Bipolar Articles

My Challenge of Maintaining Friendships

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

My Challenge of Maintaining FriendshipsIn the past two days, my therapist told me my anger put people off and one of my better friends in this town told me that I hadn’t heard from a mutual friend of ours in over a month because I require a lot of emotional energy on others’ parts and am hard to be around.

You can imagine what these comments did to my already-fragile (very fragile) sense of self-esteem.

As kids, our parents teach us that cute little rhyme, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

It’s an injustice on their parts to teach us that, because words can hurt. A lot.

Helping Your Child Reduce Self-Harming Behavior

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Helping Your Child Reduce Self-Harming BehaviorSelf-harm, or inflicting physical harm onto one’s body to ease emotional distress, is not uncommon in kids and teens.

In fact, according to clinical psychologist Deborah Serani, PsyD, in her book Depression and Your Child: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers, about 15 percent of kids and teens engage in self-harm.

There are many forms of self-harm, including cutting, scratching, hitting and burning. Many kids and teens who self-harm also struggle with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, physical abuse or other serious concerns or psychological disorders.

These kids “don’t know how to verbalize their feelings, and instead, act them out by self-injuring,” Serani writes. Kids might self-harm to soothe deep sadness or other overwhelming emotions. They might do it to express self-loathing or shame. They might do it to express negative thoughts they can’t articulate. They might do it because they feel helpless.

Josh Marks from MasterChef Commits Suicide, Suffered from Bipolar, Schizophrenia

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Josh Marks from MasterChef Commits Suicide, Suffered from Bipolar, SchizophreniaSadly, among the 90-some-odd people who committed suicide in America on Friday, October 11, 2013, MasterChef contestant Josh Marks was among them.

People who watched the television show may remember Josh as someone who was known as a “gentle giant.” Josh, 26 and 7’2″, was known by his friends and family as someone who was kind, well-loved and thoughtful.

But the same month he lost to someone else on the final episode of MasterChef in 2012, he was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And just last week, he was given yet another diagnosis — schizophrenia.

After struggling with poor treatment options, the stress of the TV show, and the brand-new diagnosis, it apparently was too much for Josh to bear any longer.

Sticks & Stones: Words (& Labels) Do Matter

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

Sticks & Stones: Words (& Labels) Do MatterOn a recent trip to my hometown, my brother, sister and I went out to dinner with our mother. My brother told us a story about his 20-something son, who is looking for work in the college town where he lives. Apparently he had overheard something disturbing at one place and mentioned it to the interviewer.

“Oh, she’s just a crazy bipolar (witch),” the interviewer said.

Appalled, I leaned across the table, looked my brother in the eye and said, “Your sister’s bipolar.”

Vanity Came Knocking: Being Safe with My Bipolar

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Vanity Came Knocking: Being Safe with My BipolarI nearly checked myself into the mental ward recently. I’ve been once, and it is no vacation.

But, one ordinary day in September, I was in that much pain. And I didn’t trust myself enough to be safe — all over some vanity and pride.

For the most part, over the years, my bipolar disorder has been tamped down with medication, therapy and stress reduction. And, until that day, I thought I was in remission.

But I was wrong.

Small Acts of Kindness Can Have Big Effects

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

Small Acts of Kindness Can Have Big EffectsI live in Rochester, Minnesota, which basically is famous only for being home to the Mayo Clinic. My biggest health problem is mental, not physical (I’m bipolar).

Several years ago, my internist snagged me a consultation with the psychiatrist who is nationally known for his work with bipolar disorder. After a three-hour discussion that felt like it ranged from birth to present day, he asked if I had questions. I said yes, just one: “Is this ever going to get any better?”

He then felt compelled — after all that time — to tell me the research showed it got worse as people aged, not better, and he was very sorry, but he couldn’t help me.

I was a little irked, as you might imagine.

Introducing Being Beautifully Bipolar

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Introducing Being Beautifully BipolarFor the millions of people who suffer from bipolar disorder, it is often a misunderstood malady. While the basics of bipolar are pretty well understood by most — characterized by changing moods from mania to depression — the in’s and out’s of living with bipolar disorder are more difficult to grasp.

And if you live with bipolar disorder, you often feel out there alone in the world. How can people live like this?

The Disturbing Discrepancy & Double Standard Between Mental Illness & Other Health Concerns

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

The Disturbing Discrepancy & Double Standard Between Mental Illness & Other Health ConcernsIt would seem that the subject of mental illness has, at long last, captured the attention of the American public. Why, you may ask, is this so?

Perhaps it is the fact that when mind-boggling mass murders occur in such ordinary towns as Newtown, Conn. or Aurora, Colo., we are inundated with stories about the suspected mental state of the perpetrators.

Although the aforementioned individuals may suffer, or may have suffered, from any number of debilitating mental illnesses, the vast majority of the mentally ill are not violent. Unfortunately, their stories, and their daily struggles merely to survive, rarely make the 6 o’clock news.

Nuvigil: Not Better Than Placebo for Depression Symptoms in Bipolar

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

Nuvigil: Not Better Than Placebo for Depression Symptoms in BipolarMillions of people around the world rely on antidepressants in the treatment of clinical depression and, to a lesser extent, bipolar disorder. Over a dozen such medications exist, and many are also available in generic form.

But for reasons that scientists can’t yet adequately explain, some people don’t respond to many antidepressant drugs. And the drugs they do respond to may carry unwanted side effects that make taking the drug for any length of time downright challenging.

So drug companies are constantly looking for new drugs, new uses for old drugs, and new formulations of old drugs to help improve their batting average. Sadly for this effort, though, we can cross off another potential drug — Nuvigil (armodafinil).

Handling Intrusive Thoughts while Meditating

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Handling Intrusive Thoughts while MeditatingIt’s easy to say that when meditating one should focus on the breath and release thoughts as they arise, but it’s incredibly difficult to do. I’ve been a bit hypomanic lately, and ideas are flying through my head. Concentration and attention are very difficult.

Acknowledging thoughts and letting them go is hard enough on a good day. What do I do now?

During mindfulness meditation you keep your attention on your breath, but you want to be fully aware in this moment. So you still take note of sounds and smells, aches and pains, all that makes up the present moment. When thoughts arise the instructions are to notice them, let them go, and return to the breath.

But to just blot out thoughts without paying attention to them would not be very mindful at all. Don’t ignore your thoughts… Instead, work with them.

Do You Understand the Bipolar Spectrum?

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Do You Understand the Bipolar Spectrum?In modern psychiatry, there is more than one type of bipolar disorder, and patients may be told that they are ‘somewhere on the bipolar spectrum.’

This can be confusing to hear; as a newly diagnosed patient, you may wonder, ‘so do I really have bipolar disorder or not?’

According to the current, dominant model, the bipolar spectrum runs from bipolar I at one end, to cyclothymia and ‘not otherwise specified’ at the other.

You may have heard that bipolar disorder (BD) affects only one in a hundred people, but this is untrue — or only a partial truth — according to the spectrum model.

12 Travel Tips for People with Bipolar Disorder

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

12 Travel Tips for People with Bipolar Disorder  “Triggers control bipolar disorder,” said Julie A. Fast, a bestselling author of books on bipolar disorder, including Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder.

Common triggers include lack of sleep, time changes, new people and relationship problems, she said. Each individual’s triggers may vary, so while one person may be triggered by having to deal with unexpected changes to their schedule, another may be upset by missing a meal or having to deal with an angry partner.

Unfortunately, travel has all these elements. That’s why it’s critical to plan ahead and prepare for your trip. Fast offered these tips to help.

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