Partner of a Person with Bipolar Disorder?

 

Julie, how do I know if my partner really is better? He got out of the hospital last month after a massive manic and psychotic episode, but I feel like he is still sick. Julie, how long does this take and will ‘he’ ever come back? Loretta

Hello Loretta,

Yes, your partner will come back. Bipolar disorder symptoms are not permanent. With the right treatment, he will come back to homeostasis. You then need a management plan, but that is another topic!

Here is the list I use with clients when they ask how can they possibly know when someone is actually better.

Your husband is better when you see the following:

1. He acknowledges the trouble, pain and heartache he (due to his illness) caused when he was sick. “I am so sorry you had to go through this. It must have been hard for me to be in the hospital while you took care of the kids and kept the business running.”

2. Focus goes external instead of a selfish internal naval gazing that puts the blame on others. He will say, “I can see how I affect others and how my mood swings caused a lot of stress in the lives of the people who care about me. I was so sick I could only think of myself and what the world was doing to me. I now see myself and how my actions affect the world.”

3. Will discuss health care with you. ‘Yes, I want you to be at my next appointment. Create a list of questions you want to ask. We are a team.”

4. Will ask insightful questions about what happened. “I know I was pretty out of it. I have some memories of what happened, but I need you to fill in the rest. I do remember picking the fight at the work party. What else happened?”

These all show insight. When your partner has insight, you will know he is fully out of the mood swing.

It takes a year for the brain to fully get back on track after a massive episode, but… many improvements happen during this process.

Julie

The Path to Happiness when You Have Bipolar Disorder

Julie, is it different than the path anyone would take when seeking happiness?

Yes, I do believe it is!

 

I’ve lived all over the world-  I moved a lot before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I feel I can say with great conviction that I have known, loved, worked with and met far more people who are stable than those who have bipolar.  This is natural as about 6% of the world population has bipolar disorder. It makes sense I would meet a lot of stable people.  I have observed that the path to happiness for stable people is incredibly straight forward. Not easy by any means, but definitely a path that a person can see and track with confidence.  For example, the desire to be a lawyer, have a child, be on the stage or to.. travel can be very straightforward when you are stable.  It looks like this! You can step off the path and you have to look at what you are doing, but it’s one path.

Bipolar disorder complicates our lives to the point that we rarely if ever can take a straight path to reach a big goal, such as being happy.

A straight path that is planned for and even carefully mapped out simply can’t handle the hurricane that is a manic episode or the deep valley and rocky road that is severe depression.  Instead, our path has illness detours that take us in a completely different direction even if we want to stay on the straight and narrow path of stability.

I can’t think of one thing in my life that has been easy. Not one thing.

I’m not complaining and I’m not being a victim. I’m stating my reality.

I can’t speak for you, but bipolar disorder affects everything I do. No path is straight. No plan is accomplished with ease. Nothing is every straightforward in my life. Is it the same for you or for the person you care about with bipolar disorder? it probably is which is why you are on a bipolar disorder blog!

Our paths look like this.

Same goals and dreams- to reach the mountain top of a goal, but the path to that goal is a rough and winding road filled with mood swings. Happiness is often a luxury when you are dealing with bipolar disorder. I have often settled for just being semi stable enough to work and pay my bills. That is no way to live in my opinion, but it has been a reality for me due to my illness. I am not happy with this kind of life, as few are….. so I strive and strive for real happiness. For the most part, I can now say that I have found my path to happiness and often feel very content with life. Then a mood swing happens and I build myself back up to happiness. That is my path.

If I know my path looks like a child drew the plan, everything I do has to take bipolar disorder into account first in order to finally reach a goal. I use the ideas in my books. I have my Health Cards.  There is a starting point and there is a mountain top- getting married, having a child, getting a degree, learning to restore old cars, getting a book published, so many hopes and dreams and the path is simply going to be twisting and longer than the path for someone stable.

I wish our path looked like this…..



but it doesn’t. It looks like this….

I accept it. I can accept what I don’t like and I can move forward even though it’s going to be much harder for me than a stable person.  My path to happiness means treating bipolar disorder first so that all of the side roads still lead to my ultimate goal. I want the same for you!

