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The Art of Giving Space

The Art of Giving Space

Recently I went to a private ward to be admitted just so I could sleep well for a few days. The irony was that it happened just a week after I had come back to Singapore to be with family – I had done that precisely so that I could have more stability in my housing...

Managing a Relapse When Your Child is Ill

Managing a Relapse When Your Child is Ill

Recently, my daughter had to have heart surgery to close a hole in her heart that should have closed on its own shortly after she was born. She is 18 months old and is now 7 weeks post surgery, healed quickly and is now considered to be healthy and normal.  But...

A Different Take on Exercise, and Why I Want You To Join Me!

A Different Take on Exercise, and Why I Want You To Join Me!

Long before I was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar one disorder, I led an active life.  After college graduation, I became an American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer and I worked in a family-owned gym  My duties included greeting members and...

Rescued by a Dog

Rescued by a Dog

I own a psychiatric service dog. He’s similar to a dog that would assist a blind person, but he’s trained differently. He’s not a therapy or emotional assistance dog, he’s a certified service dog and is allowed anywhere that a dog for the blind would be allowed to...

Summer and the Festive Season

Summer and the Festive Season

Living in the Southern Hemisphere where Christmas and New Years is a time of long, hot days, and having Bipolar with ‘seasonal affective components’ usually results in me becoming elevated. The 15 hours of sunshine, hot weather and days of being active at the beach is...

Tis the Season to be Depressed

Tis the Season to be Depressed

It is that time of year again when we are supposed to be joyful, surrounded by friends and family, and have a generous heart.  Many of us though find this time of year to be depressing especially because we are supposed to be in the Holiday Spirit.  We are...

Life Preserver

Life Preserver

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s (AFSP) logo is a life preserver. I think the idea is that the organization brings people together who want to preserve life and prevent suicide. For those of us who have tried to help a loved one who has to navigate...

The Loss of Friends and the Actual Reality of It All

The Loss of Friends and the Actual Reality of It All

We all know someone or have gone through the experience of losing friends because of a mental illness. I don’t have many friends right now and I go day by day watching my two sisters, my Mom, my Dad, and even going into a store, I see girls laughing together and the...

It’s the Most Triggering Time of the Year

It’s the Most Triggering Time of the Year

Jumping off my balcony, abusing drugs, walking down the middle of a highway and neglecting meds. That’s how I use to ring in the New Year and wish my family a Merry Christmas. Since I’ve been diagnosed bipolar in 2011 I’ve found that once the Christmas season hits, I...

I Should Just Go

I Should Just Go

Often, there are times when we don’t want to do anything; nothing inspires, nothing motivates, nothing is uplifting. “It seems that the weight of the world is bearing down on me and I can’t possibly do anything about it-I should just go. It’s just one thing after...

Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis

“Population-based studies have documented that among all patients with major psychiatric disorders, those with bipolar disorder have the highest prevalence of comorbid substance abuse and dependence” (Tohen, et. al 1998, Pg. 133).My substance abuse came long before my...

To Loathe or To Love?

To Loathe or To Love?

To Loathe Every time I looked in the mirror I hated what I saw. Self-loathing had been a big part of my identity. Why did I hate myself so much? Why did I look at my reflection with contempt and disgust? I am not sure how or when it started, but many of...

Psychiatry in Jordan

Psychiatry in Jordan

Teamwork in Psychiatry: King Abdullah University Hospital as a ModelI would like to make it crystal clear that this story aims not as the title may suggest, to draw up a panoramic view of the mental health system in Jordan. Nor does it claim a science-based approach...

15 Seconds of Uninterrupted Positive Thought

15 Seconds of Uninterrupted Positive Thought

I am fortunate to be mentally stable and manage my bipolar disorder well.  That being said I sometimes have a tendency to not always have a positive mindset throughout my day.  At times negative things that people say or do bother me and I’m not able to let...

Stigma

Stigma

I wanted to start off this month's blog by saying that I'm so thankful that I live in a society where I can both be honest about my mental illness and reach out to others. I know that we used to live in a time where you pretty much couldn't talk about any mental...

