Bipolar and Turning off the Negative Media to Focus on Self

I greatly believe in our ability to transform. We were not dealt a great hand when it comes to mental health. #Bipolar is difficult. I find it very hard to manage most of my days, but I do it and you can do it.

If the news upsets you, it is possible to turn it off.

If you want to stay alive and not go down a suicidal spiral, you can focus on your life and not the lives of others. We will never know about the lives of others, but we can become incredible experts on ourselves. What a joyful thought!

If someone else dies, it is not a sign you need to die. It is sign you can keep going with what is working. You are strong.

Change starts with me. In my body and within my mind. If I am not happy with how I look, only I can change this. If I want a mind free from chaos, it is up to me to seek help.

Let’s focus on a positive approach. Bipolar sucks, but I am going to do all I can to manage it.

Having an ill brain wears me out, so I am going to surround myself with people who are fun and kind and uncomplicated.

I feel upset and worried for no reason much of the time. I can put this in my journal so that I don’t take it out on others.

FREEDOM. Freedom from a racing mind. Freedom from unhappy relationships. Freedom from being upset and worried and depressed. That is my goal.

I have freedom from mania. Now, I want freedom from unhappiness.

We are so powerful. I will now practice what I teach and turn off all media, including Facebook until I am done with my most recent project. I know we are strong. We create our beautiful lives.

Julie

 

What is Bipolar Mania and What is the ‘Real’ You?

 

Bipolar Mania: What is the difference between the ‘real’ person and the ‘manic’ person?

There is a simple test you can do to differentiate between manic behavior and ‘average’ behavior.

– Is the manic behavior sudden and completely out of character? For example, when I got very hypomanic for three months in 1987- years before I was diagnosed, everyone said, “What is Julie doing? What is wrong with her? I’m so shocked at her behavior!”

– Is the manic behavior dangerous and the person who is manic can’t see it at all- even when you show them evidence?

– Is the person spending huge amounts of money on trivial things? I know someone who paid tens of thousands of dollars on paintings because she was sure the artist would be famous one day. Lucky artist- unlucky person with mania when she comes out of the episode and sees the bill.

– And finally, does the behavior end when the manic mood swing ends? If so, this is almost always mania and not the ‘real’ person.

There are  many ways for family members- and the person with bipolar disorder to see the mania once it’s over- the trick to managing this illness is to use this information to prevent mania in the future. This is why I created the Health Cards. I don’t ever want another summer of destructive hypomania.  You can read my hypomania Health Card in the sample cards. It’s an interesting card as anyone with mania who reads it says- I had no idea there were other people like me!

Julie

Money Worries and Bipolar Disorder

How is your financial situation? Does bipolar disorder affect your ability to make money? Is your health insurance too expensive? Have you lost your insurance or can’t pay for it? Do you worry constantly about our economy?

These are questions all of us with bipolar disorder are facing these days- either about ourselves or the people we love who have the illness. I know many people who have had to change their lifestyle completely due to what has happened due to the banking and mortgage crisis in 2008 and now we seem to be heading into another financial downswing due to the rising costs and in many cases lack of health care.

One of my friends lost a $15 an hour job and another lost a $300,000 a year job- and you know what- it impacted them similarly. It’s about savings and how a person is set up financially.

I have a  friend who has a LOT of money saved blue a big house and child support- what we would consider a cushion for any economic crisis, and yet she lives in constant stress.  It’s all about how a person looks at their situation. I often want to say to her, “Do you have ANY idea what it’s like to have a mental illness that affects your ability to work and make money?  This is true stress!” But I remind myself that we all have separate challenges and her situation is not my own.

How do those of us with a chronic illness deal with economic stress? Here is one of the ways I am working towards a postive out look.

1. Focus on the people who love me and see that as financial equity. With love comes support.

2. Think of what I HAVE.  This is often hard work, especially when the depression is raging. If I go to bed and my head starts to tell me what’s wrong, I say to myself, “This is pointless. I will make a list of what is going well.”  Sometimes this is as hard as getting a root canal, but I still practice.

3. Make a pact with friends to have a ‘money talk’ free zone.  It’s easy to talk about what is going wrong- especially if the person on the other side is having trouble as well. I simply say, “I know things are difficult now- let’s talk about what we can do about it. ”

Ok. What is your next step? If you are doing well financially, is there someone you can take out to dinner? Buy a movie card, pay a bill?

People with mental health disorders often struggle financially. Pride keeps us from asking for help. We appreciate the help that is offered!