Julie

 

 

 

 

The Best Thing About Bipolar Disorder….

……..is that the mood swings end.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not a cliche.

You can get better. Sometimes the tunnel is really, really long, but there is always an end to the pain and your life opens up again.

There is hope.

Julie

You are Going to Be Ok

Bipolar is rough. It’s rough on you and it’s rough on the people around you. Take it seriously. If you feel sick, ask for help. I’ve now lived with a serious mental health disorder since age 16. I was diagnosed over 20 years ago. And it still hurts when I get sick.

You are not alone if you feel you can’t go on. That is a symptom. It doesn’t mean you can’t go on. It means you are sick and need help.

Being manic feels fun at first, but you are probably not on this page while you’re feeling GREAT! You are on this page because you are struggling.  The struggle comes when the feeling great ends.

Meds help, but they are not enough.

People help, but they are not enough.

Therapists help, but they are not enough.

You are the secret ingredient. Learn to manage this illness so successfully that when you get sick, you are still sick, but you will not die. You will not lose friends. You will not have to quit what you love. You will simply need to use the plan you already have in place. Use my Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder.  Use the WRAP program.  Learn about DBT if you also live with trauma. Take charge of your SELF and manage this illness.

You are strong. You can do it. We are going to be ok.

Julie 

Why Aren’t Medications Enough to Treat My Bipolar Disorder?

I wish we could just all take a pill and never experience bipolar disorder symptoms again.  In over 20 years of work in the bipolar disorder field, I have met only a handful of people who take medications and never get sick after a first episode. I know one person through my professional work who is free of symptoms because of medications.  Most of us have symptoms that are not completely treated by meds and many of us, like myself can’t tolerate daily medications.

I’ve noticed that the meds help the random mood swings and help us stay more stable in every day life, but as soon as something big happens we can go right in to mood swings again.

The meds definitely make the mood swings less serious and in many cases, less lengthy, but the mood swings are still triggered.

I’m amazed at how complex this illness is and what we all have to go through to stay stable. I know that the Health Cards are what keep me going when the mood swings are raging as they are today. They remind me that I have to be very careful about triggers if I want to really stay well. And they remind me that I am going to be fine.

I hope that you have a plan that works! You can use my books or find a plan that better fits your needs, but I do suggest that you have a plan as meds are rarely enough.

Julie 

Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder

Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder is my foundational book. It’s the one I recommend for those who are new to bipolar disorder.

A description of the book is below. If you’re a family member or health care professional who wants to learn the basics of bipolar disorder and how the illness can be treated with a management plan, you will love this book! Take Charge was the first book to talk about having a trigger management plan for bipolar disorder. It also introduced the idea of avoiding the bipolar disorder conversation and the importance of having a team in place to help manage the illness.

Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder with Julie A. Fast: A 4-Step Management Plan for People with Bipolar Disorder, Family Members and Health Care Professionals to Help Manage the Illness and Create Meaningful and Productive Lives

Julie A. Fast shares her journey to manage bipolar disorder and how you, a loved one, friend or client can learn to do the same. Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder teaches readers the four step plan Julie uses daily to lead a productive and happy life. The book covers these topics:

1. The key to a correct diagnosis.

2. Specific lifestyle changes and trigger management skills anyone affected by the illness can use at no cost.

3. Strategies to find a supportive health care team.

4. Tips to find and keep enjoyable work while managing the illness.

5. How to talk with others about bipolar disorder.

….and ultimately how, like Julie you can create and integrate an easy to use management plan for the whole family or client to use.

Never forget: 

  • Family members can learn to help (without enabling) while keeping their own lives stable.
  • Partners can work together to create a stable relationship that is not controlled by bipolar disorder.
  • Health care professionals can find more options than medications alone to help their patients find stable, productive and joyful lives.
  • People with bipolar disorder can create a management plan that helps create a happy and productive life.

***

I wrote Take Charge over 12 years ago and still use the ideas in the book almost every day. I loved the writing process and hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Julie 

 

 

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