Bipolar Disorder II and Psychosis

ensor psychosisI call psychosis the forgotten bipolar disorder symptom!

My bipolar psychosis intensified at age 19.  I consistently had hallucinations of seeing myself killed  and thought it was normal. I eventually learned to manage my psychosis, but it sure would have helped if the health care professionals in my life had explained the symptoms of psychosis and that they were often a normal part of the bipolar disorder diagnosis.

I just received the following question from Mario on the topic:

Julie, I thought that people w/ Bipolar II don’t get psychotic? Or did you have a psychotic depression?


Hi Mario,

People with bipolar II can definitely get psychotic. I’ve had psychotic symptoms since age 16. Mine are usually with depression – as it’s rare for someone with bipolar II to have psychosis with hypomania. One reason I can identify with so many forms of bipolar disorder is the psychosis. I have hallucinations and as I got older, delusions. Later in life, I realized that I also have psychosis when I am not depressed which is why my official diagnosis is schizoaffective disorder.

The difference for those with bipolar two who have psychosis is in intensity- people with bipolar I have full blown psychosis – usually with mania. In fact, 70% of people with full blown mania have full blown psychosis at the same time. This is when most people with bipolar I  have to go to the hospital and often have to be committed by a family member.

If you have bipolar disorder or care about someone with the illness, it’s essential that you learn about the signs of psychosis. I have a psychosis  Health Card (my treatment plan) and am especially careful to look for paranoia (a psychotic delusion) when I’m speaking in public!

Thanks for writing!


PS: Here is an explanation of the difference between bipolar i and bipolar II. If you are new to bipolar disorder terms, I think you will find this helpful.

Bipolar Disorder Curious? Listen to the Bipolar Disorder 101 Coaching Call and Change Your World!

Here I am working on my 2009 radio show!

Click the link below to listen to the Bipolar Disorder 101 coaching call where I condense my bipolar disorder knowledge into one hour. We had over 100 people on the original call- now it can reach even more people. You can listen online or download the MP3 to any handheld device. Here’s a quote from one of the listeners:

“Julie, how did you get so much information about bipolar disorder into one call? It’s the first time my son has ever made it through a whole recording about his diagnosis. I could tell that hearing the facts from someone who struggles as much as he does with bipolar really made a difference. Thank you! I was crying and didn’t want him to know, but it was happy crying. This is the FIRST time he has done anything with me related to his illness. I have hope now thanks to this call.”


The Bipolar Disorder 101 call covers:
  • What is bipolar disorder?
  • What is the difference between bipolar I (one) and bipolar II (two)?
  • What is mania? What is depression?
  • What behaviors go with each mood swing?
  • Are there other symptoms besides mania and depression? (Yes!)

And finally, some great stories.

Click here to experience the Bipolar Disorder 101 call.  Get ready for a wild ride to stability!



Julie Fast Mental Health Court Consulting

Julie’s coaching practice is currently on hold while she works on her new video course explaining her cannabis and bipolar disorder harm reduction plan. Please feel free to contact Julie at Julie Fast Books on gmail to receive a notification when the cannabis education course is ready for the public.  Please note- Julie Fast is not taking any new coaching clients at this time. Please refer to her books and blog for help.  She will be back soon.  Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder is the place to start for partners. Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and The Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder are the best place to start for family members. Please do read below to hear more about her work.  She will announce on the blog when her practice is taking new clients.



Julie is the reason my son is currently in a mandated treatment program for bipolar disorder and cannabis use instead of in jail with known criminals. Because of her ability to synthesize an enormous about of information into short documents that I could share with the judge and my son’s lawyer, we were able to find the calmness needed to argue the case for mental health court. Before Julie, we were out of our minds with worry. I was not sleeping. I could not get a grip on what was needed. Julie heard our story, asked an incredibly short amount of questions and seemed to grasp many years of out of control behavior in just a few sessions. Now, we simply check in with Julie to tell her of our son’s progress. She taught us tools that we all use now. It wasn’t therapy. I am not too sure how to describe Julie’s work as there is no one like her. She understood my son because they share symptoms and she understood us because of her experience with family members and her partner who has bipolar. She also has what she calls a criminal mind due to her mania and psychosis. Thank heaven for Julie. She saved our family. I do not say this lightly. 

Alex R.

Hermosa Beach, California


Along with my coaching practice, I work as a consultant for parents and partners who need help educating law enforcement,  the judicial system and the law field on how bipolar disorder can lead to criminal behavior. I regularly create documents that help judges understand the background of a person who needs mental health court far more than a harsh sentence that teaches a person a lesson and am experienced in custody cases and other court situations where mental health is a factor.

When it comes to crimes committed during mood swings, people with bipolar disorder aren’t great at learning lessons that focus on tough love and we really, really do not respond well to jail.

I enjoy my work in the court system and encourage you to set up an intake if you have questions on how to get a loved one in to mental health court if there are pending charges.

My clients include those who have a loved one in jail, partners of people who committed crimes while using cannabis that led to a manic and psychotic episode as well as those who are involved in prostitution and other extremely out of character behaviors on account of a mental health disorder.

You can find relief.


Click here to read more information about my coaching work.

I Made it Thought the Suicide Darkness Once Again and You Can Too

Suicidal depression is the most dangerous illness in the world. It is more dangerous than any outwardly physical illness and is in my opinion far more dangerous than war and natural disasters.  How can I make such a bold statement? In all of these situations, you have a self to protect you from harm. When you have a physical illness, you have a mind that says- you will make it through this! When you are in war, you can have training and weapons to protect you or have someone on your side to protect you if you are unable to fight for yourself. When a natural disaster occurs, you can take shelter and literally ‘weather out the storm.’  I am not making light of the death that can occur from outward experiences, but I am putting forth the argument that if we want to reduce suicide, we have to take it more seriously.

