Bipolar Disorder and the Thanksgiving Holiday part two…….

Continued from Thanksgiving part one…..


My friend Margery who has bipolar disorder just called and told me that her sister has decided to come down to Portland where she lives instead of staying in Seattle.  Margery said, “I cooked her dinner a few years ago, Julie. I’m not spending days cooking for something that is gone in a few hours. It’s too stressful!” I agree. Margery just reserved a full Thanksgiving dinner from Whole foods.  She picks it up Thanksgiving  morning! She said it was so cheap when everyone went in on it.  These stores have great and inexpensive salad bars as well. 

Good idea:  Say no to cooking if it’s too much for you. Let others do it or buy dinner from a store and bring it home.  Or, eat out!

I’d like to say I’m immune to the whole Thanksgiving thing- but I’m not. I have to make sure I have something to do that day or I know I will get depressed and lonely.  It’s my nature. The concept of Thanksgiving has been burned into my American brain.  My dinners were so wonderful as a child- that is what I remember.

Here are some tips if Thanksgiving is important to you:

1. Plan now. Where do you want to be? Start hinting to the people you know that you would be a good addition to the party.

2. Send out an email to friends saying you are looking for a fun dinner. You will get replies. Yes, you can do this the day before Thanksgiving. 

3. Volunteer for the day. Many people do this and you meet new friends.

4. Crash a party!

5. Go to Target to check out the Black Friday specials. Oh – this just sounds terrible…  but people love it! Buy a TV the next day! 😉  Guys…. this is a joke. I’m joking! I’M JOKING! 

6. Go to the movies with a friend. Pay for one and then sneak into the others…hehe

7. If you’re going to order a dinner from a place such as Whole Foods, do so ahead of time. They do sell out.

Or… you can be like me.

8.  Tell your family you’re not going to do anything to prepare or clean up, but you will pay for food. That is the ONLY way I can survive the hullabaloo around the holidays. If you are cash strapped, offering to do the dishes is worth its weight in gold! 

Get creative.

If you’re someone who doesn’t have firm plans yet, start making them right now.  It’s hard to be lonely on the holidays when you have bipolar disorder.

If you are filled with bounty and you know someone who could use a good time in a kind setting, send an email.

There is a place for everyone.




Julie A. Fast Official Diagnosis… it’s more than bipolar disorder!

If you are new to my work- here is my official diagnosis. I find it helpful to have a diagnosis and know for sure that hearing the words, “You have bipolar disorder,” saved my life.
1. Diagnosed with depression in my 20s. First major depressive episode was at 19. No one ever talked to me about mania, so it was completely missed. My mania started at 17.
2. Officially diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar two with psychotic features in 1995. This was one year after my then partner was diagnosed with bipolar disorder one. We were together for ten years as a couple. I wrote Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder about being a parter of this wonderful man for ten years.
3. I started to chart my moods as soon as I was officially diagnosed. I realized that I didn’t have rapid cycling. I had ultradian rapid cycling -a term that wasn’t used back then. I cycle every day sometimes all day and it has been this way for all of my adult life with only a few breaks.
4. I then got clear about psychosis and through charting and writing down my symptoms realized that I had WAY, WAY more psychosis that the average person and in fact, started my mental health symptoms with psychosis at age 16. I figured out that I have a separate psychotic disorder as well as bipolar. My office diagnosis is schizoaffective. In my opinion, there is no such thing as bipolar with psychotic features. What we actually have is schizo affective. I am NOT scared of the words schizo or schizophrenia. I am definitely on the schizophrenia spectrum which is why using THC from cannabis was extremely dangerous for my brain.
5. I had a biking accident in 2012 that resulted in a serious right brain injury that led to vicious panic attacks and an increase in my anxiety. I now deal with a separate set of anxiety symptoms.
My books teach us to chart our mood swings and to write down our symptoms. No one can really do this for us. We need to do it for ourselves. Otherwise, we can’t get better.


