Julie A. Fast Talks Strategies to Prevent Bipolar Disorder in Your Children

If you have bipolar disorder, there is bipolar in your family genetically.
 
Genetics means that your matrilineal or patrilineal family line had bipolar disorder and passed it on to you. It can skip a generation, but in my experience, it is pretty easy to find bipolar disorder in your family tree.
 
This means that any child who has a grand parent, parent, aunt, uncle or cousin with bipolar has a chance to get bipolar disorder.
 
It’s in the child, percolating. In many cases, due to lack of the written word, we can’t track back far enough to find our genetic bipolar, but the stories are there.
 
– We had an uncle who was SO smart, but he kept getting married and divorced and could not stay off the sauce.
 
– My mom would disappear for months at a time- we were told she was visiting her mother. She was in the hospital.
 
– My cousin could never calm down. First it was drugs and then jail. The stories go that he was the smartest in the family, but when you needed him, he fell apart. Soon, we just called him lazy.
 
Today, with the internet and a lot more understanding of bipolar, we know that these stories are often a sign of untreated bipolar. Today, far more people are diagnosed, especially when there is a big drug and alcohol problem that is actually self medicating.
 
Unlike other illnesses such as cancer, we have WAY too little research into bipolar, but we do know that it’s genetic. It’s my goal to prevent an entire generation of kids from getting bipolar disorder by educating children from day one of what what make this gene express itself.
 
If you have the illness, your kids have a 25-35% chance of bipolar expressing itself naturally. If your child experiences any of the following situations and substances, the chances can double and triple of that latent gene expressing itself.
 
1. Constant changes in sleep. Going from sleeping on a regular schedule to a job that has uncertain hours where you sometimes have to work all night. My coauthor Dr. John Preston lists this environment as #2 on his list of bipolar triggers. I interviewed him extensively as I was writing Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder. The info in the book is true today and even more important in our internet society where we DO write down our symptoms for the world to see.
 
2. Medications for anything that can affect the mood. Cold medicine with pseudo ephedrine such as Sedated. Allergy medicines with steroids such as Flonase. I suggest that no child with bipolar in the family use anti depressants or ADD meds. It is simply too risky.
 
3. Cannabis. I can’t stress this enough. Many people are now seeing bipolar manifest after using today’s high TCH marijuana. Educate kids on this. Explain the difference between CBD and THC and teach them that THC can cause bipolar to come out if there is bipolar in the family.
 
I want you to think.
 
If you have bipolar, you KNOW how awful it can be. Start educating your children now about sleep and the medications and substances they put in their bodies. Teach them to stay stable.
My nephew is the love of my life. I will do anything to help him stay stable.
 
Keep that genetic bipolar gene LATENT!
 

Julie

You are the Bipolar Detective! Take Charge of Your Life!

 

I love it when people disagree with me and leave an opinion as to why. It means we are thinking about our #bipolar and how we want to get treatment. There are many brilliant thinkers in the world whom I disagree with- this doesn’t make them wrong.
 
It simply makes us different. I want YOU to think about your bipolar. Why do you have it?
 
Do you believe in reincarnation for example and feel that bipolar is karma? If so, this is then your path for treatment. Work in the Buddhist world to smooth out your karma. I am serious about this.
 
My path is what I teach. I am not the be all and end all. I simply want you to TAKE CHARGE of this rotten illness and THINK about what it means to have bipolar. Then, you are on the path to getting better. You are the detective. You have the power. You can do this.
 
I only ask one thing. Don’t try to change anyone to your opinion. Talk about yourself and your beliefs and why you disagree with me, but let’s be respectful and let others be who they are. This is why I never tell someone that they can’t use cannabis. That is not my job. People with bipolar can get high all day if they want! I used to do it. I’m not judging.
 
I can give an opinion based off of myself and thousands of experiences with clients over the past 20 years and then, a person can use this or not use it.
 
No one is right and no one is wrong. Let’s exist peacefully and find the individual path to stability by being kind and passionate without judgement or trying to change the mind of others.
 
