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Julie Fast Talks about Covid Related Depression vs. Genetic Depression and more……

 

Julie A. Fast talks with Linked In Educator Becki Saltzman about depression, bipolar disorder and mental health in general during this lively, intelligent and passionate conversation. Topics include the difference between Covid depression and genetic depression, post partum depression, getting things done when life is tough and more.

Julie’s new book Getting it Done When You’re Depressed is available now.

Bipolar Mood Swings and the Loss of a Beloved Pet

I know. It’s so HARD too think ahead about loss. We want to keep our much loved pets around us forever. Even when we know this is not reality, we tend to avoid the inevitable.  We often live longer than our pets.

It IS difficult to address this topic when life is going well. We don’t want to jinx our future!

Please know that I am sharing the following information with the best intentions. I want you (and all of us) to be ready for the big triggers that can turn our lives upside down, even when we think we have the ability to manage the triggers on our own. The bipolar brain does what it wants. We need to be ready. If you have a beloved pet. Or, if you found this article when searching for help because of the loss of a pet, please know you are not alone. Pets are our companions in life and can make an enormous difference in our bipolar world. I tell the story of my much loved cat Bibi and how I took care of myself while she was ill and after she died. It allowed me to stay stable enough to celebrate her life and go through the normal grieving process. I want the same for you.  This article was originally published in Bp Magazine. I add more information about this wonderful magazine after the article.

 

The Loss of a Beloved Pet: 6 Ways to Stay Stable

At the difficult time of losing a pet, it’s important to have a plan in place to prevent bipolar disorder symptoms from taking hold.

 

My beloved kitty Bibi is gone. I was ready for her death and want to share with you what I’m doing in order to keep myself stable while going through the grief of losing one of my best friends.

Do you have a pet you love? Many of us find such comfort in our wonderful animal companions.

This next question is harder: As a person with bipolar, do you have a plan in place for real loss? In other words, are you ready for the loss of a beloved pet? Especially if this animal helps with your symptoms? I used to call Bibi my depression companion. What a lovely soul in a beautiful body!

Now she is a soul.

The death of a pet is a bipolar disorder trigger. We need a plan in place for when loss of a pet happens. It can be sudden or it can be drawn out as it was with Bibi. We need a plan now that we put into place when the news that a pet is ill or a sudden death happens.

When I heard Bibi had cancer, I had to think of many things outside of my grief. I made sure that I honored her every day she had left. But at the same time, I had to take care of my bipolar disorder. My motto is Treat Bipolar First. It is the only way I can move through life without getting sick.

I hope it helps you if you are going through something similar. And, if you have a pet and want to make sure you stay well enough to grieve and feel the normal sadness we all experience with loss, I hope you will start a plan now that can be in place when the death happens.

The hardest part of this by far was not knowing how her death might affect my bipolar.

On the day she died, I could not sleep. I wanted to write about her in my journal and remember her and cry. All natural behaviors. What was not natural was the fact that it was past midnight. At 1 AM, I realized it could be dangerous for my bipolar as I could easily not sleep at all.

I decided I could love her and think of her the next day. I forced myself to sleep.

I took extra sleep meds and got 8 hours. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I had a plan in place for what I would do if I could tell that my sadness and grief were morphing into mania or depression, and I used it.

Please think ahead….

What is your plan if your kitty gets sick? What is your plan if your best friend who happens to be a dog, simply gets older as all animals do and his time is near?

I want us to prepare for bipolar disorder triggers so that when they arrive, we know what to do.

Here is a short list of what I did to make Bibi’s death as gentle as possible for my brain:

1. When I realized that my sleep would be affected, I asked my mom to help with her care-taking. We were a team in this until the end. I could not stay up at night with Bibi. The guilt was enormous at first, but everyone helped. It also helped that she had a very compassionate vet.

2. I imagined life without her. I thought of what I might feel and opened myself to what might show up in terms of bipolar. Yes, I did this before she died.

3. I regulated my sleep. This meant sleeping in for two more hours than usual the day she died. It would be hard to do this if I were at a work place, but I have my own business, so it is possible. If you need this and do work with set hours, take sick time.

4. I decided to fully feel everything, but gave myself a time limit for grief. If I don’t do this, it will spiral into depression. This means I can cry naturally, but I will not let myself cry for five hours straight for example. When the panic attacks showed up, I felt them, did my breathing, talked to myself and worked through them. It’s so much easier to do this when you plan ahead.

