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Warning Signs

April 6, 2016
It’s so important with a mental illness to be vigilant of errant emotions because it could be a warning sign of the start of an episode. This has happened only a few times since I’ve been stable on medication.  The first time was during the summer a couple of years ago. I’m a teacher so I have the summers off. That year I didn’t get a summer...
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I decided to be open about my bipolar disorder over two years ago. I expected that there would be some stigma, but what I didn’t expect or prepare for was the hidden stigma. The kind of stigma that isn’t immediately obvious until you reflect upon it. One of these hidden stigmas is people using my bipolar as an excuse or cop-out, either for their...
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I Am Much More Than That

March 25, 2016
When I facilitate groups, I ask people to say their name, something about themselves unrelated to their mental health disorder and, “And I’m more than that.” Inevitably, a person says something like, “Hi. I’m John. I’m bipolar, and I’m not much more than that.” I’m always sad when this happens because none of us should be defined by our mental...
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There were a lot of warning signs that I had a mental illness, long before my first diagnosis. My mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was a child. I would have massive mood swings and extremely violent temper tantrums that often resulted in the destroying of objects or attempts to physically injure someone. This resulted in...
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It's difficult to know what to do when your adult child has the symptoms of a mental illness. We encourage our children to be independent and take care of themselves. But what do we do as a parent if our adult child is struggling with depression, anxiety and  mania? It's often hard to know what to say or do  if you feel like they should...
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I have a secret.  I am a superhero. In some ways we all are superheroes.  I can hear the critics now, “Bipolar disorder is a curse.  Only suffering comes from a disease like that.”  Bah, I say.  Bah.  Life is what you make it.  Bad things happen; good things happen.  Babies are born; loved ones pass on....
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This is the second in a series of 26 posts covering a variety of stress management tools and techniques, starting with the letter A. For some background information on stress and bipolar disorder, the blogger recommends reading her three-part series, “Getting a Handle on Stress When You Have Bipolar Disorder,” starting with the first one. ...
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You Are Not Alone

March 10, 2016
I decided to start writing to help people like me but I didn’t really pursue it seriously until my sister passed away unexpectedly last year.  I needed to transfer my grief into something productive (that’s just my personality) and so here I am, writing a blog post every month to help others with a diagnosis succeed. I want to give hope but I...
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You probably hear all the time that if you eat right and exercise, you’ll feel better both mentally and physically. This can be challenging when we live in a world that thrives on junk food and unrealistic expectations on how people should look. So, is it even worth it? Why even try when the healthy payoff isn’t as great as being unhealthy? ...
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When there is a big storm that will knock out your power you prepare for it, right? Typically, you keep water, a flashlight, and some food that doesn’t require cooking because you might lose all power. To some extent, it’s the same when preparing for a low swing/depression part of bipolar disorder. We tend to procrastinate preparing for...
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Yesterday I was discharged from a psychiatric hospital after a five-week stay. I was hospitalised for mania and psychosis (you can read about it here). Instead of only feeling the expected excitement and joy, I also felt underlying apprehension and fear. But mostly, sadness dominated over happiness. We had the usual family meeting, which ran...
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After living with bipolar for 8 years, I have noticed some thought patterns that I tend to have around when it comes to thinking about my emotions. Questioning one’s emotions is a useful tool in learning to manage them. As my psychologist and I have discussed, emotions do stem from thoughts – which may or may not be true. Sometimes, admittedly, I...
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