Let’s Make Thanksgiving Great This Year!
There is a commercial on the radio where I live here in Portland, Oregon that always makes me laugh. It says… ‘Beware of the holiday horrors! Buy all of your holiday presents now, the day after Thanksgiving and save yourself the stress of waiting until the last minute!” Oh, it sounds like torture to me! When did Thanksgiving become so much about Black Friday sales? In case you didn’t know, Black Friday is a sales day after the Thursday Thanksgiving. It’s called Black Friday because it’s a day businesses can make enough money to balance the books instead of being in the red!
As a person with bipolar disorder or a person who cares about someone with the illness, there’s a good chance you have had some difficult holidays.
I hear people laughing all the way to the Starbucks where I am sitting in Portland, Oregon.
For those outside the US, our Thanksgiving is a family holiday based around a traditional dinner held in honor of the dinner served between the people who ‘founded’ the US and the people who found the country way before any British showed up- the Native Americans. The food usually includes the following: Turkey, stuffing or dressing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, pies such as pecan or pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce. Many families have a Thanksgiving dish they remember growing up. For me, it was my grandmother’s homemade corn bread dressing. I had many wonderful Thanksgiving holidays while growing up – mostly in Alabama.
As I got older, the holidays became a fun time with friends.
And then…. they just became too much.
Is it the same for you? Maybe you don’t want to cook, don’t have the $200 to spend on a dinner for eight. It might be you don’t like your family! And finally, the hardest is when you don’t have anywhere to go. It doesn’t mean you don’t have friends- it might just happen they are all with their families and yours is out of town.
And finally, it may be that your family is here, but the atmosphere is stressful. I’ve seen a few snarky faces at Thanksgiving. It’s hard to have to be happy and united for a day.
It’s a lot of pressure. To lighten the mood, check out this turkey. Yes….
It’s a turkey wrapped in bacon!
PS: Thanksgiving can be wonderful, but it’s usually challenging when bipolar disorder is an unwanted guest. That’s why we have to plan ahead! Part two of this post is below.
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.
EUPHORIC MANIA- WOO HOO!
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.
DYSPHORIC MANIA- SCREW YOU!
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.
My 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.
I had the amazing experience of being calm and stable for a few days. What a joy. That is my mountain top and I plan to work all day to get back there soon! I can deal with what bipolar disorder gives me in most areas. The work issues continue to challenge me. I will not give up. I don’t want you to give up either!
Bipolar disorder is a daily illness- at least the type I have comes up daily. There are many forms of course. Some people go months without episodes. I had a few years where I was very stable. This means it can happen again. Going with the flow helps. Not being hard on myself helps and doing my best at all times is the best I can do. I support you!
When I’m not doing well, I use the ideas in my books to get myself into a different space. When my issues are with work, I picture the 50 strategies in Get it Done When You’re Depressed and just start using them until I am working again.
I often look at pictures to remind myself that life is GOOD and I simply have an illness. Look at the pictures below. Which ones speak to you? I would love to know! Please add your own pictures- ones you fell will help others affected by bipolar disorder feel better!
PS: I felt much better after I did this post! You can feel better too.
Do you love someone with bipolar disorder? This newsletter talks a bit more about my coaching pracice for family members and partners of people with bipolar disroder and other undisgnosed mental health disorders.
Julie, who do you coach in your family and partner coaching? Do you ever work with people who have bipolar disorder?
I hear these questions a lot. First of all, I do not coach people with bipolar disorder. I recommend my books for those with bipolar disorder and encourage people to get a strong health care team. I LOVE writing books for, speaking with and talking to people who have bipolar disorder, but in order to keep the situation stable, it’s a good policy for me to only work with those on the outside looking in.
My family and partner coaching has changed a lot over the years. I have a system I use with all clients where they learn how to recognize symptoms very quickly and then change how they interact with the person who is ill. We have very, very quick results once my system is in place. I do a lot of crisis work where the loved one is not doing well and is often in danger and/or harming others. I like court cases, working with judges and DAs, custody cases, guardianship hearings and helping a family get a child into the appropriate treatment. The more chaotic the situation is when we start, the more I enjoy unraveling what I call the tangled ball of string.
