Bipolar and Depressed?

Signs that you might need some help for bipolar disorder depression: 
– You have not been out of the house in a few days.
– Getting out of bed is difficult and on some days impossible. 
– You’re not eating, brushing your teeth or shaving.
– The phone rings, but you CAN’T answer it.
– You’re binge watching TV shows and you feel really, really guilty about it. 
People are worried about you.
Your regular self leaves the house, brushes his teeth, feeds the animals, goes to work, interacts with the world and looks forward to life. That person has disappeared.
Depression is INSIDIOUS.  It creeps up on us and day by day sucks the life out of our lives. We must fight this by taking action. Right now, if the above describes you, please know you are not alone. Depression is a nasty, walking dead succubus that you can fight.
If you have bipolar disorder, it’s normal to have depression. If you have depression, it’s normal to have the above symptoms.
What do you need to do right now to get help? Answer that phone? Shave just to show yourself that you are human damn it and this illness will NOT take over your life for another day? Call a suicide hotline? Call a friend? Please feel free to visit me on my Facebook page at Julie A. Fast. If you ask for help here,  you will get some help from people who understand.
If you love someone with bipolar depression and are not sure what to do, you can visit Facebook and ask for help. You can also contact me regarding coaching through my coaching page on my website. 
I wrote my book Get it Done When You’re Depressed to help us get out of bed and get on with our lives. We can get better.
get it done cover

Dream Big and Keep Bipolar Disorder in Mind

IMG_9459My next column for Bp Magazine focuses on dreaming big within the confines of bipolar disorder. It’s not a fun topic. I want to say- Dream big and anything is possible! But I don’t think that’s true. I believe those of us with bipolar disorder have to be honest with what the illness lets us do. Then we can set goals and reach dreams in a realistic way.
This DOESN’T mean you can’t do great and amazing things.
It means that bipolar disorder needs to be a part of the process.
How this illness reacts to my actions determines what I can do in my life. I’ve tried to live differently. I haven’t always respected what bipolar disorder will do if I make decisions without thinking of bipolar disorder at the same time. My recent move to France for a year was built on a bipolar disorder plan. Nothing is left to chance. I have still been ill for months, but I’m here!
I’m using my photography to keep myself focused when the mood swings are raging. A few days ago when I was on the bus, I saw a French flag peeping out from a side street. I said to myself, “Be bold Julie! The next time you’re on the bus, go down that street and see what pictures you might find!” Here is the result. I got off the bus at a different stop!


We need to talk: Violent Behavior in People with Mental Health Disorders

Violence in Mental Health: I was just contacted by a US journalist regarding my opinion on the latest violent killing in Florida. I told her what I tell everyone. These killers have something in common- and it’s not a hate group or terrorism.
It’s mental health disorders.
I have studied violent behavior in mental health for many years including being honest with myself about my own violent mental health symptoms when I’m in a mood swing from my bipolar disorder. This is not only a gun issue- the person who did something similar in China used knives and in Sweden, a sword.
We have to WAKE UP and listen to what family members say about the person who committed the violent act. They speak of mental instability, drug use, problem relationships and failed psychiatric care.
I will speak up. I am not scared to tackle this. We have a violence in mental health problem that we are scared to address. If you look at ALL of the lone killers in the US in just the past few years, they all have something in common:
….failed psychiatric treatment.
People with mental illnesses are not inherently violent. When we are stable, we are regular people. But when our symptoms go untreated and we add drugs such as steroids or high THC marijuana to the mix, we are an internal bomb waiting to go off. That is terrorism of a very different kind.
There is no need to tell me that I’m wrong or that I’m painting all of us with the same brush. I’m giving an opinion from personal experience through myself and hundreds of clients. I have incredible compassion for the families who try to help people with obvious mental health concerns: families who are stopped cold by a system than no longer works. 
In my life, in my daily work and obviously in the news, I see a problem in MY COMMUNITY that we are not addressing correctly.
Mental illness needs treatment. Let’s join together and change the laws such as HIPPA and help family members get help for people who are ill and potentially dangerous. Then groups such as ISIS will not be able to recruit and perpetrate terrorism through people who are mentally unstable.

Bipolar Disorder and Work Anxiety

tl_polaroid_august_wilsonWork and Bipolar Disorder. ARGGGGG…….


I am out of my depression, but my work issues remain. Who the heck has panic attacks from looking at email? This illness is DUMB. We can’t explain it in regular terms.

The only way I can deal with what happens to me is to see it in the context of bipolar disorder. For example, being able to coach for hours with no problems regarding life and death situations and then not being able to open an email because I can’t breathe is about mental illness. It’s not about the regular world. 

In the regular world this is bizarre- it makes no sense.

But if I remember that I have a very severe mental illness that affects my life in almost every moment, it makes sense that I will struggle the way I do around the administrative side of my work.

It’s my life goal to figure out my working dilemma. I love to work. I love writing and coaching and don’t want this illness to stop me from doing what I love.

The fact that the quality of my work is not affected by bipolar disorder, but that my ability to sit down and do the work is greatly affected is a nut I’m going to CRACK.


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.


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