Bipolar Disorder and Thanksgiving Part One…………..

 

Let’s Make Thanksgiving Great This Year!

 

 

There is a commercial on the radio where I live here in Portland, Oregon that always makes me laugh. It says… ‘Beware of the holiday horrors! Buy all of your holiday presents now, the day after Thanksgiving and save yourself the stress of waiting until the last minute!”    Oh, it sounds like torture to me! When did Thanksgiving become so much about Black Friday sales? In case you didn’t know, Black Friday is a sales day after the Thursday Thanksgiving here in the United States. It’s called Black Friday because it’s a day businesses can make enough money to balance the books instead of being in the red!

 

As a person with bipolar disorder or a person who cares about someone with the illness, there’s a good chance you have had some difficult holidays in the past.

Thanksgiving is a family holiday based around a traditional dinner held in honor of the dinner served between the people who ‘founded’ the US and the people who found the country way before any British showed up- the Native Americans. The food usually includes the following: Turkey, stuffing or dressing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, pies such as pecan or pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce. Many families have a Thanksgiving dish they remember growing up. For me, it was my grandmother’s homemade corn bread dressing.  I had many wonderful Thanksgiving holidays while growing up – mostly in Alabama.

As I got older, the holidays became a fun time with friends.

And then…. they just became too much.

Is it the same for you? Maybe you don’t want to cook, don’t have the $200 to spend on a dinner for eight. It might be you don’t like your family! And finally, the hardest is when you don’t have anywhere to go. It doesn’t mean you don’t have friends- it might just happen they are all with their families and yours is out of town.

It may be that your family is here, but the atmosphere is stressful. I’ve seen a few snarky faces at Thanksgiving. It’s hard to have to be happy and united for a day.

It’s a lot of pressure.

Start thinking now of what you want your Thanksgiving to be like this year. You get to decide.

Julie

PS:  Thanksgiving can be wonderful, but it’s usually challenging when bipolar disorder is an unwanted guest.   That’s why we have to plan ahead!

Bipolar Disorder is Not Pretty

 
This is what a #bipolar looks like. This is what illness looks like. I am not like this when stable. I couldn’t make these faces naturally if I tried.
 
Panic attack #anxiety, #dysphoric #mania, #euphoric mania and extreme #depression. It’s not pretty.
 
When I am sick with bipolar, I must stop everything to end the bipolar before I make ANY decisions.
 
I must stop the bipolar before I get upset by what someone says or does.
 
I must stop the bipolar before I spend money, change my job, leave a new relationship, start a new relationship or make any big life decisions.
 
If you want to get better, treat bipolar first. If you don’t treat bipolar first, the decisions you make when you are this sick can ruin your life in an instant and you will struggle what you once had back.
 
Read Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder first and then move to the Health Cards. If you are a partner, read Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder and then Take Charge. You can also join me on The Stable Bed.
 
If you are a family member, start with Take Charge and move to the Health Cards. Read Loving for more plans. Join me on The Stable Table.
Read Get it Done When You’re Depressed and get yourself or a loved one out of the house and back into the world.
 
I am sick almost every day and I have a strong management plan. Without my plan, I would not be here.
 
Let’s manage this illness together.  Many of my books are in the library and are available used on Amazon. 
 

Julie

Fast Conversation Strategies: What to Say When a Person is Trying to Control You

I choose the stable life….

Strategies from my parent and partner coaching….

When you ask a question or talk about the other person and their answer is about you, learn how to get the conversation back on track by using my Fast Conversation Strategies.

– I like spending time together, but lately I’ve found it hard to get in touch with you.
– Response: Oh, so now you’re my mother?

– It helps me a lot to know when you need me to do the writing on the website. I need a schedule so that I can keep my work in order. I’m a bit confused about the project itself.
– Hmm. I guess it’s all about you these days is it? Can’t you just do what I sent you and let me get my own work done!

I’m worried about your drinking and would like to talk about it.
– You had a glass of wine at dinner the other night, so look who’s talking!

This is all bull@#$@# if you want to know the truth and as soon as you realize that someone is deflecting your genuine worry or desire for information back on you, you can stop it in five seconds.

– I like spending time together, but lately I’ve found it hard to get in touch with you.
– Response: Oh, so now you’re my mother?

– I have no desire to be your mother, but I do like to be around people who are accessible. If this doesn’t work for you, I understand. I will find someone who does answer my calls.

It helps me a lot to know when you need me to do the writing on the website. I need a schedule so that I can keep my work in order. I’m a bit confused about the project itself.
– Hmm. I guess it’s all about you these days is it? Can’t you just do what I sent you and let me get my own work done!