5. I told my friends that Bibi was dying and asked for help.

6. When it was time, I took her to the vet and had a loving goodbye.

I want to learn from this experience so that when another pet or someone I love dies, I will know what works. I am not doing anything to push down my feelings or have less grief. That is normal.

But I am doing everything I can not to get sick. Depression is knocking on the door. I will not let depression in this hotel!

What is your plan? If it is very painful to think about this, I see that as a positive. It means you will need to plan ahead or the grief might be too much if something happens.

Let’s all have a plan ready for when a beloved pet leaves our lives.

When we manage bipolar, we can have the space needed to remember and celebrate all of the joy our beloved pet brought into our lives.

Julie 

If you’re new to my work, please start with Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder. It was the first book to talk about bipolar disorder triggers. It has a full chapter on the topic and a plan for managing bipolar in general.

I highly recommend Bp Magazine.

How I Prepare for the Big Bipolar Disorder Triggers

Please know that I never post when I am sick. You NEVER have to worry about me.

I have a story to share. Please know it comes from a place of stability.

Social media is for helping others and to do this, I must be stable. This is why I keep my social media small and manageable. I only post after I have managed my current mood swing.

I lost a loved one to cancer over the holidays. It was not unexpected and he and I planned for the day he would no longer be in physical form.

I still got VERY sick for weeks… first with weepy depression and then a bit of psychosis and then an awful, scary, catatonic depression.

I knew what it was. This was the bipolar. I won’t minimize it and say that managing my mood was easy. It was horrific, but I did it.

I Treat Bipolar First in all areas of life so that I can have real emotions.. such as grief.

Over 30 years ago when my best friend Mia died from cancer, I didn’t know I had bipolar. I was sick for two years due to the shock of her death. It cost me a marriage to a wonderful man. I had no plan.

Now that I have a correct diagnosis and a plan, I can recognize the difference between bipolar symptoms and grief. I can stop everything to manage the bipolar and then move on with grieving.

A bipolar management plan is the only thing that keeps me going. It’s the plan in my books. I use it every day. Bipolar is genetic, but it’s greatly triggered by the environment.

Just as a person with serious asthma needs to always be alert to mold triggers or a person with diabetes must be aware of anything that affects insulin. I, as a person with bipolar must be ready for the big changes that trigger my symptoms.

Treat Bipolar First.

I was too sick to work for a few weeks. I was too sick to do more than function. That is ok. My work was management so that I could then meet my work obligations 2021.

What is your plan for loss? It is ok to be scared about this topic. Talk with others about what you will NEED in terms of bipolar if you lose a pet you love. Or a parent. Or anyone. Talk now and be ready for the world.

I am sending you love if you too are going through loss right now. Ask for help. ❤️❤️❤️

Julie

Does my Partner have Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is episodic. No exceptions.

Bipolar disorder is an illness and is not about personality.

Bipolar disorder can be managed.

Without management, people with bipolar disorder have stable relationships and then chaotic relationships.

If you add substances such as cannabis marijuana or stimulants, the person will be in and out of bipolar episodes consistently.

Start with Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder. It was the first book ever written for a partner of a person with bipolar disorder. It’s still the best in my opinion.

Julie

 

Bipolar Disorder and Video Games

🎮 Because the part of the brain used to play video games is different than the part of the brain used to complete a work project!

🦉Bipolar disorder deeply affects executive functioning. Executive functioning relates to the frontal lobe of the brain.

🕹Video games have a lot to do with intelligence of course, but they’re much more about reaction time and physical ability than executive functioning. It would be interesting to study if video game ability changes in terms of role-playing games vs. first person action games depending on what mood swing someone is experiencing.

If anyone has research on this, I’d love to see it. Or even a personal experience. Let me know what you think.

🏞 It’s the same reason we can scroll and watch videos and maybe even do short Instagram posts when we’re not well, but if you ask us to work, it feels impossible.

I struggle with this almost every day.

🏋🏿 How I manage my intense work struggles…

As a person with bipolar disorder, I have to train myself to work. My brain doesn’t allow me to work like a regular person as I am often in a mood swing.

When I’m stable, I don’t have intense work problems.

If your ability to play video games while not being able to work is episodic, it can definitely be bipolar disorder. Managing bipolar is the answer. You can still play video games, but you can work as well.

😝 Video games also create dopamine rewards that we rarely get from daily work.

Julie

Book recommendation: Get it Done When You’re Depressed Get it Done When You’re Depressed. This is what I use daily to somehow get this wonky brain to focus.