Mental Illness and the Holidays

Mental Illness and the Holidays

Nine years ago this December, my mental illness erupted through the surface of my otherwise regular life. Work was a snowstorm of activity with the holidays approaching, and I remember feeling super stressed out trying to keep all my end-of-the-year meetings with my...

Broken Radio Dial

Broken Radio Dial

Being understood is on my top ten list of desires.  I’d imagine it’s pretty high on everyone’s list but for those suffering from an illness which carries so much stigma, being understood can save a life.  I’m talking about being understood by the people that...

Attitude of Gratitude for Thanksgiving

Attitude of Gratitude for Thanksgiving

Outside its cold, inside I’m warm as I sit down to drink my hot cup of herbal tea and write my blog. Usually each month when I submit my blog, I address a certain topic that is important in the mental health community, but this month I want to focus on what it means...

Hopping Off the Merry-Go-Round

Hopping Off the Merry-Go-Round

Since I was diagnosed bipolar I’ve found myself in a constant cycle. I remain compliant with medications and avoid substances and I enjoy euphoria and life for that matter. However, the second I deviate from my prospective recovery regimen everything goes awry and I’m...

Family and Friends Who Mean Well But Really Have No Clue

Family and Friends Who Mean Well But Really Have No Clue

 We've all heard it before, or something similar, "This too shall pass". "Just puts your big girl panties on". "You've been here before, you can do it again". While our loved ones mean well, in the throes of depression, these are sometimes the absolute worst...

Caregiving Matters

Caregiving Matters

There are three things that I have begun to incorporate into my way of thinking as a caregiver. It started when I was in my early 20’s and began to lightly step onto the caregiving path for my aging grandmother. My parents long ago started something, (now defunct),...

Labeling Without Thought

Labeling Without Thought

A recent discussion with a nurse practitioner prompted me to think about the nature of labels. She argued that regardless of the label, the underlying condition of behavior consistent with that description remains unaffected by the label assigned. Naturally, I...

That’s Not a Real Diagnosis

That’s Not a Real Diagnosis

“That’s not a real illness.” “I don’t believe in mental health.” “If you don’t need medication, you must not really have bipolar.” These are just a few of the long stream of comments from people in my life, the most recent being “You know, I don’t think you’re...

Would You Boast of Your Weakness?

Would You Boast of Your Weakness?

We have a thing against weakness don’t we… well I for one do. When I look at negative unhelpful patterns going on in my life, despite the apparent effort that I have put in to change – I feel so weak and whiny. I often hate listening to myself talk to others...

Hey Jealousy

Hey Jealousy

I have a friend who is an expert in her field. She is respected by the community and gives presentations from her knowledge base. She is also a talented artist and sells her painted wineglasses at many gift stores in the area. She plays the piano at her church every...

Getting Help

Getting Help

Getting help for my bipolar disorder was one of the hardest and best things I’ve done. I’m a pretty proud and independent person so opening up and making myself vulnerable was extremely daunting. I was in my third and final year of university when I knew...

Six Simple Things You Can Do

Six Simple Things You Can Do

Be HopefulHope is crucial for recovery, and there is good reason to be hopeful when it comes to mental health challenges.  The vast majority of us who get appropriate treatment and support get significantly better.  This is good news, but it is also not news...

The Down Side of Up and Down

The Down Side of Up and Down

My short but disastrous history of relationships and friendships,  probably lend credence to the argument that it is next to impossible to live with a Bipolar 1 sufferer, with an lavish, lashing of PSTD, just to add a little extra spice. Personally, I fear...

Losing My Best Friend

Losing My Best Friend

About a month ago we were at a party. It really wasn’t a special night, like every party I have been to in the last few years, milling around sipping pints of microbrew, looking at walls lined of prints of post modern art and pictures of different adventures that the...

