How to Say THANK YOU, NO THANK YOU when You Have Bipolar Disorder


 

Julie, come to the concert with us! We have a box and I know you love the band! You will love it!

 
Thank you so much for thinking of me. I want to go and the stable me would LOVE to go. Unfortunately, the bipolar me, the one I dislike but have to live with every day simply can’t handle the big crowds. I get overstimulated and this can lead to so many symptoms I simply can’t have in my life right now. I am sad to miss this. I know you are going out to dinner first, and I can definitely join you for that part of the evening. Thank you very much for asking me!
 

Julie, I don’t see why it’s so hard for you to travel. You love it so much. We are just going for the weekend. It’s the coast and it will be fun. I will drive! Come with us! 

 
Thank you! I wish with all of my heart that the regular me you see in public is the me I have to sleep with at night. I can’t and don’t want you to have to understand what I go through to be honest- it sucks, but I can say that as much as I want to go with you, I want to be stable more. I have to give up so much so that I can be the friend and family member I want to be. Please send me a video. In fact, a video chat would be amazing. I feel sad I have to miss this. I feel that I miss out on a lot of things, but I can say that I’m healthier than I have ever been since I’ve been really watching my triggers. Travel at this time is too much for me. I hope you have fun!!!
***

It’s all about trigger management when you have bipolar disorder. 

 
It’s hard for people who don’t have bipolar disorder to understand that FUN things can make us sick. Triggers are ANYTHING that causes mood swings. There is no positive or negative to a trigger. It’s just a trigger!
 
Learning to say no in a way that also educates people about how you take care of yourself really makes a difference. People know to keep asking you- because maybe you can go in the future, but they also get to see that you are committed to staying stable so that you can maintain the relationship!
 
Woo! hoo!
 
OK. My Kickstarter for Hortensia and the Magical Brain: Poems for Kids with Bipolar, Anxiety, Psychosis and Depression is February 9th. I am writing this on all posts now so that I will have all of you to make sure I make this deadline. I am nervous. Announcements are coming soon. Please check my Julie A. Fast Facebook page for more details. 
 
Julie

Guest Blogger Andrew Turman: How I manage my rapid cycling bipolar disorder

by Andrew Turman
I have a form of bipolar disorder that is rapid cycling. I can go from being depressed to being manic in a matter of hours. Early on in the onset of my illness, I was depressed more than I was manic. That is not to say that I did not become manic; rather, it was not as intense and did not last as long. However, these days, since I turned 35 or so, mania has become the predominant problem. Again, I do get depressed, but it is not as crippling as I have previously experienced. At its peak, my illness caused me to cycle every other week. One week up, then one down, then back up for a week, then back down, for periods of months at a time. This type of cycling can be exhausting, not only for me but for the people around me.
Up until a few years ago, I was not taking my mental health seriously. I would actually fuel the manias, and try to maintain an emotional temperature of 7-7.5 as much as I could. The problem was, at that level, I was often unable to remain there, and I cycled up to 8, 9, and 10. That is when it became necessary to go to the hospital to treat the ultra-manic and psychotic symptoms. I was a danger to myself and others, including my family, my ex-wife and son.
Now, I work hard to counter the effects of my brain chemical imbalance. I no longer drink a lot of alcohol or smoke that much pot. I have tried to limit my caffeine intake, and cut back on how much I smoke cigarettes. I am trying to keep a sleep schedule. This has proven to be the most difficult of all. When I start to cycle up, I have a decreased need and want of sleep. My mind is buzzing, and I have so much to do, the drive to create is overwhelming. When hypomanic, I am a prolific writer and artist, although I rarely finish any of the numerous projects I start.
My current wife is the best barometer of my emotional temperature. She recognizes the behavioral symptoms and can identify the trigger events which are the antecedents to my becoming ill. When she points them out, I often discount what she is saying to me, label her as “pissing on my parade,” and often act out even more. I am trying to get better about trusting her judgment, as mine is skewed most of the time.
A discussion we had recently is actually quite telling. We were talking about perceptions of reality, and I stated that I seemed to experience three separate realities—one manic, one depressed, and one thin sliver of “true reality.” She countered that the three are actually one. Instead of three separate realities, distinct from one another, they are all entangled with one another. She stated that it would be possible to be creative while in the normal and depressive mood states. It would take work, she assured, but it was possible.
Together, we came up with the following strategy: When I am manic, I come up with a lot of painting titles (which would also make great names for a punk rock band!). Instead of the numerous lists I had, I now write them in a blank journal, two to a page, leaving space to take down any ideas, in written notes or quick sketches. This also gives me space to document who I have given the painting to, or who commissioned me to do it. Now, I am organized and I can remember my manic visions of what my art should be. When less manic, I am more able to concentrate my artistic skills on a better product, instead of the visual vomit that is often the result of my manic episodes. Brilliant! A little bit of organization and work, with long-lasting benefits.
Together, my wife and I can brainstorm for other creative solutions. The real point here, is that I must listen to my wife when calls me on my manic symptoms, and try to de-escalate my mood as I know I can, before it gets out of control. I will always experience the highs and lows, but how far they go, up or down, is basically my decision. I have taken responsibility of my moods. It doesn’t always mean that I make the right choices, but at least I am confident in the fact that my illness is not in control of me, I am in control of it.
Wm. Andrew Turman

