Bipolar? It is Ok to Quit What is Making You Sick

 Bipolar disorder is so easily triggered.  It’s a rough illness that way- even the things we look forward to with great happiness can cause us trouble.
 
Over the years I’ve learned there are just some situations, no matter how succesful or fun they are that I can’t handle.
 
A friend of mine with bipolar once took a math class that was very stressful.  She got quite sick from the class. When I, and a few others suggested she quit the class, she said, “I’m not a quitter, Julie! I have stopped so many things because of bipolar. I just want to finish something!”
 
I said, “There is a big difference between ‘quitting’ from laziness or lack of attention to the topic- and the quitting that comes from taking care of yourself.”
 
She quit the class and was better immediately. The daily stress of the difficult math was too much for her bipolar brain. It wasn’t too much for her intelligence. She is an excellent and committed student. It was simply too much for her illness.
 
I know when to quit now- though it upsets me a lot. I sometimes push it too far, but eventually I do what is needed.
 
Quitting because something is making you sick with bipolar disorder symptoms is admirable, not something to be ashamed of.
 
I have to remind myself of this quite often.
 

Julie

The Bipolar Road to ………..

We are on a journey. Some people get a rather straight path. They live their lives and have the worries and struggles of the every day person. Some of us get a treacherous mountain journey. We never think we can climb that far. The path never lets us know what is coming. We struggle.
 
Each time I make it through yet another dangerous mood swing, I am reminded that people with mental health disorders are stronger than most. We are interesting. We look for new ways to stay alive.
 
We try and try and try unlike any people I have ever met.
 
Look at this road. It reaches the destination!
 
Bravo for us!
 
I am sick today and that is ok. It is part of my illness. My focus is impossible and I am seeing my much loved nurse practitioner today.
 
It is ok to struggle if you have a mental illness. I do very well on most days. I used to struggle most days and only do well on a few days.
 
What a shift. I remain positive. When I could tell that sitting down and working on the project I need to complete was not going to be easy today, I decided to work on a few of my side projects that help others.
 
I am sending out good vibes!
 
My project will be ready for me this afternoon. I will work hard to get well this morning in terms of focus and will reach my goal today!
 
You can too!
 

Julie

Rock Star Suicides: Let’s Stop Talking About “Demons” and Start Talking About Illness

From the Huffington Post….

My latest article in the Huffington Post talks about Chester Bennington from Linkin Park. Here is the opening:

***

As a society, we can recognize the symptoms of artists who are depressed and get them into treatment instead of raising up their tortured art and then wondering why they die.

Rock star suicides are nothing new. I’m reminded of Ian Curtis, Micheal Hutchence, and Curt Cobain. I recently wrote an article about the death of Chris Cornell, and sadly, I now write about the death of Chester Bennington of Linkin Park.

Once again, the world has lost a vibrant, young, and seemingly “have it all” kind of man. I want to first share my sadness at the loss of yet another person who simply didn’t need to die, but this time my heart is not breaking. This time I’m getting mad. The frustration is rising and I feel a call to action is in order.

Chester Bennington’s “Demons”

Chester’s bandmates said they understood his “demons” were always a part of him and something that made the group more “human.” I know they are trying to make sense of losing a vibrant, intelligent, talented and very, very successful man. Unfortunately, this way of talking is a major part of the problem. The way we talk about someone who dies from suicide perpetuates the myth that it’s something specific to their identity that killed the person—instead of a well-documented result of an illness called depression.

When a rock star dies from suicide, we are shocked. And the typical, loving but ignorant words come out full force. He battled his demons, and they were eventually too strong for him is something I’ve read more times that I can count.

These demons sure are busy.

Click here to read

by Julie A. Fast, coauthor of Loving Someone With Bipolar

As a society, we can recognize the symptoms of artists who are depressed and get them into treatment instead of raising up their tortured art and then wondering why they die.

Rock star suicides are nothing new. I’m reminded of Ian Curtis, Micheal Hutchence, and Curt Cobain. I recently wrote an article about the death of Chris Cornell, and sadly, I now write about the death of Chester Bennington of Linkin Park.

Once again, the world has lost a vibrant, young, and seemingly “have it all” kind of man. I want to first share my sadness at the loss of yet another person who simply didn’t need to die, but this time my heart is not breaking. This time I’m getting mad. The frustration is rising and I feel a call to action is in order.