Why I Save My Dad’s Voicemails

Why I Save My Dad’s Voicemails

 I've been wanting to write about this topic for a while, but I kept putting it off.  It wasn't that I didn't want to do it, but more and more I found myself easily distracted. (Thank you social media!  I'm blaming you!) 😉 I realized that the most inspiring time to...

Hobby

Hobby

Do you have a hobby? I don't know if you do, but if you don't, then you might want to think about getting one. When I first told a good friend of mine that I have bipolar disorder, she recommended that I find a good hobby. She was right! I'll admit, it was hard...

When Stability Starts to Feel Like Boredom

When Stability Starts to Feel Like Boredom

A little backstory: I was diagnosed with bipolar type II disorder in January and started taking medication then. I am still on the original medication I started with, because it seems to work well for me, and have since added a second medication to the mix to help...

Therapy and Becoming Who I’m Meant to Be

Therapy and Becoming Who I’m Meant to Be

Talk therapy is a big part of my treatment plan.  I can’t go without it.  I know medication is a necessity for me, but I need my therapist.  I need cognitive behavioral techniques, and I need coping skills.  It’s a struggle for me to simply...

Hinges of Marriage

Hinges of Marriage

“We don’t have anything in common” my friend lamented, “sometimes I wonder why we even stay together.” As I listened I absently glanced at our white patio doors with it’s 3 hinges. “Well” I shared with sudden inspiration “it only takes three hinges to hold a door...

Ayurveda, Yoga and You – Ancient Wisdom for Bipolar Disorder

Ayurveda, Yoga and You – Ancient Wisdom for Bipolar Disorder

Interest in the more subtle Yoga practices related to mental health has expanded. The other side of the Yoga coin, ayurveda (AH-yur-vey-dah), offers 5,000 year old tips on lifestyle and stress management, diet, herbs and cleansing and other complementary healing...

Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

For the past 5 ½ years I have concentrated on one thing and one thing only … getting my son’s and my own mental health in tip top shape.  Finding the answer to decades of issues with my diagnosis of bipolar illness in 2009 was just the beginning for me.  At...

The Balance Button

The Balance Button

It's about balance, isn't it? It's about exertion and then rest, it's about give and then take, it's about yes and then no. But the problem is I don't have the "balance" button. I have bipolar 2. Of course, it's difficult to draw the line between the symptoms of...

Two Poems: South Africa and Bag of Skin

Two Poems: South Africa and Bag of Skin

South Africa The sad bigotry, Like stalactites, Cold fingers,  Paw at the caverns of my mind Phantoms,  reminitions of my past,  Await me,  In cochineal cloaks,  Those ghosts of yesterday  To feed again,   Extinguish the...

Out of the Dark

Out of the Dark

Mental Health Awareness Week occurred from October 5-11 and on October 11 I participated in one of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s ‘Out of the Darkness Walks’ in Northern California. I was planning to go alone because I had attempted to persuade...

How to Deal with the Loss of Your Therapist

How to Deal with the Loss of Your Therapist

The concept of a therapist seemed rather peculiar to me. For one, of course this total stranger was going to listen to all of your banter for the lump sum of $100/hour; I think most of us would to the same. And for second, why would you want to banter about the...

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

‘Sometimes I just want to crawl under a rock. It seems as if that is the safest place; the hardness of the rock will protect me from what I don’t want to face and I don’t need to exert energy into doing anything anyone asks of me. I can escape to the darkness this...

Cognitive Difference as Cultural Difference?

Cognitive Difference as Cultural Difference?

I have written about appreciating cognitive difference and there is a great deal of literature that expounds on seeing the value of neurodiverse conditions. Appreciating the lifestyle of those with differences is part of understanding the value of diversity. I have...

Becoming a Mommy with Bipolar Part Three: Returning to Work

Becoming a Mommy with Bipolar Part Three: Returning to Work

This is part three of a three part series: Part One: Planning for a Family When You Have BipolarPart Two: From Pregnant to Mommy Part Three: Returning to Work The next hurdle was returning to work. I’ve been back to work for almost 6 months now, and was...

