Do I Have Bipolar Anxiety or a Separate Anxiety Disorder?















This blog is extra information related to my Bp Magazine Blog Making a Living When You Have Bipolar Anxiety. 

How much of your behavior is anxiety? It’s a VERY untreated component of bipolar as well as a very common secondary diagnosis for people with the illness. Remember, if a person has anxiety when not manic or depressed, it IS NOT bipolar disorder. All symptoms of bipolar are attached to mania and depression.

I have a serious frontal lobe head injury that exacerbated my coexisting anxiety disorder. If I am really honest with myself about what I live with daily, it’s pretty overwhelming.

– Psychotic disorder that started at 16. I often have signs of schizophrenia due to the chronic nature of my psychosis. I get psychotic when depressed or manic (dysphoric mania) and separately when stressed. I definitely have anxious psychosis.

– Bipolar two that is almost bipolar one that started with hypomania at age 17. I will have a full blown manic episode if I use anti depressants, cannabis marijuana or steroids just to name a few on my forbidden to touch list! This means I am in between bipolar two and one. I took charge of my mania ten years ago and it saved my life. Mania is the MAIN PROBLEM IN BIPOLAR.

When you combine bipolar and a psychotic disorder it’s called schizoaffective. If you have bipolar and full schizophrenia, it’s two separate diagnoses. I have schizoaffective leaning towards schizophrenia. I am not scared of that word. It is just an illness of the brain.

– Anxiety disorder. I’ve had panic attacks all of my life and didn’t know what they were. My bipolar comes from my dad’s side of the family. The anxiety is from my mom’s side. No one in her family tree has bipolar, but they have anxiety and depression. I literally have no idea where the psychotic disorder comes from as I don’t have much contact with my dad’s side.

Knowing your partner’s symptoms is essential. We have very distinct mood swings as well as combined mood swings. Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder (for partners)  and Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder (for all of us!) will help you unravel all of this. My Health Cards are being edited (I know, it is taking me forever to do this project due to my own symptoms) and will be available soon.

My blog for Bp Magazine Making a Living when You Have Bipolar Anxiety explains what it’s like to live with anxiety and panic attacks.


Three Unexpected Signs of Bipolar Depression from Julie’s Bp Magazine Blog

There’s weepy, sad, and needy depression—and also irritated, unloving, and restless depression…

I remember the day I realized that my definition of depression was VERY limited.  For three years after my bipolar disorder diagnosis in 1995, I wrote down every symptom I had at the time and each one I could remember from the past. Soon, I had thousands of symptoms. This eventually turned into my Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder.  I also tracked my mood on a chart for 12 years in order to figure out my mood swing patterns. You can see one of these charts in the appendix of Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder.  The following article from my Bp Magazine blogs synthesizes my thoughts on how very different depression can appear depending on what type of depression a person experiences.

I now divide depression into weepy and agitated depression.  This explains why some of us are just downright mean and nasty when we are depressed, while at other times we might be clingy and weepy!

From the blog:

Depression can make us weepy, sad, and needy—but did you know it can also make us really irritated, unloving, and restless? So many of my relationship problems stemmed from the negative filters of depression. I didn’t even know that I was an incredibly positive person until my depression was brought under control.

Sign #1: Irritation

Irritated depression makes me kick and punch things, have terrible road rage, see the dirt of the world instead of the beauty, and experience the most caustic, negative, and judgmental thoughts you can imagine. It’s awful. I’m a witch. It’s as though I put on negativity glasses and the lenses make it impossible for me to think a nice thought or say a nice word.

Click here to read 3 Unexpected Signs of Bipolar Depression on Bp Magazine.



Julie, can you be more positive! PLEAAASSSSEEEEEE!

I know I can write a lot about what is not working in our current mental health system. I know that I talk about the abuse many family members and partners experience if a loved one has untreated bipolar. I know that I have compassion for all of us who have the illness, especially if we also have secondary diagnoses such as psychosis.

Where are the positives? Oh, there are SO MANY. I am alive and you are alive. I know that I have bipolar disorder and a psychosis disorder. This helped me figure out why my life was so chaotic for so many years. I call this my get out of jail free card!

I am so thankful for my diagnoses. They saved me. For 15 years, I thought I was the problem. Now, I can figure out if my current melt down is illness or personal choice. This really, really makes a difference in my life for the better!

Another positive? There are books that I can read and learn from every day- at my fingertips. I recently lost my beloved cat. It was so intense. I love/loved her so much. I got online and found help! One vet blog said, “When you lose a pet, don’t worry about how intense your feelings are just because it is an animal. Instead, remember that love is love.”

We are so lucky! Help at our fingertips! This is new for many of us.

There are helplines and hotlines to call. There are people like Martin Baker who write about friendship and mental health and how important online friends can be.

There are easy ways to figure out what is happening when we get sick- we just type in our symptoms and right  before our eyes, a variety of explanations that we can then peruse.

I need to remember to write about the positives. There are many.



Julie A. Fast Workshop for Parents of Children with Bipolar and Schizoaffective Disorder

Julie will teach her When Love is Not Enough: Helping a Child Say Yes to Treatment workshop on Sunday, August 4th from 4:00-5:30 PM PST.

This is a phone based workshop. Julie will talk for 60 minutes on the topics described below and will then answer audience questions for 30 minutes. The cost is kept low so that as many parents as possible can participate.