Chester Bennington’s “Demons”

Chester’s bandmates said they understood his “demons” were always a part of him and something that made the group more “human.” I know they are trying to make sense of losing a vibrant, intelligent, talented and very, very successful man. Unfortunately, this way of talking is a major part of the problem. The way we talk about someone who dies from suicide perpetuates the myth that it’s something specific to their identity that killed the person—instead of a well-documented result of an illness called depression.

When a rock star dies from suicide, we are shocked. And the typical, loving but ignorant words come out full force. He battled his demons, and they were eventually too strong for him is something I’ve read more times that I can count.

These demons sure are busy.

 Click here to read Rock Star Suicides: Let’s Stop Talking About “Demons” and Start Talking About Illness.

Julie

Bipolar, Cannabis and Psychosis: A Class for Parents and Partners

Parent or the partner of a person with bipolar disorder or schizoaffective disorder? 

Join Julie A. Fast and learn more about the connection between Cannabis and Bipolar Disorder Symptoms.

BIPOLAR DISORDER, CANNABIS and PSYCHOSIS

A Class for Parents and Partners with Julie A. Fast

Date: Sunday, October 22, 2017

Time: 4:00-6:00 PM PST  United States.

This dynamic and timely classes teaches: 1.) How THC and CBD can affect bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder  2) How to calmly talk to an adult child or partner about cannabis use. 3) A harm reduction plan you can start today for life long results. Relationships can be saved.

 

 

Cost: $249 per phone line. 

This is an interactive call. Class size is limited to ten phone lines. 

Click here to register for the class. Choose the workshop tab in the white box to reserve your space. 

ABOUT THE CLASS

Over half of my coaching business now involves a person with bipolar disorder who is having an adverse bipolar disorder reaction to marijuana. All of my bipolar disorder presentations now have a full section on the effects of pot use on people with bipolar disorder. I realized a few years ago that if I wanted to teach families and health care professionals help people with bipolar disorder, I had to come up with a plan to calmly educate the person with this illness about pot and show my clients and audience members how to approach the topic with a plan that works.  This two hour class  includes a lively discussion of marijuana use and how it can interact with bipolar disorder, a system to identify the symptoms of an adverse reaction to pot in someone with bipolar disorder and a full treatment plan to use immediately to help a person with bipolar disorder make informed decisions about marijuana use.

 

MEET THE TEACHER

My name is Julie A. Fast. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder two with psychotic features in 1995. If diagnosed today, I would receive a schizoaffective disorder diagnosis. I’m a four time bestselling author on the topic of bipolar disorder, schizo affective disorder, psychosis, depression and anxiety. I work as a family and partner coach and regularly train health care professionals on bipolar disorder management. I have worked with companies, mental health agencies and treatment facilities around the world to change the way bipolar disorder, psychosis, anxiety and depression are treated and managed. I lived with a partner for ten years who has bipolar disorder one. I’m an original columnist for Bp Magazine for Bipolar, a regular contributor to magazines such as People, USNewsweek, Huffington Post and the Psychology Today blog and have devoted my life to helping people manage mental health disorders successfully.

Julie-at-mike-14

Julie during her former radio show. 2009!

 

I’m excited to share my research and personal experience around the often emotional topic of bipolar disorder and marijuana use.  We can learn the facts, face the challenges of this difficult topic and offer alternatives to those who need help managing their use of the drug.  I have bipolar disorder and fully understand the need to self medicate- to calm down and to escape the mood swings. There is no judgement here. I smoked way too much pot in the 80s to ever judge someone for their choices. I’m committed to finding a reasonable and heart felt way to dealing with this significant and growing problem in the mental health world. Join me and be part of the answer.

 

 

 

 

A question…..

Does your loved one with bipolar disorder exhibit the following symptoms after using marijuana?

• Aggression

• Poor decision making

• Trouble working

• Magical thinking

• Loss of reasoning ability

• Psychosis- especially if the person has never been psychotic before. Paranoia is the most common symptom.

