Ask Julie Fast: Why Can’t I Breathe When I Have Anxiety?

“It’s hard to explain how much anxiety can affect breathing. Here is an example. I dream that I can’t breathe. Then, during the day I feel like I’ve been running a race. There is nothing wrong that I can tell, but I simply can’t breathe. My breathing is shallow and I start to worry that I’m having a reaction to a medication or that my lung is punctured. I used to go the ER with shooting pains in my ribs. My symptoms did look like a heart attack. Once I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it was easier to see what was anxiety and what was an actual physical illness in my heart or lungs. Even today, when I know everything I need to know about anxiety, it still scares me and really scares my [ Read More ]

Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety and Panic Attacks: How to Calm the Heck Down!

I have a lot of work to do today. I created the work. I want the work and darn it, I’m going to do the work. Getting myself in a space where the work is possible is a challenge. Here is what I’m going to do. 1. Notice the position of my shoulders. Yep. Up against my ears. I just lowered them. Doing this helped me take a natural and deep breath. 2. Focus on breathing. I put my arms behind my head and clasp them together. I push my shoulders back and breathe. 3. Go through a short EFT tapping session. Ah, that feels better. I am now back in my body instead of floating with anxiety. 4. Create a short to do list. Get it Done When You’re Depressed reminds me that to do lists can be short and in the moment. I have one task, [ Read More ]

What is it really like to work when you have active bipolar disorder, psychosis and anxiety?


I just sent out a newsletter. Here is what I experienced the entire time I was working:

1. Shortness of breath. 2. Felt like my heart was in my throat- literally- like a lump. 3. Dizziness 4. Worry 5. Guilt 6. Dread 7. Anger that I have to go through this CRAP 8. Lack of faith in what I was writing. 9. A great desire to simply quit what I was doing. 10. Zero belief I would reach my goal.

I have lived with this my entire life. It is my brain. I have a lot of mental health symptoms that simply show up when I work.

The secret is learning to work THROUGH them.

I sent that darn newsletter and it is beautiful. Who cares that I felt like I was dying while [ Read More ]

Ask Julie Fast: Julie, What do you think about changes in personal hygiene and skin rubbing and skin picking( disliking taking a shower , etc). when someone is in an episode? 

I pick off my nail polish when anxiety is around! Julie

More quotes from readers on the topic:

I am always rubbing and picking at my skin. Whether just out of the shower or a day later. Always twitching. Meds or just bipolar not sure.

I dislike mornings period but I struggle showering in the mornings but do it. It’s the only thing that wakes me up.

I feel like it’s a chore. I feel like there is not enough time in the day for it, and that I am on the go in my head and in my world that, this can take a pass, or that I can do it later, and as long as I don’t smell me, then it’s ok.

It’s a conversation I have with myself all day [ Read More ]

Ask Julie Fast: How do you remain organized and focused in your thinking?

A new way to focus my attention! I am trying to focus on just one sporting event when faced with a gazillion TVs in a sports bar. HEHE.


ANSWER: I don’t remain organized and focused in my thinking. It’s a daily and sometimes hourly struggle for me to focus. I have to get help in order to get my work done.

I’m extremely unfocused- it’s pathological and is a struggle very single day. My manager Vy is a life savor. She makes charts that I work hard to follow. I cannot write books without help.

I’m getting worse as I get older and there is no question that my head injury from 2012 doesn’t help. This is not meant to be depressing. It is simply my reality. When I’m stable, I just deal with it. When [ Read More ]

The Kickstarter for Hortensia and the Magical Brain is Live!

Hortensia and the Magical Brain introduces a therapeutic poetry technique that helps parents, caregivers and health care professionals lovingly talk with a child and create an open and healthy conversation around early onset mental health disorders. The poems cover the mean and nasty, scary and suicidal, angry and elated, sad and over the top thoughts and behaviors children with mental health concerns regularly experience.

Let’s shine a light on these NORMAL mental health symptoms and teach kids that they are often a result of brain chemicals that can be fixed though lifestyle changes and if needed, medical help.

This is a beautifully crafted, hard back book that was created for kids whose brains aren’t always on track. Just like mine!

Please visit our Hortensia Kickstarter page to read more about this amazing book. Pledges start at $1 and everyone receives a fun reward as a thank you!

Julie [ Read More ]

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