Parent Success Stories: Helping a Child with Bipolar Disorder and Schizoaffective

 In the past three days, I received four emails and had conversations with multiple clients clients with reported positive updates on the situation they experience with a child who has a mental health disorder like ours.
I want to let the parents of the world know that successful treatment for your children is possible. We never know how long it will take. We never know when the child- I am talking adult children here- will accept treatment. But at this time, four of my clients have written and said that they are having ‘normal’ conversations with their child after years of problems due to untreated mental health disorder symptoms. In all four situations, the child had at some point refused contact with the parent and refused treatment.
Here is what all four families have in common:
1. They worked with a professional to help them see the big picture of the situation so that they could change what needed to be changed in order to help a child find treatment. A long sentence of the main problem I see. ALL parents who come to me need a clear pictures of what is happening. That is my specialty as a coach. It doesn’t have to be me, but I can tell you that going at this alone as parents will not work. Parents, you need a guid to help you work with a system that is not in your favor.
2. They stuck with the system for a year or more. Yes, a year or more. Clients who stick with the plan and literally keep going until it works will find success. It doesn’t always mean that the child gets better, but it ALWAYS means the the parents find peace. In most cases, it means the child gets better as well.
3. Medications are involved. I wish I could tell you that managing the big three: bipolar one, schizo affective and schizophrenia can be done without medications. I have yet to see it happen in over 20 years of working with families. We create a system that focuses on a management plan that requires the least medications possible, but medications are always needed for the big three due to the seriousness of the mania and or the mania and psychosis. I have schioaffective- I have to use medications when I can’t control my own mood swings.
4. Parents are willing to make the big changes in themselves first. I teach a system that is so difficult for parents at first that many work with me for a short time and then have to take a break. Some don’t come back. Those who do come back always succeed. This system requires that the parents put their needs before the child and then teach the child how to meet the need of the parents. I know! It sounds like it would never work, but I have found it works every single time. I believe that people with mental health disorders want to get better. Parents have to show them a path that they follow first and then teach to the child. Few of us can forge our own path when mania, depression, anxiety, anger, violent behavior and psychosis are raging. I work with parents because they can get the best results.
5. The parents separate from the child in a healthy way. This creates space for the child to make smart decisions. Defensiveness is inherent in those of us with the big three illnesses. We are combative when sick. Learning to talk to a child in a mood swing is integral to their getting better. It doesn’t make sense at first- many parents ask me- how can it change my child so much when I am the one making the biggest changes? I am working on the science behind all of it, but after seven solid years of coaching, I can show with a great deal of data that it works. Children do not die from healthy and safe boundaries. These boundaries give them the space to heal.
6. They search for effective treatment until they find it. The road is a bumpy ride when looking for treatment facilities and outpatient care, but there are answers. I work with families to find the facilities and the absolute best health care professionals. It takes TIME and it is frustrating. But, all of those who have children who are doing better have working like professional athletes towards the goal of better health care for their child. One day, our system will be better, for now, parents have to know where to go, what to ask and what to do when you find the right person in order to get a child into treatment.
7. A commitment to life long learning. All parents who succeed in creating loving and safe boundaries with an ill child realize that this is a life long endeavor. In our current world, there is no cure for mental illness. Yes, some do find the right balance of meds and simply get on with life, but the vast majority do not. Instead, we need daily management skills. When parents realize that this is life long, they know that there will be ups and downs to the journey and they can get through them much easier.
I hope this helps if you are a parent of a child with a mental health disorder. I am working with my manager to put all of these foundational teachings in a course. If you are interested in my coaching, please visit my coaching page and send me an intake. I will answer in the order received and will strive to have my classes ready soon! 
There is hope!



Julie A. Fast Interview on Voice of America Radio Live Today

Listen to Julie A. Fast live on the Voice of America Radio show ‘Caught Between Generations’ today at 12:30 PM PST, 3:30 PM EST. Click on the ‘listen live‘ link on the webpage to hear Julie talk about depression and bipolar depression in children.
Topics include:
1. Do children get depressed?
2. How do you know the difference between a teenager’s growing pains and actual depression?
3. How can parents talk to kids about suicide at any age?
4. Are there different kinds of depression- what is the most dangerous?
5. How does a caregiver help someone with depression without losing their own ability to enjoy and function in life?
Episode Description

Are you living with a family member who has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder or depression? Have the symptoms of depression or bipolar disorder affected your relationship with a child or parent? Depression can occur at any age, and should not be dismissed in the elderly as a normal part of the aging process, or in children as simply “growing pains.” Dr. Merle’s first guest is Dr. Deborah Serani, psychologist and award-winning author. Dr. Serani discusses late life depression, how it differs from depression at other ages, and what caregivers need to do to keep from becoming depressed. Julie Fast lived many chaotic years before she was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 31. Now an author and coach for families living with bipolar disease and depression, Fast discusses depression in young children and teens, and how parents can intervene and help their children who have suicidal thoughts.

