Do You Have a Bipolar Disorder Travel Plan?

IMG_8149Travel is exciting. Getting away from it all- the weather, no work, friends, beaches, family, new sights, languages, the exotic. It would be great if you could also take a vacation from bipolar disorder. Unfortunately this is not always possible. You may be someone who responds well to vacations and you actually get better mood wise. But for many, the stress of even the greatest vacation can create bipolar disorder symptoms. Luckily, there are strategies you can use to prevent these symptoms to ensure that your travels are the best they can be.

Bipolar disorder symptoms are triggered by outside events, especially those that affect sleep. Travel can condense so many bipolar disorder triggers into a really short space of time. The triggers that may affect you over a year at home can all be present in just few weeks of travel. Our concept of travel as something positive often gets in the way of reality as bipolar disorder doesn’t really have a concept of positive. For this illness, a trigger is a trigger whether it’s in Paris or in the mountains of Montana.

Bipolar disorder doesn’t like change and it doesn’t like stimulation.

This sounds ridiculous doesn’t it! How can an illness not like change? The concept is odd, but it’s our reality. The minute our routine is upset, our brain can get upset. This is why having a plan ready before you travel is essential for your stability.

The Past Predicts the FutureIMG_8694

Ask yourself now- have you successfully traveled in the past? Is your health the same now? Then you are fine to keep doing what has worked for you. But if you’re like me and travel has always caused problems, you need to change now so that your next vacation isn’t ruined by mood swings. When your excitement is stronger than your reality, trouble happens. Be realistic. Is Las Vegas the best for you? Or would a quiet trip to the coast be better. you will have to decide.

Here are questions to ask yourself before you travel:

1. If you take medications, how will you manage the pills if you’re flying for example? I ALWAYS take more meds than I need and put them in separate bags. If I lose one bag, I still have meds. What if you need a prescription when in a foreign country? Talk to your prescriber about this before you leave. Have an email process in place in case you need help when you’re away from home. Think of every single thing that can happen with meds when you travel and prepare ahead of time. A friend of mine traveled half way around the world and realized she had counted her meds incorrectly for her stay. Luckily, there was a doctor where she was staying and her prescription was filled easily.

2. What will you do if you get sick in the airport? Panic attacks are a common reaction to travel preparation. Many people are fine once they reach a destination, but wow, getting there can be a pain! Be ready for the chaos of today’s airports. I arrive HOURS before I have to. I would rather make it through the process without anxiety than have to rush through customs while trying not to pass out from a panic attack.

3. Who will be your travel companions? Do you get along? What can you do in advance to create smooth sailing for your trip? If you’re visiting people, how do you get along with them? Have you had problems in the past with these relationships? Remember, the past predicts the future with bipolar disorder. Who you travel with is as important as where you’re going.

IMG_8337If you’re traveling this summer, what can you do now to ensure a successful trip?

These questions will get you started. I recently moved to France for a year. It has been a challenge. I planned it all very carefully and I still got sick. But I survived and am now where I want to be.

You can do the same.


Click the following for my travel writing and videos for Bp Magazine.

Julie A. Fast VIDEO: Bipolar Disorder & Travel—How I Use Sleep to Stay Stable.

Blog: Bipolar Disorder and Travel 1: The Europe Diaries

Bipolar Disorder and Travel 2: Pole Axed in England



Accepting New Family Member and Partner Coaching Clients

b father

(A note from Julie: I specialize in crisis coaching that eventually becomes a management plan for the whole family. My work is extremely discrete. I never share my client list and offer help even when change feels impossible. Over half of my coaching work now involves helping family members and partners understand the effects of marijuana on bipolar disorder. You are not alone. Coaching works.)


Over five years ago, I started coaching partners and family members of people with bipolar disorder as an addition to my writing career.

I never thought I would find work that I enjoy as much as I enjoy coaching. I feel at home with the parents and partners as I have been where they are- and I remain calm during the crises that many of my clients are going through while we are working together. Bipolar disorder is like a puzzle. It’s not always easy to find the right pieces on your own. It helps to have a coach as a guide.

My coaching practice has room for new clients. I take new clients about once a month-and then help them as best I can. It’s a partnership that saves relationships and often lives.

Coaching is not for everyone, but if you are concerned about your relationship with a person with bipolar disorder, it may be a good fit for you. The following link will tell you more. I look forward to talking.

Julie Fast Family and Partner Coaching



PS: My work often involves custody cases, loved ones in the justice system, helping loved ones get into the hospital, problems with loved ones who have a substance abuse problem and many more situations that require extreme discretion.