Cost: $49

Julie will cover the following topics and teach the system she has used for 20 years to help parents who have adult children with bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder find stability.

Does this sound familiar?

  1. You have provided a home for the child, but the child doesn’t pay rent or for anything around the house.
  2. The child says his or her healthy is his or her business and not yours.
  3. You are either deeply worried your child will die or are scared that your child will harm you or someone else in the house.
  4. Your child is angry and verbally or physically abusive. This is often done through texts. 
  5. There is cannabis marijuana use or drinking- with a possibility of other drug use.
  6. YOU feel out of control – if you kick him or her out, what will happen! But if the person stays, you are a hostage in your own home.

If you experience any or all of the items on this list, you will find help and peace in Julie’s workshop.

Parent of a child with bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia? Join Julie on The Stable Table on Facebook. This is a closed group for parents, relatives, friends and health care professionals who care about someone with a serious mental health disorder.


Online scheduling

Don’t Scratch that Manic Itch!


I long for mania. When the depression is raging, I have these thoughts:

  • I will take an SSRI anti depressant just a few times. It will get me out of this depression and at least I won’t feel dead all of the time! (Many doctors do this with depressed clients. It’s not safe. If your doc knows you have bipolar and is prescribing an SSRI anti depressant, please talk openly with this doctor about mania. SSRI anti depressants are NOT a treatment for bipolar depression.)
  • There are plenty of substances that will pop me into mania. I will be careful. I will only use them until the depression is gone.
  • Oh, I am finally feeling a bit of energy! I need to take advantage of it and get all of my work done in one night! I have missed so much work because of my depression!

The thoughts are realistic.  Bipolar depression is horrible. Euphoric mania is better right? Our skin looks better. Our eyes are wide open to the world! We are ready for anything! We don’t eat! We can drink more and party! It’s easy to meet people!

Please oh please let me live in the mania world!

This is the thinking that ruined my life and almost got me killed in 2010.

Stability isn’t a chess game. It’s not a strategy between no depression and just enough mania to get us through the day.

Stability means staying no to depression and with equal intensity, saying no to mania!

When we scratch the manic itch, we ultimately create more depression.

Depression and mania are two sides of the same bipolar coin. We don’t get one without the other.  Courting mania, giving in to manic feelings and thinking that mania is BETTER than depression is a slippery slope. It never works.


Stability means doing all you can to manage depression and then stopping what you are doing if the mania starts to show up. It means NO SSRI anti depressants. No cocaine or meth to just end that depressed feeling.  It means taking sleep meds when you start to get manic and saying no to the wild and wonderful feelings that mania brings at the beginning.

My depression has been relentless for months. I can feel my mind slip into the manic thinking that got me into so much trouble in the past.

I have to be an adult. I need to manage my depression, but courting mania is not managing depression. It’s creating more bipolar disorder mood swings in my future.


Growing Older with Bipolar: Caring for Aging Parents

My nephew David with my mother Rebecca

My mom is a powerhouse. She’s 78 and has the energy and lifestyle of a 60 year old woman. For this reason, I have been able to ignore the reality that my mom is aging. When I think about the aging process of my most important supporter in life, I realize that one day our roles might change. One day, I might be the one who has to be the #1 support.

As a person with bipolar, I am not sure what I will be able to do. I will not be able to stay with her at night. I will not be able to take care of her if she gets ill. I will not be able to travel much or financially take care of her if needed.

I am lucky. My mom is a healthy person. Her aging so far has been a normal process. It has not been about illness or poor health choices. Also, she is financially independent.

My thought processes around this are for the what if something happens that I will have to address. My mother’s aging process doesn’t change the fact that I have bipolar disorder.

My goal is to talk about all of this now while she is healthy. It’s time for my brother and myself to sit with my mom and talk about the future. What will we do if she needs some kind of care at age 90 for example? What if her excellent health changes? What if she needs us in a way she doesn’t need us now?

The management plan I created in the Health Cards and talk about in Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder teaches us to plan ahead by looking for triggers and understanding the impact of our lifestyle choices.

My bipolar is managed, but it will be rocked completely when my mother is gone from this earth. What can I do to prepare for this now?

My own life is planned around bipolar disorder management. What will happen if I have to take care of the needs of someone else?

This is not being pessimistic. This is being SMART! My family talks openly about mental health, aging, money and life in general. I had to facilitate this many years ago as I knew I would not be able to survive the serious nature of the bipolar and psychotic disorder I live with daily.

It has brought me peace. Yes, my mother is aging. As I grow older with bipolar disorder, I will face the death of loved ones more and more. I will face the changes in the body of my older relatives. I will face the changes in my own body as I age. Bipolar doesn’t change as we age. We can definitely learn to manage it better, but it doesn’t get better as we grow older unless we work towards this goal every day.

Let’s face reality as we age. Aging ourselves means we are alive. Dealing with the aging process of the people we love means we are alive! Bipolar needs planning.

If you have an older parent, what is your plan to be there for this parent while still managing your bipolar disorder? If thinking about this brings you anxiety and stress now, think of what it will be like if something actually happens.

We are strong. We can handle triggers. Let’s talk openly with our loved ones about growing older- we can tell them what we need as we grow older with bipolar and let them know what we will be able to do or what we will have to pass on to someone else.

Honesty now saves future pain.

We can do this!