Julie

When to Quit What is Triggering Your Bipolar Disorder Mood Swings

A month ago, I had to stop a VIP. (A very important proposal.  ) It was devastating. I cried and felt terrible that I once again was too sick to work. Please know that the community on this page helped me greatly with this and when I did make the decision to take a break from the project, I knew I would not be judged.

No one judged. The day after I let my agent and coauthor know I had to stop for awhile, my horrific and I mean mind blowingly horrific anxiety was almost gone. The proposal sample chapter was a trigger.

I was so embarrassed. There is Julie A. Fast- once again having to quit. But…. I remembered what I taught myself years ago- Treat Bipolar First. It doesn’t matter if you have to cancel a wedding, put off getting pregnant, take a leave from a job or quit school for awhile, without management, bipolar will put us in the hospital anyway.

Here is the blog for Bp Magazine that came from that rough month. Tomorrow, I meet with my coauthor Julie Foster of Pohala Clinic – A Place of Healing to resume the project. I have a new plan- to write when she is near and to ask for more help. It took me months to find what might work and even now, I have no idea if I will be able to work. If I can’t, I will take a longer break.

You are more important than work. You are more important than money. Your life is valuable and stopping something that is making you sick is brave.

Julie

Click here to read the blog I wrote for Bp Magazine on the topic. 

If you are in or near Portland, Oregon I highly recommend Julie Foster as a prescriber and bipolar disorder health care provider.

Depression and Bipolar Depression are Different

When you read a book or go to a webpage or hear someone talk about natural treatments for depression, please know that people with bipolar don’t have depression. We have #bipolar depression and it is quite different.
 
When people site research that shows depression can be handled with natural treatments, I agree with them- and then I give them the news that is hard to hear. This research doesn’t apply to bipolar depression.
 
We need to educate GPs and natural practitioners on this topic. Bipolar depression always has the risk of mania. This is why the following natural treatments can’t be used for those of us with bipolar depression unless there is a mood stabilizer present – or someone has the ability to stop mania from going too far, which is rare even for myself.
 
       5HTP
Taurine
GABA
Aswaganda
St. John’s Wort
ADD medications
SSRI and SNRI anti depressants
Light boxes
True Hope/Empower Plus
Energy drinks
Amino acid blends for energy
Cognitive enhancers such as green tea extract
 
The list is long!
 
We have bipolar depression. Anything that affects serotonin to help a person with depression get better can make us manic. IT IS A BUMMER! But, we need this info to get to the general public, especially to natural health practitioners.
 

Julie

Bipolar, Cannabis and Psychosis

Bipolar and Cannabis: I’m now in my 8th year of educating our bipolar and mental health community in general about the effects of THC on our brains. At first, I sounded the alarm because I was alarmed by what I saw in my coaching practice! Then, I injured my back, dislocated my hip and got a right brain injury from a biking accident in 2012 and used medical marijuana for pain relief.
I experienced the negative effects of cannabis first hand. I didn’t regulate the THC in the medical marijuana I got from the dispensary well enough and went into a full blown manic and psychotic episode. This was scary as I have bipolar two and have never had a full blown manic episode. 
 
I now research the topic and learn from cannabis experts about the uses of cannabis in the medical world in order to provide up to date information on marijuana …so that people can make their own decisions about cannabis use.
 
There is more and more research to back up my original worries, but I have also learned how to help people who do continue to use how to stay safe.
 
THC is a hallucinogenic that greatly increases the risk of psychosis in people with bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder. In my experience, it also causes dysphoric mania. I call it a hallucinogenic stimulant. 
 
I teach a harm reduction system to all of my clients (and anyone else who will listen!) that explains the differences between CBD and THC. 
 
Cannabis comes in many forms that vary in THC content. If you have bipolar, I suggest staying away from cannabis in all forms until it is better regulated. I found myself manic and psychotic even from low THC cannabis. I know many will not listen to this and that is ok. The next step is to at least know the risks. 
 
If  you are going to use, educate yourself and go for a CBD only product that is lab tested for purity. Its more expensive, but a lot less expensive than a trip to the psych ward. Ask questions when you buy and keep away from street weed as it will almost always be high in THC.
 
I wish you luck in your journey to finding peace. I wish I could smoke a bowl and deal with my anxiety, but I can’t. The bowl can send me to the hospital. I choose stability.
I am not anti marijuana. It has its uses and for many, doesn’t cause any problems. This is not a witch hunt. It’s a desire for health and a desire to help others find stability.
 
People without mental health disorders can do what they want- my concern is in our community. If you have bipolar or schizoaffective, THC is not safe for your brain. Please think before you use.

Julie