Tips to End Severe Bipolar Depression

Remind yourself that depression is an illness. The symptoms will always be the same.

– Lack of joy in what used to bring joy. This does NOT mean you need to change your life. It means you need to end the depression so that you can again experience joy. Many people make the mistake of leaving relationships, quitting jobs and thinking a big change is the answer to ending depression. I suggest that managing depression is a better choice.

– A sense that you will never get better. This is a symptom of depression. Depression is a succubus. It lies. I call depression the most successful illness in the world. It does the job well. I fight this by accepting that I am going to lose work time and energy while I am depressed. It feels like I am drowning even though I am sitting in a life raft. I have to open my eyes and see that I am in a life raft and I am going to get through the depression. I always do.

I could go on- our list of symptoms is very long. I wrote my book Get it Done When You’re Depressed when I was depressed. I remember thinking I would NEVER finish the book. How could I possibly write a book when I was so sick from the stress of writing a book? I did it through using the tips in the book!

There is a chance you are reading this while depressed. It’s ok to be depressed when you have bipolar disorder. What do you need to do next to get out of the depression? Read my books if they speak to you.  Programs are available from other writers. Support lines are ready for your call. All that matters is seeing bipolar depression for what it is- an illness.

Depression has nothing to do with YOU. I has nothing to do with me. It is no different than diabetes. It’s chemicals. I fight my depression and I will win. You can too. 



On the Road with Bipolar Disorder



You can plan for everything when you travel. You can work on your bipolar, deal with the time change, make sure your relationships are good back home, study languages, save your money, pay for a great place to stay, pack your bags well, DO IT ALL!

But you will never be able to control the situation created by the people you meet.

My trip to England last year could be described as a perfect storm of what you don’t want to happen when you arrive in a new country.

The first day I arrived, I was attacked by a huge and I do mean huge dog. On the second day, I realized that my friend’s marriage was abusive and falling apart before my eyes. I was staying in their house.

I already had anxiety. I left my life in America to move to Europe for a year. This wasn’t a vacation. I had to make it work!

My friend and I had it all planned. I would stay at her house for six weeks and then go on to France. I saved my money. I changed my work schedule so that I could do my coaching from England. I did everything RIGHT. Then a fractured marriage and a huge dog changed everything. I realized I had made a grave error. I assumed that all was fine where I planned to stay. This was not the case.

If you are staying with someone, think of where that person is in life and how their behavior might affect your bipolar disorder.

I know how to manage my illness, but my friend’s extreme stress got to me. My anxiety went through the roof and I started having anxiety thoughts:

This isn’t going to work Julie. You are going to have to find another place to stay. She is upset with you. Your stuff is in the way. You need to keep out of the way. You made a mistake, you are NOT welcome here. She is kind and you care about her, but she is having a tough time.  You have to get out of here. 

This is hard to hear in your head the first few days you are in a new place. It eventually turned into paranoid psychosis. This was not how I pictured my exciting move to Europe.

I tried every single day for weeks to manage my bipolar disorder.  I simply couldn’t.  The atmosphere in the house was too much of a trigger for this illness.  I finally left.  This was devastating as you can imagine, but managing bipolar disorder has to come first. If I were a regular person, I could have stayed and then gone on my way in six weeks.

But I am not a regular person. I have a serious mental illness called bipolar disorder. I learned an important lesson about myself and traveling.

Travel is one of the greatest opportunities in life.  It is also a great trigger of bipolar disorder symptoms.

Think of my story the next time you travel and plan ahead. Where you stay and who you stay with truly matter.





Common Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

1. Inability to stay in a
job for long.

2. Difficulty working
despite possessing
the qualifications to
do the job.

3. Money problems.

4. Feelings of being
overwhelmed by job
requirements or other
life responsibilities.

5. Sadness and frustration
over inability to
work or get things

6. Feelings of hopelessness
about the

I lived with these symptoms daily until I learned to manage my bipolar disorder more successfully. I want to encourage people with bipolar disorder to see the list as what life is like without a good management plan. Once the plan is in place, everything changes.

We are able to find work that fits our needs.

We can create relationships that help us stay stable.

We can learn to live a life filled with joy and good times vs. life filled with being ill due to bipolar disorder.

The symptoms on the above list still come and go for me. They are always lurking. But I no longer live a life controlled by bipolar disorder.

We can take charge of this illness. My plan is in all of my books. I encourage you to find what works so that you can manage the symptoms and find the path you want to take in life.

I believe in all of us!


Guest Blogger Noor Baizura: What’s my Unique Signature Relapse?

by Noor Baizura

Every each one of us is unique. 

That is why Stigma deserves a stick in the eye.

Our unique personality, experience and nature

Requires us to navigate how we interact and react

To the people and environment around us.

