How You Can Help a Person with Bipolar Depression 💙

😿 I lived with dangerous suicidal depression from age 19. I had ECT in my mid 40s. I was very sick. I use all of the ideas in my books to stay alive and remain stable enough to work and have relationships. I taught the people around me to help.
✍️ 📘 Here is a bit of my story and what led to my writing Get it Done When You’re Depressed, a book that teaches you how to help a loved one or client who is depressed how to get out of bed and out of the house to get on with life… even when the depression is strong.
🌧 In 1997, I realized that if I didn’t teach myself to get out and do things when I was depressed, I would spend the rest of my life in bed. I remember standing on a street in Seattle and being so sick I didn’t even know what direction to walk. I told myself, “I’m going to walk no matter what. It’s not going to feel good. My mind will tell me I went in the wrong direction. I don’t care. Starting today. I control my brain.”
🌈 I practiced this for a few years until it became the habit I have today. Everything in my life changed. I was still depressed, but I was able to work and be social again.
A person can train the brain to get things done when depressed. Ultimately I know this helped me get better overall. I now control my suicidal depression with meds and lifestyle choices. It’s not easy, but it is possible.
✍️📘💙 Get it Done When You’re Depressed will change your life. It tells the story of what I did the first years after I made the decision to live with depression and not die from it. It teaches you how to use the ideas to help a loved one. It gives specific strategies that you use. It’s NOT based on therapy. Talk therapy doesn’t work for very well for bipolar depression. Talking about being depressed is not a treatment. Behavior change is far more effective. (Therapists who understand bipolar and focus on recognizing the signs of depression and then taking action to end the depression can be very effective.)
Get it Done is action oriented and action changes our brain.
I use the ideas in this book ever day to deal with attention and focus, anxiety, depression when it shows up and any other obstacle that gets in my way. I need more time than other people. I need to be nice to myself and I need to back off if I do too much, but I would rather regulate my behavior than be stuck in my bed with depression. I hated that life.
You can help a loved one end the hold depression has on the brains and help the person make decisions and take action.
Depression is not permanent.
😎😻

Julie

Can I have a good relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder?

🧡💛❤️ What is it like to love someone with bipolar disorder?

Can you have a stable, strong and loving relationship with someone who has bipolar?

It often depends on three factors:

1️⃣ Is there a diagnosis, treatment and a management plan? This naturally means there is insight into the illness.

2️⃣ Is there substance use or other behaviors that lead to more symptoms?

3️⃣ Are you someone who can manage your own stability and set boundaries and state your needs to a person with a mental health disorder?

I want to share a positive story. I’ve had bipolar disorder since age 16. I have naturally occurring bipolar disorder. It started with psychosis, then hypomania at 18 and 18 and finally suicidal depression at 19 after my first relationship ended.

I was diagnosed at 31. My official diagnosis is schizoaffective disorder as I have bipolar disorder and a separate psychotic disorder.

Men are an important part of my life and always have been. I love men. Love them! And yet, I have never had a relationship where bipolar disorder was not a factor. I entered the world of romantic/sexual relationships at age 18. My bipolar was in full bloom by then!

Here’s the positive news. I’ve had wonderful long term relationships. I can honestly say that any big issues we had were due to me and not them. Once I taught myself to better manage my bipolar disorder in my mid 30s, I can say that I have never experienced romantic rejection due to my bipolar. The men tried to help me. It wasn’t a negative experience in terms of relationships. My un-managed bipolar was the problem. Once I focused on management, I was able to have loving relationships that were filled with regular problems! Not problems associated with bipolar alone.

Is it possible to love someone with bipolar and have a good relationship? Absolutely. If the three questions I listed above are addressed.

💔 If there is no insight, treatment or management of an illness that causes changes in a person’s mood, any relationship would suffer. This is not unique to bipolar.

💔 If a person is using a substance that increases mood swings such as an ADD med, an anti depressant or THC from marijuana, you will struggle in the relationship. It’s not different than someone with lung problems who keeps smoking or a person with diabetes one who can’t stop eating sugar. (No judgement here, believe me, but this is a reality!)

💔 If you try to hope the illness away, love the illness away or remove your needs to focus exclusively on the needs of the person with bipolar, you will suffer. Once again, this is the same with any illness, addiction or personal problem that is not being addressed.

