How Writers with Bipolar Can Make a Difference

An example of how we can all use images to show the real world of bipolar disorder.

I rarely comment on events outside of our bipolar community on my pages, but our current world situation needs to be addressed. I would like to share one way that the bipolar writing community can make a difference in our current times. Ten years ago I realized that almost all stock photos used on my online writings were white, young females with perfect hair and teeth. What the heck!
 
Bipolar disorder is the same all over the world- it has no racial profile at all. And yet, the articles and posts from the very beginning used images that only showed one element of the population.
 
I made a decision to specifically ask for the following when working with large websites that publish online mental health articles.
 
It is a big shocking I had to ask to be honest, but all were willing to comply.
 
1. All ages. These young, white females were not representative of the age range of bipolar. I asked for people older than 40. I had never seen this on any articles – and I started in this business in 2002.
 
2. I asked for every article to show a range of people. At first, I focused on the community I knew well from living in Asia for a long time as well as my African friends, but I eventually realized that even I was leaving out Middle Eastern and other nationalities. It’s a live and learn situation for all of us.
 
3. MORE MEN! And while we are at it – more non white men.
 
Here is an example. Look at the difference it makes simply by asking for a picture to represent ALL people with bipolar! As always, thanks to BP Magazine for Bipolar for being so open to my requests.
 
It is hard to know what to say or how to help or create change in any community, but one way I can definitely say all of us can make a difference is by thinking carefully about the images we use to represent our work.
 
Thank you,
 

Julie

What it’s Like to Work when You Have Daily Bipolar Disorder

I live with daily bipolar disorder symptoms. This is called ultradian rapid cycling bipolar disorder. I was born with ultra rapid cycling bipolar disorder, but moved into ultradian due to medication side effects. Ultra rapid cycling means I have weekly- or monthly mood cycles. Ultradian means I have a mood swing on most days.

If you’re new to bipolar disorder, this is an ancient genetic illness that has not changed in 1000 years- but what HAS changed is the increased use of SSRI anti depressants as well as ADD meds for those of us with mental health disorders and like many people, taking these meds in the 1990s before enough was known about their effect on bipolar greatly increased my mood swings. It was thought these meds helped depression and increased productivity in people with bipolar. Nope. They just created more mania and rapid cycling.

My rapid cycling greatly affects my ability to work.

Work is a passion for many people. Animals work. We build and create and destroy and build again. For some, this includes working at what we would call a regular 9-5 job while others like myself have to make a living with entrepreneurial work due to the stresses of the regular work environment. I can say that work is the most difficult thing in my life and if I had one wish from a genie it would be to work with ease. (Well, first I would wish for the bipolar to be gone! So that would take care of the problem as well. 😉 )

My goal is to help people manage bipolar disorder from day one so that they don’t have to go through what I experience daily when I try to work! I share my story as a cautionary tale.

 This is an illness that will progress if fueled by outside events including what we put in our bodies- and if the illness progresses,  our ability to work and support ourselves will change as well- and not in a positive direction!

 

Work is about productivity.  Depression takes away our ability to be productive with ease while mania often makes us so productive we’re more like a popcorn machine spitting out ideas and the beginnings of projects instead of a final, cohesive project. This includes everything we do in life. Mood swings affect all work- from keeping a house and car clean, taking care of the needs of children and actually working for money.

My daily life is focused on work as it is my main love in life. I get great pleasure from working and creating. Having bipolar TAKE this from me on a daily basis has always been the biggest struggle in my life. It continues to this day.

Don’t be like me! Keep away from SSRI drugs and ADD meds- even if it means telling a health care professional she or he needs more education about bipolar! Avoid cannabis marijuana with THC as it greatly increases so many of our symptoms.  Go to sleep on the same day you woke up to keep your melatonin and serotonin balanced.  I didn’t know to do any of this the first 20 years of my illness. Now, in many areas, it’s too late for me to change my brain back to how it was.

Learn from me. I wrote Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder from a place of experience. I was in a relationship for ten years with a man who has bipolar one (I wrote Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder for partners as I have a lot of experience as a partner!)   I’ve had bipolar symptoms since age 16. I also have a separate psychotic disorder to complicate things!

 

Work is about stability. It’s hard to work when you have daily bipolar disorder, so do what you can to manage bipolar disorder. I have a simple saying…

 

Treat Bipolar First

 

… that I use every day.  If you’re new to bipolar- if you or a loved one was just diagnosed, read Take Charge and truly do what it says. It will help you work and support yourself and those you care about. I can tell you that trying to forge your own path  – such as staying up at night because you’re a night owl- or letting the mania thrive in order to work and then just waiting out the inevitable depressions that follow will not work in the long run. I tried it! If you have bipolar and you want to work successfully, it can’t be a work experience based off mania. That simply won’t last.  You will crash and burn. Work towards stability. It is NOT boring. I promise.

Decide today that treating bipolar first is your main goal in life.  Learn to manage bipolar so that you CAN WORK!

Julie 

 

 

 

 

 

Signs of Sneaky Depression

Depression isn’t always in your face! It can be a sneaky, insidious and downright sly illness…… Here are the signs of sneaky depression.

 
1. You wonder, “What’s wrong with me!?”
2. There is a slight crying, but you ignore it. It’s more like a little sob that comes and goes.
3. The hours in a day pass by without much being accomplished even though you want to get things done.
4. You’re active, not catatonic.
5. There is sense that you’re being weak and are simply not doing enough to get things done and if you could just get YOUR ACT TOGETHER it would all be ok.
6. The day is often lost to behaviors we all use to feel better- eating, drinking, weed, mindless scrolling, binge watching, video games, etc.
 
