Writer’s Conference in Oregon

I’ve been at a writer’s conference this weekend- which is why I haven’t done a blog! It’s a big conference in Portland, Oregon where I live.

 I taught a class on writing self help books today. I always try to get perspective on where things are in my life. A few years ago, I remember walking around the conference and thinking- I want to teach here one day. I want to know the wonderful people who come here!

 Two years later I was teaching. Things take time. The first I attended as a teacher I got quite overstimulated and paranoid.

I’m much better this year. I go home early and make sure I get at least seven hours of sleep. I’m eating better. I try to stay calm when I feel myself getting too excited- and I remind myself that I will NOT listen to the thoughts that tell me others are better than I am and that I will always be on the outside of the ‘cool’ crowd.

 I could be at the Oscars and my brain would say that I’m not in the ‘cool crowd!’  This is not a bipolar thing- it’s a self confidence thing. 

 Depression took away my belief in myself for many, many years. I’m now consciously working on this. I want to be someone who can feel good when I accomplish something. It has been a struggle!


bipolarhappens.com Reader Comment

Bipolarhappens.com Reader Comment

I received such a great email from a reader named Daphne Stevens that I’m posting parts of it on the blog. I think it helps so much for us to see that we all go through the same challenges with this illness. Daphne and I discussed Lamictal and other meds. Here are her comments:
Lamictal, by the way, is my “miracle drug,” too.  After two years of trial and error (and a lot of nasty side effects) my doctor and I finally settled on a combination of Lamictal and Seroquel. which levels out both the hypomania and  depression.  And my depression, while less frequent than hypomania, can be deadly, as you know.  Over a lifetime of struggling, I’ve finally learned not to be too afraid of it.  I know it will pass, no matter how permanent it feels at the time.  Riding it out, being kind to myself, doing what I can, occasionally letting myself collapse into being downright pitiful–it’s part of fighting those nasty lies Depression whispers in our ears.


She is so right! You can visit daphnestevens.com to read more about her work!


Bipolar Disorder Depression and My Nephew

  This is my amazing nephew David. He’s six. I was pretty depressed yesterday. David came up to me and gave me a hug. I said, “Auntie Wee is sick today.” He said, “I know.”

 Wow. That is pretty insightful. I said, “How did you know I was depressed?” He said, “Because you’re always depressed!” I had to laugh! I’m not depressed very often at all anymore, but when he was very young, I was depressed about 50% of the time.

 I made a decision when he was born that I would be honest with him about bipolar disorder. When I had a tough day, I’d say, “Auntie Wee is crying because she has an illness called bipolar disorder. ” Then I would explain how the illness caused my depression, but that I was fine on the inside. There were days when I couldn’t play with him as I wanted to and he would say, “That’s ok. You can watch me play.”

I really believe we can be honest with kids about this illness. They understand. I never let it get in the way of how I interacted with him. He came first and he still comes first- I just know my limits. I used to get so upset with myself that I couldn’t find the energy to hang out with him on the floor or run around in the back yard- but he didn’t care! All he cared about is that I was there watching him and talking with him!

Now that my depression is so much better and he’s older, I teach him about mental illness and how it affects people- and I always do this in a practical, non scary way. By the time he’s 10 he will be an expert!

 He knows about my treatment plan (the Health Cards) and he will eventually know how to use them himself.

Kids are smart- they know something is going on! 


Bipolar Tough Day… just keep going Julie

All right Julie, you just keep going…

This is what I say to myself when I wake up in a down mood. My mind starts to go into the- “what’s the point?” direction- and I make myself stop it.

First of all, not everything has to have a point and not everything I do has to have great meaning.

Secondly, I have an illness that makes me doubt everything when I’m depressed.

The best thing to do is to just keep going. I can find meaning AFTER I’ve done something.

This helps me GET THINGS DONE!


Bipolar Disorder: Britney Spears Update

Wow, considering how sick Britney Spears was last year, she sure is doing well.

When my partner Ivan went through a severe manic/psychotic episode, it took him a year to recover. I can’t imagine what it would have been like for him had he been in the public eye.

I’ve followed the story pretty carefully. I was interviewed for US Magazine last year when it was still unclear if she had the illness. Their sources said it was confirmed and that she was on Abilify. There is no way to know anything for sure if the family is not talking.

Well, writing about her is odd for me. I don’t get star struck- but I do feel this is a situation where her misfortune was a good thing for those of us with bipolar disorder. Her manic episode was caught on film over and over again and the world finally had compassion.

Compassion for a super star leads to more compassion for people who aren’t in the tabloids.

I have one wish- that she would come out and say that she has the illness. It would be interesting to hear it from her.

She just gave up custody of her kids. All we can do is speculate as to why.


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Keep trying to find the right bipolar disorder medication…..

How Many Medications Should I Try?

This is a difficult question for many health care professionals as well as people with the illness. It’s known that the first bipolar disorder medications tried are not always successful and that a trial and error process is usually indicated. Some people try medications for a year or more until they find something that works for them. Considering medication side effects and the impact on the body when stopping or changing medications, it’s important that you work with your health care professional closely when you’re asked to try a new medication.

I suggest that people keep trying to find the right medications. I use the Health Cards every day as I always say and I used them without medications for many years. It took me about 50% of my time to manage the illness. I’ve always said that managing this illness was a part time job. It was so difficult.

Then I found a medication that worked. It was like getting a business partner! When I combined the Health Cards with the medication, my life changed completely. It just took a few years for it all to work together. I started to get a lot better last year.

So keep trying medications until you find what works. My coauthor Dr. John Preston wrote a fantastic book called The Medical Treatment of Bipolar Disorder. This book is especially helpful if you or someone you care about were just diagnosed. You can read about the book on bipolarhappens.com