– When it comes to my work, it makes sense for me to have a schedule. My work is important to me and to keep it of high quality, I need better communication and a timeline. If this doesn’t work for your, that is ok. I will find someone who does want to work in this way.

I’m worried about your drinking and would like to talk about it.
– You had a glass of wine at dinner the other night, so look who’s talking!

– If you want to talk about my drinking during a different conversion, that is fine with me. Right now, I am talking about your drinking and how it affects me.

I’ve been a coach for parents and partners for ten years now. The situations I work in are often enormous crises. Super clear communication is always the first step to getting the person who is ill in to treatment.

Coaches are not therapists. My job is to help a loved one learn to communicate with someone who has bipolar. This in turn taught me to communicate with anyone. Sometimes, when a conversation or email exchange happens and I feel that someone is trying to control me, my work or to get me to do more work than I have been paid for for example, I will listen, say nothing and LEAVE. They can finish their own work.

My stability is what matters. I pledge not to harm others. I pledge to listen to others when they need to talk to me. I pledge to be the best person I can be. To do this, I don’t have to put up with the crap of others. I can leave.

Julie

Click here more information on my Coaching for Parents, Family Members and Partners of people with bipolar and schizoaffective disorder. 

The Hijacked House: Tips for Parents of Children with Bipolar Living at Home.

Originally published by Bp Magazine

If your adult child and his or her bipolar disorder symptoms are taking center stage, than you may be living in a “hijacked house.”

 

by Julie A. Fast

 

It is a bit of a “joke” to talk about how many millennials have moved back in with their parents.  But when the millennial has bipolar disorder, it’s rarely funny at all. If you’re a parent of an adult child with bipolar disorder who is living at home, losing control of your house is common and for many, very unsettling. What do I mean by losing control of your house?

Are you afraid to force a child to do housework as it might make the child more ill?

Does the child have a completely different sleeping schedule than yourself and other members of the family?

Does your child play video games instead of working?

Maybe substances are involved you would rather not have in your presence.

And finally, you might hear this from the child, “I’m an adult now! You can’t tell me what to do! My health care is my own business and not something you need to ask me about all of the time!”

When I work with families, I use the term “The Hijacked House” to describe a situation where the child and the child’s bipolar disorder take center stage and the rest of the family feels out of place and without much of a say in the current living situation. Many times this happens even if people have the best intentions. Bipolar disorder is a serious illness and if a child has moved back home due to the illness, there is a good chance they are in need of help.

But, having an illness is not an excuse for certain behaviors and it is up to parents to take back the home if the situation has become too uncomfortable. I teach people to do this through a conversation. Here is an example:

Jorge, it is great having you home and knowing that you’re safe makes me feel a lot better. I’ve heard you say you want to get back to work and that you might even go back to school. This is great and it got me to thinking about what I want and need in life as well. I realized that while you’re here, I need you to talk with me about your health care so that I can ease my own anxiety over what happened. When I ask questions about your medications or treatment, it is not out of nosiness or trying to pry into your life, it is for myself and my desire to be a part of your health care team.  While you live here, we are a team. This means exchanging information.  We can set up a specific time to talk about this once a week if that works better for you. 

If you are in a situation where a conversation such as this one is not even possible, two things are probably happening: One, your child is too sick to hear you and needs better treatment, or your child is unable to find the empathy and maturity needed to understand that living at home as an adult comes with adult requirements, just as if your child rented a room from someone. In the second case, talking with your child about your needs helps you move towards a more balanced relationship.

None of this is easy. If you’re reading this as a parent and feel like you have been blindsided by your child moving back in, this is normal! Bipolar is complicated and it takes time for everyone to find a balance after a big change. I have seen an adult child moving back home turn in to the absolutely best possible scenario when all of the pieces of the puzzle are seen clearly. This can happen for you, but first, I suggest that you see if your house that you pay for has been hijacked by bipolar disorder and if it’s time to take it back for yourself.

Julie 

I highly recommend Bp Magazine.  I have a private group for parents on Facebook called The Stable Table.

Bipolar Euphoric Mania is the Greatest Feeling in the World, but I’m kicking it out the door forever….

OMG, I love euphoric bipolar mania so much. It is so comforting. I’ve been manic off and on for almost 40 years. I wish I could stay manic forever. I understand this mania and know how to use it to my advantage. I know how to manipulate this mania. I know how to get any man, any job and any book deal I want with this mania. So why on earth would I stop the mania?
 
Here is the reality of mania when it isn’t stopped the minute I realize it’s here.
 