• Irritation, anger and or physical violence

• Personality change (especially a lack of empathy)

• Trouble with the law

• Inexplicable and out of character behavior that you have not seen from bipolar disorder mood swings alone

• An increase in bipolar disorder symptoms, especially dysphoric mania

 

 

bike9-oIT’S PERSONAL

Imagine my surprise when after a serious biking accident in 2012, I tried medical marijuana and as a person with bipolar disorder had the worst psychosis and mania of my life. Even after extensive research and careful planning to prevent bipolar disorder symptoms, I watched my bipolar disorder two symptoms turn into full bipolar disorder one symptoms in the space of a few days. This experience helped me see the situation from both sides and greatly deepened my ability to educate the public on bipolar disorder and marijuana use.  Because of my personal experiences, I understand people with bipolar disorder who want to use marijuana to feel better. I also approach the topic from the perspective of an educator who is dedicated to informing the public in a calm and rational way about the serious symptoms that can show up when a person with bipolar disorder uses marijuana- even with the best intentions.

 

Have you heard any of the following statements from a loved one or client when you try to talk about bipolar disorder and pot use? 

I use pot to calm down. It helps my anxiety and you need to get off my f’ing back!

It’s proven that marijuana helps people with bipolar disorder manage their symptoms. It’s better than taking some drug from big pharma. 

I can do what I want. Why would they legalize it in so many states if it’s as dangerous as you say it is? 

You smoked pot! Now you’re telling me I can’t! You’re a hypocrite. 

There is no research on what you’re saying. The problem is far more serious with drinking that pot! 

I need help, but I can’t stop smoking. It’s like there is a hold on me and I have to have it in order to function. 

This group coaching call will give you the exact words to use when you hear the above statements. You will learn to have a two sided conversation about marijuana and bipolar disorder instead of participating in a one sided argument you know you will never win. I’ve shared my educational and harm reduction method with hundreds of clients who shared the above comments with me- it works.

 

OUR LESSON PLAN

PART 1: A stroll through the history of marijuana use and how the substance has changed in the past ten or so years. This section includes a thorough explanation of the different elements of marijuana and how they can affect the brain of people with bipolar disorder. You will learn how to have an educated and non emotional conversation about the topic. Medical marijuana use will be discussed with an emphasis on the roles of THC and cannabinoids. This is covered from a personal and professional perspective through my work with clients and health care professionals and my own medical marijuana experience.

PART 2:  A comprehensive explanation of the symptoms that can arise from an adverse reaction to marijuana including the specific signs of pot induced psychosis and mania. You will leave the class knowing exactly how to distinguish between symptoms caused by the illness vs. symptoms created by marijuana use.

PART 3:  You will learn my extensively tested and proven harm reduction plan yourself and then learn the exact words needed to share the information with someone who is showing signs of marijuana induced bipolar disorder symptoms with an emphasis on the specific signs of THC induced psychosis.

My goal is to teach you how to talk about this topic effectively and non emotionally. Appealing to and encouraging  someone whom you feel is having trouble to stop using pot for health reasons rarely works. If you’re a health care professional, even one trained in substance abuse and rehab, you know how hard it is to talk with someone who is having bipolar disorder symptoms and using pot to feel better. Instead, you can explore why the person is using the drug- their philosophy behind marijuana use and come up with a way to talk about this topic dispassionately and positively.   This is an educational and functional course. You will learn why so many people with bipolar disorder are having adverse reactions to today’s marijuana (as compared to just a decade ago) and how you can help a person with bipolar disorder understand why the drug is increasing symptoms and what can be done to help them choose a better way to mange mood swings. Yes, many people use weed to feel better and get caught by the strength of today’s marijuana.  This is why education on how marijuana can affect the bipolar disorder brain is essential.

I hope you will join me and help educate the world on this important topic. 

 

WHAT PARTICIPANTS ARE SAYING

Julie Fast’s passion, along with her very substantial in-depth ongoing research into the topic is what it will take to impact the mental health dilemma in our nation today. My husband and I were totally at a loss as to how to help our adult bipolar/ weed addicted son; following her advice allowed us to break through all of the muddled confusion and anguish.  Julie showed us how to communicate more clearly with our son, and also how to navigate within the often disappointing realm of mental health providers. I have utmost respect for the groundbreaking work that she is doing. My son would not be on the road to recovery today had it not been for Julie’s unselfish and passionate coaching.  Her insight in to the mind and struggles of a bipolar loved one is invaluable.

Melissa V.

