Hopefully, when I share my struggles with bipolar, psychosis and anxiety you can feel less alone with what you go through.
I write books on mental health management. I have all of the tools you can possibly imagine at my finger tips. I do everything you read in my books. My relationships are non contentious. I ask for help when needed. I know my symptoms and I have a plan for stability.
And I still get sick! Darn it! This nasty illness is so sneaky and like The Borg it sucks the life out of me!
That is the nature of mental illness. There are positives of course. I am 75% better than in the past.
But the 25% that remains is rough!
No matter how vigilant you are in life, mental illness can zap you. It’s not because you are weak. It is not because you have done anything wrong. It’s simply an illness.
I played music for pleasure for the first time in a few weeks this morning. I knew I was dealing with depression, but this really clarified how strong the depression has been. My ability to listen to music for pleasure always leaves me when I’m depressed.
It is ok that I was depressed. I have bipolar so this is normal.
Captain Picard escaped the Borg and I can too!
PS: If you have never seen Star Trek: The Next Generation, it’s worth watching. The topics are just as relevant today as when they show first aired!
I want to stress that all drugs have potential side effects- even natural salts like lithium. Side effects are NOT the same for everyone. I have friends who have been on lithium for over 30 years with little to no side effects and normal kidney function.
There there are people like myself who get great relief from lithium, but can’t take it regularly due to side effects.
Common lithium side effects include a very strong thirst, lethargy and a dull feeling in the mind. It can affect reading ability and writing. Memory can be a problem as well. Weight gain and increased hunger are also side effects. The most serious side effect in my book is APATHY. This means the person on lithium loses interest in doing things that once brought pleasure. This is not depression, it is a lack of interest in life that is not about the mood.
I LOVE lithium. I would take it every day if I could. My friend and mentor Dr. Jay Carter is a big advocate for the use of lithium orotate as it is over the counter and all natural. I use it as needed, but can’t take it often due to weight gain.
Many, many people with bipolar disorder can take lithium without these side effects. The only way to know how you will react is to try lithium in small doses and go form there.
If you care about someone with bipolar disorder who refuses medications, especially if they do so as a protest against big pharma- lithium orotate is a great supplement to try. Talk with a qualified health care professional about taking 5mg of over the counter lithium orotate as a natural treatment for bipolar disorder mood swings.
Bipolar disorder and marijuana education: What is dabbing? One of the top concerns I see in bipolar disorder management today is marijuana and dabbing.
The use of high THC pot is linked to an increase in psychosis and mania in those of us with bipolar disorder. The highest concentrate of THC when people use weed is creating wax from dabbing. The process is explained in the article linked below.
The more we educate ourselves and keep an open mind into how we can stay safe and stable, the better we can help our sons, daughters and partners make healthy decisions around their mental health.
My bipolar disorder and marijuana education work focuses on harm reduction and the prudent use of substances when you have a mental health disorder. I have to do the same in my own life.
I’ve taught myself to recognize mania from the beginning. That is the answer to how you keep from getting lost in mania. Once it is to the point that you can’t see it, it’s too late. For example, right now due to the stress of my latest project (I’m writing a children’s book), I’m going in and out of hypomania. I know the signs from my Health Cards of what this mania looks like.
When I start to talk a bit too loudly and can’t hear it. When I don’t care about seeing my nephew as much and become more selfish. These are signs.
I now know this is not natural for me. When I think about men more than usual, I don’t just let myself explain this away that it’s normal for a woman to think about men.
The only way to prevent mania is to write down your symptoms and memorize them and then make the decision that you choose stability over mania.
My mania usually feels good- really good. People say heroin and cocaine feel good as well- but look what happens after the good is gone. It’s the same with mania.
Giving in to mania is a choice. I want to make better choices in life that living in mania.
Parent of a child with bipolar disorder who is concerned about marijuana? I have two spaces available in my next bipolar disorder and marijuana education class.
This class provides an overview of how marijuana can affect those of us with bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder and anxiety. I share my harm reduction plan that can lovingly be used by the whole family to learn how to manage mental health when pot is in the picture.
Here is the information on the class:
MASTERCLASS: Bipolar Disorder and Marijuana
(Please send an email to Julie Fast books at gmail for enrollment information.)