1. Pregnancy due to sex in a bathroom at a party with a stranger.
2. STDs. Herpes.
3. People who actually know me, hate it. I’m aggressive, loud, impatient, impetuous, forceful, unkind, aggressive and egotistical when I feel this GREAT. My friend Karen says, “I can always tell when you’re manic because you’re really annoying.”
4. I don’t sleep. This confuses the physical body and leads to more physical illness.
5. I make promises I can’t keep.
6. I am unkind and if in a relationship, I will leave because you know, the grass is greener!
7. I don’t give a flying FCUK about anyone but myself even though I appear cheerful and the life of the party.
8. It always, without exception turns into dysphoric mania and then depression.
 
I could make a list as long as a football field.
 
Almost ten years ago now, I said no to all forms of mania. Even the mania that makes me feel like a GOD.
 
What about you? Are you ready to see mania as illness? Are you ready to finally say yes to stability?

Julie

I’m in Starbucks. I know I’m hypomanic. In front of me is a man wearing a soccer uniform. It’s obvious he has just come off the pitch and is getting some after-game refreshment. I look at the back of his head and my eyes roam down his body. When I reach the back of his legs, I have the thought,

“I’m going to get down on my hands and knees and lick his calves.”

I’m serious about not letting mania in my life. Here is an article from my Psychology Today blog called Bipolar, Hypersexual and Celibate. 
 

Loving Someone With Bipolar

Originally posted by Bp Magazine

Loving Someone With Bipolar

A mood episode can cause your loved one to say and do horrible things, but it’s not personal; it’s a medical condition.

by Julie A. Fast 

Years ago, my much-loved partner, Ivan, went into a massive manic and psychotic episode that lasted for almost five months. As his sole caretaker, I was very confused and scared. During his manic and psychotic episode Ivan slept with someone else, told me he didn’t love me and wanted a divorce, had the idea that someone was stalking me, and eventually came very close to suicide. Believe me, I’ve been through it all. And we survived. Your relationship can survive as well.

Bipolar disorder is a medical condition that manifests in behaviors that look like personal choices. It’s hard for partners to understand this as the symptoms feel so personal. When a person with bipolar spends a child’s college fund, makes horrible accusations, cuts down all of the trees in the back yard, refuses to listen to reason, and comes close to destroying a relationship, it’s hard to step back and think, This is an illness, but it needs to happen.

I eventually understood that bipolar made Ivan say and do horrible things while he was sick. At the time, I didn’t have this insight and was just as confused as any partner. I vividly remember looking into his eyes in the hospital and saying, “Ivan? Where are you? Are you in there? What is wrong? Have I done something to deserve this? Are you trying to punish me?” I was scared he would never return back to his sweet and wonderful self—but he did.

I’ve been through it all. And we survived. Your relationship can survive as well.

Bipolar disorder is a medical condition. If you’re worn out because the behavior is constant and the episodes are frequent, this turns into a relationship issue because your needs are not being met. But if there was one huge episode where everything went to hell but the person is back now, this is a medical issue that needs to be treated as one.

It’s often hard for partners who have been on the outside looking in on a big episode to articulate what they need, especially if the emphasis is on getting the person with bipolar stable. I can tell you from being on both sides that the person with bipolar needs to know the partner sees bipolar as an illness that changes behavior. And the partner needs to know that the person with bipolar is going to get help. Here is a script partners can use as a foundation to talk with someone who has bipolar:

I’m confused and hurting right now. We each had a different experience when you were sick. I know you don’t remember some of the really terrible things that happened, but I remember them all. I want you to know that I’m working on understanding how an illness can change a person’s behavior so drastically and how I’m supposed to move on knowing that this might happen again. I don’t blame you for what happened. And even though it’s hard to say this now while we are still working on getting you better and figuring out how this happened, I can move forward. I need time to process what I went through. We don’t have to make big decisions now. I need you to get help with the bipolar so that you can get stable and we can talk about the future when both of us are in a good place. I don’t want to punish you and I don’t want to make decisions I’ll regret. You need time to heal, and I ask that my needs are addressed as well. We can do this together.

Can the relationship be repaired? Of course it can, but it can’t go on the same as before. The biggest mistake couples make is ignoring the bipolar, assuming medications are the answer, and thinking life can return to how it used to be. There now has to be an awareness of the illness and how if left unmanaged it can cause chaos in a relationship, over and over again. Couples who work together to manage bipolar can form a bond that is stronger than a typical relationship simply because many of the issues that people often avoid—including arguing, children, substance abuse, and lifestyle choices—have to be out in the open. Yes, a relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder can succeed. But only if you work together at both the relationship and the bipolar.

Julie 

If you are a partner of a person with bipolar disorder, I highly recommend Bp Magazine and my book, Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder. I also have a private group for partners on Facebook called The Stable Bed.