More news from the DBSA conference

Mania from the DBSA conference!  (DBSA stands for the Depression, Bipolar Support Association- the conference was this weekend in Virginia)

I just received the following comment from Denise, a DBSA participant.

I too was at the conference, and found your workshop on Relationships to be an excellent workshop.

Don’t know about others who have BiPolar Disorder who were at the conference, but by the end, I was beginning to feel the mania coming on. Too much auditory stimulation I suppose. As I write this, I am waiting on my dr to return my call, as I also started getting visual ‘distortions’ toward the end of the conference.

Julie, it was a pleasure to meet you at the conference.

Oh, yes. I experienced the same thing. I often feel there should be a class on how to stay stable when you go to a conference on bipolar disorder! My worries are more that I will get depressed when I get home. The conference was so wonderful, it’s often hard not to go down when you get back to your regular life.

I made sure I was booked today. The depression tried to come in last night, but I said no!

Today is good. I think the secret is to have something to look forward to the days you get back. I am watching closely for mania as I have never felt ‘good’ when I get home from an event.

I had a lot of paranoia during and after my first presentation. At one point, I actually had the thought that all of my evaluations were faked! I had to laugh at that one. It’s so important that we know our own symptoms.

It’s great that Denise knows her signs of mania and then called her doctor!


Hello from the DBSA Conference: Virginia

Hello All! The computers were packed at my hotel, so this is my first time for a blog.

 I’m at the Depression, Bipolar Support Alliance in Norfolk, Virginia. It has been wonderful and very interesting – as well as stressful and sleep challenging!

 Here is some funny stuff: I have my seminar on family wellness on Friday. It went really, really well according to the crowd- there were about 150 people. When I got my evaluations, they were very positive. My first thought was:

 These are all fake! They are lying. No one can tell me the truth as they like me. This is quite funny, and it was funny at the time, but paranoia is not fun!

 I’m very used to paranoia. It’s hard to fight, but easy to recognize when you know the signs.

I’ve had trouble sleeping, even thought I took my own advice and switched over time zones. I went to be at 2:00 last night which puts me on  Portland time. I mention this a lot as a fun conference – with a lot of excellent conversation and my fun presentations is a recipe for disaster if I don’t get enough sleep!

I will write more tomorrow. I have so many stories and pictures. There was one woman who told a very funny joke- I have to find her to give her credit. Here is the joke.

 I go to DBSA support meetings and we discuss our meds and we’ve all determined that we all get fat from Krispy Kreme donuts!

 heehee. So, it’s not the Zyprexa!


It’s so hard to work sometimes!

Bipolar Disorder and Work

The past few weeks have been hell work wise. And that is putting it mildly. I have a lot of work due and I swear, my brain has shut down. I’m used to this when I’m depressed, but I’m not depressed right now! I just wander around until I remind myself of what I say in my own books!

– When it’s hard to make a decision – force yourself to do one and then ignore the feeling that you made the wrong decision. This always works!
– Put yourself in a place you can work. This is a great one. I work well in the library, so I have to do whatever it takes to get to the library. I can’t stop until I get there

I have a ton more ideas in Get it Done When You’re Depressed, but like most people, I often forget to look at the book! If you have it, put it in your front seat so that you can see it when you drive- open it to a random place and say- I will do whatever it says!

That works! 

Focus, focus, focus!


I missed a dose of my Lamictal… again!

I can’t believe that this keeps happening to me. I have my medications box and I know to take my meds – I take Lamictal- every morning and every night. And yet I sometimes forgot. My mom says I need a checklist right next to the sink or something like that.

I used to be able to miss a dose and just take a normal dose at night, but after three years of taking the Lamictal, even one missed dose causes painful withdrawal symptoms.

I am a work in progress and will just keep finding ways to make sure my meds are taken on time, every day.


FYI: Lamictal- also known as Lamotrigine- is an anticonvulsant drug that’s used to treat epilepsy. Like other anticonvulsants such as Depakote and Tegretol, it was found to have excellent mood stabilizing effects. Lamictal is for depression and rapid cycling. It’s not used as an anti mania drug. Depakote, Tegretol and Lithium are anti mania drugs. People with a lot of mania may take one of these and then add Lamictal. If you haven’t tried Lamictal, talk with your health care professional. It changed my life for the better. That’s for sure!

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. I still deal with the illness daily, but it’s not as severe as it used to be.

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


Football Players and Trouble: ‘I’d never put myself in that position.’

I heard a person say this at a restaurant the other day. “I’d never put myself in the position.”

What a concept!

If we don’t put ourselves in certain situations, then we can’t have the bad outcomes that often come with the location/person we chose to be with/or dodgy situation /etc.

I listen to sports radio and NPR all day. One big topic on sports radio is the number of football players that get: shot or shoot someone, robbed, beaten up or beat up someone and stopped by the cops for reckless/drunk driving. Interestingly, there is a statistic that the sports radio commentators keep bringing up. Trouble happens between the hours of 1-5AM. And that is when almost all of the football player trouble happens.

They put themselves into the position of getting in trouble. They choose situations that huge, rich professional ball players should simply avoid.

How does this relate to bipolar? Because when I used to get manic- I did all of the above- or at least came close to it. I know others who have been in similar situations. When we feel ourselves get manic- we can say- no! I will not go to that bar. No! I will not put an ad on Craigslist just to see who’s out there. No! I will not go drinking with you. No! I will not have sex with a stranger! No! I will not take money that isn’t mine. No! NO! NO!

Mania has a treatment window. Those of us with mania problems should never be out between the hours of 1AM and 5AM anyway. We need to be asleep. If you’re a tough, young and restless guy- like many guys are- you have to have a plan in place to be IN BED at those hours. What you choose to do in that bed is up to you, but at least you won’t be on the streets.

I sound like a mom lecturing a kid- but it’s a lecture to myself as well. ‘I’d never put myself in that position” is a great mantra for al of us with bipolar disorder.