BIPOLAR DISORDER AND MARIJUANA: A Group Coaching Call for Parents with Julie A. Fast
Date: TBD. This is a live coaching call limited to eight parents. Please contact Julie if you would like to participate. Please note that the call is private and no information is shared. All billing and correspondence is confidential.
Masterclass Format: Two Hours
Cost: $149.95 per phone line. Couples are welcome.
Class size is limited to eight phone lines.
ABOUT THE COACHING CALL
Over half of my coaching business now involves a person with bipolar disorder who is having an adverse bipolar disorder reaction to marijuana. All of my bipolar disorder presentations now have a full section on the effects of pot use on people with bipolar disorder. I realized a few years ago that if I wanted to teach families and health care professionals help people with bipolar disorder, I had to come up with a plan to calmly educate the person with this illness about pot and show my clients and audience members how to approach the topic with a plan that works. This two hour group coaching call includes a lively discussion of marijuana use and how it can interact with bipolar disorder, a system to identify the symptoms of an adverse reaction to pot in someone with bipolar disorder and a full treatment plan to use immediately to help a person with bipolar disorder make informed decisions about marijuana use.
MEET THE TEACHER
My name is Julie A. Fast. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder two with psychotic features in 1995. If diagnosed today, I would receive a schizoaffective disorder diagnosis. I’m a four time bestselling author on the topic of bipolar disorder, schizo affective disorder, psychosis, depression and anxiety. I work as a family and partner coach and regularly train health care professionals on bipolar disorder management. I have worked with companies, mental health agencies and treatment facilities around the world to change the way bipolar disorder, psychosis, anxiety and depression are treated and managed. I lived with a partner for ten years who has bipolar disorder one. I’m an original columnist for Bp Magazine for Bipolar, a regular contributor to magazines such as People, US, Newsweek and the Psychology Today blog and have devoted my life to helping people manage mental health disorders successfully.
Julie during her former radio show. 2009!
I’m excited to share my research and personal experience around the often emotional topic of bipolar disorder and marijuana use. We can learn the facts, face the challenges of this difficult topic and offer alternatives to those who need help managing their use of the drug. I have bipolar disorder and fully understand the need to self medicate- to calm down and to escape the mood swings. There is no judgement here. I smoked way too much pot in the 80s to ever judge someone for their choices. I’m committed to finding a reasonable and heart felt way to dealing with this significant and growing problem in the mental health world. Join me and be part of the answer.
Does your loved one with bipolar disorder exhibit the following symptoms after using marijuana?
• Poor decision making
• Trouble working
• Magical thinking
• Loss of reasoning ability
• Psychosis- especially if the person has never been psychotic before. Paranoia is the most common symptom.
• Irritation, anger and or physical violence
• Personality change (especially a lack of empathy)
• Trouble with the law
• Inexplicable and out of character behavior that you have not seen from bipolar disorder mood swings alone
• An increase in bipolar disorder symptoms, especially dysphoric mania
Imagine my surprise when after a serious biking accident in 2012, I tried medical marijuana and as a person with bipolar disorder had the worst psychosis and mania of my life. Even after extensive research and careful planning to prevent bipolar disorder symptoms, I watched my bipolar disorder two symptoms turn into full bipolar disorder one symptoms in the space of a few days. This experience helped me see the situation from both sides and greatly deepened my ability to educate the public on bipolar disorder and marijuana use. Because of my personal experiences, I understand people with bipolar disorder who want to use marijuana to feel better. I also approach the topic from the perspective of an educator who is dedicated to informing the public in a calm and rational way about the serious symptoms that can show up when a person with bipolar disorder uses marijuana- even with the best intentions.
Have you heard any of the following statements from a loved one or client when you try to talk about bipolar disorder and pot use?
I use pot to calm down. It helps my anxiety and you need to get off my f’ing back!
It’s proven that marijuana helps people with bipolar disorder manage their symptoms. It’s better than taking some drug from big pharma.
I can do what I want. Why would they legalize it in so many states if it’s as dangerous as you say it is?
You smoked pot! Now you’re telling me I can’t! You’re a hypocrite.
There is no research on what you’re saying. The problem is far more serious with drinking that pot!
I need help, but I can’t stop smoking. It’s like there is a hold on me and I have to have it in order to function.
This group coaching call will give you the exact words to use when you hear the above statements. You will learn to have a two sided conversation about marijuana and bipolar disorder instead of participating in a one sided argument you know you will never win. I’ve shared my educational and harm reduction method with hundreds of clients who shared the above comments with me- it works.