I consider depression the most dangerous illness in the world due to its ability to tell us to kill ourselves.

What is more dangerous to a human life than the brain that controls that life? Unless you have experienced suicidal depression, your mind will come up with holes in my argument. Please know that those of us with severe suicidal ideation that comes from an illness will understand the idea that unless we learn to protect ourselves from our ill brain, we might not win and stay alive.

I plan to stay alive. When I get suicidal, I have a plan. You can read about this plan here if you want to really dig deeper into my philosophy.

My latest suicidal depression was a few weeks ago. It was a whopper! A mental hurricane that was dangerous and life threatening. I was overwhelmed, scared and weakened by my thoughts, but I had my plan and I put it into action.

The suicidal episode was once again a reaction to a new medication. I regularly try new meds to help with my inability to sleep naturally.  I don’t have insomnia. I don’t have sleep apnea. I have a sleep disorder that is created by bipolar disorder and a head injury, so finding a natural way to sleep is paramount in my life.  This led to trying some meds that I knew could cause problems and one did.

The thoughts during this episode focused on the pointlessness of being alive. Oh! Just writing this is shocking. I love being alive and I love the people in my life. I am not in any way a pessimist and believe mightily in my future. And yet, a change in my brain chemistry took me down so far I had to go into protection mode in order to keep myself functioning. Here are the thoughts I have when I get into a What is the Point of Life? suicidal downswing.

  • No one will care if I’m not here.
  • Life is way too hard.
  • It will be such a relief to be dead!
  • Life is not meant to be such a struggle. I can just end it all and feel better.
  • I wish I were dead.
  • I want to die.

Oh goodness. What balderdash. What ridiculous statements.  What LIES!  But when I am depressed, they are more real than anything another person can say which is why this episode is so dangerous. The thoughts are unshakable. They are solid and feel as though they are rooted in reality.

How do I survive these suicidal episodes?  I don’t try to talk myself out of being suicidal by counteracting my thoughts such as saying, “Julie, you know many people care for you and would be devastated if you died.” That rarely works. Instead, I do what I teach in all of my books.

I treat bipolar disorder first. No exceptions.

I have a set announcement in my head that I have memorized that sounds like this:  Julie, you are sick. Nothing has happened in life. These thoughts are not real. They are your ill brain. Look at your Suicide and Depression Health Cards. You will see the same words over and over again. This is bipolar. Get help for the bipolar.

This is what bipolar ILLNESS looks like. It is not me. It is a mood swing. I am fine as I am. I treat bipolar disorder first.


This is what the real me looks like. A person with hopes and dreams and the ability to handle the world. I am not my illness and I take my bipolar disorder very seriously.  Please know that the above picture and the picture below were only a few weeks apart. The above picture is not me. It is the outward image of my illness. I am not my bipolar. I am Julie and you are you.


My plan may not work for everyone, but if you have bipolar disorder, I would like to suggest it might work for you or at least become a part of your suicide prevention strategies. When you know what your suicidal thoughts sound like, you will be ready for when they show up and you can treat them the way you would treat any bipolar disorder mood swing.

When you treat bipolar disorder first, you can make it through the suicide darkness once again. No, it’s not fair you have to go through this. I am sad for myself as well, but please hear me when I say that just a few weeks later, I am sitting here writing this just as I would write anything. I didn’t want to die. Nothing had happened and the thoughts of ending my life were not my thoughts. They were the thoughts of bipolar disorder.

We can’t control the world. We can’t even control the person next to us! But we can set up a plan to Treat Bipolar First and then examine what we want to change in life. Suicidal darkness is not personal when you have bipolar disorder. It’s an illness. It can be managed and tamed. I hate this illness, but I love my life.

If you are suicidal right now, ask yourself this, “Do I have the same thoughts every time I am suicidal? Do I have the same feelings?”     This will help you see that bipolar is consistent because it is an illness.  I stay alive for myself. No one else. I like myself and I like my life. I will manage bipolar disorder daily and I encourage you to do the same. This is a dangerous illness, but can be stronger.

I believe in you,


Here are a few more resources from people who live with suicidal thoughts and manage them with a plan. My plan may not work for you, but the plans others have in place may be exactly what you are looking for!!!

Kevin Hines:  Click here to visit Kevin’s Facebook page. 


Rudy Caseres:  Click here to visit Rudy’s Facebook page. 


You are loved. There is a place for you in this world. Treat bipolar disorder first and get on with your beautiful, messy life.

The Many Faces of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder Check in…

The mood swings over the past few weeks aaa plane 75have been intense, but they are now calmed down.

Managing bipolar disorder is a daily task.

I don’t get a break. Is it that way for you? I’m not saying I’m miserable or in a mood swing all of the time. I am saying that in order to stay as stable as possible, I treat bipolar disorder first in all things that I do. I’m speaking in Atlanta, Georgia on the 18th.  I started planing for the trip last week in terms of getting my sleep on the same time schedule and packing ahead of time. If I don’t do this- and believe me I don’t want to!- it will affect my performance!


Here I am in the tulip fields in Seattle, Washington and traveling in China in 1995. I was hypomanic when I went to China…by myself! I then got psychotic and depressed in Hong Kong and was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder a month after these pictures were taken. Wow, so long ago!

china one

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