Zen Daddy T

Writer, Artist, Mental Health Advocate
W.A. Turman was an “Army Brat,” and that explains a lot. Man of no accent, but also of every accident. Life has not always been easy for the artist and writer we affectionally call “Zen Daddy T.” A gonzo journalist along the lines of Hunter S. Thompson, an artist well-versed in the school of Ralph Steadman, including favoring beers from the Flying Dog Brewery, Andrew is an acquired taste. His abstract expressionist works bleed protest and contentment. His recent series, “Art for Airports” has drawn critical acclaim.

I Treat Bipolar First: Keep Calm and Turn it All Off

If the marching and events that happened in the United States today and around the world are too stressful for your bipolar disorder to the point they can affect your sleep, it is ok to turn of the computer- turn off the social media- turn of the Facebook and Twitter and TV and…
– read a mystery novel.
– go to a movie.
– talk with a friend.
– take a nice bath.
– play with an animal.
– if you are lucky enough to have this option, put some loving hanky panky in your life.
 
I treat bipolar disorder first. If I read what is on Facebook right now, I will get upset. It’s ok that I don’t march. I love it that others can do it for me. It’s ok that I’m not political online, my friends and family know my beliefs.
 
My concern is the mental health of those of us who have an illness that is triggered by stress.
 
I take care of myself first. Good night social media. I will see you tomorrow. And I will be stable.
 
Join me?
 
Julie
 
PS: All it takes is turing off the device and moving on to something more conducive to stability.

Julie is currently answering questions live on Facebook

 

Hello! I’m currently live on my Julie A. Fast Facebook page for the next few hours to answer your questions about mental health disorders including bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, psychosis, borderline, ADD and medications.

I will also post the questions and answer here.

 

Julie

Questions:

Julie, What do you do when your psychosis is raging, and manic/hypo manic. How do you manage your daily goals?

Zih.

Hello Zih,

Let’s start at the beginning. We share the same symptoms as we both have bipolar disorder with psychosis.  (The diagnosis is called schizoaffective disorder.) This means we have to deal with a lot of mood swings- sometimes all at once.  I have an overall plan that I used for symptom management. This is in my books.  Here is what I do specifically:

Getting started:  I know my symptoms from the very beginning. I have a list of ALL of my mania and psychosis symptoms that I have compiled for many years. I did this through charting my moods.  This process is outlined in my books Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and The Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder.  I will post the links below.  You obviously know your symptoms as well. Do you have them written down? It helps to have a very detailed list.

Step #1.  Manage your sleep. Once I wrote down my symptoms- and believe me, I add to the list regularly, I created a plan to deal with each symptom in a way that keeps me from going further into the mood swing.

For example, ALL management plans have to have a plan for regular sleep. Let’s start there.

If you are manic and psychotic, sleep is going to be a huge issue. What is your plan tonight to sleep no matter what? For many of us, that means a good dose of sleep meds or taking more of the meds we take for mania and psychosis.  This isn’t fun and I’m sorry we have to sometimes medicate ourselves this way, but sleep is paramount.  Knock yourself out and sleep for at least eight hours and let the brain help you heal.

One of the main reasons hospitals work so well when a person is manic and psychosis is the regimented sleep.