OUR LESSON PLAN
PART 1: A stroll through the history of marijuana use and how the substance has changed in the past ten or so years. This section includes a thorough explanation of the different elements of marijuana and how they can affect the brain of people with bipolar disorder. You will learn how to have an educated and non emotional conversation about the topic. Medical marijuana use will be discussed with an emphasis on the roles of THC and cannabinoids. This is covered from a personal and professional perspective through my work with clients and health care professionals and my own medical marijuana experience.
PART 2: A comprehensive explanation of the symptoms that can arise from an adverse reaction to marijuana including the specific signs of pot induced psychosis and mania. You will leave the class knowing exactly how to distinguish between symptoms caused by the illness vs. symptoms created by marijuana use.
PART 3: You will learn my extensively tested and proven harm reduction plan yourself and then learn the exact words needed to share the information with someone who is showing signs of marijuana induced bipolar disorder symptoms with an emphasis on the specific signs of THC induced psychosis.
My goal is to teach you how to talk about this topic effectively and non emotionally. Appealing to and encouraging someone whom you feel is having trouble to stop using pot for health reasons rarely works. If you’re a health care professional, even one trained in substance abuse and rehab, you know how hard it is to talk with someone who is having bipolar disorder symptoms and using pot to feel better. Instead, you can explore why the person is using the drug- their philosophy behind marijuana use and come up with a way to talk about this topic dispassionately and positively. This is an educational and functional course. You will learn why so many people with bipolar disorder are having adverse reactions to today’s marijuana (as compared to just a decade ago) and how you can help a person with bipolar disorder understand why the drug is increasing symptoms and what can be done to help them choose a better way to mange mood swings. Yes, many people use weed to feel better and get caught by the strength of today’s marijuana. This is why education on how marijuana can affect the bipolar disorder brain is essential.
I hope you will join me and help educate the world on this important topic.
WHAT PARTICIPANTS ARE SAYING
Julie Fast’s passion, along with her very substantial in-depth ongoing research into the topic is what it will take to impact the mental health dilemma in our nation today. My husband and I were totally at a loss as to how to help our adult bipolar/ weed addicted son; following her advice allowed us to break through all of the muddled confusion and anguish. Julie showed us how to communicate more clearly with our son, and also how to navigate within the often disappointing realm of mental health providers. I have utmost respect for the groundbreaking work that she is doing. My son would not be on the road to recovery today had it not been for Julie’s unselfish and passionate coaching. Her insight in to the mind and struggles of a bipolar loved one is invaluable.
Julie, you helped us get our daughter off of high THC pot and into treatment for her mental health symptoms. She believed we were poisoning her food and that dabbing was her medicine. We thought she would get harmed as she often left our house at night to be with fellow pot enthusiasts. You taught us not to ‘demonize weed,’ but to educated our beautiful girl on how her choices affected her brain health. She still wants to talk about marijuana and how it can help her. We emphasize that it’s her choice and that certain behaviors around pot have consequences. We stopped lecturing and started educating. It saved our family.
Let’s changes lives for the better- together.
(Please send an email to Julie Fast books at gmail for enrollment information.)
If helping others helps depression, what is something you can do from the depths of depression to help someone in need?
– You don’t have to feel good about helping someone.
– You don’t have to be motivated.
– You don’t have to have energy at all.
Pick one thing, do it and report back about doing it. That is all I am asking for today’s research.
I’m going to be nice to myself. I got in bed again and binged on a British police procedural. This is my go to depression behavior on the rough days. But I stopped after 30 minutes as really- watching murder mysteries is not a good depression management technique. HEHE.
I’m not depressed like I used to be- my original depression lasted off and on from age 19 until 48. That is not a typo.
I am MUCH better now, but I still get triggered. My Kickstarter set off a series of mood swings. Nothing new for me, but still awful to go through.
Believe it or not, when I get sick I run through what I write in my books- “Julie, what would Get it Done Say right now?” and I picture my own strategies.
So, I did something to feel better. I wrote my Bp Magazine blog for family members to know the signs we are sick. It comes out tomorrow. I will share it below when it’s posted.
I got myself into my office! I’m still depressed. I feel like crying. I want to isolate. But I won’t.
You can move forward when the bipolar is raging. Just know you aren’t going to feel good at first.