And if you have read this far, I have a message for you. People who seek information like yourself will get better. You are on a path to health. Keep going. You are wonderful and I believe in you.
 

Julie

 

 

What Does Bipolar Mania Sound Like?

 

Mania creates physical changes in the eyes and body, as seen in my manic photo shoot above.  Looking for and writing down what we say is just as important if we want to manage these often out of control mood swings.
What bipolar mania sounds like: 
“I’m cured! I finally feel like the real me! I’ve been living in a box all of my life and now the constraints are off and the chains of that depression are gone and I’m back! I’m alive and bursting with the real energy I knew was inside of me all along!
 
Life is going to be so much better now! I knew that depression was not the real me. This is the real me! I just feel so fantastic! I can’t believe that I’ve lived in the dark for so long. I am now living the light! I feel wonderful!”
 
This way of talking with be accompanied with some or all of the following symptoms:
 
1. Sleeping a lot less, but not being tired the next day.
2. More talk of goals and getting things done quickly. Super focused on projects and getting to work on them immediately.
3. Rapid speech, also called pressured speech.
4. Inability to see the consequences of current behavior involving shopping, sex, work due, the feelings of others.
 
Are you manic? Is someone you love manic?

 Julie

 
PS: The words above are directly from my life when I was given Zoloft for depression in 1995. I then went into a very serious, suicidal depression and was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder a month later. For the two months before this diagnosis, I was traveling in China! I now use my Health Cards to manage my mania. It’s never easy, but it’s possible. 
Further resources:

When a Partner with Bipolar Leaves the Home

Advice for when a partner leaves during an episode.
 
1. Know that this is normal. We flee we manic. We flee when the depression is too strong for us to stay in the same place. We flee when we can’t manage our emotions. This doesn’t make it ok or make it any less scary for you, but knowing that it’s not ABOUT YOU is essential.
 
Here is more info on dysphoric mania- one of the main episodes that makes us flee:
 
2. Start NOW with your ‘thinks, says, does’ list for the current mood swing. This is explained in all of my books and is very specially detailed in the article below. The article was for a different audience that partners, but it will work for you just as well. All symptom information is gold when it comes to getting a partner treatment in the future.
 
3. Take care of children who are home by explaining bipolar in an age appropriate way. This is simply an illness. Kids who can talk can understand bipolar. Here is an article on how I talk with kids about bipolar.
 
4. Create a plan for you. When a partner leaves and you know it is bipolar related, this means the person will go back to baseline eventually and see the damage they have caused. You need to be ready for this. Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder is a good place to start.
 
5. Work with a health care team. Create a full symptom list so that this doesn’t go so far in the future. Avoid the Bipolar Conversation. Read over my past posts and get clear on your needs. Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder has more information on the Bipolar Conversation.
6. Join me on The Stable Bed. This is my private Facebook group for partners of people with disorder.
 

Julie

Ps: I highly recommend a hard copy subscription to Bp Magazine. It has a lot of information that is not available on the website.  
 

Book Review for Bipolar Disorder: My Biggest Competitor by Amy Gamble

by David Fast

David Fast is the 16 year old nephew of Julie A. Fast. He reviews books on bipolar disorder from a teenage perspective. 

Bipolar Disorder – My Biggest Competitor:  An Olympian’s Journey with Mental Illness

Amy Gamble has led a successful life. She has been an Olympic basketball player, an employee for a major pharmaceutical company and an author. She has been able to do all these things while dealing with bipolar. But none of this came easily. Bipolar was the most difficult obstacle in her life, getting her off track and leading to major problems that make her accomplishments even more amazing.

As the book title suggests, bipolar has been a greater adversary than any team she could have played in the Olympics.

Amy’s book documents her journey with great detail. When she had control of bipolar she went to great places, and is currently doing very well. Yet when she went off her meds there were serious repercussions, especially from mania.