My work is about my clients and their path regarding the illness of a loved one. I believe that parents and partners can only help once they are clear on a diagnosis, what medical treatment works and is needed and ultimately how to help the person manage an illness on a daily basis. I use my books with all of my clients and we learn how I manage the illness. They can then pass this on to a loved one. It works. All of my clients receive copies of my books and we use The Health Cards to create a family plan that works.
I recommend Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder for family members and Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder for partners to start. Most people read both.
I’ve done this for a long time now and have noticed where people need the most help:
1. The person with the illness doesn’t have a correct diagnosis. Using my charts and a system I learned from my coauthor Dr. John Preston, I help my clients get a complete picture of what is happening. This leads to a diagnosis suggestion they then take to a health care professional. It’s 99% accurate. I especially like to help in this area with children. I do a lot of work with anger, psychotic and personality disorders along with mood disorders.
2. People with more than one diagnosis. I do a lot of work pulling apart symptoms so that we can really assess what is happening. I find that psychosis is the symptom that hides the most- once it is figured out, lives can change dramatically. I also work with clients where the child has excessive and out of control anger, often from a young age.
3. Pot use. Over 50% of my client situations now involve pot. I help families and partners educate a loved one about pot and how it might affect the mood- we then come up with a plan to modify the pot smoking and if possible, get the person off completely if it’s obvious the pot is the problem. I do this a LOT.
4. Boundaries. This is my biggest success areas. Relationships get into very unstable patterns when a person in the relationship has an untreated mental health disorder. When my clients take back their lives and have strong and safe boundaries, this is where I see the most change. Yelling, fighting, throwing things, suicidal threats, aggressiveness, stealing, lying, manipulation and lack of empathy behaviors can all get better with the right use of boundaries by a family member or partner.
I’m not a therapist. I’m not a doctor. I do train therapists and doctors in my methods and my books are used around the world. My coaching is unique. If you are a family member or partner who would like to learn more, please visit my coaching page. I am getting over my own social anxiety issues and marketing myself more often so that I can help more people. We can all grow and change! I try to be an example of what I teach.
Happiness is possible.
Please visit my BipolarHappens Blog for the latest posts on how I manage bipolar disorder.
My website www.JulieFast.com has the latest information on my speaking and coaching events as well as any recent media work.
Find me on Twitter @JulieBipolar
Find me on Facebook at Julie A. Fast and Julie A. Fast Books
I call psychosis the forgotten bipolar disorder symptom!
My bipolar psychosis started at age 19. I consistently had hallucinations of seeing myself killed and thought it was normal! I eventually learned to manage my psychosis, but it sure would have helped if the health care professionals in my life had explained the symptoms of psychosis and that it was a normal part of the bipolar disorder diagnosis!
I just received the following question from Mario on the topic:
Julie, I thought that people w/ Bipolar II don’t get psychotic? Or did you have a psychotic depression?
Believe it or not, I’m writing an article on psychosis right now. People with bipolar II can definitely get psychotic. I’ve had psychotic symptoms since age 19. Mine are always with depression – as it’s rare for someone with bipolar II to have psychosis with hypomania. One reason I can identify with so many forms of bipolar disorder is the psychosis. I have hallucinations and as I got older, delusions!
The difference for those with bipolar two who have psychosis is in intensity- people with bipolar I have full blown psychosis – usually with mania. In fact, 70% of people with full blown mania have full blown psychosis at the same time. This is when most people with bipolar I have to go to the hospital and often have to be committed by a family member.
If you have bipolar disorder or care about someone with the illness, it’s essential that you learn about the signs of psychosis. I have a psychosis Health Card (my treatment plan) and am especially careful to look for paranoia (a psychotic delusion) when I’m speaking in public!
Thanks for writing!
PS: Here is an explanation of the difference between bipolar i and bipolar II. If you are new to bipolar disorder terms, I think you will find this helpful.
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, helping loved ones get into the hospital, problems with loved ones who have a pot problem and many more situations that require extreme discretion.