100% fiscally responsible this year (unlike some entities I can think of!), I think that going to a cash based system for small purchases makes more sense. I can actually think before I spend!

I will have to plan ahead when I go somewhere and ask myself- do I really want to spend $20 on dinner?  Credit cards make it too easy to spending without evaluation the purchase. I stopped really big manic spending a long time ago- but the smaller stuff still gets me! My rotating business expenses as well as all of my household needs are on automatic payment- so this actually is a very smart idea!


PS: It was a very, very smart idea! I can already see some huge changes in my thinking.

Here is a comment from Lyn:

Good for you!!!  I cut up all but one credit card years ago, and now even that one is gone.  I have stopped being a consumer.  It was a very powerful decision, and I have never thought I was wrong.  It has become a safety for me: when you don’t have credit, you are very aware of all spending, so spending sprees are out of the question.  My ‘debit card’ is tied to my bank account so every purchase has to be thought over and evaluated, to be sure I have enough money for groceries at the end of the month.  I am very proud of this accomplishment, and when I feel stupid and believe I don’t do anything right, I can challenge that with my knowledge that I at least have my money under control!


Kanye, Kim and Bipolar Disorder

An Open Letter to Kim Kardashian 
Dearest Kim, 
Few people in the world have even the slightest idea what it’s like to be THE KIM KARDASHIAN. Wearer of waist corsets, teeth bling and million dollar diamonds.  Your harrowing experience in Paris is also out of the realm many of us will ever experience in life. But right now, with what you are going through as Kanye gets help and then doesn’t get help for his mental health symptoms, you are in a new tribe. We are the hundreds of millions of people around the world who love someone with a diagnosable mental illness. 
In some cases, there are people like myself who have a mental illness who also love someone with a mental illness. In others, the partner is stable and mental health is truly an unknown. 
You seem to be misunderstood in your other world. In this world, you are understood. 
In 1994, I opened a kitchen cabinet and found half an onion where a glass would normally be. The refrigerator door was open and there were papers covered in writing on the kitchen table. I looked at one and it said, “A Message to Bill Gates. A new software program that will revolutionize the world. If only BILL GATES will listen!” 
It was my partner’s 21st birthday that day.  The night before he forgot how to write a check. We laughed. He tried to tell me how to parallel park the car even though he is French and doesn’t drive. We laughed. He told us he had a solution to all of our relationship crises. We laughed. His eyes were as wide as saucers and he was sweating. There was a weird grimace on his face and when he looked at me and said, “Ok. Tell me the truth. You’ve been with your ex haven’t you?” I remember thinking, what in the world is he talking about? I haven’t seen my ex in over four years damn it! 
I didn’t know anything that day over 20 years ago.  I thought he was just being weird. That night, I woke up at 2:00 AM and he was gone. Vanished. I knew then that I had to get some help. I called the police and they asked me where he might be and suggested I call a hospital.  I called the ER and when they asked, “Is there mental illness in the family?”  I said, “I’m not sure. I did hear that his father has something called manic depression.” 
I was so naive. (What are the chances that two people who met in a Tokyo bar would have what we now call bipolar disorder and neither knew it when they met!)  After he disappeared, I found him and called the police to take him to the hospital. This started the odyssey that changed my life forever.  He was in the hospital in a manic and psychotic episode for three months and then went back in the hospital when his mania and psychosis turned into suicidal depression. It was hell. 
I write about this experience in all of my books and right now Kim,  it seems you are going through the same experience. No matter how famous your are- no matter what great doctors you find to tell you what is going on, no matter how much money you have, you are in a new world where the person you love is gone and you are looking at the symptoms of an illness that you have to study and understand in order to figure out why he acts as he does and why a relationship so filled with possibilities and love has been rough for so long. 
One year after my partner was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder one, I left him to go to China to ‘experience the world! and was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder two with psychotic features. If diagnosed today, I would get a schizoaffective diagnosis. Kanye has been very open in public lately and he probably has more psychosis that someone with typical bipolar or he is still using cannabis. He seems manic and psychotic. 
Kanye has shown the signs of bipolar disorder and a separate psychotic disorder for many years. I should know as I have the same symptoms and he is acting exactly as my partner did when I had to call the police. I don’t care about labels. I don’t care about being right or wrong, but I do know that when it comes to a mental illness like bipolar disorder, the symptoms are so obvious it eventually becomes impossible to ignore them. Don’t get me wrong. Kanye can ignore them. The people around him can ignore the symptoms and call them ‘exhaustion,’ and ‘sleep deprivation psychosis,’ but you Kim, you are the partner. And partners, unlike any other person close to someone see it all. 
Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that has depression and mania. It’s very simple to diagnose.  Mania manifests in high energy. It can be a positive feeling which is called euphoric mania or it can be the super nasty negative energy called dysphoric mania. I write for Bp Magazine. It explains bipolar disorder in detail and it has many stories from people in the entertainment industry. The latest being Mariah Carey. 
