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A Thank You Letter to a Very Special Husband

A Thank You Letter to a Very Special Husband

Dear Husband,  We made it through the first year of marriage (not that I had any doubts, don’t worry)! We’ve been through more than our fair share of difficult times, loss and trying times together. But, through thick and thin, we’ve stayed together and...

Life After Mania: Picking Up the Pieces

Life After Mania: Picking Up the Pieces

Several years ago, before I was diagnosed, during a particularly difficult bout of psychosis I believed I was a prophet receiving messages from God. I went days at a time without sleep, diligently documenting everything I heard, scribbling frantically and filling up...

Honesty Between Patients and Psychiatrists

Honesty Between Patients and Psychiatrists

I was diagnosed over a decade ago. I was young, a teenager, lost with no clue what to do. My first psychiatrist, who I met at age 14, didn’t want to diagnose me when I was too young. He waited a couple years to officially diagnose me with bipolar 1 disorder; I respect...

Faith and Prayer When Going Through Depression

Faith and Prayer When Going Through Depression

How do I pray, as someone who lives with bipolar disorder? In my younger years when I was fairly stabilized on medicine, the daily Scriptures were my prayer and my study, sometimes studying several hours with my commentaries and allowing the silence to foster the Holy...

Helping A Loved One When They’re Not Doing Well

Helping A Loved One When They’re Not Doing Well

I recently watched as a friend deteriorated as a result of a new medication. She was having an adverse reaction to it and within days was manic. Everyone else saw a happy-go-lucky her, while I saw the irritation building in her, as well as her frustration as she tried...

Learning to Be Vulnerable

Learning to Be Vulnerable

I was once someone that would read relationship advice articles scoffing at what were commonly myths and misconceptions of how romantic love works. I was a teenager anyway; and we all know that teenagers are authorities in all topics under the sun. I watched too much...

I Can Do This – Writing Affirmations

I Can Do This – Writing Affirmations

Yesterday I was depressed I felt like my insides had been sucked out of me. I did nothing for most of the day. I didn’t eat or drink anything till after 6:30 PM when I forced myself to warm up and eat dinner. Why did I finally get up and make myself eat dinner? I...

To My Friend, On The Other Side Of A Suicide Attempt

To My Friend, On The Other Side Of A Suicide Attempt

Dear, dear friend, I want to say that I’m glad that you did not succeed. Life without you would be a very dull place indeed. You have made it. You are still breathing. Your heart is beating and you have been given a second chance. There are many things I would...

Seclusion: Being on the Other Side of the Door

Seclusion: Being on the Other Side of the Door

“LET ME OUT OF HERE!” I screamed at the top of my voice, hammering on the nurse’s station door. I was yelling so loud my lungs and chest hurt, my throat was raw and it felt like the veins in my neck would burst. The day’s events that had seemed trivial were no longer...

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month and the Weather Is Not Bipolar

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month and the Weather Is Not Bipolar

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Judging from some of the stuff that flies across my Facebook feed, there is a big need for such awareness. As an individual living with bipolar disorder, a psychotherapist, and a mental health educator, it astounds me how much...

Healthy Nutrition for Healthier Moods Part 1: The Happy Salad

Healthy Nutrition for Healthier Moods Part 1: The Happy Salad

In the past 16 years, I have been on a lot of different medications – all of which have affected me differently. Some caused me to gain weight due to feeling hungry all the time and overeating, sometimes they caused me to retain water, and who knows what triggered...

Support For Those Living With A Mental Illness

Support For Those Living With A Mental Illness

Claire gave this speech at our Behind the Mask Gala on May 7, 2016. I keep trying to remember the person I was two years ago, the way I spoke and behaved, the way I would have reacted to someone if they were displaying the same socially unacceptable behaviors...

Why We Must Spread Awareness For Mental Health

Why We Must Spread Awareness For Mental Health

Claire gave this speech at our World Bipolar Day Press Conference in Washington DC on March 23, 2016. I was brought up on the precedent that kindness for both yourself and others was the way to get through life. Love surged through my family, an energy that you...

My Story Isn’t Over: Project Semicolon

My Story Isn’t Over: Project Semicolon

When I'm doing day-to-day things, it is very common for other people to ask me why I have a semicolon tattoo on my right wrist. A semicolon is defined as “a punctuation mark indicating a pause, typically between two main clauses, that is more pronounced than that...

Moving Forward

Moving Forward

I have had quite a bit going on lately. I would like to share with you some of the things that have been keeping me so busy. As summer wound down last year, I went back to work. Why is this important – because I have been on disability since April of 2011. Things had...