Julie, you helped us get our daughter off of high THC pot and into treatment for her mental health symptoms. She believed we were poisoning her food and that dabbing was her medicine. We thought she would get harmed as she often left our house at night to be with fellow pot enthusiasts. You taught us not to ‘demonize weed,’ but to educated our beautiful girl on how her choices affected her brain health.  She still wants to talk about marijuana and how it can help her. We emphasize that it’s her choice and that certain behaviors around pot have consequences. We stopped lecturing and started educating.  It saved our family. 

Gerald M.

Let’s changes lives for the better- together.

Julie 

Click here to register for the class. Choose the workshop tab in the white box to reserve your space. 

 

 

Parent Success Stories: Helping a Child with Bipolar Disorder and Schizoaffective

 In the past three days, I received four emails and had conversations with multiple clients clients with reported positive updates on the situation they experience with a child who has a mental health disorder like ours.
 
I want to let the parents of the world know that successful treatment for your children is possible. We never know how long it will take. We never know when the child- I am talking adult children here- will accept treatment. But at this time, four of my clients have written and said that they are having ‘normal’ conversations with their child after years of problems due to untreated mental health disorder symptoms. In all four situations, the child had at some point refused contact with the parent and refused treatment.
 
Here is what all four families have in common:
 
1. They worked with a professional to help them see the big picture of the situation so that they could change what needed to be changed in order to help a child find treatment. A long sentence of the main problem I see. ALL parents who come to me need a clear pictures of what is happening. That is my specialty as a coach. It doesn’t have to be me, but I can tell you that going at this alone as parents will not work. Parents, you need a guid to help you work with a system that is not in your favor.
 
2. They stuck with the system for a year or more. Yes, a year or more. Clients who stick with the plan and literally keep going until it works will find success. It doesn’t always mean that the child gets better, but it ALWAYS means the the parents find peace. In most cases, it means the child gets better as well.
 
3. Medications are involved. I wish I could tell you that managing the big three: bipolar one, schizo affective and schizophrenia can be done without medications. I have yet to see it happen in over 20 years of working with families. We create a system that focuses on a management plan that requires the least medications possible, but medications are always needed for the big three due to the seriousness of the mania and or the mania and psychosis. I have schioaffective- I have to use medications when I can’t control my own mood swings.
 
4. Parents are willing to make the big changes in themselves first. I teach a system that is so difficult for parents at first that many work with me for a short time and then have to take a break. Some don’t come back. Those who do come back always succeed. This system requires that the parents put their needs before the child and then teach the child how to meet the need of the parents. I know! It sounds like it would never work, but I have found it works every single time. I believe that people with mental health disorders want to get better. Parents have to show them a path that they follow first and then teach to the child. Few of us can forge our own path when mania, depression, anxiety, anger, violent behavior and psychosis are raging. I work with parents because they can get the best results.
 
5. The parents separate from the child in a healthy way. This creates space for the child to make smart decisions. Defensiveness is inherent in those of us with the big three illnesses. We are combative when sick. Learning to talk to a child in a mood swing is integral to their getting better. It doesn’t make sense at first- many parents ask me- how can it change my child so much when I am the one making the biggest changes? I am working on the science behind all of it, but after seven solid years of coaching, I can show with a great deal of data that it works. Children do not die from healthy and safe boundaries. These boundaries give them the space to heal.
 
6. They search for effective treatment until they find it. The road is a bumpy ride when looking for treatment facilities and outpatient care, but there are answers. I work with families to find the facilities and the absolute best health care professionals. It takes TIME and it is frustrating. But, all of those who have children who are doing better have working like professional athletes towards the goal of better health care for their child. One day, our system will be better, for now, parents have to know where to go, what to ask and what to do when you find the right person in order to get a child into treatment.
 
7. A commitment to life long learning. All parents who succeed in creating loving and safe boundaries with an ill child realize that this is a life long endeavor. In our current world, there is no cure for mental illness. Yes, some do find the right balance of meds and simply get on with life, but the vast majority do not. Instead, we need daily management skills. When parents realize that this is life long, they know that there will be ups and downs to the journey and they can get through them much easier.
 
I hope this helps if you are a parent of a child with a mental health disorder. I am working with my manager to put all of these foundational teachings in a course. If you are interested in my coaching, please visit my coaching page and send me an intake. I will answer in the order received and will strive to have my classes ready soon! 
There is hope!
 

Julie

 

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.

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