❤️💓 ❤️ HOPE

My work is exclusively dedicated to creating stable relationships. All people with bipolar disorder can have good relationships when the three questions are addressed. This is a life time of work- as is any work we do to have a good life.

 

If you’re a partner of someone with bipolar, I suggest starting with my book Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and then moving to Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder. Once there is a good understanding of how bipolar affects lives and how it can be treated and managed, The Health Cards then offer a life long plan for management.

LovingSomeonewithBipolarDisorder2ndEdMECH.indd

I also invite you to join me on The Stable Bed, a private FB group for partners.

Focusing on the three questions will give you a path to a stable relationship. Start with understanding the illness and how it affects the brain. Get clear on what increases bipolar mood swings (I have many posts on this topic and it’s included in all of my books), and finally, focus on what you need.

I believe this is the foundation for any good relationship. It’s no different when a person has bipolar disorder.

Loving someone with bipolar is simply loving another human being who has a brain that needs a management plan. Strong relationships are not a given even if a person is stable! If you love someone with bipolar, create a plan and follow it for life. This creates strong, stable and loving relationships.

Julie

💚💙💜

Julie joins the Mom Brain Podcast with Hilaria Baldwin and Daphne Oz: Childhood Mental Health

🎧👧🧒 The Mom Brain Podcast has arrived! I hope you enjoy my interview with Hilaria Baldwin and Daphne Oz on the topics of childhood mental health, signs of childhood and teen bipolar disorder, other possible childhood mental health symptoms and an overall positive approach for childhood brain health. This is a great podcast to listen to while taking a walk. The hosts were amazing!
Hilaria and Daphne were so kind- so well prepared and so very interested in helping moms and dads distinguish the difference between regular childhood shenanagins and the very real symptoms of childhood onset mental health disorders. I commend them! It makes such a difference when we listen to and support the work of people who are spreading the word about childhood mental health like Hilaria and Daphne. 
👩‍🏫 Details:
Julie A. Fast is not only a bipolar expert, a national speaker, and author, she also has lived with bipolar disorder since she was a teenager. Julie is the author of numerous books including 2004’s Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder. She was a consultant for Claire Danes on the Showtime series Homeland, as her character Carrie Mathison suffered from severe bipolar disorder. As a family and partner coach, Julie has incredibly specific systems when it comes to dealing with bipolar disorder in children and/or living with someone suffering from Bipolar. She is a nationally recognized expert in mental health.
In this fascinating episode, Julie defines bipolar disorder and discusses her systems of helping families deal with the illness. She talks about empathy training, charting, and treatments. Julie impresses Hilaria and Daphne with her command of the issue and her eloquence. This is an important episode whether or not bipolar is in your family or not.
Favorite Things:
Hilaria: Dazzle Dry Nail Polish
Daphne: Bjornqorn Popcorn
Julie: Being with Her Nephew

Julie

How Does the Flu Affect Bipolar Disorder Symptoms?

🤧 As you can tell from my sparse posting, the flu still has me in its clutches! What a virus! I’m now on week two. I’ll be back in action soon! For now, I want to cover the aspects of being sick that can affect bipolar:
  1. 💊 Medicines to treat colds and the flu. Anything containing pseudo-ephedrine such as Sudafed or Thera Flu has to be used carefully. Daytime use is better and careful checking of the mood is essential.
  2. 😴 Changes in sleep. This is always an issue in bipolar. Anything that disrupts sleep for more than a few days can affect our moods.
  3. 🤢 Stomach flu that includes a lot of vomiting so that meds can’t be absorbed. Take this seriously if it goes on for more than a few days!
In many ways, having the flu can HELP bipolar symptoms. I stress the importance of taking notes and making a LOT of lists when it comes to learning the ups and downs of this complicated illness. Take note of the changes you see in a loved one when they get sick. For example, does rapid cycling calm down if a loved one is in bed for days and isn’t able to stay out late at night? Does having 24 hour care with chicken soup and staying in one place help the mood?
My life is about treating bipolar first. It’s my motto for a reason. My type of bipolar is chronic. I react within hours to many substances and am easily caught out by mania. I was using Robutussin for my serious cough and had the thought, “Wow, I fell really, really good today!” For most people, that would be a positive. Not for me. That is almost always a sign that I’m getting high. I went online and read about DXM. It affects serotonin darn it! I didn’t buy another bottle.
It’s not fair and it is such a burden to carry in life. But if I am not careful, the mania will have me and I will do something I deeply regret. I am done with a life of manic regrets, so being a detective, even with something as basic as colds and the flu and how they affect my bipolar. This fits into the triggers chapter in Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and my daily use of The Health Cards. Careful attention to my mood saves my life!
You can do all of this even if your loved one is not yet ready to be a detective in his or her own life. You can model this behavior. It can be YOUR way of loving someone with this illness.
 