He Loves Me, Bipolar or Not

He Loves Me, Bipolar or Not

Michael: I first saw Allison at an AA meeting that I had been attending for several years. She was (is) a beautiful, lively and animated woman who I decided I wanted to get to know better. Little did I know that after she accepted, and we went on our first date,...

What Recovery Means To Me

What Recovery Means To Me

We can live full, successful lives, even if we have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. We cannot forget that recovery is possible, and that we have control over our own recovery. The first step in taking control of your recovery is defining what recovery means to...

When to disclose that you have bipolar disorder in a relationship?

When to disclose that you have bipolar disorder in a relationship?

As someone in recovery from both addiction and bipolar disorder, I often find it difficult to know when to share this part of my life with someone else. I recently ended a three-year relationship and began dating again. I try to be upfront about the addiction because...

10 Tips for Your Next Doctor’s Appointment

10 Tips for Your Next Doctor’s Appointment

This advice can help you better communicate with your doctor(s) to get the most out of your appointment. 1. Don’t miss appointments! Typically, a psychiatrist is usually booked up to three months in advance and primary care physicians are booked up to at...

We’re Partnering With The Mighty!

We’re Partnering With The Mighty!

We're thrilled to announce a new partnership that will bring IBPF's resources in front of The Mighty's wide-reaching readership. IBPF will now have a growing home page on The Mighty where people can get involved with us. This page will make it easier...

Mental Health Awareness Q&A with David Susman, PhD

Mental Health Awareness Q&A with David Susman, PhD

The Canadian Mental Health Association first introduced Mental Health Week in 1951, and it has since become a yearly tradition. This year, Canada celebrated its 65th annual Mental Health Week from May 2, 2016 to May 8, 2016.  In the US, Mental Health Month takes...

Don’t Let Your Symptoms Define You

Don’t Let Your Symptoms Define You

If someone tells you that you are bad at math, especially if you have had a bad experience in a math class, that idea can percolate in your mind for years and eventually you will dread anything to do with math. You might avoid it so much that it limits your career or...

Support in the Workplace

Support in the Workplace

I’m a teacher so a good, supportive environment is essential to my success in the classroom. This is doubly so for anyone with a mental illness. Support for a person with a mental illness diagnosis is crucial for their success in the workplace and they CAN be...

5 Times You Should Call Your Doctor

5 Times You Should Call Your Doctor

I can't count the number of times I've debated between calling my doctor and waiting it out. We argue that the doctor can't help, that we just need time to adjust to medication or that it's a waste of time. Here are five times when you should be calling your...

When You Have to Say Goodbye to Your Psychologist

When You Have to Say Goodbye to Your Psychologist

I sat in the cheery Student Life waiting room with brochures hanging from the walls. I had broken out into a cold sweat and was feeling fairly nauseated, ready to bolt. ‘What am I doing here? This is not me.’ I thought for the hundredth time. I reminded myself that I...

There Are Good Times

There Are Good Times

I realized today as I reread many of my blogs that I am often referring to times when I was depressed. I want you to know there are also many good times. Often when I think of good times, I think of exceptionally good times when I accomplished something like...

5 Things to Remember When You Cannot Work

5 Things to Remember When You Cannot Work

I have not worked since I left my job in 2013 due to my mental health. I have successfully gotten a couple of jobs since, but have not made it past the induction period before I’ve become unwell again. I just don’t seem to be able to deal with the stress that comes...

Lavender Blooms

Lavender Blooms

I still like the way lavender blooms, the way it smells, the way it lingers on my skin and saturates my face with a glow of happiness.. And so does she; my old self, the self that didn't tear herself to pieces. I see her in my sleep, she stitches up my wounds and...

I Wish You Knew How It Felt

I Wish You Knew How It Felt

Mania You wake up after only four hours asleep, but that’s ok, you feel fine. Today is going to be a great day, a productive day, one of the best days of your life. You get in the shower and sing every song you know, and keep singing as you dress up and do your...

Stigma: The Societal Beast

This essay won first place in our High School Essay Contest this year. Like a shadow, it cannot be shaken. It hides in corners and feasts in the dark, preying on its victims from afar. It alters their minds, forever distorting the way in which they view their own...

Invisible Illness, Real Pain

By Amadea Smith At my high school, it is not uncommon to hear put-downs in the hallways - “He’s just trying to get attention,” “She's so bipolar.” These kinds of naive comments about mental illness are just as ubiquitous as a wad of gum under a chair. Sixty million...

