Why I Say No to Delicious Feeling Euphoric Mania

😁 👿 I end my euphoric mania by ________.

I will go first:

1. Focusing on sleep. I have to be in bed by 10 on my mania days. I NEVER want to be there at that time, but all of my manic disasters in the past were at night. By sticking to this plan as soon as I see the first signs of mania, I can stop my mania very quickly.

2. If I can’t get it out of my system naturally within two days, I take my lithium orotate.

4. I check in with the amazing Julie Foster of Pohala Clinic – A Place of Healing and say, “It’s here! I want to give into it, but I won’t!”

3. I write positive encouragement to myself in my journal that reminds me of how destructive it will be if I DO go out out at night and have a ‘bit of fun.’

Euphoric mania is better than sex. It is better than wining an award. It is amazing. It feels SO good.

I find it very interesting that people say the same thing about cocaine.

My reality? I almost died due to my euphoric mania. I got an STD. It was dangerous for me. I was a blackout drunk. I don’t allow it in my life any more. When it shows up, I use the ideas in my books with an emphasis on my Health Cards. This is how I work. This allows me to have friends. This helps me live a respectable life.

I choose stability.

What about you? Please visit me on my Julie A. Fast Facebook page and leave your comments!

Julie

I’m serious about mania management. I don’t like depression- who doesn’t?  But I dislike mania more- it is far more destructive than mania. My International Bipolar Foundation webinar The Dangers of Loving Euphoric Mania shares my story.

 

Guest Blogger Erin McDonough on the Power of Art to Heal

Julie’s mother Rebecca holding Erin’s beautiful art.

by Erin McDonough

Stained glass is the best thing that has happened to me. It is full of several steps that have to be completed as perfect as possible so the piece fits together.  It starts with the pattern and going from there. It includes cutting, foiling and my favorite – soldering with lead. One of my other favorite parts is to pick which glass to use!  There are so many choices.  I could spend hours in a stained glass store.

They say art is in the eye of the beholder.  I think art is a very personal experience. There are so many forms and I have tried many and found my true calling to be stained glass. Art has a way of calming you and exciting you at the same time.  When you are an artist it truly calls to you. It’s something that is in your blood and you have to do it.

When I was younger I wasn’t afraid of trying anything and I wasn’t afraid of the outcome. Yet after my diagnoses things changed.  I began to second guess myself. I would put boundaries and limits on what I thought I could do.  I would lose sight of what was important in the art and obsess over the small details.  My projects would become work instead of pieces of art.

How Bipolar Affects My Art

Being bipolar and an artist has it ups and downs.  Sometimes I’m not very motivated and can hardly touch the work. This is mostly when I’m depressed. I also get paranoid about my work, thinking no body will like my work, I am also very critical of my work. On the other hand, Sometimes I’m so motivated I get projects done quickly!  I need to be on more of a schedule so I accomplish more, sometimes it’s just hard.  But with all the ups and downs stained glass is a part of me and I continue to learn and grow with every piece I make! 

When my moods would come my progress would be very much effected.  When my mood was high I could get so much done.  I could get a larger panel done in two days (my hands would surely show it though!). I would be more proud of my work and want to show it off.   Stained glass was the best thing in the world!  But when I was down it was almost impossible to get anything done.  Just cutting one or two pieces a day was like running a marathon.  I couldn’t get any motivation.  And when I did get a project done all I could see where the imperfections (which I now realize are what makes a piece special ). As an artist you are your worst critic but I took it to the extreme, as far as wanting to destroy my work.

The most important part that I have learned is that I need to work through what ever is going on in my head and use it in my art work.  Art is an extension of yourself.  It reflects who you are. That is so true in stained glass. I had a revolution a couple months ago. My psychiatrist said to me: all of your work, it’s bright colors and happy things.  There is no darkness in it.  This must be good!  And he’s right. The whole four years I have been doing stained glass I have never done a ‘sad’ piece.  It made me realize I’m not doing so bad after all!

Visit Erin’s Stained Glass Creations to learn more about her gorgeous work.

Julie 

Bipolar and the Holidays

Are you ready for Thanksgiving if you’re celebrating the holiday? Here are a few tips:
 
1️⃣📙 Read the trigger chapters in Take Charge and Loving and then read the Bipolar Conversation chapters. My books are living things! Each time you read them you learn something new- it’s impossible to take in the concept of trigger management and avoiding the Bipolar Conversation on just one reading. We can read and practice and write about it and then read and practice some more. This is a life long process!
 

2️⃣🐧 Say no when needed and use this article as a guideline:

Bipolar and Saying No: Why I Can’t Always Do Fun Things with You

 
3️⃣✏️ Prepare ahead for loneliness- isolation and other symptoms that tend to show up on the holiday. Read Get it Done When You’re Depressed and choose one idea to use to make these holidays BETTER. Make a list right now of what you need. Then do one thing to make it happen. Small is good!
 
🌞🌝🐲🍀🌎
 
If you’re new to my work, you can get the Kindle version of my books immediately and read the trigger and Bipolar Conversation chapters. They are life changing and you don’t have to read the whole book at once to use them.
 
