Tips to manage depression and suicidal thoughts: Guest blogger Douglas Bloch shares the management system that saved his life

Douglas BlochA note from Julie: I’ve met Douglas  in the mental health community here in Portland, Oregon in the States for over ten years. I knew he would be the perfect guest blogger as he offers so many effective resources. I like that Douglas goes to trainings- he offers so much of his information for free- he is a true example of what he writes about and he saves lives! When someone like Douglas offers his email to the public, he means it. So drop him a line! I especially enjoy his videos. They are on tough topics, but are very accessible! Take it away Douglas….

My name is Douglas Bloch. I am an author and depression survivor. For all of my adult life, I have battled a treatment resistant depression and anxiety that would not respond to medication. Fortunately, after much trial and error, I was able to create a “body-mind and spirit” mental health recovery program that has allowed me live optimally and to reduce my symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The heart of this wellness program consists of three steps:

1. Set the intention to heal. For example, a man who had not left his apartment for three months because of a disabling depression, came to my group and wrote a powerful vision statement of wellness. Within twelve weeks he had reengaged with the world, which included started his own employment agency.

2. Reach out for support, as we cannot heal in isolation. Two women in my group who each heard voices telling them to harm themselves, agreed to call each other whenever these suicidal voices emerged. In this way, they kept each other safe until the voices went away.

3. Treat your symptoms with a combination of mutually supportive therapies. One group member put together a recovery program that combined exercise, good nutrition, positive affirmations, prayer and meditation, social support and volunteer work to successfully manage her symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Thus, intention +tools + support = mental health recovery.

 I know that the healing I have received can be experienced by anyone. As a result, I have sought to share this recovery program through my books, website, YouTube videos, and through facilitating an ongoing depression/anxiety support group in Portland, Oregon. These resources are listed below:

My Healing from Depression Website.

Healing from Depression YouTube channel.

 Click here to watch two of my videos on suicidal thoughts and feelings:

How to Find Alternatives to Suicide and How I Coped with Suicidal Thoughts and Feelings

 If you’re in Portland, Oregon where Julie and I live, here is the link to read more about my healing from depression and anxiety support group. (A note from Julie. As many of you know, I am a huge fan of professionally run support groups. Getting to see Douglas on a regular basis in a group setting is GOLD!)

In the process of working with people, I have witnessed many miracles and healings. I now believe that when a person wants to get well and reaches out for support, he or she will experience recovery.

Please feel free to contact me (douglasbloch  at    gmail dot   com) if you have questions about this work. I wish you the best in your healing journey.

Sincerely,

Douglas Bloch, M.A.

Hi, It’s Julie again.  Can you believe that someone with depression and anxiety has written so many books and done so much? I believe it. When we learn to manage these illnesses, we can be productive. Even during the tough times. When we have a plan like the one Douglas shares in his books and videos, we can get better.  Thank you Douglas- you rock! 

Click here to read more about Douglas’ book Healing from Depression on Amazon.

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My Bp Magazine Blog: An Interview with Sherry Joiner. What is the Difference between Bipolar Disorder and Schizo-affective Disorder?

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Note: It’s Labor Day here in the States. I’m doing a contest where a person who has schizoaffective disorder can win Sherry’s book. Please visit my Facebook page at Julie A. Fast for contest details. Today only! Woo. Today is also the day we announce the winner of Sherry’s beautiful flower painting that you see below. So if you bought her book in the past month, please make sure you send in your name to BooksbyMental Health Writers  at  gmail dot com with your contact info.

Do you know the difference between bipolar disorder and schizo-affective disorder?

I interviewed Sherry Joiner, the author of Sherry Goes Sane: Living a Life with Schizo Affective Disorder and asked her to explain the difference and tell us more about her life with the illness.

 

Sherry and I met at a writer’s meeting many years ago. She told me she wanted to write a book about living with schizoaffective disorder. Years later I spoke at a bipolar disorder support group. I looked up and there she was. She said, “Guess what Julie! I wrote my book!”   We are now close friends. I asked her about the differences between schizo affective disorder and bipolar disorder in part one of our interview.

Click here to visit the BP Magazine blog and read more!

 

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How are your friendships these days?

friendship braceletsHow do you deal with change in your friendships?

Changes in friendships are  inevitable, especially as we get older. I went through the wave of changes when my friends started having kids. I never wanted children, but most of my friends did. I saw them less once the kids were born- but now that the kids are getting older, I see these friends more!  When friends get into a GOOD relationship, you see them less. It’s natural.
When it’s a BAD relationship, you talk to them more because they want to vent.

It can be hard to take if you’re feeling left out.. because the person naturally wants to spend time with their new love and simply can’t have the same time for you as they had in the past.

It has happened to me a lot. I miss the time with friends when they get into a relationship or have a baby. And yet when I’m in a relationship, I spend less time with friends as well.  I want to be the kind of friend who moves with change. I don’t want to fight change. My brain does. My brain wants everyone to be on call for me! HEHE. It’s hard work to be a good friend.  I work on it constantly.

How are your friendships?

Julie

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Accepting New Family Member and Partner Coaching Clients

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

I never, ever 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

Julie

ENOUGH! MY RESPONSE TO THOSE WHO ATTACK ME FOR BELIEVING IN THE MEDICAL MODEL TREATMENT OF BIPOLAR DISORDER.

I’ve had enough of comments that knock my belief that there are situations where people with bipolar disorder desperately need medications.

As many of you know, I wrote my first book, Bipolar Happens! in 1998. I then wrote the Health Cards- a treatment plan that works with or without medications- and then Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and Get it Done When You’re Depressed. ALL of these books are based on the idea that medications are ONE part of bipolar disorder management. Not the end all and be all- but an integral piece of the puzzle, especially for those of use who are unlucky enough to have chronic, never ending mood swings.

