Julie joins the Mom Brain Podcast with Hilaria Baldwin and Daphne Oz: Childhood Mental Health

🎧👧🧒 The Mom Brain Podcast has arrived! I hope you enjoy my interview with Hilaria Baldwin and Daphne Oz on the topics of childhood mental health, signs of childhood and teen bipolar disorder, other possible childhood mental health symptoms and an overall positive approach for childhood brain health. This is a great podcast to listen to while taking a walk. The hosts were amazing!
Hilaria and Daphne were so kind- so well prepared and so very interested in helping moms and dads distinguish the difference between regular childhood shenanagins and the very real symptoms of childhood onset mental health disorders. I commend them! It makes such a difference when we listen to and support the work of people who are spreading the word about childhood mental health like Hilaria and Daphne. 
👩‍🏫 Details:
Julie A. Fast is not only a bipolar expert, a national speaker, and author, she also has lived with bipolar disorder since she was a teenager. Julie is the author of numerous books including 2004’s Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder. She was a consultant for Claire Danes on the Showtime series Homeland, as her character Carrie Mathison suffered from severe bipolar disorder. As a family and partner coach, Julie has incredibly specific systems when it comes to dealing with bipolar disorder in children and/or living with someone suffering from Bipolar. She is a nationally recognized expert in mental health.
In this fascinating episode, Julie defines bipolar disorder and discusses her systems of helping families deal with the illness. She talks about empathy training, charting, and treatments. Julie impresses Hilaria and Daphne with her command of the issue and her eloquence. This is an important episode whether or not bipolar is in your family or not.
Favorite Things:
Hilaria: Dazzle Dry Nail Polish
Daphne: Bjornqorn Popcorn
Julie: Being with Her Nephew


How Does the Flu Affect Bipolar Disorder Symptoms?

🤧 As you can tell from my sparse posting, the flu still has me in its clutches! What a virus! I’m now on week two. I’ll be back in action soon! For now, I want to cover the aspects of being sick that can affect bipolar:
  1. 💊 Medicines to treat colds and the flu. Anything containing pseudo-ephedrine such as Sudafed or Thera Flu has to be used carefully. Daytime use is better and careful checking of the mood is essential.
  2. 😴 Changes in sleep. This is always an issue in bipolar. Anything that disrupts sleep for more than a few days can affect our moods.
  3. 🤢 Stomach flu that includes a lot of vomiting so that meds can’t be absorbed. Take this seriously if it goes on for more than a few days!
In many ways, having the flu can HELP bipolar symptoms. I stress the importance of taking notes and making a LOT of lists when it comes to learning the ups and downs of this complicated illness. Take note of the changes you see in a loved one when they get sick. For example, does rapid cycling calm down if a loved one is in bed for days and isn’t able to stay out late at night? Does having 24 hour care with chicken soup and staying in one place help the mood?
My life is about treating bipolar first. It’s my motto for a reason. My type of bipolar is chronic. I react within hours to many substances and am easily caught out by mania. I was using Robutussin for my serious cough and had the thought, “Wow, I fell really, really good today!” For most people, that would be a positive. Not for me. That is almost always a sign that I’m getting high. I went online and read about DXM. It affects serotonin darn it! I didn’t buy another bottle.
It’s not fair and it is such a burden to carry in life. But if I am not careful, the mania will have me and I will do something I deeply regret. I am done with a life of manic regrets, so being a detective, even with something as basic as colds and the flu and how they affect my bipolar. This fits into the triggers chapter in Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and my daily use of The Health Cards. Careful attention to my mood saves my life!
You can do all of this even if your loved one is not yet ready to be a detective in his or her own life. You can model this behavior. It can be YOUR way of loving someone with this illness.
💛☀️ Julie

Bipolar Disorder and Cannabis: Psychosis, Mania and the Bipolar Brain

🤔The main challenge with #bipolar and #cannabis marijuana is psychosis. The article linked at the end of this post explains the basics of psychosis and can help you see the difference between mania and psychosis.
It helps to know that psychosis is a secondary symptom of bipolar. It is NOT a primary symptom. What does this mean?
It means that psychosis related to bipolar will always, without exception be attached to a noticeable mood swing of either #depression, euphoric #mania or dysphoric mania.
In our mental health world, when someone has psychosis as a primary symptom it is either from a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia or schizoaffective (people who have bipolar AND a separate psychotic disorder) or a reaction to a substance such as the stimulating hallucinogenic THC.
😯The main problem I see in our bipolar world is the use of THC that causes primary psychosis in people with bipolar that then presents as schizoaffective. Think about it… the hallucinogenic properties in today’s THC are so strong they can lead to a mis-diagnosis of a psychotic disorder.
👩‍🏫 After ten years of working as a cannabis educator for health care professionals, I can say I am flummoxed by one thing- THC seems to cause psychosis and dysphoric mania and not euphoric mania. I am researching the role of endocannabinoids and dopamine as this must be the answer. It might be terpenes- they can affect serotonin.
Please know that this is not a post to change your mind on weed. That is your choice. My goal is education. Legalization without education has brought our pretty much non existent mental health system to its knees. It’s only going to get worse. Let’s learn what we can and have an open mind as to the effects of cannabis marijuana on the bipolar brain. This is especially important for general docs and therapists who often treat people with bipolar due to a lack of psychiatric professionals.
If you want to use cannabis marijuana, that is of course up to you. If you want to stay stable and avoid the truly awful psychotic symptoms created in the bipolar brain by today’s THC heavy weed, I suggest using cannabis hemp ONLY.
I have tested as much cannabis marijuana as is humanly possible. I have worked with thousands- and those who know me know I don’t exaggerate of parents and partners- thousands of people who have really sick kids or partners due to weed. I don’t make comments lightly.
Parents and health care professionals, please join me on The Stable Table and partners please join me on The Stable Bed for more information.
I wish I could use weed for anxiety and chronic pain. I would! It helps some people- for those of us with bipolar, it tends to make us really sick.