 
 
Kindle books are often $9.99. One of the best investments you can make is a good management book!
 
Let’s have happy holidays that come from our own actions and not from what others say or do TO us.
 
Julie

Why I Take Meds for My Bipolar Disorder

Julie A. Fast holding lithium!

 

Today isn’t the best day for my brain. The OCD is raging and I can feel the paranoia that I often experience when my mood is rapid cycling.  I manage the majority of my symptoms by using the ideas in my books, but on some days, the bipolar is just too strong.

Today is one of those days.

Bipolar is an illness triggered by outside events. I am often the cause of the trigger:

Working too much.

Waking up too early and not making myself go back to sleep.

Using way too much social media and getting involved with discussions that I need to leave alone.

Just life in general!

Bipolar is a life triggered illness which is one reason it can be so hard to manage.

I take a medication daily for my depression. I’m able to use it without too many side effects. If I miss it for even a few days, I go into a messy, suicidal depression within a week. It’s amazing how well it works. It also shows me that my depression is completely chemical. If you don’t have a medication yet for suicidal depression, please keep going.  We need to avoid SSRI anti depressants, but there are other meds we can use safely.

It’s the same with psychosis. I manage my paranoia and hallucinations by avoiding substances that make me psychotic like cannabis marijuana and keeping myself away from difficult work situations as best I can. (I can tolerate cannabis hemp, but don’t find it helps my symptoms very much!)  Anti psychotic medications can be life savers for many people, but I can’t tolerate the side effects at all.  I know some people who can take them with NO weight gain and some that gain about 30 pounds. I gain and gain with no stop. For this reason, I have to make sure I am really careful regarding psychosis triggers. I have lost too many relationships from paranoia to ever let it take over my life again.

What about Mania and Meds? 

I manage mania by paying very careful attention to my sleep and removing myself from situations that can increase my mania such as staying out partying when I feel good! Not easy! But I am committed to managing my mania as much as my depression.  For the majority of the time I can do this on my own, but on some days like today, I simply have to take my lithium. I wish I could take lithium every day. Many people can. I can’t. So I use it like gold. It really does help me that much. If I take it every day, I’m not able to manage my weight at all, nor can I handle the apathy that I get from long term use. I am more of an exception than the norm, so please know I am sharing this story to show how we are all different, but overall, I want to encourage all of us to use medications when possible. I use lithium orotate when the mania is just getting a bit too intense.

Please keep an open mind about meds. I am all for treating bipolar disorder as naturally as possible.  All of my books, especially Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder can be used with or without mediations, but as a person with bipolar and a psychotic disorder, I have to say that I can’t do this completely naturally.  The illness is too strong.

If you need meds, take them. Keep the dose low enough to help your symptoms without causing too many side effects. We are strong and we can make good decisions around meds. Saying NO to meds completely doesn’t feel balanced to me. I want to keep is natural and clean, but it’s not always possible.

So I take my meds.

Julie

 

 

 

 

Winter Blues? You’re Not Imagining Them

Winter Blues? You’re Not Imagining Them

When not enough light makes a difference.

By Julie A. Fast

Originally published in Bp Magazine.

Do you dread the winter? I know I do! I live in Portland, Oregon, where it can be dark and dreary all day long during winter. For a long time, people were considered a bit wacky if they insisted that the weather affected their moods. Then Norman Rosenthal, MD, in his 1993 book Winter Blues (revised and updated in 1998), explained the connection between depression and the darker days of winter. Following the publication of Winter Blues, the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) were taken more seriously. Today, approved treatments for SAD (medication, therapy, and light) are often warranted, although SAD is generally a time-limited condition.

Answer the following questions to see if you have the symptoms Dr. Rosenthal ascribes to SAD.

Do you—

  • Have less energy than usual?
  • Feel less productive or creative?
  • Need more sleep?
  • Feel down or depressed?
  • Have less control over your appetite?

Many people with bipolar disorder feel this way no matter what the weather is like and for most of us, the above symptoms are definitely worse during the darker winter months. The difference, however, between people with bipolar disorder and those with a formal diagnosis of SAD, is that our symptoms don’t simply go away when it gets lighter outside—they just change.

According to John Preston, MD, coauthor of Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder and a psychopharmacology expert in the treatment of bipolar disorder, “Decreased bright light exposure can trigger brain changes. For people suffering with bipolar disorder, this can occur certainly in winter months, but also if they work at night (as does 20 percent of the U.S. workforce), or if they live in cities with significant cloud cover or air pollution. Decreased bright light exposure may ignite a depressive episode.

“Sometimes when spring comes, depressive symptoms begin to subside, or manias can result,” Dr. Preston continues. “However, for many individuals with bipolar disorder the decreased light initiated the depression, but the episode may certainly continue for many months beyond winter.”