BP Magazine Blog: Letter from a Dysphoric Manic Person

ensor dysphoric manic

What do people who are in a bipolar disorder dysphoric manic episode really think? I wrote a blog for BP Magazine on this topic based on my own dysphoric manic thoughts and the stories I’ve heard for many years about how dysphoric mania turns us into people no one can recognize.


A bit of background- there are two levels of mania- HYPOMANIA and FULL BLOWN MANIA. Bipolar one has hypomania and full blown mania. Bipolar two has hypomania. There are two sides to the mania coin: euphoric mania and dysphoric mania.

Most of us know euphoric mania- active,upbeat, positive goal oriented, inclusive, full of ourselves, but not menacing, artistic, bright and filled with energy that often fills a room. Sleep isn’t needed or wanted. Many people love euphoric mania and won’t take meds because it means losing this incredibly, albeit dangerous body and mind sensation.


Then there is a icky, awful, super dangerous and downright odd mania: dysphoric mania. This mania has the same energy level as euphoria, but it’s a negative depressed energy. This mania is also called mixed mania because the energy is high and the mood is low. A person is goal driven in a nasty way- “I will make you pay for what you did for me last year!” The upbeat turns into depressed negativity. It’s mean and menacing with a lot of facial changes and beady eyes filled with adrenaline and unkindness. Our bodies are PAINFUL and we want to GET OUT of where we are because we are so uncomfortable. We have no reasoning ability and eventually the behavior can become violent, especially in terms of road rage and destroying things. Sleep isn’t needed or wanted. Dysphoric mania is never fun.

My BP Magazine for Bipolar blog takes you into our minds when we are in a dysphoric manic episode. I would LOVE to hear from people who have been on the inside of this mania and those who have watched with horror as this mania takes over.

scream take chargeMy book Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder has a plan to manage this mania. It takes work, but we can get out of this nasty stuff if we use prevention techniques.

Oh man, dysphoric mania sucks!

Click here to read my Bp Magazine blog: Letter from a Manic Person. I’d love to know what you think and if you have experienced dysphoric mania yourself or as a family member.


Bipolar Disorder Overwhelmed, but Taking Action Anyway!

IMG_7524I move to France on Friday. The mood swings are here as expected, but I’m plowing through them. I’m not depressed, but the overwhelm has started. Feeling overwhelmed and anxious can really put a damper on an adventure. I’m working through it – literally.

The only way I can deal with feeling overwhelmed is to ask for help and do all I can to get things done.

Here are some pics from my stay in the midlands of beautiful England. I encourage you to keep going- even a small action makes a difference in the bipolar brain.


HEHEHE. We have to laugh at life.  I know it helps me! Click here to watch my Bp Magazine video on Bipolar Disorder, Travel and Sleep. I believe in you!



Bipolar Depression Arrives, but it Doesn’t Have to Stay!

IMG_7563Dealing with a bipolar disorder downswing? I guess we have to expect downswings if we have bipolar disorder. Life constantly surprises me. Human nature surprises me. A positive attitude about life keeps me going and it also helps me spot depression.

– Crying a bit too much over a TV series.

– Feeling free floating fear when nothing is wrong.

– Waking up at 2:00 AM with no ability to get back to sleep.

All of this reminds me that depression is made up of many symptoms. My goal is to go to bed feeling better than when I woke up. Join me! I’m going to use my plan today – the one in my books- to keep myself stable and happy. 

Depression arrives, but it doesn’t have to stay. My first step- getting up, getting out and getting things done. I’ll keep you posted.

What about you? If you’re depressed, what can you do right now to budge your mood towards stability?

What can we all do to focus on what’s right in the world?


Growing Older with Bipolar Disorder


Growing Older with Bipolar Disorder. Hmmm.

I started writing on this topic ten years ago. I’m now 52 and believe me, learning to age gracefully as a woman who has bipolar disorder is a challenge. I will meet this challenge, but it’s taking a lot of fortitude. My pictures on my websites have to be changed. I no longer look like I did 10 years ago. That is life. I want to embrace life instead of fighting to look like I’m 30 again. Bipolar disorder has been with me since age 17. That‘s my age in the picture below. I was diagnosed at 31. No one teaches us how to age with this illness, so I take on the challenge to do it myself and help others of my age do it as well. I remember being a teen with this illness. I remember being in my 30s and 40s. It was different. Now at 52 I can still empathize with all people who have bipolar disorder, but my needs are changing and my management plan has to change with them. Welcome to reality! 

I wish I had been diagnosed earlier. I encourage teens with a bipolar disorder diagnosis to see it as freedom. The diagnosis absolutely ensures a better future. I lived through my young life having little control over my behavior. I prefer life with the diagnosis.

Here’s to aging gracefully!


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