We’re All Human

We’re All Human

This week my old friend really wanted to meet up with me. I just had a very deep depression episode and now I’m trying to go back to society. I’m looking for a new job, doing things which I used to love and doing as much as possible to feel good. And stay out of...

The Church and Mental Illness

The Church and Mental Illness

According to a Baylor study, more people with a mental illness seek help from clergy than from mental health professionals.  This concerns me for two reasons.  First, clergy learn very little about mental illness when they go to seminary.  Second, like...

Nothing to Be Ashamed Of

Nothing to Be Ashamed Of

When I think of myself 10 years ago, I am embarrassed and quite frankly shocked at how judgmental I was towards others who were different than me.  Ten years ago my mood fluctuations became unmanageable and anxiety and depression left me paralyzed. I resisted as...

Taking Back the Control of How We Act

Over the years of dealing with bipolar, I’ve had to learn a lot on how to manage this disease and not let it get the best of me. Stress in life is evitable; those who work face it from their bosses. We face it from our families, balancing the many responsibilities we...

Genetic Overload!

Genetic Overload!

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder over ten years ago. At the time, I wasn’t aware of any genetic component as I was an adopted child. Within my adopted family, there was a high incidence of alcoholism on my maternal mothers side, with most of her siblings having...

The Scary Diagnosis

The Scary Diagnosis

I was 19 when I first heard the suggestion that I was bipolar. For me, this was a liberating announcement and not a scary one. Here was an explanation for what was happening to me. The loss of control over my emotions, and progressively my actions, was now explainable...

The Two Villains of Anxiety

The Two Villains of Anxiety

.and then unexpectedly there's calm, all I thought I knew about myself and the World becomes the fleeting thoughts of Man under siege from his own mind. The storm has passed for now. I have spent the better part of 3 years researching aspects of my condition that...

Mantra and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

I read a study once that stated the incidence of obsessive-compulsive disorder was 10-fold greater in bipolar patients than the general population (see more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/bipolar-disorder/anxious-bipolar-patient#sthash.RRY1nBjh.dpuf). This made...

Just Don’t It

Just Don’t It

As I’m sure you noticed, I’m using a grammatically incorrect title, but I couldn’t resist.  (May my seventh grade English grammar teacher forgive me!)  During the 1980's a trendy Nike ad campaign caught the world's attention with the tagline “JUST DO...

Art as a Kind of Therapy

Art as a Kind of Therapy

Even before I knew I had bipolar disorder, I have always loved art. I used to spend my afternoons in high school (I was unschooled) wandering around the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, where I grew up. Since moving to Saint Louis for college, I have spent many...

Dullness

Dullness

I want to talk to you all about something that I experienced very intensely when I first started taking medication. What happened was I felt a very strong dull feeling inside. I was no longer feeling the lows, but I was also no longer feeling the highs either. So, I...

Running is My Therapy

Running is My Therapy

I woke up on Thursday, September 4th and the torture struck instantly. My head filled up like a water balloon, except it wasn't water I was filled with, it was disturbing, bizarre, negative and pesky thoughts. I recognized immediately from waking up I was unwell, but...

Diagnosed During College Is Not The End Of The World

Diagnosed During College Is Not The End Of The World

Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder three semesters before you are supposed to graduate with a bachelor in psychology and neuroscience was not written in my life plan. In fact having a mental illness and anything that would stop me from pursuing my dream of becoming...

A Hospitalization in Three Acts

Act I Inpatient No time passes slower than the minutes that creep into hours  during a hospital intake. All the questions! The re-questioning! The inquisition! Where do you fall between 1 and 10? You weigh your answer like a miser weighs...

Phoenix

We thought we were lost to the fire. Leaving behind in the wake of our illness- debris: a tangled mess of lost relationships, hope, and dreams. Then, we began to talk, speaking to each other quietly. Although, they had told us not...

Triggers

Triggers

Although I was officially diagnosed in March 2009 with Bipolar I disorder and began treatment, I am confident in saying that my bipolar episodes started well before that time.  If I could guess somewhat accurately, I would say it all started somewhere around the...