🕺💊 My Bipolar Disorder Medication Dilemma! 💊🕺

I don’t like #bipolar medications that have side effects. I like meds that work and don’t make me MORE ill physically or mentally. Unfortunately, this is not reality for most of us with bipolar.
🦄🦄🦄 Yes, some people can take meds without side effects. I have met these unicorns!
🌈🌈🌈 If only I were one of them!
The majority of us have side effects and this is the main reason we stop meds. I teach a system based on two premises:
  1. We can control the majority of our symptoms using the ideas in my books, especially The Health Cards and then use meds only for the symptoms we can’t control on our own. This reduces the need for entire categories of medications and lets us use smaller doses.
  2. We still get side effects from meds and must learn to accept certain side effects if we want stability.
I appreciate my medications at at the same time can never reconcile the way the meds help me and yet make me fat and hungry. I hate this so much. But I like stability more. So it is up to me to figure out how to take less meds and how to deal with my weight in the future.
This is not a fair trade off, but it’s the only one I have. The other alternative is being much thinner, but so sick I can’t function at all.
Life is not fair. Life is life. People with insulin pumps aren’t exactly pleased with having something attached to their body.
People in wheel chairs would rather walk. I would rather be well and not need meds. Wishful thinking!
I have learned to take the minimum meds possible. It works for me. I have one med I can take every day and one that has such intense side effects that I can only use it as needed. This works for me.

Julie A. Fast holding a rock of lithium!

I have bipolar and a psychotic disorder. I live with it or I die by it. I choose life. I choose appropriate meds that have side effects I don’t like.
Not fair! But smart.


Sometimes Walking Away is the Only Option

Situations that others can handle with a bit of stress are often impossible for me to handle.

Relationship issues that others can talk through, forget or forgive are not something I can live with as other people can.

Bipolar disorder tells me what I can and can’t handle and I have to listen to this illness if I want to stay as stable as possible.

I have left many relationships that my other friends could have tolerated.

I have said no to more work projects than those where I say yes.

I have walked away from book deals that were not going well. At great detriment to my finances.

That is life with bipolar. My goal is stability. This means I have to walk away from many situations that the stable people in my life can navigate with relative ease.

It is never in my favor to do this professionally or financially. Walking away always comes with significant personal loss.

I can accept this reality or fight it. I don’t get to work full time. I can’t be in relationships that are contentious. I can’t say yes to ‘great opportunities.’

Everything I do takes bipolar into account. Are there some people with bipolar who don’t have to live this way? Some. But the majority of us have to treat bipolar first.

The trade off isn’t fair. I hate it. But I am alive. Living with a serious mental health disorder isn’t fun. No chronic illness is fun!

But….the result is that I have at least 80% less mood swings than I used to. That is amazing!

The goal is to find peace in myself so that I can get on with life. I am SO much better now than in the past. The torment is gone. My relationships are solid. I do well on the work I am able to do.

The alternative is mood swings. I walk away when I have to. I choose the Stable Life.


The Duality of Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder

It’s possible to love someone and be upset with someone.
It’s possible to love someone and be worried about someone.
It’s possible to love someone and be very, very angry at someone.
It’s possible to be two places at once with your emotions when you love someone with bipolar disorder.

Love is interesting. We can love those who harm us. We can love those who disappear. We can love those who refuse help. And we can love those who are too sick to receive our love.

Seeing the duality of loving someone with bipolar disorder allows you to have conflicting emotions.

Loving someone while also setting limits allows you to take care of yourself when a person is ill.

Saying no allows you to keep the peace in your own brain when the brain of a loved one is anything but peaceful.

Understanding that you don’t save the life of another person doesn’t mean you are abandoning someone you love.

I wrote Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder:Understanding and Helping Your Partner out of a place of love. I wrote it for all of the partners who went through and are going through what I experienced when my partner was so sick he said he didn’t love me, had never loved me and didn’t care if he ever saw me again.

I wrote Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder:  A 4-Step Plan for You and Your Loved Ones to Manage the Illness and Create Lasting Stability for those of us with the illness, but it’s also for the family members, partners, friends and health care professionals who have to be on the receiving end of a mood swing!

You are not alone if today is hard. You are not alone if you love someone who can’t be there for YOU.

Decide what you need. Decide how you want to use your money. Decide the line that you will not cross to help someone who is ill. This is your life. Even parents have to make decisions that are painful. Partners have to make decisions that focus on the children sometimes at the expense of the partner who is ill.

Does this create guilt? Of course it does- Duality means that there are two emotions struggling with each other. Love and guilt. Love and anger. Love and frustration. Love and DONE.

Who are you in the journey of loving someone with a serious mental health disorder?

What role do you want in the life of someone who is ill?

Who can you talk to? What do you need?

Focus on yourself first. This gives you the strength of the multiple emotions everyone feels when bipolar is in the relationship.

And remember- treat bipolar first. Avoid The Bipolar Conversation. Ask for help from someone who has been there. Read Loving more than once. Highlight the ideas in Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder that you want to use in your relationships. Protect your kids from the bipolar gene by avoiding anti depressants and ADD meds in childhood. Learn all you can and take care of you!

We can live with duality if we know it’s normal part of loving someone with bipolar disorder.


If you’re a parent of a child with bipolar disorder, please join me on The Stable Table on Facebook. If you’re a partner, please join me on The Stable Bed. If you have bipolar and want to learn more on how to help those around you understand what YOU need, join me on my Julie A. Fast Facebook page!