The Form of Stigma You Might Not Be Thinking Of

The Form of Stigma You Might Not Be Thinking Of

Everyone I have ever talked to within the mental health community has an acute awareness of the social stigma of their condition. They could jeopardize their career, could lose their friendships, or even have their family torn away from them. We are all aware that...

What Do You Do When You Can’t Get To Sleep?

What Do You Do When You Can’t Get To Sleep?

Thankfully I normally get to sleep very quickly. However, about a month ago it took me a VERY long time to get to sleep. I had a bunch of ideas swirling in my head and my mind kept firing off new ones. They were exciting ideas about a variety of things: a fundraising...

When You’ve Hit Rock Bottom

When You’ve Hit Rock Bottom

I remember what it was like hitting rock bottom. I hit it hard. I had checked myself into the psych ward twice and was dealing with a dull, achy feeling. Whoo boy, was that hard! Thankfully, I had and still have God, my husband, and mom on my side. I also found the...

Invasion of the Body Snatchers – Coping with my Wife’s Mania

Invasion of the Body Snatchers – Coping with my Wife’s Mania

Sometimes the hardest part about being married to someone with bipolar disorder is trying to reconcile the actions of the illness from the actions of the person. When you live with someone long enough you get to know them pretty well.  You become comfortable...

Mania: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Mania: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I consider mania to be the forgotten orphan of the two poles of bipolar disorder – with depression being the most discussed. Depression gets all the attention, all the talk, all the focus and mania is left out in the cold. On the International Bipolar Foundation’s...

Warning Signs

Warning Signs

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...

My Bipolar Disorder is not your Excuse

My Bipolar Disorder is not your Excuse

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...

I Am Much More Than That

I Am Much More Than That

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...

Don’t Wait for Someone to Notice Your Symptoms

Don’t Wait for Someone to Notice Your Symptoms

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...

Talking Mental Health With Your Adult Child

Talking Mental Health With Your Adult Child

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 ...

I am not bipolar. I am a superhero!

I am not bipolar. I am a superhero!

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...

You Are Not Alone

You Are Not Alone

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...

Being Healthy Both Mentally and Physically

Being Healthy Both Mentally and Physically

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...

Technique for Studying During Depression

Technique for Studying During Depression

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...

Breaking the Stigma

Breaking the Stigma

When I first met my wife she was invisible. Sometime after her bipolar diagnosis she was led to believe that her illness was not something to be discussed, it was something to be ashamed of. Most people that knew her diagnosis tried to be supportive of her “moodiness”...

The Value of Questioning Your Emotions

The Value of Questioning Your Emotions

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,...

Someone Who Understands

Someone Who Understands

Jane and her fiance, Dana, each wrote about their relationship for our couples series. JaneWriting a blog set together is both an awesome and odd experience. I write without outlines, and pour everything out – much like I deal with my moods. My fiance Dana needed...

My Biggest Supporter

My Biggest Supporter

Lynn and her husband, Bill, each wrote about their relationship for our Couples Series. Lynn I do almost everything on my own and find it hard to let people help me. What I have learned with this illness is that sometimes it’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok to...

Finding Strength In Each Other

Finding Strength In Each Other

Sarah and her husband, Sean, each wrote a blog post about their marriage for our Couples Series. Read Sean's blog here. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of twenty-two after six months of marriage to my husband, Sean. We weren’t surprised. We...

Why I Am More Than My Diagnosis

Why I Am More Than My Diagnosis

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” - Buddha There are a lot of scary statistics out there. Mortality rates. Higher risk for diabetes, metabolic conditions, earlier deaths. Adverse medication side effects....

World Bipolar Day 2016: Let’s Get #MoreThanADiagnosis Trending

World Bipolar Day 2016: Let’s Get #MoreThanADiagnosis Trending

Wednesday, March 30, 2016 is the 3rd annual World Bipolar Day. World Bipolar Day is celebrated annually on March 30, the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh, who is believed to have had bipolar disorder. Why Do We Celebrate World Bipolar Day? World Bipolar Day is a...

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Stephanie's husband, Don, wrote an accompanying blog to his post for our Couples Series. We recommend reading them together. Relationships are hard. Add to them the element of a mental illness and they become almost impossible. But I’ve learned a lot from my...

You and Me and Bipolar Makes Three

You and Me and Bipolar Makes Three

Don's wife, Stephanie, wrote a blog that compliments this one for our Couples Series. We recommend reading them together. Stephanie and I, after being together for 9 years, finally got married last October. The question that I often get asked afterwards by people...

