Where’s Julie? Oxford University Mental Health Panel on October 25, 2016

The Student Mental Health Crisis – What Next?



I’m speaking on a mental health panel at the Oxford Union at Oxford University in England on October 25th and could use your help. If you are a college student or know a college student in the US who has bipolar disorder, what is available at school for helping the student? I’m sure the British crowd will ask me about the US system. I know a lot about it from a parent perspective and would like to hear from someone who is actually in school. Thanks!

From the Oxford Union website.

The Student Mental Health Crisis – What Next?

25% of adults suffer from mental health conditions; this figure doubles among Oxford students. Many believe that drastic action is needed to respond to this crisis in care, engaging with both the general stigma and failing institutions.

Stephen K Amos – Stand-up Comedian and patron of mental health charity Time to Change
Dr Linda Papadopoulos – TV psychologist and academic
Dr Nicola Byrom – Founding chair of the charity Student Minds
Julie A. Fast – International bestselling writer on bipolar disorder and depression
Liz Fraser – Director of Headcase


It would be great to hear your opinion on what you feel is working and what is not working here in the States. You can find more information about this topic on my Julie A. Fast Facebook page. 


Reader Question: Is Bipolar Disorder Correlated with High Intelligence?


I often do impromptu question and answer sessions on my Julie A. Fast Facebook account.  Here is one from the last session:

Julie, Is Bipolar Disorder Correlated with High Intelligence?

My answer:

I have done my own research into this topic for 20 years now. I believe that bipolar disorder is attached to a certain type of intelligence. After interacting with many thousands of people with bipolar disorder since my diagnosis in 1995, living with a partner for ten years who has bipolar one and talking with thousands of parents and partners in my coaching business I have determined the following: 

1. People with bipolar disorder are NOT more creative than the general population. We are simply more creative when we are manic. As a baseline, I find that our creativity meets social norms.

2. I DO find that people with bipolar disorder are abnormally focused on learning. In my experience, our college attendance rate is at least double the national average of around 38% for ages 18-24 years old. In other words, people who go to college right out of high school. To be honest, I can’t recall ever talking to a person with bipolar disorder who had not at least tried some college. I would put our college attendance rate at 60% or higher. (Our college completion rates are abysmal due to the illness itself! This is why school success is such a big part of my coaching work.)

This is what we used to call book learning intelligence. Thus, I believe that people with bipolar disorder are more intellectual than the general population. Not smarter – we make a lot of mistakes that others don’t make, but when it comes to learning, we are in the top in my opinion.

3. We also tend to travel FAR more than others- this includes when we are depressed, though mania does skew this.

4. We tend to be very, very work oriented. I believe this is why our work problems affect us so strongly. I have never met a ‘lazy’ person with bipolar disorder. Have you? This is not only about mania. We like to work. There are many people in the world who simply work because they have to. I find that people with bipolar disorder express a big desire to work in a profession because they want to.

Please note that I am referring to plain bipolar disorder here. Not bipolar that is attached to other diagnoses.

These are my general observations and I would love to hear what others think!


The Bipolar Disorder Coping List

Beer, food, meth, stimulants, energy drinks, sex, bad relationships, smoking, tattoos, spending, raves, ecstasy, opioids, hard drugs, new shoes, new relationships, have a baby, nachos, lottery, obsessive friendship, junk food, caffeine, new lipstick, new haircut, hard liquor, party, buffet, new roommate, new city, fantasy football, …. anything to feel…. alive, better… something!
You are NOT alone if you have a similar bipolar disorder coping list.
We use the above to feel better because bipolar disorder is NOT treated successfully for the majority of us who live with it daily. When bipolar disorder is raging, it’s physically and mentally painful. We simply want to feel better.
This way of coping isn’t smart. It’s not exactly forward thinking. It’s not good for our futures. But when an illness makes you want to die, having a pint of ice cream seems like an understandable alternative.
IF, and I wish it were the case, IF the long term use of the above choices didn’t have consequences, we could use them. What’s wrong with a little coke, a hit of pot? A pill, a beer ?
As we know, it’s never just once because this illness doesn’t happen once and then go away. It’s not the flu or a case of the break up blues. It’s a genetic mental health disorder that affects every ounce of our being. For many of us, it’s chronic.
I am on a hike, a journey, a sojourn to finding alternatives to the above coping list.
This is my next Bp Magazine blog topic. I have come so far in my management and I am ready to go deeper into a world where I live the majority of my days in stable, joyful happiness without needing my bipolar coping list.
What is your journey?

It helps to find something you love to do with people you like to talk to…….

ronaldo-raulWhen I was depressed for so many years I tried constantly to find people to hang out with and watch sports. American football was actually very hard as there was usually a ‘discussion’ regarding what game would be on what TV and which one would have sound. The bartender always controlled the remote in a way I found stressful. Now I have found what I was looking for- I’m glad I didn’t quit. I found a soccer community to watch my favorite sport: European football. There are many reasons to love this game. I love the camaraderie and the room filled with guys in soccer jerseys. There are other reasons to like soccer as well. It’s essential that those of us with bipolar disorder find a place to go when we are down and people to talk to when we are lonely.


Bipolar Disorder Medications: Kaiser sues Pfizer over Mis-representation of Gabapentine (Neurontin)


It amazes me that Gabepentin (neurontin) is still prescribed for bipolar disorder. It’s used in jails and by health care professionals who might not know the facts.  I wrote the blog below in 2012. How is it possible that four years later, the drug is still being used for people with bipolar disorder? I’d like to hear your experiences.

Here is a very interesting article regarding the drug gabapentine. Known mostly by it’s brand name Neurontin, the drug was touted as a medication for bipolar disorder.   In reality, it often caused suicidal episodes – even though it took doctors a while to catch onto this. I was given Neurontin in 1998- it was my 22nd drug and by that time I had so many drugs in my body, this one only made things worse.  I became immediately and dangerously suicidal. No one believed me then!

As you all know, I believe in drug therapy for bipolar disorder.  I took Lamictal (lamotrigine) for many years and it improved my life. But we have to be very careful- Lamictal and Neurontin are in the same family of anti convulsants- which proves that medications are not alike just because they are under one family.

Click here to read the article about the Kaiser Lawsuit over Pfizer’s mis-representation of the drug Neurontin.


PS: Do you feel that we are often just guinea pigs at the whim of drug companies? We need the drugs and many of us love our drugs for how they help us get on with life, but I wish we were more respected as human beings instead of money generating machines.

   A salad of Neurontin!

Bipolar Disorder and Holiday Cheer

halloween 3

Get ready for the holidays- today! I know, it’s not even Halloween yet here in the States, but planning ahead really works.

I’m planning my winter holidays right now.  I tend to get overly stressed when I don’t plan ahead for holidays.  There is so much cheer around me! Holiday cheer! If only regular people knew what it’s like for us.  Especially those of us who have some odd family dynamics.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Where will you go for the holidays in December? Do you have plans for New Year’s?  No matter where you live, December and January are usually on a different schedule.  Bipolar disorder doesn’t like schedule changes!

Loneliness and suicidal thoughts can peak during the holidays.  If we plan now- In October- we can make things really different this year and have some holiday cheer ourselves.



If you want to be with PEOPLE during the holidays, I highly suggest the website MeetUp. 

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