Please pass on this blog to your health care professionals!

Health care professionals want to help, but they are often limited by time- I know they are looking for resources outside of books- so please feel free to mention this blog to anyone you feel would benefit from the information.  My work is 100% focused on helping people manage this illness- as well as helping the people who care about someone with bipolar disorder- so the more help I receive the more people I can reach!

 Here is the address for the blog-

www.bipolarhappens.com/bhblog

 Thanks! Julie

Teenagers and Bipolar Disorder: Reader Comment

Wow, I am getting so many comments regarding teenagers and bipolar disorder. It’s a topic that is NEVER talked about- maybe that is because it’s so complicated. If you have not read my blog entries on the topic, you can go to the right and click on the teenager category to read them. I am following up with the topic through a reader question- here is a good one that captures the fear and confusion so many of us feel when someone we love has bipolar disorder that isn’t being treated effectively.

This reader comment is from ‘Mom from a 19 year old with bipolar disorder.’

Julie,

I have two bipolar daughters and a bipolar ex-husband. My heart is hurting now for my teenage daughter. She’s not well right now and she seems only to become involved in destructive relationships with guys who have criminal records, drug issues, no job etc. How can I help her see that her own moods and health are affected by her choices and that I’m not just being a critical Mom who doesn’t like her boyfriends? (I do like them, they are just NOT good for her) She is also in counseling, on medication but the constant DRAMA in her life would cause anyone to feel like they’re living life on a roller coaster. How can I better help her help herself?

Also Julie, I so appreciate you devoting your life to helping others with this disease and sharing so openly your own experiences. You are helping many.

Hello Mom!

First of all, you daughter is lucky to have you. I say that to all parents who try to learn about this illness even when it breaks their heart to see what it does to their children.

It’s a dangerous and rotten illness, but it absolutely can be managed. It may take many years as it did with me, but it can get better.

When I was particularly sick and didn’t know how to control my mood swings, I made very bad decisions with men. This is just what happens when a person is manic/depressed/psychotic/anxious and unhappy! Going for a relationships- especially one that involves sex is how many people try to cope. It doesn’t work unless the person is also willing to do the work needed to make sure they pick the right person- which is pretty hard to do when you’re sick.

Also, a 19 year old doesn’t have the maturity to be forward thinking- that is one of the main problems of bipolar disorder in teens.

There are many things you can do to make it easier on yourself- because as you have seen, she is going to do her own thing until SHE decides she wants a joyful, stable and fulfilling life instead of one filled with mood swings, men who aren’t right for her and a strained relationship with the people who care about her.

I will give tips on the next blog. I don’t want this one to turn into a novel!

Julie

What is the Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder?

I really do need to change my heading on the top of this blog! People ask me this question all of the time.

The Health Cards are the treatment system I created in 2000 to help myself manage the illness. I was very sick- I basically couldn’t function in the real world in terms of friends and work. I certainly had a life, but it wasn’t a quality life. So I created the Health Cards and got my life back. You can read about them on bipolarhappens.com

The Health Cards are used by the person with the illness as well as the people who care about them.  They work! I have a blog on teenagers and bipolar disorder below. Teenagers especially respond to the Health Cards as they can be done in private and then discussed with parents.  I wish I’d had them when I was a teenager!

 They are a system to accompany medications- especially when the medications aren’t working as well as we would like them to!

Julie

When you go to bipolarhappens.com- there is a newsletter link at the top of the page. I try to send out newsletters with truly helpful treatment tips- they are a bit more treatment oriented than the blog!

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Bipolar Disorder and Mania: Are you Manic Julie? (Julie’s mom)

Are you manic Julie?

I get so pissed when my mom asks me this question! Of course, I taught her to ask it and I want her to ask it, but it always makes me mad.

I mostly have euphoric hypomania. It is wonderful at the beginning. It’s tricky as it usually comes after a depression- so I desperately want and need to feel better. But I know that what goes up must come down, so I have to be ready for the downswing.

I’ve trained myself by using the Health Cards to go into treatment mode as soon as the hypomania starts. Damn, damn, damn. That is actually mild language for what it feels like to realize that feeling good is actually being manic.

If you have a lot of mild manias, this means that you’re rapid cycling. It means your meds are not working fully or that you or something outside of you is triggering the mania in some way. Like many people, I have a lot more euphoric mania in the summer because of the sunlight.

What a complicated, awful illness this is! Bipolar mania is dangerous. It’s sad that something can feel soooooooooo good and be so dangerous, but it’s something we must accept if we want to get better. Stability is good; mania is bad.

So, when my mom says “Are you manic Julie?” I get pissed, but I always listen and do what the Health Cards say I have to do. 

Julie

bipolarhappens.com reader comments

Wow, I’ve had some great blog comments lately. They are so appreciated. I read them all.  There is a small icon above each post- if there is a comment, a number appears beside the icon.

 Of course, I want to answer all of the comments, but this is pretty impossible. I’m finding it hard to work these days, but I will keep going! And I will respond to comments when possible.

I saw a great movie tonight called In the Shadow of the Moon. I mention it because it was hopeful and uplifting. We need that! Julie

Bipolar Meds: Lamictal (Lamotrigine) side effects

Hi,  Julie. I know you have been on Lamictal a long time. What side effects do you have? Regina

Hi Regina,

I call Lamictal my wonder drug. It gave me a much more normal life. It can have some intense side effects though.

Lamictal side effects can be there from the beginning- literally from the first week- in the form of a stiff neck, clenched jaw or some mild breathing problems. I had these for quite a while and then they went away.

There is definitely a rash associated with Lamictal- one, called Stevens Johnson Syndrome is serious the other benign. My coauthor Dr. John Preston said that most of the rashes from Lamictal are very mild and not of concern- but I also know one person who had the rash from head to toe.  No matter what, see your doctor if you see a rash. This does NOT mean you have to stop the drug unless there is a serious rash. People do learn to manage the itchiness. Talk with a doctor who really, really understands Lamictal. All psych drugs have potentially serious side effects, so don’t throw Lamictal out too soon!

I’ve been on Lamictal for three years. My side effects come and go. It’s frustrating, but I need this drug so I deal with them.  I have a stiff neck that makes it hard to get comfortable at night and I’m now experiencing extremely intense itching- without a visible rash.

I’ve talked with my doctor.  It’s pretty bad.

So, it’s always a tradeoff with psychiatric meds like Lamictal. Can you live with the side effects? Are there ways to make things easier such as massage, chiropractic help and ice packs? That’s what I do.  If I get a bad side effect, I stay calm and do what it takes to deal with the side effect.  This determines if I can stay on a med or not.

Julie