What I’ve Learned Since We Found Out My Wife Has Bipolar Disorder

What I’ve Learned Since We Found Out My Wife Has Bipolar Disorder

Daniel's wife Melanie wrote a blog that goes with this one for our Couples Series, we recommend reading them together. I have known my wife Melanie for over 9 years, and we got married in May of 2015. When we first met I was so happy because I had never been in a real...

Laughter Is The Best Medicine And Is How I Know I Found My Soulmate

Laughter Is The Best Medicine And Is How I Know I Found My Soulmate

Melanie's husband, Daniel, wrote an accompanying blog post for our Couples Series. We recommend reading the two posts together. My sister messaged me on Whatsapp the other day and said she liked my profile picture, and that I looked genuinely happy in it. Having...

Bipolar Disorder: The Third Person In My Marriage

Bipolar Disorder: The Third Person In My Marriage

Beka's husband wrote an accompanying blog to this post for our Couples Series. We recommend reading the 2 posts together.  I previously wrote an article about how I found happiness, or actually contentedness. It was during my search that I said the most hurtful...

My Wife, Bipolar, and I

My Wife, Bipolar, and I

Beka is one of our bloggers and her husband, Ron, wrote this post for our couples series. Read Beka's accompanying post here.I read somewhere recently that the divorce rate when one marriage partner has bipolar disorder is 90%. While it seems kind of high to me, I...

The Significance of an Understanding Partner

The Significance of an Understanding Partner

It was January 2013 when I started dating my first boyfriend, and it was under precarious circumstances. We had met five months earlier in a speech course during the first semester of my college career, and we sat next to each other on the first day. We casually...

Taking Out The Trash

Taking Out The Trash

Don't let others’ negativity bring you down. Being diagnosed with and dealing with bipolar disorder on a daily basis is already a lot to handle. It's hard enough to keep your moods in check and on an even level. It's already difficult to have to take medicine for the...

Couples Counseling: What’s It All About and Should You Go?

Couples Counseling: What’s It All About and Should You Go?

Valentine’s Day is all about the romantic, idealistic side of love. While it can be fun and meaningful to celebrate your relationship with your spouse or partner (if you have one), the reality is that relationships can be hard. The Hollywood, happily-ever-after ideal...

Incarceration and Hospitalization: Worlds Apart

Incarceration and Hospitalization: Worlds Apart

“Mentally ill persons increasingly receive care provided by correctional agencies. In 1959, nearly 559,000 mentally ill patients were housed in state mental hospitals (Lamb, 1998). A shift to "deinstitutionalize" mentally ill persons had, by the late 1990s, dropped...

Bipolar Disorder: Defeating The Suicide Statistics

Bipolar Disorder: Defeating The Suicide Statistics

Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder was one of the most traumatic events of my life. The illness presented itself in my teens and at the time I was unaware of the possibility that my experiences had a diagnosis and that things could get better. By the time I began...

Learning to Live “Alone”

Learning to Live “Alone”

After my husband and I had been married for 16 years, his liver became damaged from Hepatitis B.  A year later he had a liver transplant which he survived for five and a half years.  At the end of that period, the Hepatitis destroyed his new liver and he...

My Manic Summer: Take 2

My Manic Summer: Take 2

It seems that my last blog post was somewhat prophetic. I am currently sitting on a bed, in a psychiatric hospital, recovering from my second psychotic manic episode. This episode evolved much like the last did, with me becoming so elevated that I lost insight...

How Do You Handle Setbacks?

How Do You Handle Setbacks?

Many people that I’ve met who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder are very intelligent and creative individuals.  Sometimes those same people have very high expectations of themselves due to being smart.  Another potential tie-in for some is that when manic...

What If He Won’t Commit to Regular Counseling

What If He Won’t Commit to Regular Counseling

“You’re right, I’m a terrible mother, I’m a horrible wife, I just can’t do anything right!” I confessed as I faced my husband following his recital of my shortcomings after coming home to a messy house and 2 unkept daughters. That night I decided that my husband...

How I Found True Love in Mental Illness

How I Found True Love in Mental Illness

Life with bipolar has a lot of ups and downs...and not just for moods. I think relationships, romantic ones, become one of the hardest parts of your life to manage and to keep balanced when you have a mental disorder. Romantic relationships include allowing...

Love Is Patient

Love Is Patient

When my husband and I first started our relationship, we weren’t ready to be in one. I had just received my bipolar diagnosis a year before we started dating so I was still learning about how to function in life with a Bipolar diagnosis and he was trying to figure out...

What Love Means Now

What Love Means Now

My version of love has changed from the past several years. When I was younger, love to me was an infatuation. When I was in my 20’s, love was lust – yes, there is a difference, but the label of love was used. Now, in my late 30’s, love is completely...