💛☀️ Julie
 

Bipolar Disorder and Cannabis: Psychosis, Mania and the Bipolar Brain

🤔The main challenge with #bipolar and #cannabis marijuana is psychosis. The article linked at the end of this post explains the basics of psychosis and can help you see the difference between mania and psychosis.
 
It helps to know that psychosis is a secondary symptom of bipolar. It is NOT a primary symptom. What does this mean?
 
It means that psychosis related to bipolar will always, without exception be attached to a noticeable mood swing of either #depression, euphoric #mania or dysphoric mania.
 
In our mental health world, when someone has psychosis as a primary symptom it is either from a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia or schizoaffective (people who have bipolar AND a separate psychotic disorder) or a reaction to a substance such as the stimulating hallucinogenic THC.
 
😯The main problem I see in our bipolar world is the use of THC that causes primary psychosis in people with bipolar that then presents as schizoaffective. Think about it… the hallucinogenic properties in today’s THC are so strong they can lead to a mis-diagnosis of a psychotic disorder.
 
👩‍🏫 After ten years of working as a cannabis educator for health care professionals, I can say I am flummoxed by one thing- THC seems to cause psychosis and dysphoric mania and not euphoric mania. I am researching the role of endocannabinoids and dopamine as this must be the answer. It might be terpenes- they can affect serotonin.
 
Please know that this is not a post to change your mind on weed. That is your choice. My goal is education. Legalization without education has brought our pretty much non existent mental health system to its knees. It’s only going to get worse. Let’s learn what we can and have an open mind as to the effects of cannabis marijuana on the bipolar brain. This is especially important for general docs and therapists who often treat people with bipolar due to a lack of psychiatric professionals.
 
If you want to use cannabis marijuana, that is of course up to you. If you want to stay stable and avoid the truly awful psychotic symptoms created in the bipolar brain by today’s THC heavy weed, I suggest using cannabis hemp ONLY.
 
I have tested as much cannabis marijuana as is humanly possible. I have worked with thousands- and those who know me know I don’t exaggerate of parents and partners- thousands of people who have really sick kids or partners due to weed. I don’t make comments lightly.
 
Parents and health care professionals, please join me on The Stable Table and partners please join me on The Stable Bed for more information.
 
I wish I could use weed for anxiety and chronic pain. I would! It helps some people- for those of us with bipolar, it tends to make us really sick.
 

Julie

🕺💊 My Bipolar Disorder Medication Dilemma! 💊🕺

 
I don’t like #bipolar medications that have side effects. I like meds that work and don’t make me MORE ill physically or mentally. Unfortunately, this is not reality for most of us with bipolar.
 
🦄🦄🦄 Yes, some people can take meds without side effects. I have met these unicorns!
 
🌈🌈🌈 If only I were one of them!
 
The majority of us have side effects and this is the main reason we stop meds. I teach a system based on two premises:
 
  1. We can control the majority of our symptoms using the ideas in my books, especially The Health Cards and then use meds only for the symptoms we can’t control on our own. This reduces the need for entire categories of medications and lets us use smaller doses.
  2. We still get side effects from meds and must learn to accept certain side effects if we want stability.
 
I appreciate my medications at at the same time can never reconcile the way the meds help me and yet make me fat and hungry. I hate this so much. But I like stability more. So it is up to me to figure out how to take less meds and how to deal with my weight in the future.
 
This is not a fair trade off, but it’s the only one I have. The other alternative is being much thinner, but so sick I can’t function at all.
Life is not fair. Life is life. People with insulin pumps aren’t exactly pleased with having something attached to their body.
People in wheel chairs would rather walk. I would rather be well and not need meds. Wishful thinking!
 
I have learned to take the minimum meds possible. It works for me. I have one med I can take every day and one that has such intense side effects that I can only use it as needed. This works for me.

Julie A. Fast holding a rock of lithium!

 
I have bipolar and a psychotic disorder. I live with it or I die by it. I choose life. I choose appropriate meds that have side effects I don’t like.
Not fair! But smart.
 

Julie