Kim. Everyone is going to focus on Kanye.  I’m writing you to offer something different.  I suggest that right now, this is about your education. You are a pioneer.  You try new things and learn from your own experiences. This will suit you well as you figure out what is really going on in Kanye’s mind and get the help not only that he needs, but the help that you as a family need. I remember the young girl who sold clothes from her own closet. That person has all of the strength needed to get though this. 
Kim, when Kanye gets all creative and his gorgeous brown eyes glow and he loves your body and wants to touch you all of the time and tell you about his new shoe line and how his models will look on the runway and how he is going to do this in concert and how he is going to do a book about your relationship and then how he is going to dress your kids and take you to this event and that awards show and how he is going to be the king of the world, this is not only personality. When he talks about slavery in an away that is simply bizarre, this is not just for publicity, this sounds like manic psychosis. 
Do you get tired? 
Most partners do. 
When he can’t get out of bed and tells you he is worried about life and how he won’t be able to finish what he started, how everyone is out to get him, the media hates him and how his friends are turning on him….
Do you get scared? 
Most partners do. 
Bipolar disorder is an episodic illness. This means that those of us with the mood swings will have periods of time where we are just fine. This makes the other episodes seem like anomalies. I have noticed this with Kanye. I notice it in myself. We can explain away our manias because we are simply smarter and more creative than everyone else. Well, when creativity and intelligence leave and are replaced by sadness, crying, self doubt, hopelessness and irritation, we can then examine the contrast that can live in one person. Those are mood swings and have little to do with personality. 
The majority of us with bipolar disorder who are artists, writers, singers, actors, activists, politicians and basically anyone in the spot light get praised for our manias. We learn to feed off them. “You wrote an outline for your book and got a book deal in a weekend, Julie. That is amazing!” 
In reality, it’s amazing until it’s not and you haven’t written a book in many years due to symptoms, you have lost your marriage and people simply think you can’t get your act together. This is where I was for years.  This is where you are now with Kanye. 
The hardest thing for many of us with bipolar disorder is seeing mania for what it is, especially when psychosis is involved. It’s simply the other side of the bipolar disorder coin. Depression is on one side and of course we HATE it, but we have to learn to HATE the mania just as much. Mania is often far more destructive than the depression we all hate so much. 
The majority of people with bipolar disorder who have massive manic episodes where they don’t sleep and are not tired, talk with what I call machine gun mouth, make incredibly rash financial decisions, want a lot of sex, can’t let others talk, are overly creative and absolutely wild with energy, get pissed off easily, will fight and take on anyone they feel has been insulting……. also get psychotic. 
I love it that you and the people around you are openly talked about Kanye’s psychosis in 2016. You used the word paranoia, which is a psychotic delusion. Bravo. When Britany Spears went through the same mania and psychosis, remember the Vegas marriage, shaving her head, the police coming to her house when she locked herself in the bathroom? the media coverage was appalling. Words such as ‘crazy,’ ‘insane,’ and ‘damaged,’ were regularly used.  I have always felt that by not talking to us about what obviously happened- believe me, your parents do not take over your estate for physical illness, Britney missed a chance to change the world for the better. 
Kanye’s ‘rants’ that were caught on tape during Saturday Night Live and his 2016 ‘rant’ in the concert before his hospitalization were not rants- nor is this talk about slavery and Donald Trump. This is  manic psychotic talk.  We all sound the same when we are manic and psychotic. I’ve read Kanye’s song lyrics for many years. That is creativity. I read what Kanye says when manic and psychotic and I see illness.  Today, when I see what just happened at the White House as the people around him obviously could see he is mentally ill and instead choose to just call him creative, it’s time to get him out of the spot light and into the hospital for treatment. This never ends well Kim. 
There are no tortured artists. I don’t buy into this. Kanye is only tortured when he is in a mood swing. He seems like a level headed, interesting and deep thinking man when he is stable.  When an artist of Kanye’s talent gets manic and psychotic in today’s world and we talk about it openly and without fear, it’s a chance for a change so huge that we will never have to go back to the dark ages of mental health ignorance. 
Kim, you have now lived with someone who has all of the signs of bipolar disorder and possibly my diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder and you are scared. 
I know this. I’ve helped partners for 20 years who are going through this. I was so scared when my partner was sick and in the hospital I had breast pains for months and couldn’t work. I would get in my car for the drive to the hospital and prepare myself for not knowing what I would see. I remember taking the elevator to THE FLOOR.  There was a phone I had to use to get into the locked ward.  Nothing was marked. I saw heart unit floors and burn units and cancer units, but my beloved’s unit was blank. The shame of that upset me so much!  Why doesn’t it say mental health! Why do we hide our mental illnesses when we so openly talk about AIDS and ALS and MS and other illnesses! 
