Julie A. Fast Interview on Voice of America Radio Live Today

Listen to Julie A. Fast live on the Voice of America Radio show ‘Caught Between Generations’ today at 12:30 PM PST, 3:30 PM EST. Click on the ‘listen live‘ link on the webpage to hear Julie talk about depression and bipolar depression in children.
 
Topics include:
 
1. Do children get depressed?
2. How do you know the difference between a teenager’s growing pains and actual depression?
3. How can parents talk to kids about suicide at any age?
4. Are there different kinds of depression- what is the most dangerous?
5. How does a caregiver help someone with depression without losing their own ability to enjoy and function in life?
Episode Description

Are you living with a family member who has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder or depression? Have the symptoms of depression or bipolar disorder affected your relationship with a child or parent? Depression can occur at any age, and should not be dismissed in the elderly as a normal part of the aging process, or in children as simply “growing pains.” Dr. Merle’s first guest is Dr. Deborah Serani, psychologist and award-winning author. Dr. Serani discusses late life depression, how it differs from depression at other ages, and what caregivers need to do to keep from becoming depressed. Julie Fast lived many chaotic years before she was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 31. Now an author and coach for families living with bipolar disease and depression, Fast discusses depression in young children and teens, and how parents can intervene and help their children who have suicidal thoughts.

Tips to End Severe Bipolar Depression


Remind yourself that depression is an illness. The symptoms will always be the same.

– Lack of joy in what used to bring joy. This does NOT mean you need to change your life. It means you need to end the depression so that you can again experience joy. Many people make the mistake of leaving relationships, quitting jobs and thinking a big change is the answer to ending depression. I suggest that managing depression is a better choice.

– A sense that you will never get better. This is a symptom of depression. Depression is a succubus. It lies. I call depression the most successful illness in the world. It does the job well. I fight this by accepting that I am going to lose work time and energy while I am depressed. It feels like I am drowning even though I am sitting in a life raft. I have to open my eyes and see that I am in a life raft and I am going to get through the depression. I always do.

I could go on- our list of symptoms is very long. I wrote my book Get it Done When You’re Depressed when I was depressed. I remember thinking I would NEVER finish the book. How could I possibly write a book when I was so sick from the stress of writing a book? I did it through using the tips in the book!

There is a chance you are reading this while depressed. It’s ok to be depressed when you have bipolar disorder. What do you need to do next to get out of the depression? Read my books if they speak to you.  Programs are available from other writers. Support lines are ready for your call. All that matters is seeing bipolar depression for what it is- an illness.

Depression has nothing to do with YOU. I has nothing to do with me. It is no different than diabetes. It’s chemicals. I fight my depression and I will win. You can too. 

Julie

 

On the Road with Bipolar Disorder

 

 

You can plan for everything when you travel. You can work on your bipolar, deal with the time change, make sure your relationships are good back home, study languages, save your money, pay for a great place to stay, pack your bags well, DO IT ALL!

But you will never be able to control the situation created by the people you meet.

My trip to England last year could be described as a perfect storm of what you don’t want to happen when you arrive in a new country.

The first day I arrived, I was attacked by a huge and I do mean huge dog. On the second day, I realized that my friend’s marriage was abusive and falling apart before my eyes. I was staying in their house.

I already had anxiety. I left my life in America to move to Europe for a year. This wasn’t a vacation. I had to make it work!

My friend and I had it all planned. I would stay at her house for six weeks and then go on to France. I saved my money. I changed my work schedule so that I could do my coaching from England. I did everything RIGHT. Then a fractured marriage and a huge dog changed everything. I realized I had made a grave error. I assumed that all was fine where I planned to stay. This was not the case.

If you are staying with someone, think of where that person is in life and how their behavior might affect your bipolar disorder.

I know how to manage my illness, but my friend’s extreme stress got to me. My anxiety went through the roof and I started having anxiety thoughts:

This isn’t going to work Julie. You are going to have to find another place to stay. She is upset with you. Your stuff is in the way. You need to keep out of the way. You made a mistake, you are NOT welcome here. She is kind and you care about her, but she is having a tough time.  You have to get out of here. 

This is hard to hear in your head the first few days you are in a new place. It eventually turned into paranoid psychosis. This was not how I pictured my exciting move to Europe.

