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 soon, what can you do now to ensure a successful trip?

These questions will get you started. I lived in Europe for five months this year. It was 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



Julie Interview in People Magazine about the Amazing Carrie Fisher


I was just interviewed by People Magazine about Carrie Fisher’s impact on our mental health world. What a wonderful woman. What a legacy she leaves behind. She will be missed. Click here to read the excellent article:

Inside Carrie Fisher’s Revolutionary Openness About Her Mental Illness: ‘She Changed the World’


Carrie Fisher and Staying Stable

What advice do you have for those who are deeply saddened by the people who have left the earth this year? I know it can be tough to have bipolar disorder and hear of so many deaths. How can we mourn someone we cared about and remain stable?

How can we say thank you for all that Carrie Fisher did for people with bipolar disorder and keep ourselves in one piece?

My advice is to set up a specific mourning time that has an end date. Rituals for the death of a loved one can be incredibly helpful. Create a collage. Write a poem. Do a beautiful, loving post about how the person changed your life. Then, and this is hard. Take care of your bipolar disorder. You matter too.

My Julie A. Fast Facebook page has more great support. 



Holiday Encouragement

You are not your family. You are YOU. You are not what others say about you. You are YOU. You are not anyone’s image. You are YOU. As you go into the events that have a lot of family dynamics, remember who you are.

If being quiet works, then be quiet. If speaking out in a calm and loving way works, then speak out. But no matter what, remember that your body HOLDS you. It is not YOU. Your thoughts can sound true, but not be YOU.

Remembering who you are- what you want and what you need on a holiday is difficult, but possible. 

We create our own families out of the people who treat us kindly. Being with family members who are not kind is always a chore, but if you know your CORE, you will survive.

Slings and arrows
Remarks about weight
Why aren’t you working?
You don’t look so great!

All of these comments from people who say they care
Can go in one ear and march out of the house


You can do it! Make today better than any past holiday. Work towards internal harmony in the face of family chaos.

Take a break.
Do what you need.
Ask about others
Focus on children

If you are filled with abundance, do something for those who have less.

Reach out from the real YOU
And may your day be blessed.


Julie, Help! I don’t have plans for the holiday weekend!

A Christmas Cake from the amazing Alana Jones Mann

Here are some ideas:
1.Know you are not alone. I have spent many lonely holidays simply from not planning ahead. 
2. Remove yourself from the idea of what this day SHOULD be like and focus on what you can make happen from this moment forward. Holidays are stressful because even though they are simply a day on the calendar, society puts enormous stress on what we should be doing on that day. Step out of this and create something of your own.
3. If there is time, plan something now. Call a person you think might be available. It you were invited to a party and said no because you were depressed, call and say you’re coming. If, and this is important too- you are expected to be somewhere and truly feel it will make you worse and that doing something else would be better, make the change now.
4. Learn from your mistakes. If you feel rotten that you don’t have anything planned this weekend, plan something now for New Year’s Eve.
5. Ask people to come to you. Ask for company. Don’t worry if you feel embarrassed, that is NORMAL. If you ask, you will receive. If you don’t ask, you will probably stay alone. There is someone like you in the world who wants company today. Find that person. I always loved going to Christmas Eve karaoke with my friends. That is a blast. If you’re religious, find a church and GO. If you’re spiritual, find a group that celebrates this weekend in a way you enjoy. If you’re lonely for your love, create something beautiful for that person and send it out in the world.
As you can see, all I’m saying is that even when we are depressed, we control our destiny. If you are not sure where you will be tonight- and being somewhere tonight is important to you, make plans now. Visit and find an event! I do this all of the time.
We make our own happiness. Loneliness today- lack of plans today- doesn’t have to be loneliness and a lack of plans for tonight or tomorrow. YOU CAN DO IT!
PS: Make a Christmas Cactus Cake and take it to a place that would make people happy. Click here to see the directions on how to make this cake.  This is from the Alana Jones Mann website. 
Post on Facebook that you don’t have plans for tonight and want to meet like minded people to see LA LA Land this evening!
Remind yourself that if you’re depressed, it’s normal. You don’t have to listen to it. You can fight it and go out anyway.

I believe in you!

Talking with Kids about Bipolar Disorder. The Julie and David Talk Bipolar Disorder Podcast

Julie A. Fast talks with her 14 year old nephew David about bipolar disorder.  She started the conversations when he was four.

A note from Julie: It amazes me how easily David and I can talk about such a serious illness.  I started off by educating him on my own depression, mania, anxiety and psychosis symptoms so that he could better understand my behavior. Now he is one of the greatest minds I know on the topic! He has so much insight. We can teach young people how to talk about and manage this illness. David doesn’t currently have bipolar disorder, but we have talked about the genetics of having it in the family. I hope you enjoy our discussion on how to talk about bipolar disorder in an open and relaxed way.

This podcast is on Soundcloud. You can listen to it from your computer. Please download the Soundcloud app to listen on your phone. You can also download this video and use it to start a conversation with your own family. Health care professionals have permission to use the podcast as well.


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