I have a case of #bipolar envy? What about you?

What if the Sun Doesn’t Come Out Tomorrow? Thoughts on Chronic Bipolar Disorder- A BP Magazine Blog from Julie A. Fast


Dealing with ‘bipolar envy’ when watching celebs with bipolar disorder jet set and live their lives.

I love writing for Bp Magazine.  In this edition, I write about my bipolar envy and how I wish I were like the celebrities who seem to have bipolar and yet are still able to jet set around the world- ignore triggers- drink and live it up and still be stable. HMMM.

From the Bp Magazine for Bipolar blog:

I have a massive case of bipolar envy.  I’ve heard of people who get really sick and then find a medication that works and they never get sick again. Some people go YEARS between mood swings.  Others can have full time jobs and lead relatively normal lives after a bipolar disorder diagnosis.  These people exist. I have heard of them, but wow, this is not the bipolar disorder I know.

My bipolar is chronic. It’s every day.  I feel like I walk on the edge between being stable and being sick from the minute I wake up until I finally fall asleep in a Melatonin haze. Please know this doesn’t mean I’m unhappy and it doesn’t mean I don’t get on with my life, but the concept of a life without daily bipolar disorder symptoms is currently just a dream in my world.

It took me many years to come to terms with the concept that I have a very serious mental illness.

I am in the SMI (Serious Mental Illness) category and without my management plan, I would be in the hospital regularly.  Maybe this makes me different from others with bipolar, which is why I feel so envious to read of those who aren’t freaking gobsmacked by mood swings almost every single day…


Click here to read the rest of the article on the www.BpHope.com website. 




Bipolar Disorder Depression Distortion

This article originally appeared in Bp Magazine……

It takes a lot longer to worry about getting things done than it does to actually finish a project. Sounds easy, right? Not when you have depression.


Depression makes me squirm and put things off and worry that I’m not getting things done. It distorts reality to the point that I put off even the most basic projects because they feel so overwhelming. This is because depression affects our ability to see a project realistically in terms of time, which is why we waste so much time not getting things done. I can spend hours, days, and even weeks ruminating about deadlines, To Do lists, and missed opportunities. Projects that may take just a few hours to complete can turn into days of feeling upset at my lack of productivity. In the past, this meant that I didn’t even start projects and wasn’t able to support myself.

For years I put myself down because of this behavior. Once I realized it was a symptom of my depression, I came up with ways to balance out my ridiculously out-of-touch brain with the reality of a project.

It always takes less time than I think it will to complete a project. Always. In fact, it often takes half the time. Think of situations where this is especially true: answering email, paying bills, exercising, cleaning, and paying taxes!

So, how long does it really take to unload a dishwasher? I always ask this question when I talk about depression, and no one ever gets it right. I hear: Three minutes? Five minutes? Unless you’re trying to unload the dishwasher with your teeth, it usually takes less than 90 seconds. (I know depression can make a person underestimate the time it takes to do a project, but in my experience, it inflates the time to the point that we’re scared to even get started.)

When you’re depressed, a simple project like unloading the dishwasher feels like more than you can handle—which means you put it off and then get upset with yourself for putting it off and then end up piling dishes in the sink while the dishwasher remains an unloaded symbol of your ineffectiveness! This is how a 90-second project can turn into hours and hours of self-punishment.


Here’s what I do when I’m depressed and feeling overwhelmed by my To Do list:

1. Pick one project that you need to get done. Write down the name of the project and a start time.

2. Note how long you think it will take to finish the project.

3. Complete the project without moving on to other projects until you’re done, no matter how painful this feels.

4. Now compare your depressed brain’s perception of time to how long it actually took you. (If you tend to underestimate the time it takes, you can use these same tools.)


Depression can make you multitask—but this is not the way to get things done. If I think about all of my writing projects at once, this bundles the projects into what I call the “tangled ball of string.” I have to force myself to separate each project and focus on one at a time, and measure the time it takes to complete each of them individually.

Once you learn the times for tasks that you do on a regular basis, you can switch from your “depression-distortion” brain to your “get-it-done” brain. For example, I’ve written enough columns for this magazine to know how long it takes—and yet when I’m depressed it can still be a struggle to stick with reality. I’ve been using my get-it-done techniques for 15 years, and yet I can still find myself getting caught in the trap of depression distortion. Why on earth would I spend time on procrastinating when I know I can write a darn good column in less than three hours?

It will never feel good to start a project when you’re depressed, but you will always feel better once you finish the project. So go easy on yourself, make a plan, and stick to it: Step back. Write it down. Time it out. Get it done.

And unload that dishwasher!


Click here to read more about Bp Magazine for Bipolar. I love the hard copy of the magazine and highly recommend a subscription for yourself or your health care professional’s office!

Click on the book cover to read more about Get it Done When You’re Depressed.

Bipolar Disorder and Psychosis

Julie A. Fast talks #bipolar disorder and psychosis. She explains her symptoms, the difference between bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder and offers encouragement for people who have hallucinations and delusions.

Click here to watch Julie’s video.



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 long and I struggle with teeth brushing. Something about it, is just super hard (I DO IT) it’s just super hard no matter if I’m healthy or if I’m sick.


MY ANSWER:  Physical changes in hygiene, nail biting, nail picking, skin picking, eyebrow twisting and many, many other behaviors are NORMAL in mental illness. They are a sign we are in a mood swing. I believe in writing them down on my Health Cards and using them as a tool to see if I am ill. For example, I ALWAYS pick at my chin when I am psychotic. I scratch an invisible itch! Hygiene is not one of my issues, but I absolutely can not fix my hair when I am depressed or anxious.