Step #2.   Be careful not to take your symptoms out on the people around you. I have to do this as I can get very aggressive and loud, mean and nasty, negative and bombastic when the mania is raging.  This is my dysphoric mania and it’s so unpleasant! I make sure that I warn the people around me that I’m in an episode and I ask for help. I say, “As you can see, I’m having a hard time controlling my negativity. I don’t want to be this way. It’s the mania. You can help by reminding me that this is an illness and I will get through this as I always do. ”

Step #3.  Look for triggers. What do you think led to the current mania and psychosis? If you can pinpoint the trigger, make changes in that area immediately. I just had a relationship issue and believe me, the paranoia was raging. That is my regular symptom when I have contentious conversations. It is no one’s fault. It is my brain. I have to remind myself that for me, paranoia is simply a symptom. Nothing terrible has happened. I just had an argument with a family member. Nothing has changed. This leads to the next step.

Step #4. Talk to yourself about your symptoms. I do this regularly. Julie, when you are manic you talk too fast, spend too much money and love to drink. This is a sign you are sick. It’s ok to have these symptoms, but you don’t have to act on them. What do you need to do right now to make sure you minimize mistakes and don’t do something you will regret? I have a plan in place for this and I USE it.

Step #5 Ask for help. You are already doing this by writing me. If you need to talk to a health care person, even if it’s just to check in, do it. I will write my therapist or call a friend when I need help. My illness tells me I have no friends, but I don’t listen and force myself to call!

 

This is a short list of what I do!

 

Julie

***

 

Julie, I have talked to u before. Which book of yours should I start with? I’m specially interested in ur card system. Thnx!

Erat.

Hello Erat,

I would start with Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and then move to the Health Cards. I call the Health Cards the Moneyball of bipolar disorder management. They really work, but are only for those who are ready to make a lot of changes in lifestyle in order to get better. I use them with all of the parents and partners I coach. Take Charge outlines the basic system and really explains bipolar disorder management for the whole family. I would definitely start with this book!

Julie

 

***

 

Julie, What is the most unusual reason for causing mania that you’ve heard of? Rudy.
Hi Rudy,
STEROIDS! I am working with a client right now where steroids are leading to mania. This means HGH, testosterone, prednisone, cortisone, etc. We use them so cavalierly in this country and yet they are very dangerous for people with bipolar disorder. Lately, high THC pot is the main cause of mania in my coaching work.
Julie
***
Hi Julie…my daughter is diagnosed bipolar 2. She often lies. Is this common with a bipolar person? Marsha

 

My daughter was also recently diagnosed with borderline personality and bipolar and lying is a big issue with her
Hello Marsha,
Yes, but ONLY during a mood swing. Bipolar disorder is episodic. There are NO exceptions. You can see I am being very firm in this answer.   That is because people often confuse bipolar disorder – a mood disorder- with personality disorder. People who have bipolar disorder only have symptoms when in a mood swing. We are absolutely regular in terms of behavior when we are not sick. Is your daughter’s lying cyclical or consistent over time?
 Julie, she was also diagnosed with borderline.  Marsha
Ah, you just answered my question. If she regularly lies, that is much more of a personality disorder symptom than bipolar disorder. But, please know that we ALL lie when manic. LYING IS A SYMPTOM OF MANIA.
Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you Manic? Answer the questions below about bipolar disorder mania and find out!

trampoline 50Have you experienced any of the following in the past few months?

– Slept less but felt more energized?  Had the thought… sleep is a waste of time!

– Had the thought- Thank god the depression is gone, I feel SO much better!    ?

– Felt like spending more? Drinking more? Are you behaving in a way that has people asking you what’s wrong and you want to reply- NOTHING! Don’t wreck my buzz man. Do you want me to be depressed forever?

–  Do you feel more sexual than normal? Do you have sexual thoughts about anyone who is good looking? Do you fantasize in a way you don’t normally do when stable? 

–  Are you eating less than you normally do?

If you answer yes to any of these, you know what it means. You might be manic!  

 

NO MANIA THIS YEAR can be your motto.

It’s time to get help now:  Check your meds, go back on meds if they worked in the past, tell the truth to friends, partner and family, read my books and take care of yourself.

Mania is always up to no good- even when it feels totally awesome!

Julie

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.  You are not alone. Coaching works. Over 50% of my coaching clients come to me for help with a loved one who is using marijuana and having mood swings.)

***

Over six 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. 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

 

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 (especially marijuana) and many more situations that require extreme discretion.

 

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