So what causes SAD symptoms? As Dr. Preston explained in my last column (“Watching Out for Summer Mania,” bp Magazine, Summer 2005), the amount of bright light entering the eye plays a role in regulating mood and can cause mania. So it makes sense that less sunlight entering the eye may increase depression symptoms. Thus, it is important to keep sunlight steady year round. But how is this possible when it may be really dark in the winter where you live, and quite sunny in the summer? The good news is that it is possible to decrease SAD symptoms. It just takes having a plan before the days get really dark.

 

Are light boxes a solution?

Most people know that light boxes can be an effective treatment for SAD. The problem is that people with bipolar disorder have to be very careful with bright light therapy, especially if they have rapid cycling, or have a tendency toward mania. (Light therapy has not been extensively studied for bipolar disorder,although it has been well-studied for SAD itself.) Sometimes I think anything would be better than SAD symptoms. On the other hand, rapid cycling is no fun. So it’s really not worth making yourself manic in order to feel better.

 

Diet and exercise make a difference

Another solution is to watch your diet carefully and make sure you get exercise in the morning when the light is better. It is tempting to use junk food and caffeine to get out of the afternoon slump. And it makes sense that you have no desire to exercise when there is no sun. But as I have learned over the years of living with bipolar disorder, I never want to do anything when I’m depressed. Yet I’ve taught myself to go ahead and do it anyway.

Here is how I try to eat during the darker months despite a constant craving for coffee, chocolate chip cookies, and cola: Eat a protein-rich breakfast. This can include a protein smoothie with one scrambled egg on the side, or a salad with chicken, eggs, walnuts, and apples. Try not to eat any carbs in the morning. Take a multivitamin that is rich in B vitamins. Have a snack ready to eat as soon as you feel your energy decrease. This usually happens around 10:30 or 11:00 a.m., which is when the typical coffee and donut break occurs. Don’t give in! Instead, be ready with an apple, or celery with peanut butter or some nuts. You can even eat a cold sweet potato. Then have a good protein lunch—chicken salad or tuna with greens and something fun to eat, as long as it’s not too carb-heavy.

Because afternoon is usually the toughest time for experiencing SAD symptoms, you must choose your snack carefully. Opt for tuna salad, a hard-boiled egg, or a natural (not too much sugar) protein bar. Save your major carbs for dinner. This is a typical blood sugar stabilizing diet. While it’s not nearly as tasty as a candy bar or a donut, you will be amazed how it helps your mood, and your weight, if that’s an issue.

 

More positive steps to take

Diet is just the first step to combating SAD symptoms, however. It’s also important to know what you say, think, and do when your mood begins to darken. In this way, you can treat the depression before it becomes really serious. You will need to create a list of the things you might typically say or feel when it gets darker outdoors, including such expressions as “I can’t live through another winter like this,” “I have to get out of this city,” or “Where is the junk food?”

  • For myself, the hours between 3:00 and 7:00 p.m. are really tough when it comes to these low feelings. This means I need to do something concrete and positive during these times to counteract the SAD symptoms. Here are some suggestions:
  • Take a walk in the morning when it’s brighter outside. Get someone to go with you.
  • Don’t take a coffee or sugar break when you feel down. Instead, break for a walk and eat an apple.
  • Eat really spicy, low-carb foods for lunch. Doing so will increase endorphins.
  • Take a fun class, or meet friends during your tough hours.
  • Go to a bright gym after work. If you don’t work outside the home, make sure to stay busy throughout the day.
  • Think of what you love to do, then do just that to counteract SAD symptoms. This can be singing, meeting a friend at a cheerful cafe, or going to a light-hearted movie.
  • Create a bright living space and work space with full spectrum lights, bright colors, and plants.
  • Teach your family and friends exactly what to do when you “go down.”
  • Talk with your employer about SAD. Request an office with a window, if feasible.

Put all of these ideas on an index card and carry it with you. Put it on the wall above your desk or on your refrigerator. Read it every morning. Don’t assume you have it memorized. Depression has a way of making you forget what works and what doesn’t. I assure you the index card method is a solution that will work.

If you only do one thing to combat SAD, changing your diet– even if just in the afternoon– can really make a difference.

If you feel you are too depressed for the suggested solutions above, try to do just one. I know I’ve been too depressed to get out of bed. At the same time, I’ve also learned that simply getting out of bed is a solution. You can then decide what to do next. You do have the power to get better.

SAD symptoms are real and need to be taken seriously. If SAD symptoms are not addressed, the depression can become much worse and you may have to go to the hospital. Don’t wait until your SAD symptoms get worse. Take care of them before it gets really dark and dreary.

I use the ideas in Get it Done When You’re Depressed to help me through the seasonal affected disorder blues!

Julie 

If You Love My Bipolar and Depression Books, Please Let Amazon Know Your Thoughts

If you love my books, please let Amazon know! This allows others to learn from your experiences and gets my work to people around the world. I never read reviews, so always free to be honest. I have one goal: to stop the suffering caused by mental health disorders. It is possible and my books show people how. We can do this! 

Here is a link to the Julie A. Fast books on Amazon.

Thanks for your review! 

Julie