This is me at 16. The year my psychosis began. Unless we are really sick, there is no indication of what is going on in our minds. We MUST chart our experiences and share them with people who can help.

I’m Glad that Weekend is OVER!

A blast from the past. I wrote this blog many years ago and just found it in my draft section. I wonder what I will learn about myself by reading something from so long ago!  I will report back at the end of this post what has changed for the better! 


There are always good things that happen over the weekend- seeing friends, some sun- reading books with my nephew. I try to focus on the good things first.

But man oh man, the depression was terrible. This word comes to mind: relentless!

It was relentless. But here I am on a Monday ready to face the world again. I made sure I had a lot of plans this week. The publishing world- which is a large part of my business these days is changing and not in a good way. I have to rethink my goals for this year. This is definitely possible, but it puts added pressure on my health. So, the only way to deal with this is to work- plan and remain positive. Change is an opportunity for a new and better direction. I truly believe that getting things done is the answer.

If you have lost a job- are worried about money or feel that things will not get better, I suggest the book Think and Go Rich. It was written right after the Great Depression- and it’s truly fascinating to read. I feel so much better when I read it! We can all make it through tough times. How are you doing? Do you have fun and productive activities scheduled for this week? Is there something you have been meaning to do such as joining Toastmasters or taking a dance class? Now is the time to do what we have always wanted to do.

We can march onward- even when we are depressed!


PS: Watch out for mania! That is my motto.

A note from Julie, present day: It is so wonderful to tell you the news that I no longer have chronic depression. I was ill with bipolar depression for over 30 years off and on. In 2012, I found a medication combination that worked. It has not been easy and I still have a lot of mood swings, but the relentless depression is gone. Never give up. If I can get better, you can get better. I also had ECT in 2010 that was difficult in many ways, but also helpful in many ways.  Keep going if you are depressed. We can get better. I’m proof.  I still have the same work problems- they are always in the picture. I still struggle with mania and sleep, but wow, my depression is better.  It’s important to remind ourselves that with time and vigilance, we can change. I believe in you! 

Bipolar Disorder and Thanksgiving Part One…………..


Let’s Make Thanksgiving Great This Year!



There is a commercial on the radio where I live here in Portland, Oregon that always makes me laugh. It says… ‘Beware of the holiday horrors! Buy all of your holiday presents now, the day after Thanksgiving and save yourself the stress of waiting until the last minute!”    Oh, it sounds like torture to me! When did Thanksgiving become so much about Black Friday sales? In case you didn’t know, Black Friday is a sales day after the Thursday Thanksgiving here in the United States. It’s called Black Friday because it’s a day businesses can make enough money to balance the books instead of being in the red!


As a person with bipolar disorder or a person who cares about someone with the illness, there’s a good chance you have had some difficult holidays in the past.

Thanksgiving is a family holiday based around a traditional dinner held in honor of the dinner served between the people who ‘founded’ the US and the people who found the country way before any British showed up- the Native Americans. The food usually includes the following: Turkey, stuffing or dressing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, pies such as pecan or pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce. Many families have a Thanksgiving dish they remember growing up. For me, it was my grandmother’s homemade corn bread dressing.  I had many wonderful Thanksgiving holidays while growing up – mostly in Alabama.

As I got older, the holidays became a fun time with friends.

And then…. they just became too much.

Is it the same for you? Maybe you don’t want to cook, don’t have the $200 to spend on a dinner for eight. It might be you don’t like your family! And finally, the hardest is when you don’t have anywhere to go. It doesn’t mean you don’t have friends- it might just happen they are all with their families and yours is out of town.

It may be that your family is here, but the atmosphere is stressful. I’ve seen a few snarky faces at Thanksgiving. It’s hard to have to be happy and united for a day.

It’s a lot of pressure.

Start thinking now of what you want your Thanksgiving to be like this year. You get to decide.