This depression is so sneaky! It is milder than the typical crying or agitated depression that obviously affects our thoughts and makes it clear that depression is in the house.
 
This depression is just THERE as we go about our day under a little cloud that we simply can’t see as it is directly over our heads!
 
Sneaky depression can follow us around for days while we wonder WHAT’s WRONG with ME!
 
The system I teach in my books is based off of knowing what depression makes us think, say and do so that we don’t lose days, weeks, months and years to this terrible illness.
 
I know that the thought…
 
“What’s wrong with me! Why can’t I just get things done!?”
 
….is not a sign that I am non productive. It’s a sign I’m depressed and it’s time to Treat Bipolar First.
 

Julie

 
Ps: If you’re new to my work, start with Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and the article How to be Your Own Bipolar Detective. Please note that my work is for people with bipolar, but is also helps anyone interested in knowing more about bipolar or helping someone with bipolar disorder. 

Why Bipolar Anger Seeks Your Demise

Anger loves company. Anger online is often jealousy or envy of what someone has that a person wants but can’t accomplish.

Online finger jockeys believe that their crude, rude or bullying comments are them just being honest, or….just telling it like it is, bitch!

Instead, it is nature’s desire for like to be with like. When we are angry, especially due to depression, we want people to come to our level.

We don’t want to raise them up. Then we will really see the disparity between how we feel and how they are enjoying success in life. It’s unbearable for us.

We can’t raise ourselves up, so we try to bring them down. We claw them down.

Only when we see this in ourselves can we stop.

Julie

Bipolar and Avoidant Behaviors

 

I have a writing project due.. so I…

1. Watched videos.
2. Worked on my new photography backdrop with my mom’s dog Cookie as a subject.
3. Made Thai curry from scratch.
4. Got an iced coffee.
5. Scrolled through Instagram.
6. Texted my pics to friends.

Enough already! This avoidant brain is the reason so many of us with bipolar have trouble working. I will get through this. I know what to do. I wrote a book on it!

So, time to set outside limits, be my own drill sergeant, ask for help and GET IT DONE. I will not use any social media until I have met my first goal of writing five sections of the book.

If I can move my body and do everything thing BUT write, then I can write as well. Bipolar along with head injuries and other mental health concerns comes with a lot of avoidant behavior. Everything on that list is avoidance. I will control my avoidant behavior. It is the only way I can finish my project.

Do you have avoidant behavior?

I wasn’t joking about the dog pics!

Julie

PS: Get it Done When You’re Depressed IS my career. I use it every day to get things done. It is amazing. I wrote it, but it speaks to the ill me on the days work is hard. If you don’t have it already, check it out. Work is possible!

Help for Bipolar Suicidal Thoughts

 

Suicidal? Here is how I handle suicidal thoughts.
 
I know my typical thoughts. Here are a few examples:
 
Mild:
 
What’s the point?
Another day of this life?
My work is pointless and I am washed up.
 
Escalating:
 
I would be better off if I just got cancer and then I could just die.
I would not get treatment if I got cancer.
Life is too hard.
I am always sick and I can’t take this any more!
 
Serious:
 
I am going to drive my car into that wall.
I am going to drive my car off the bridge.
I can walk in front of a bus.
I am going to take all of these pills.
 
I can list these verbatim as I have had the same thoughts for almost 40 years.
 
Suicidal thoughts are a completely normal part of having bipolar. This is a mood disorder and suicidal thoughts are about the mood.
 
Memorizing what I think, say and do when I am suicidal has saved my life. When these thoughts start now, I go into action mode.
 
– I remind myself that I am sick and I have to stop what I’m doing and Treat Bipolar First.
 
– I need to tell my doctor, Julie Foster of Pohala Clinic – A Place of Healing that the suicidal thoughts are back and I need help with meds.
 
– I will talk to myself all day and remind myself that this is illness and nothing more.
 
My suicidal thoughts and feelings are often a part of psychosis. I have hallucinations when I’m suicidal.
 
My first suicidal episode was in 1983. I was going through my first break up and I had the thought, “Everything would be better if I just rode my bike in front of this bus.”
 
My most recent suicidal thought was a few weeks ago!
 
It is a part of life with bipolar.
 
Are you suicidal right now? Does it help to know you are 100% normal? It is no different than having trouble breathing. You (and I) need to get help when the suicidal thoughts are raging just as we would get help if the mania were raging and taking over our lives.
 
Suicidal thoughts are scary, but they are not real. They are only thoughts. If we disconnect these thoughts and do not let them turn into suicidal behavior, we will survive.
 
I know there is a saying- It gets better.. and when you’re suicidal, this feels impossible, but please know that it’s true. Each time you’re suicidal and you create a plan that you can use the next time, you will decrease the intensity and length of the episode.
 
No one needs to live with suicidal depression. First, we recognize it as illness and talk to ourselves about being sick.
 
Then, we get help for the illness just as we would get help for any illness.
 
This includes medications such as the new and hopeful ketamine treatments, ECT and more.
 
I will do anything for stability. If you’re suicidal right now and you made it thorough this long ass post- chapeau my dear friend. Now, let’s get some help.
 
 

Julie