What is Bipolar Mania and What is the ‘Real’ You?


Bipolar Mania: What is the difference between the ‘real’ person and the ‘manic’ person?

There is a simple test you can do to differentiate between manic behavior and ‘average’ behavior.

– Is the manic behavior sudden and completely out of character? For example, when I got very hypomanic for three months in 1987- years before I was diagnosed, everyone said, “What is Julie doing? What is wrong with her? I’m so shocked at her behavior!”

– Is the manic behavior dangerous and the person who is manic can’t see it at all- even when you show them evidence?

– Is the person spending huge amounts of money on trivial things? I know someone who paid tens of thousands of dollars on paintings because she was sure the artist would be famous one day. Lucky artist- unlucky person with mania when she comes out of the episode and sees the bill.

– And finally, does the behavior end when the manic mood swing ends? If so, this is almost always mania and not the ‘real’ person.

There are  many ways for family members- and the person with bipolar disorder to see the mania once it’s over- the trick to managing this illness is to use this information to prevent mania in the future. This is why I created the Health Cards. I don’t ever want another summer of destructive hypomania.  You can read my hypomania Health Card in the sample cards. It’s an interesting card as anyone with mania who reads it says- I had no idea there were other people like me!


Money Worries and Bipolar Disorder

How is your financial situation? Does bipolar disorder affect your ability to make money? Is your health insurance too expensive? Have you lost your insurance or can’t pay for it? Do you worry constantly about our economy?

These are questions all of us with bipolar disorder are facing these days- either about ourselves or the people we love who have the illness. I know many people who have had to change their lifestyle completely due to what has happened due to the banking and mortgage crisis in 2008 and now we seem to be heading into another financial downswing due to the rising costs and in many cases lack of health care.

One of my friends lost a $15 an hour job and another lost a $300,000 a year job- and you know what- it impacted them similarly. It’s about savings and how a person is set up financially.

I have a  friend who has a LOT of money saved blue a big house and child support- what we would consider a cushion for any economic crisis, and yet she lives in constant stress.  It’s all about how a person looks at their situation. I often want to say to her, “Do you have ANY idea what it’s like to have a mental illness that affects your ability to work and make money?  This is true stress!” But I remind myself that we all have separate challenges and her situation is not my own.

How do those of us with a chronic illness deal with economic stress? Here is one of the ways I am working towards a postive out look.

1. Focus on the people who love me and see that as financial equity. With love comes support.

2. Think of what I HAVE.  This is often hard work, especially when the depression is raging. If I go to bed and my head starts to tell me what’s wrong, I say to myself, “This is pointless. I will make a list of what is going well.”  Sometimes this is as hard as getting a root canal, but I still practice.

3. Make a pact with friends to have a ‘money talk’ free zone.  It’s easy to talk about what is going wrong- especially if the person on the other side is having trouble as well. I simply say, “I know things are difficult now- let’s talk about what we can do about it. ”

Ok. What is your next step? If you are doing well financially, is there someone you can take out to dinner? Buy a movie card, pay a bill?

People with mental health disorders often struggle financially. Pride keeps us from asking for help. We appreciate the help that is offered!


When to Quit What is Triggering Your Bipolar Disorder Mood Swings

A month ago, I had to stop a VIP. (A very important proposal.  ) It was devastating. I cried and felt terrible that I once again was too sick to work. Please know that the community on this page helped me greatly with this and when I did make the decision to take a break from the project, I knew I would not be judged.

No one judged. The day after I let my agent and coauthor know I had to stop for awhile, my horrific and I mean mind blowingly horrific anxiety was almost gone. The proposal sample chapter was a trigger.

I was so embarrassed. There is Julie A. Fast- once again having to quit. But…. I remembered what I taught myself years ago- Treat Bipolar First. It doesn’t matter if you have to cancel a wedding, put off getting pregnant, take a leave from a job or quit school for awhile, without management, bipolar will put us in the hospital anyway.

Here is the blog for Bp Magazine that came from that rough month. Tomorrow, I meet with my coauthor Julie Foster of Pohala Clinic – A Place of Healing to resume the project. I have a new plan- to write when she is near and to ask for more help. It took me months to find what might work and even now, I have no idea if I will be able to work. If I can’t, I will take a longer break.

You are more important than work. You are more important than money. Your life is valuable and stopping something that is making you sick is brave.


Click here to read the blog I wrote for Bp Magazine on the topic. 

If you are in or near Portland, Oregon I highly recommend Julie Foster as a prescriber and bipolar disorder health care provider.