I tried every single day for weeks to manage my bipolar disorder.  I simply couldn’t.  The atmosphere in the house was too much of a trigger for this illness.  I finally left.  This was devastating as you can imagine, but managing bipolar disorder has to come first. If I were a regular person, I could have stayed and then gone on my way in six weeks.

But I am not a regular person. I have a serious mental illness called bipolar disorder. I learned an important lesson about myself and traveling.

Travel is one of the greatest opportunities in life.  It is also a great trigger of bipolar disorder symptoms.

Think of my story the next time you travel and plan ahead. Where you stay and who you stay with truly matter.

 

Julie

 

 

Common Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

1. Inability to stay in a
job for long.

2. Difficulty working
despite possessing
the qualifications to
do the job.

3. Money problems.

4. Feelings of being
overwhelmed by job
requirements or other
life responsibilities.

5. Sadness and frustration
over inability to
work or get things
done.

6. Feelings of hopelessness
about the
future.

I lived with these symptoms daily until I learned to manage my bipolar disorder more successfully. I want to encourage people with bipolar disorder to see the list as what life is like without a good management plan. Once the plan is in place, everything changes.

We are able to find work that fits our needs.

We can create relationships that help us stay stable.

We can learn to live a life filled with joy and good times vs. life filled with being ill due to bipolar disorder.

The symptoms on the above list still come and go for me. They are always lurking. But I no longer live a life controlled by bipolar disorder.

We can take charge of this illness. My plan is in all of my books. I encourage you to find what works so that you can manage the symptoms and find the path you want to take in life.

I believe in all of us!

Julie

Guest Blogger Noor Baizura: What’s my Unique Signature Relapse?

by Noor Baizura

Every each one of us is unique. 

That is why Stigma deserves a stick in the eye.

Our unique personality, experience and nature

Requires us to navigate how we interact and react

To the people and environment around us.

With Bipolar Disorder, we have unique reasons that triggers our highs and lows.

So we need a unique recipe, set of tools and map to navigate our road to recovery

For our unique and amazing destiny in Life.

There is wisdom in both our pains and pleasures, but are we ready to discover and embrace it?

This powerful awareness and knowledge is what I call The Unique Signature Relapse.

It is only after I studied the recurring patterns in my upward and downward bipolar spirals, that I was able to manage my health and condition with very limited medication and stop the vicious cycle of needing to be hospitalized for two weeks or a month almost every single year.

Previously, when I was falling into an episode, my family and people around me use to notice the change in my behavior, speech and actions way before I was aware that I was spiraling into an episode. As time went by, I grew tired of always having to debate with them about whether I was having an episode or not. Worse still, whether I needed to up my dose of medication that was already blanking my brains out even in small doses.

The worst part was always that, when I was excited about a brilliant idea, and I couldn’t wait to share it with people, they use to shut me off unintentionally by asking me if I had been sleeping properly or if I was taking my medications or not, or worse…that I should take my medication. Seriously?! Man…here I was trying to do something productive and amazing and this is the reaction I get? I couldn’t believe it.

Same goes for any issue that I felt strongly about. It was as if I was never allowed to raise my voice, or stand up for what I believed in, or even tell anyone my two cents worth of what is right or wrong because, being someone with bipolar disorder, we seem to be a champion of creating a mountain out of a molehill. Being emotional beings, we tend to emotionally charge up every single thing out of proportion to the extent that any form of emotional display sends people into a panic frenzy because they are afraid that we will fall into an episode.

Although I do not agree with my doctor a 100% of the time I must emphasize that it is important and good to have a doctor and medical support team back up for the bad days that neither my family nor my brains are capable of handling. Days of too many sleepless nights, till the point of hallucinations, or when you are in that state of being so restless that your body is really worn out and tired as heck but your brain just can’t stop bubbling with ideas and racing thoughts. So you start looking like a half dead, half alive Frankenstein, with cracked and painful heels that can’t stop walking. And when you’re too accident prone, feeling lightheaded and surviving on 5 minute naps as you half stand, half sit. And your face and eyes starts looking discolored, puffy or sunken…just basically worn out. Don’t do that, too many people with bipolar have died from such breakdowns from not seeking professional help.

Same goes for family support. Although I do not agree with everything they say or do, I must admit that on some days, when reality seems to slip beneath my feet, my family tries their best not to be my trigger and help me get back on my feet and get a grip, or just take away some responsibilities so that I can rest, recover and get myself together or take a break and chill, so that I can sleep and eat properly again and avoid getting hospitalized. And if it gets out of hand for them to cope, they convince me to take some medication, just to keep their sanity, so that I won’t end up losing mine.