Am I Worth Loving?

Am I Worth Loving?

It’s hard being in a relationship and having bipolar disorder. My disorder played a key factor into why I had a few relationships fail. Sure, we weren’t meant to be, but what I put them through didn’t help. I will say that I honestly didn’t know about my mental...

The Not-So-Thin Line Between Mania and Living Life To Its’ Fullest

The Not-So-Thin Line Between Mania and Living Life To Its’ Fullest

I am writing this blog after an awful fight on the phone I picked with my mom. She ended up telling me that she finally understood why I want to become a psychiatrist and that there is indeed no other career that would suit me better — because only such a crazy person...

Bipolar Diversity – Friends With Significantly Different Insights

Bipolar Diversity – Friends With Significantly Different Insights

Society likes to group everyone with bipolar together. They insist we are all alike. We are all violent. Every time something violent is done in this country it is blamed on bipolar. The person must certainly have bipolar. I can't speak for others, but for me, it gets...

Bell Let’s Talk 2016

Bell Let’s Talk 2016

International Bipolar Foundation is participating in the 2016 Bell Let’s Talk Initiative, which is taking place on January 27, 2016. How does it work? Bell Let’s Talk is a Canadian mental health initiative that encourages participants to have an open...

Prevention Strategies for 3 Types of Self Harm

Prevention Strategies for 3 Types of Self Harm

Trigger Warning. This article talks explicitly about self-harm and different types. If you feel as though you may be triggered but still want the tips, read with a supportive person present. We feel out of control and in control at the same time. We hurt...

A Healthy Mind Starting Now

A Healthy Mind Starting Now

It’s January, a time of the year when people make the resolution to throw on their workout gear and make a healthier version of themselves. Usually, this doesn’t last very long. I know, because I was one of them. But a new body shouldn’t be your only reason for...

Bipolar Disorder is Ageless

Bipolar Disorder is Ageless

Bipolar Disorder is a disorder seen throughout the aging process. It can start in childhood and continue on through into senior citizens. It is not just a disorder for young adults, criminals and the rich and famous. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic...

Goals, Not Resolutions

Goals, Not Resolutions

It’s the first month of the year and most people are posting about their New Year’s resolutions. There are plenty of articles with ideas and they’re almost all the same: work out, save more money for retirement, remove toxic friendships, eliminate processed foods, and...

What My Parents Need To Know About Me

What My Parents Need To Know About Me

I do not say much about my parents. There is nothing to be said about my folks outside my therapy sessions. Out of a need for privacy I usually keep my family members out of any advice I give on this blog. This Christmas I decided not to visit my parents in their new...

How Should I Approach Stigma At Work?

How Should I Approach Stigma At Work?

At work the other day I heard someone say something disrespectful about people who live with bipolar disorder. I think they felt comfortable saying this in front of me because they did not know I have a mental illness. I was surprised and offended when I heard it, but...

David Bowie: You’ll Always Be A Hero To Me

David Bowie: You’ll Always Be A Hero To Me

When tormented musicians perish I overrelate. It becomes more about me than the departed. This is about him. David Bowie. The King of ‘Sound and Vision,’ crossed divides of age, fame, race, sexuality, politics, and style with theatrical flair and...

I Can’t Guarantee I’ll Never Become Manic Again

I Can’t Guarantee I’ll Never Become Manic Again

I have only been hospitalised for mania once (you can read about my experience here). My memory of that time is hazy and distorted by the manic lenses I was wearing but to say that it was dramatic is putting it lightly. I had just turned 23, was newly diagnosed with...

9 Lessons Bipolar Disorder Has Taught Me This Year

9 Lessons Bipolar Disorder Has Taught Me This Year

As 2015 is drawing to a close I often find myself reflecting on the things bipolar disorder has taught me over the past 12 months. This year, like the last few years, has been a steep learning curve. However unlike last year where I became fully acquainted with my...

Avoiding Alcohol and The 3rd Degree

Avoiding Alcohol and The 3rd Degree

Alcoholism is well known in my family, on both of my parents’ sides. This doesn’t mean I do not drink because of this, but I have never been “drunk.” I have will power and know my limits. I don’t find the attraction in getting to the point where things are blurry and...

New Year, New Resolutions

New Year, New Resolutions

Every year like millions of others I create a New Year’s resolution. Most of the time, I don’t see it through and by the following New Year reflect on the failure of yet another resolution. This year I’m going to focus on positive change. A couple of my friends have...

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