PS:  Thanksgiving can be wonderful, but it’s usually challenging when bipolar disorder is an unwanted guest.   That’s why we have to plan ahead!

Bipolar Disorder is Not Pretty

This is what a #bipolar looks like. This is what illness looks like. I am not like this when stable. I couldn’t make these faces naturally if I tried.
Panic attack #anxiety, #dysphoric #mania, #euphoric mania and extreme #depression. It’s not pretty.
When I am sick with bipolar, I must stop everything to end the bipolar before I make ANY decisions.
I must stop the bipolar before I get upset by what someone says or does.
I must stop the bipolar before I spend money, change my job, leave a new relationship, start a new relationship or make any big life decisions.
If you want to get better, treat bipolar first. If you don’t treat bipolar first, the decisions you make when you are this sick can ruin your life in an instant and you will struggle what you once had back.
Read Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder first and then move to the Health Cards. If you are a partner, read Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder and then Take Charge. You can also join me on The Stable Bed.
If you are a family member, start with Take Charge and move to the Health Cards. Read Loving for more plans. Join me on The Stable Table.
Read Get it Done When You’re Depressed and get yourself or a loved one out of the house and back into the world.
I am sick almost every day and I have a strong management plan. Without my plan, I would not be here.
Let’s manage this illness together.  Many of my books are in the library and are available used on Amazon. 


Fast Conversation Strategies: What to Say When a Person is Trying to Control You

I choose the stable life….

Strategies from my parent and partner coaching….

When you ask a question or talk about the other person and their answer is about you, learn how to get the conversation back on track by using my Fast Conversation Strategies.

– I like spending time together, but lately I’ve found it hard to get in touch with you.
– Response: Oh, so now you’re my mother?

– It helps me a lot to know when you need me to do the writing on the website. I need a schedule so that I can keep my work in order. I’m a bit confused about the project itself.
– Hmm. I guess it’s all about you these days is it? Can’t you just do what I sent you and let me get my own work done!

I’m worried about your drinking and would like to talk about it.
– You had a glass of wine at dinner the other night, so look who’s talking!

This is all bull@#$@# if you want to know the truth and as soon as you realize that someone is deflecting your genuine worry or desire for information back on you, you can stop it in five seconds.

– I like spending time together, but lately I’ve found it hard to get in touch with you.
– Response: Oh, so now you’re my mother?

– I have no desire to be your mother, but I do like to be around people who are accessible. If this doesn’t work for you, I understand. I will find someone who does answer my calls.

It helps me a lot to know when you need me to do the writing on the website. I need a schedule so that I can keep my work in order. I’m a bit confused about the project itself.
– Hmm. I guess it’s all about you these days is it? Can’t you just do what I sent you and let me get my own work done!

– When it comes to my work, it makes sense for me to have a schedule. My work is important to me and to keep it of high quality, I need better communication and a timeline. If this doesn’t work for your, that is ok. I will find someone who does want to work in this way.

I’m worried about your drinking and would like to talk about it.
– You had a glass of wine at dinner the other night, so look who’s talking!

– If you want to talk about my drinking during a different conversion, that is fine with me. Right now, I am talking about your drinking and how it affects me.

I’ve been a coach for parents and partners for ten years now. The situations I work in are often enormous crises. Super clear communication is always the first step to getting the person who is ill in to treatment.

Coaches are not therapists. My job is to help a loved one learn to communicate with someone who has bipolar. This in turn taught me to communicate with anyone. Sometimes, when a conversation or email exchange happens and I feel that someone is trying to control me, my work or to get me to do more work than I have been paid for for example, I will listen, say nothing and LEAVE. They can finish their own work.

My stability is what matters. I pledge not to harm others. I pledge to listen to others when they need to talk to me. I pledge to be the best person I can be. To do this, I don’t have to put up with the crap of others. I can leave.


Click here more information on my Coaching for Parents, Family Members and Partners of people with bipolar and schizoaffective disorder.