With Bipolar Disorder, we have unique reasons that triggers our highs and lows.

So we need a unique recipe, set of tools and map to navigate our road to recovery

For our unique and amazing destiny in Life.

There is wisdom in both our pains and pleasures, but are we ready to discover and embrace it?

This powerful awareness and knowledge is what I call The Unique Signature Relapse.

It is only after I studied the recurring patterns in my upward and downward bipolar spirals, that I was able to manage my health and condition with very limited medication and stop the vicious cycle of needing to be hospitalized for two weeks or a month almost every single year.

Previously, when I was falling into an episode, my family and people around me use to notice the change in my behavior, speech and actions way before I was aware that I was spiraling into an episode. As time went by, I grew tired of always having to debate with them about whether I was having an episode or not. Worse still, whether I needed to up my dose of medication that was already blanking my brains out even in small doses.

The worst part was always that, when I was excited about a brilliant idea, and I couldn’t wait to share it with people, they use to shut me off unintentionally by asking me if I had been sleeping properly or if I was taking my medications or not, or worse…that I should take my medication. Seriously?! Man…here I was trying to do something productive and amazing and this is the reaction I get? I couldn’t believe it.

Same goes for any issue that I felt strongly about. It was as if I was never allowed to raise my voice, or stand up for what I believed in, or even tell anyone my two cents worth of what is right or wrong because, being someone with bipolar disorder, we seem to be a champion of creating a mountain out of a molehill. Being emotional beings, we tend to emotionally charge up every single thing out of proportion to the extent that any form of emotional display sends people into a panic frenzy because they are afraid that we will fall into an episode.

Although I do not agree with my doctor a 100% of the time I must emphasize that it is important and good to have a doctor and medical support team back up for the bad days that neither my family nor my brains are capable of handling. Days of too many sleepless nights, till the point of hallucinations, or when you are in that state of being so restless that your body is really worn out and tired as heck but your brain just can’t stop bubbling with ideas and racing thoughts. So you start looking like a half dead, half alive Frankenstein, with cracked and painful heels that can’t stop walking. And when you’re too accident prone, feeling lightheaded and surviving on 5 minute naps as you half stand, half sit. And your face and eyes starts looking discolored, puffy or sunken…just basically worn out. Don’t do that, too many people with bipolar have died from such breakdowns from not seeking professional help.

Same goes for family support. Although I do not agree with everything they say or do, I must admit that on some days, when reality seems to slip beneath my feet, my family tries their best not to be my trigger and help me get back on my feet and get a grip, or just take away some responsibilities so that I can rest, recover and get myself together or take a break and chill, so that I can sleep and eat properly again and avoid getting hospitalized. And if it gets out of hand for them to cope, they convince me to take some medication, just to keep their sanity, so that I won’t end up losing mine.



Who am I?

They asked me if I am Crazy 

As if I have not asked myself before

They medicated, restrained and locked me

 As if…my freedom could start a war.

Manias and Depressions

The type that drowned me 

and made me soar

Madness and Genius 

that crowns me 

That has made me score yet numb & sore.

Take me as I am

My Lord, You Created me

And so therefore…

In You I put my Faith, O Guide

Help me Navigate and Win This War.

Last but not least, and like the words in my poem, I must emphasize the importance of believing in God. I don’t intend to come off preachy, but honestly, when all else fails, I mean preferably BEFORE all else fails. To hold on to the rope of God, The Divine Creator, when your mind fails you, your judgement fails you, your emotions fail you, your insurance, your job, your boss, your family, friends, doctors and everyone seems to fail you… having a mustard seed of faith in God goes a long, precious, miraculous and divine way to have something to hold on to when there is nothing to hold on to except for the words that say hold on.

Let sincere prayers accompany your tears,

Till they dry away your tears.

Let sincere and forgiving prayers soothe you,

When anger seems to give in to your fears

Let sincere and honest prayers fill you

Till He heals you and gives you renewed strength

To take action and fulfill your mission

With the Gift of His Power from deep within.


About Noor Baizura:

Poet. Artist. Author.

4 upcoming books:

  • “I am Not Crazy… I’m Cool”

Mastering the art of living with bipolar disorder

  • “The Dog that cried Woof”

Fresh Perspective of understanding mental illness, societal stigma and self stigma

  • “Living in a Bipolar City”

Navigating the Highs and Lows of Daily Living

  • “Soul VS Ego”

The Balancing Act of our Heart, Mind, Body and Soul

Corporate Trainer in various Hospitals.

Real Estate Consultant.

Mental Health Advocate & Living with Bipolar since 17.

EXCO member, Assistant Honorary Treasurer and Head of Fundraiser for Club HEAL, a mental health non-profit organization in Singapore that helps to provide counselling, training, rehabilitation, education, eradicate stigma and raise awareness about mental health. Conducts Bipolar Support Group.

Please visit Noor’s Facebook page to connect and ask her questions. 


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