When it is more than bipolar disorder….

Bipolar disorder is episodic. This means that our physical picking symptoms will only be around during a specific mood swing that we can label as depression, mania, anxiety or psychosis for example. If the behaviors are bipolar disorder related, they will END when the mood swing ends. For example, I never pick of my nail polish unless I am having symptoms. It’s not a habit.

Symptoms that are continual, especially lack of hygiene are often a sign of a different illness than bipolar disorder. One way I help parents with getting a correct diagnosis for a child is asking about behaviors that are continual. Schizophrenia for example often has consistent lack of hygiene symptoms as compared to those that are episodic due to bipolar.




Further reading:  My book Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder helps with diagnosing. If you feel you have something more than bipolar disorder, as I do writing down your symptoms is crucial. I have schizoaffective disorder. This means that I have bipolar disorder and a psychotic disorder.  I am a strong believer in specific diagnoses. I find them helpful. For a complete symptom list, I use my Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder.

Habitual skin picking, hair picking and other psychical habits can be a sign of …..

Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh), also called hairpulling disorder, is a mental disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body, despite trying to stop.

I like the workbooks from New Harbinger Publishing on this topic. Many of our picking and scratching symptoms are due to anxiety and might be a separate diagnosis of OCD and anxiety.





Depression Doesn’t Care: How I Manage My Bipolar Depression

When I’m depressed, I use the strategies in my books as though someone else wrote the books. It’s not as though I’ve become super human in managing this illness. (I wish.) Instead, my bipolar depression is around on a regular  basis and I have to find a way to live with it if I want to find happiness in this life.

Depression couldn’t care less about the reality of your life. You may have loving friends, a loving family, a great partner, kids you adore, a job you find fascinating and all of the money in the world – and yet depression will still make you feel that you have nothing.

Depression will tell you that your life is worth nothing and then it will make you act as if you have nothing. Nothing tastes good, feels good or will ever be good again. When someone tries to point out what’s going well, you really do want to listen, but your brain won’t let you. You can hear people list the good things, but depression will take you in another direction.

When this happens to me, here’s what I say to myself:

It’s an illness Julie. You know these thoughts are not real. Focus on what is real. You have people who love you. Call them and see them. You do enjoy writing, so get out your computer and write. You have two legs, go walk. Stop listening to what your brain is saying. Do what you need to do. You will be okay Julie. Depression is an illness. It’s a symptom of bipolar disorder. It always ends. It will be okay.

I often talk to myself like a military sergeant when I get depressed.  This is called Be Your Own Drill Sergeant in Get it Done When You’re Depressed. Sometimes I talk to myself like a loving mother. I do what is needed. If I’m depressed in the morning, I always have the goal of being better at night. It takes work, but it’s better than sitting and watching videos all day. The Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder reminds me what to do and this helps as well. My mother often gets them out and does what the third column tells her will work. (If you have the Health Cards, this will make sense. If you don’t, the Health Cards are the treatment plan I created that everyone in my life uses to help me stay stable.)

When I get sick, I tell people that I’m sick. They know how to help me because when I’m well I teach them what works. This has saved my relationships.

I just sat down and wrote this (because writing makes me feel better and the act of getting things done helps me feel better) and now I’m going to do sometime kind for myself– depression doesn’t want me to take care of myself. Depression doesn’t care. But I care! I know what it takes to get better.

Are you depressed today? What do you need to do to end the depression?



Bipolar Disorder and Cannabis Workshop with Julie A. Fast


Next Workshop: Sunday, October 22, 2017

There are four spaces available at this time.


A Educational Workshop with Bipolar Disorder Expert Julie A. Fast

This dynamic and timely workshop teaches: 1.) How THC and CBD can affect bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder  2) How to calmly and rationally talk with a person about cannabis use. 3) A harm reduction communication plan you can start today for life long results. Relationships can be saved.



Sunday, October 22, 2017

4:00-6:00 PM PST. (Please note the time zone carefully)

This class is on the phone and includes homework that Julie evaluates before the call to help you find the best treatment route for a loved one, a workbook filled with invaluable information including worksheets you can use to create a relationship with health care professionals and finally a 30 minute individual coaching session with Julie to help you decide the next steps needed for a person’s bipolar disorder stability.

Class limited to ten participants. There are currently four spots available.

Cost: $249

Please click here to sign up for the class. Choose the ‘Workshop’ button in the white registration box. Pre-registration is required and class size is limited. Please note that Julie teaches a compassionate and thoughtful harm reduction process that respects why people with bipolar disorder want to use marijuana in the first place. She is not anti marijuana, but is pro stability and places a great emphasis on meeting the needs of people with bipolar disorder. 



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.



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 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.




The workshop was so helpful to me and my son! I was able to discuss the benefits and negative affects with him without judgement and with understanding on how it helped his anxiety  He is doing really well right now on medication that seems to be addressing his problems. And has not used pot in a few months. Julie, we have talked with him about marijuana and his mood for years and nothing worked. ONE call with you and we finally had a conversation without fighting at all. Thank you for the bottom of my heart of your help and your compassion. Our son is a good man. He simply didn’t understand what the marijuana was doing to his brain.

You really helped us Julie!


A question…..

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

• 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




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.



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. 



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.


Please click here to sign up for the class. Choose the ‘Workshop’ button in the white registration box.Pre-registration is required and class size is limited. Please note that Julie teaches a compassionate and thoughtful harm reduction process that respects why people with bipolar disorder want to use marijuana in the first place. She is not anti marijuana, but is pro stability and places a great emphasis on meeting the needs of people with bipolar disorder.