Lost and Found in the Wilderness

“It was night by the time I’d wandered my way around the mountainside and down what I later learned was a dirt road. I thought if I went down to the stream, I might find a forest ranger’s office. But when the sun came up, I was spiraling into a web of mental confusion. I had been an avid hiker and backpacker for years, and I had some natural survival skills, and my instincts were telling me to keep moving because if I stopped I would freeze to death.”

Amy was lost for three days.

When I read Amy’s book, I saw a lot of similarities to my aunt. If Julie were in the same situation, she would have done the same thing. Julie gets super manic and depressed and it affects her life. I see the same behavior in Amy. It shows that this is a somewhat common thing that Julie and Amy get sick like this. It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain due to bipolar.  Amy got a letter from her mom that said, “It’s ok to have this illness. You have to admit you have it to get help.” It took Amy a long time to listen to this. It was a struggle so many people with bipolar go through.

Until she was able to listen and get the help she needed, she ended up in jail and in psych facilities repeatedly.  This part of the book was most interesting. You got to see inside the manic episode and what it was like for the person going through it.

I liked the details in this book. It feels like she is not hiding anything. It felt very real and it taught me more about how bipolar is just something that happens and whether you’re an author or basketball player or painter, it’s a common thing and a lot of people have it. If there were not so much of a stigma, more people would get help. Amy’s book helps people who don’t have bipolar really understand what people go through.

As she explains in the book, Amy now has a plan to keep herself out of these situations and on her meds, and now has control of her bipolar. I believe her book is a great view into her life and her battle with bipolar, and a motivational influence for those who strive to be the victor of their own life.

I recommend the book for teens who are already interested in bipolar and adults who want a good read.

Click here to read more about Amy’s book on Amazon.

David

 

 

Bipolar Disorder and the Thanksgiving Holiday part two…….

Continued from Thanksgiving part one…..

 

My friend Margery who has bipolar disorder just called and told me that her sister has decided to come down to Portland where she lives instead of staying in Seattle.  Margery said, “I cooked her dinner a few years ago, Julie. I’m not spending days cooking for something that is gone in a few hours. It’s too stressful!” I agree. Margery just reserved a full Thanksgiving dinner from Whole foods.  She picks it up Thanksgiving  morning! She said it was so cheap when everyone went in on it.  These stores have great and inexpensive salad bars as well. 

Good idea:  Say no to cooking if it’s too much for you. Let others do it or buy dinner from a store and bring it home.  Or, eat out!

I’d like to say I’m immune to the whole Thanksgiving thing- but I’m not. I have to make sure I have something to do that day or I know I will get depressed and lonely.  It’s my nature. The concept of Thanksgiving has been burned into my American brain.  My dinners were so wonderful as a child- that is what I remember.

Here are some tips if Thanksgiving is important to you:

1. Plan now. Where do you want to be? Start hinting to the people you know that you would be a good addition to the party.

2. Send out an email to friends saying you are looking for a fun dinner. You will get replies. Yes, you can do this the day before Thanksgiving. 

3. Volunteer for the day. Many people do this and you meet new friends.

4. Crash a party!

5. Go to Target to check out the Black Friday specials. Oh – this just sounds terrible…  but people love it! Buy a TV the next day! 😉  Guys…. this is a joke. I’m joking! I’M JOKING! 

6. Go to the movies with a friend. Pay for one and then sneak into the others…hehe

7. If you’re going to order a dinner from a place such as Whole Foods, do so ahead of time. They do sell out.

Or… you can be like me.

8.  Tell your family you’re not going to do anything to prepare or clean up, but you will pay for food. That is the ONLY way I can survive the hullabaloo around the holidays. If you are cash strapped, offering to do the dishes is worth its weight in gold! 

Get creative.

If you’re someone who doesn’t have firm plans yet, start making them right now.  It’s hard to be lonely on the holidays when you have bipolar disorder.

If you are filled with bounty and you know someone who could use a good time in a kind setting, send an email.

There is a place for everyone.

Julie