 

 

Who am I?

They asked me if I am Crazy 

As if I have not asked myself before

They medicated, restrained and locked me

 As if…my freedom could start a war.

Manias and Depressions

The type that drowned me 

and made me soar

Madness and Genius 

that crowns me 

That has made me score yet numb & sore.

Take me as I am

My Lord, You Created me

And so therefore…

In You I put my Faith, O Guide

Help me Navigate and Win This War.

Last but not least, and like the words in my poem, I must emphasize the importance of believing in God. I don’t intend to come off preachy, but honestly, when all else fails, I mean preferably BEFORE all else fails. To hold on to the rope of God, The Divine Creator, when your mind fails you, your judgement fails you, your emotions fail you, your insurance, your job, your boss, your family, friends, doctors and everyone seems to fail you… having a mustard seed of faith in God goes a long, precious, miraculous and divine way to have something to hold on to when there is nothing to hold on to except for the words that say hold on.

Let sincere prayers accompany your tears,

Till they dry away your tears.

Let sincere and forgiving prayers soothe you,

When anger seems to give in to your fears

Let sincere and honest prayers fill you

Till He heals you and gives you renewed strength

To take action and fulfill your mission

With the Gift of His Power from deep within.

Noor

About Noor Baizura:

Poet. Artist. Author.

4 upcoming books:

  • “I am Not Crazy… I’m Cool”

Mastering the art of living with bipolar disorder

  • “The Dog that cried Woof”

Fresh Perspective of understanding mental illness, societal stigma and self stigma

  • “Living in a Bipolar City”

Navigating the Highs and Lows of Daily Living

  • “Soul VS Ego”

The Balancing Act of our Heart, Mind, Body and Soul

Corporate Trainer in various Hospitals.

Real Estate Consultant.

Mental Health Advocate & Living with Bipolar since 17.

EXCO member, Assistant Honorary Treasurer and Head of Fundraiser for Club HEAL, a mental health non-profit organization in Singapore that helps to provide counselling, training, rehabilitation, education, eradicate stigma and raise awareness about mental health. Conducts Bipolar Support Group.

Please visit Noor’s Facebook page to connect and ask her questions. 

 

Chris Cornell: When Suicide Doesn’t Make Sense

Sometimes, people commit suicide and we are able to make some sense of why it happened. It’s scary and upsets our world, but on a basic level we think we understand.  Robin William’s suicide comes to mind. He had a history of depression and his health was failing. Oh how we all wish he could have found more help, but I don’t think it was as much surprising as it was devastating and sad for the millions who loved him when he died.

Then there are suicides that make no sense. The idea doesn’t fit with how we see the individual’s personal life or fit with how they describe their life in public.  The partner or other loved ones are shocked and usually vehemently deny that the person was acting suicidal. Society likes to look for something deeper when they hear that the person wasn’t outwardly suicidal. A possible secret life or maybe the person was lying to everyone.

I have a different opinion based on very personal experience that I would like to share.

There are many kinds of suicides. Some are societal or culturally based and accepted such as seppuku, part of the Japanese samurai bushido code of honor. For some, suicide is an act of loneliness and despair that fits with what is actually happening in life. This is suicide in reaction to life events.

Then there is suicide from an ill brain. I call this brain chemical suicide. These are the people who ‘have it all.’ Who are getting their jobs done and sharing their lives with the public. People like Chris Cornell.

How can people who seem to have it all possibly take their lives?

In order to answer this question, we need to better understand suicide as a symptom of an illness. Instead of thinking of suicide as a conscious choice that happens when someone doesn’t want to live anymore, we need to see the other side of suicide. The kind of suicidal life I experience.

Suicidal thoughts and behaviors from an illness.

You can easily read about me online. I’m one of the top bipolar disorder writers in the world with over 450,000 books sold. I teach bipolar disorder management. I’m incredibly open about my daily struggles with this illness. By any standard, I’ve got my bipolar act together. My relationships are stable. I teach the people around me to help me. I get on with life despite many physical health obstacles. I help others who are suicidal. I know what affect my suicide would have on my readers. You would think this would keep me immune from suicidal episodes.

It doesn’t.