Depression and Bipolar Depression are Different

When you read a book or go to a webpage or hear someone talk about natural treatments for depression, please know that people with bipolar don’t have depression. We have #bipolar depression and it is quite different.
When people site research that shows depression can be handled with natural treatments, I agree with them- and then I give them the news that is hard to hear. This research doesn’t apply to bipolar depression.
We need to educate GPs and natural practitioners on this topic. Bipolar depression always has the risk of mania. This is why the following natural treatments can’t be used for those of us with bipolar depression unless there is a mood stabilizer present – or someone has the ability to stop mania from going too far, which is rare even for myself.
St. John’s Wort
ADD medications
SSRI and SNRI anti depressants
Light boxes
True Hope/Empower Plus
Energy drinks
Amino acid blends for energy
Cognitive enhancers such as green tea extract
The list is long!
We have bipolar depression. Anything that affects serotonin to help a person with depression get better can make us manic. IT IS A BUMMER! But, we need this info to get to the general public, especially to natural health practitioners.


Bipolar, Cannabis and Psychosis

Bipolar and Cannabis: I’m now in my 8th year of educating our bipolar and mental health community in general about the effects of THC on our brains. At first, I sounded the alarm because I was alarmed by what I saw in my coaching practice! Then, I injured my back, dislocated my hip and got a right brain injury from a biking accident in 2012 and used medical marijuana for pain relief.
I experienced the negative effects of cannabis first hand. I didn’t regulate the THC in the medical marijuana I got from the dispensary well enough and went into a full blown manic and psychotic episode. This was scary as I have bipolar two and have never had a full blown manic episode. 
I now research the topic and learn from cannabis experts about the uses of cannabis in the medical world in order to provide up to date information on marijuana …so that people can make their own decisions about cannabis use.
There is more and more research to back up my original worries, but I have also learned how to help people who do continue to use how to stay safe.
THC is a hallucinogenic that greatly increases the risk of psychosis in people with bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder. In my experience, it also causes dysphoric mania. I call it a hallucinogenic stimulant. 
I teach a harm reduction system to all of my clients (and anyone else who will listen!) that explains the differences between CBD and THC. 
Cannabis comes in many forms that vary in THC content. If you have bipolar, I suggest staying away from cannabis in all forms until it is better regulated. I found myself manic and psychotic even from low THC cannabis. I know many will not listen to this and that is ok. The next step is to at least know the risks. 
If  you are going to use, educate yourself and go for a CBD only product that is lab tested for purity. Its more expensive, but a lot less expensive than a trip to the psych ward. Ask questions when you buy and keep away from street weed as it will almost always be high in THC.
I wish you luck in your journey to finding peace. I wish I could smoke a bowl and deal with my anxiety, but I can’t. The bowl can send me to the hospital. I choose stability.
I am not anti marijuana. It has its uses and for many, doesn’t cause any problems. This is not a witch hunt. It’s a desire for health and a desire to help others find stability.
People without mental health disorders can do what they want- my concern is in our community. If you have bipolar or schizoaffective, THC is not safe for your brain. Please think before you use.


Working AROUND Bipolar Disorder: Julie’s New Book Proposal


Writing update. Bipolar inspiration. We can reach our dreams. Bipolar will determine the timeline, but it will NOT determine what we accomplish. We CAN do this. You can see the stress on my face, but darn it, the project will get done. For those who are new to my work, I’m finally writing a new book. It’s a workbook. It is a BIG project and I’m excited. Bipolar disorder could care less about my dreams, goals and excitement. It has been HORRIFIC. But I keep going and you can as well.
Here I am holding the sample chapter draft. I will now put it into a chapter format for a workbook. I have 60 pages of notes for a 20 page chapter- that will include at least four workbook exercises.
Self help writers have to be concise. Our job is to take complex ideas and put them in easy to digest words that lead to change in the reader.
This book proposal has been H E double toothpicks as I used to say in grade school.
What would take the well me a few weeks to write has been months and months of agonizing work.
If you have bipolar disorder, please keep going with your dreams.
For those interested in the writing process- self help books are sold off a big proposal that includes the following:
1. Explanation of the situation that leads to the need for the book.
2. A VERY LARGE marketing plan to let the publishing company know you are a good investment.
3. Sample chapter that shows exactly how the book will look- this will not change much from the actual book.
4. Complete table of contents that lets the publisher know your view for the overall project.
The proposal with everything included is around 60 pages. I know, it’s a crazy process! It’s a business plan for a book. My agent then takes this proposal to the publishing companies and they literally sit around a table and decide if I’m worth the investment of the around $40k it takes to produce a beautiful book.
I’m worth it. Heck yes I’m worth it!
Stick to your project. Remove distractions. Treat bipolar first. Let your timeline be flexible. Be nice to yourself.