I lovingly encourage you to say, “My partner has a mental illness and we are going to love him and help him the way we would if he had type one diabetes.” People will listen. 
Kanye has his own path. I know what he is experiencing and it’s going to be hard. If he wants to keep his marriage, be a loving father to his children, create and perform, travel and move forward in life, it will have to be with his mental health in mind at all times. 
I am disabled greatly due to my bipolar disorder. I don’t lie about this. I almost didn’t write this piece due to the inevitable panic attack I go through when I step out into the world.  We need people like you to help us survive. Stable partners. Stable mothers and fathers. Stable mothers in law and sisters in law to help us. You have created a dynasty of caregiving people. It is as though you were preparing yourself for this year Kim. 
For me, learning that I had bipolar disorder at age 31 saved my life. I never thought I would make it to 50. I was wild, out of control and unable to get a handle on why I couldn’t slow down. I’m over 50 and plan to stay alive. 
I still see and feel myself dialing that number on the psychiatric ward to go see my partner. I would be let in and there he was. My beloved, sweet man. In a hospital robe, strapped down to his bed because he was violent, refusing his medications and telling everyone that he had an affair a few months before and then saying to me, “It was only one time Julie! It was only one time.” Every day for months I heard this. I would look into his eyes and say, “ Where are you? Why are you doing this to me? Don’t you love me? Where have you gone?” I blamed him for doing something to me to harm our love. I had no understanding of what he was going through. 
No one helped me. No one explained that bipolar disorder is episodic. No one told me the basics of what I needed to expect when he got home. (Kim, what goes up must come down. It’s time to create a plan for the depression Kanye is probably going to experience soon. And another piece of advice, anti depressants make us manic Kim!) It would have been so simple if people had talked to me. It is so simple. If I had heard, “Julie, your partner has a genetic illness passed from his father. He is manic and psychotic which is why he acts as he does. The psycho babble, the odd hand gestures, the wild eyes, telling you he wants a divorce, asking you if you had been shot, telling you how to hold you fingers in a certain way as they represented a message from the Freemasons is simply how all people who are manic and psychotic talk. He is in there and he will be back. It’s going to be ok Julie.” 
No one did this. 
I am doing this for you now. 
It’s going to be ok Kim. 
Kanye will be back. He is going to be very, very tired. I always say that even one day of full blown mania and psychosis is like running a marathon. The adrenaline we produce is off the charts. He is going to be embarrassed. He is going to be out of his mind with worry that right when you needed him most, after what happened in Paris, he is the one who got sick. There are videos on Youtube by Dr. Jay Carter called Bipolar Light that can explain the brain chemistry changes Kanye is going through right now. They can help the whole family. 
Eventually, Kanye is going to ask what happened. He won’t remember everything. We rarely do. Here is what you can say to him Kim to help him get through this. 
Kanye, right now all that matters is your stability. The future will wait. I am here and you are here and we are all safe. You have an illness called bipolar disorder.  Millions of people around the world have this illness. You are normal Kanye. You are my beloved husband and father and it’s ok for husbands and fathers to get sick. I had people around me to help me with what happened in Paris. You helped. Thank you. You are not responsible for me now. I am fine. You need rest and support. And now, it’s time for us to educate ourselves on what is creating the behavior that is no longer just creative and fun. It’s time for us to find the real you and the you that has mental health symptoms. We are detectives. I am here for you. We can do this together. 
Kim, the chances that Kanye won’t be able to join you on this detective journey at first are high. Lack of insight is one of our main symptoms. Don’t let this stop you. Read books on bipolar disorder and educate yourself. If the symptoms fit, that is your discovery. There are books to help you get through this as a partner. I know as I wrote the first one.  You can help him no matter how much he joins you at first. Educate the whole family. Educate yourself. Educate the children. 
You have worked so hard to get where you are today. I doubt you ever thought that maybe, just maybe you could use this hard work to open our eyes to the reality that 25%  of the world’s population is affected by a diagnosable mental health disorder. We are not freaks. We are not crazy. We love and are loved.
Join us Kim. I encourage you to be honest with what you are going through with Kanye. Use the big words like bipolar disorder, psychosis, anxiety, PTSD and OCD.  Use your incredible style and flair and make what you are going through another work of art.
We embrace you in this time of need. 
Julie A. Fast is the author of  Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner and Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder. She was Claire Dane’s original consultant for Homeland and writes for Bp Magazine at

Julie Fast bipolar video blog on bipolar disorder and money worries!

Oh my goodness- this is from 2008. How little the world changes. What can I learn from myself ten years ago- how am I affected by the government now. We did have a better economic time and then…. we had a contentious election and now people are stressed. What I say in the video still holds true- no matter the date!

I’m working hard on maintaining my stability concerning work and money right now!  Everyone – well, almost everyone I know has concerns.  The bipolar symptoms were coming on pretty strongly today and I just said to myself- Julie, you have been through a lot worse than this… just keep going! So here is my video blog on the topic!