Last year I moved to the South of France to reach a dream. I did it! I started school and began balancing my work and school life. It was going well. One day, I was sitting in my room in Cannes. I could literally hear the waves of the Mediterranean sea outside my window. I saw gorgeous orange and yellow buildings with clay tiles. I heard the amazing sound of trains traveling from Paris going by my window. It was heaven. I had been a bit depressed for a few days, but just assumed it was from the big change I had in life. Overall, I knew I had made the right decision.

And then, I heard a overly persuasive voice say, “Julie, jump out of your window. Jump out now.” At the same time,  I had an intense feeling and belief that all would be better in my life if I just killed myself. It felt as real and normal as having an inclination to go to the beach. There was nothing and I do mean nothing personal in my life to justify this kind of feeling. If you looked at my life in the moment, it made NO sense that I was suicidal.

But there was something in my brain that made sense of the situation. My mood disorder comes with suicidal depression. It gets triggered. I don’t have to be down or upset. It just happens when it gets triggered. It feels as real as breathing. I hear the voice, have the thought and in my case see a movie of myself jumping all at once. Something in me simply yells, “Do it Julie! Do it!”

It’s visceral. It’s magnetic and hypnotic and REAL. Brain chemicals are far more powerful than any drug and when mine go off, I get suicidal. I’ve come close to dying many times.

A few minutes later, the suicide plan I created for myself 20 years ago allowed me to see through this chemical episode and I got immediate help. Not everyone has a plan to counteract chemical suicidal thoughts, but I do.

When you don’t have a plan that helps these sudden and inexplicable suicidal thoughts, the resulting suicide can never be explained by what is going on in life.

The chemicals win in these situations. The illness wins. It’s not about killing ourselves. It’s about an illness killing us.

That is a different kind of suicide.

I am not a likely suicidal candidate if you look at my life. But I am a likely suicidal candidate if you look at my illness. There was nothing going on in that room last year to in any way explain the thought of jumping out my window, except illness.

I remember sitting there alone, after I had the thought that I was going to jump out of my window. I started to cry and I said to myself, “Oh my God. I’m a lot sicker than I thought I was.” It took me a few days to figure out that I was having a chemical brain reaction to a new sleep medication. I stopped the medication and the suicidal thoughts were completely gone in two days. I was very suicidal for a week and could easily have died at one of the happiest times of my life.

Chris Cornell talked openly about depression. It’s an illness that never really goes away. We can perform through it. Have kids and write books and songs and make millions happy with our work, but it’s always there for some of us. We understand this about diabetes and heart problems and some cancers. Why can’t we understand this about depression?

You may read about Chris Cornell and ask yourself, “How could someone who is married with three beautiful children, in one of the biggest bands in the world, who had literally just finished an incredibly successful live show go to his room and kill himself?”

If he has a brain like mine. He was sick and his brain was triggered into a suicidal episode.  It may have had nothing to do with his amazing life. Sometimes an illness is simply stronger than the person. Sometimes medications mess with our sensitive brain chemicals.

The idea that suicidal ideation leaves people alone when they create a good life is an absolute lie.

The idea that being in love and having beautiful kids you would die for is going to prevent suicidal thoughts is a lie.

Sometimes this illness is too strong and it kills someone just as if that person had died of a heart attack.

I didn’t know Chris Cornell, but I do know why some people who seem to have everything take their own lives. I have no idea what was going on in his relationships, but I do know what was going on in his brain.

I’m often overwhelmed with the doom and gloom surrounding the topic of suicide. The hushed tones and the shame are misplaced. When we understand and treat suicidal behavior as a physical illness we will truly end our suicide epidemic.

When we talk openly about the chemical side of suicidal thoughts, we teach people in the deepest moment of suicidal ideation to step back, just as if they were having the signs of a stroke and say, “Wait! This is not me and it is not what I want. I need immediate help.”

I didn’t listen to the voice telling me to jump out of the window, not because I am stronger than others. I have no more strength than anyone. I didn’t listen because I had taught myself that this is what happens when my depressed bipolar brain gets sick. We can teach others to do the same.

Chris Cornell. You will always be in my memory. You came out on stage in black leather pants with a white shirt and a camel colored jacket. You were fly. The bomb! And then you sang and my brother and I went to another world. You are loved.

Julie 

Click here to read  Chris Cornell’s Wife Issues Statement, Blames Anxiety Medicine for Suicide “When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words,” Vicky Cornell says. “He was different” from Rolling Stone Magazine. 

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