To attack someone for using medications is sinister.

What can the motive for this behavior possibly be? Are these people writing MS and diabetes websites and telling people they should not take medications? Are they attacking breast cancer treatment in the same way? It ASTOUNDS me that some people believe that attacking a person for their use of medications when needed is actually helping anyone.

I’ve worked as a coach for family members and partners of people with bipolar disorder for five years now. I hear the horror stories that few people hear. Adult children living at home, refusing help and high jacking the parents’ house due to untreated bipolar disorder- and then, when even the most modest of medication regime is introduced, the child gets out of the room, goes to school or work- gets off the video games and the drugs and the drinking and says- thank you for believing in me.  Partners in loving and kind relationships who wake up one day to a partner who has so profoundly changed during a manic episode that the police have to be called.  In almost all of these situations- the person has been on meds that worked and then gone off meds with the result being a dangerous and life threatening mood swing.  Where do anti medication people stand when a parent or partner is crying in desperation because their loved one can’t see they are ill?

How can this possibly be a bad thing? Enough I say! No more- my stance is 100% clear and always has been. I don’t like having to take medications- and I’ve gone for very, very long periods where I didn’t take them- but just this time last year they saved my life.

I wish I could take them every day and not have to use the Health Cards every minute in order to just get out of bed.

If you do not believe in medications for bipolar disorder, THEN DON’T TAKE THEM!

It’s pretty simple. I take them when needed and will always support their use if I feel they will help a person have a productive life. If you are someone who wants to push a zero medication agenda, there are plenty of places- and conferences and blogs and websites where you can do so- just know that my sites are not the place to push any agenda. I will no longer post them on this site as I feel they are detrimental to those who are looking for help. I believe in BALANCE.

 I’m open to constructive criticism and positive reinforcement. As I write this, I’m thinking of my dear friend Gayathri Ramprasad-  colleague, executive director of AHSA international and the author of Shadows in the Sun- the first book ever written by an Asian woman that openly discusses depression, anxiety and suicide- I’m on the board of ASHA. Gayathri doesn’t take medications on a daily basis. I have many friends who choose to manage their mental health disorders with natural treatments- but let me be very, very honest here.

I don’t know of ANYONE with bipolar disorder who has not needed medications at some point in order to survive.

I’ve taken the so-called high road for over ten years and I’m done. I will not tolerate, accept or condone any more internet negativity from anyone- anywhere. regarding the use of medications when needed- in moderation- with open eyes- for people with bipolar disorder.  If you support a similar policy- then feel free to be vocal about it. We must take the internet back from trolls- from the negative and unhelpful- from those who accuse and mock and degrade those who are simply trying to get better. Enough I say- and onward to a more positive mental health internet!

Julie

100% Lesbian.. Except When Manic: A Guest Blog from Selina Glater

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100% Lesbian, Except When Manic by Selina Glater

   It seems that sexual orientation doesn’t change. You either know that you are heterosexual, or that you are gay, or that you might be both. In my opinion, I believe we are hard wired in our sexual orientation. I know that I’m a lesbian, but with one relatively simple wrinkle.

I’m also an individual with bipolar disorder.

Double whammy you say. You had better believe that it is! When I’m manic, I do many outlandish things such as talking too rapidly, spending more money than I have, and  you guessed it,  jumping into bed with men.

Normally, the idea of having sex with men is not exactly a turn on, but when manic all of my so called normal sexual tendencies as a lesbian fly out the window. This is often normal behavior for someone who is manic. So, if you consider yourself a heterosexual person, but you slept with someone of the same sex when you were manic, know that you’re just responding to the manic chatter in your head.

Mania can change how we perceive things. But, don’t get caught thinking that your sexual identity is dependent on your behavior during mania. It just isn’t so!

Selina

 

A note from Julie: Here’s a nicely detailed bio of the amazing Selina! 

Selina and I are working together on her coaching practice.  I will add more details once her practice is open for new clients. She works with the community she writes about in this funny, but realistic blog. Please leave any comments you have in the comments section below and I will make sure she receives them. She can also answer any questions you have.  If you would like more information about her upcoming coaching practice, please let me know as well.  Selina and I met when I was the keynote speaker for the Monterey County Mental Health Commission Fiesta of Hope Dinner in California. Lucky me!

*** BIO ***

Selina I. Glater is a mental health advocate, writer, speaker, and coach. She is also a lesbian who advocates for LGBT rights. Selina lives with bipolar disorder daily and understands the difficulties that people with mental illness face first hand. 

She is also a registered music therapist and psychiatric rehabilitation therapist.

Selina was the first consumer to be hired as the Coordinator of Self Help and Advocacy for Santa Barbara County Mental Health Services. She also served as the Director of Consumer Advocacy and Outreach for Sanctuary Psychiatric Centers of Santa Barbara. In 1994,  Selina was inducted into the California Governor’s Hall of Fame for People with Disabilities. She is a former governor’s appointee to the California State Mental Health Planning Council and currently serves as a Mental Health Commissioner on the Monterey County Mental Health Commission.

Selina is the annual Master of Ceremonies for the popular, and stigma busting Fiesta of Hope dinner that highlights individuals with mental illness and their contributions to the community. This event is sponsored by the Monterey County Mental Health Commission. Selina is currently working on a memoir of her experiences with bipolar disorder entitled, “The Bipolar Mistress.” She is also a gifted violinist and has won many awards for her performances. She has a B.A. Degree from Pepperdine University where she attended on a full music scholarship. Selina also has a M.A. Degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara where she won a university wide teaching award for excellence in education. She lives in Monterey, California with her beautiful Burmese cat, Miss Ruthie. Selina, and her partner Cheryl, have been together for 12 years.

MISS RUTHIE

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