Becoming a Mommy with Bipolar Part Two: From Pregnant to Mommy

Becoming a Mommy with Bipolar Part Two: From Pregnant to Mommy

This is part two of a three part series: Part One: Planning for a Family When You Have BipolarPart Two: From Pregnant to Mommy Part Three: Returning to Work The next thing that troubled me as my pregnancy progressed was how I was going to handle the...

Embracing the Unknown, While Keeping my Smile

   I have loved writing, for as long as I can remember. I have written during many of my happiest moments in my life and of course during some of the toughest times as well. Within just the last couple of weeks, my husband’s and my world turned upside down....

The Distance Between Difference and Deviation

There are many models which have been developed over time to explain illness. Some of these models describe illness as biologically-identified (as pathological). I have recently completed a lengthy dissertation on a description of mental illness known as...

My Emotions Are Not Me

My Emotions Are Not Me

Being in a relationship with someone is both rewarding and frightening. There have been times during my 9-month-old relationship that I wonder how he is able to handle the intensity of my emotions. I remember one night, after we took our night walk, I was sitting...

Taming My Dragon

Taming My Dragon

My name is Nanieve and my journey with Bipolar 1 Disorder started around the age of twelve. I was also diagnosed with PTSD about two years ago. I am unable to look upon it as a curse, preferring to see it as a blessing. My phoenix wings if you like, my manias...

How Closely Do You Follow The News?

How Closely Do You Follow The News?

For a number of years I worked in the financial industry and HAD to closely follow the news to be well-informed.  Near the end of that time I started taking various self-improvement courses and started having different sessions with various non-traditional...

My Emotional Roller Coaster

I have been on an emotional roller coaster lately.  I was feeling really anxious and depressed, so my psychiatrist upped my meds.  I then felt worse.  Crying every day.  Crying for no reason.  My parents came over one day while I was crying,...

Writing Heals My Brain

Writing Heals My Brain

I've turned to writing during many times of bipolar depression.  I know that many of you are writers too.  We write in blogs and in our journals. We email, take notes for classes, and once in a while, we even handwrite letters the old-fashioned way! So...

A Garden Full of Flowers

A Garden Full of Flowers

What is the one thing that you love? What is the one thing that you hate? ‘Thing’ has so many definitions and in a broad sense covers the spectrum of anything and everything – no matter how minute, ‘it’ holds great significance. There are positives and negatives...

Bipolar Worries

Bipolar Worries

At my last appointment with my psychiatrist, she told me I have too much anxiety about having bipolar disorder. No kidding? I mean what's there to be anxious about? Being stuck in complete darkness with unspeakable pain that only those who have depression can...

I Didn’t Know I Had a Mental Illness for 31 Years

I Didn’t Know I Had a Mental Illness for 31 Years

I have had episodes of depression throughout my life and once I was so happy after taking an antidepressant that I danced around my bedroom.  I didn’t realize I had a mental illness until I was 45 years old, and I didn’t know I had bipolar disorder until I was...

Hope

Hope

This month I want to talk to you about something that you've probably heard a lot about. It's about hope. When I was dealing with my undiagnosed bipolar disorder, I constantly felt hopeless. I would lose my temper, promise to do better afterwards, and then feel awful...

Spectacular

Spectacular

This post is written from a Christian perpective. I sat there in a beautiful room awaiting the marriage of my cousin’s son and I looked up at the chandelier overhead.  It was exquisite in its design and purity. It even had star shapes formed in the middle of...

Finding Work That Works When You Have Bipolar Disorder

Finding Work That Works When You Have Bipolar Disorder

I'm a psychotherapist who has worked as a vocational rehabilitation counselor - that’s a specialist who helps people with disabilities, including bipolar disorder, find and keep meaningful work. I also have bipolar disorder myself, and have struggled over the years to...

What Would I Say to Me?

What Would I Say to Me?

What would I say to the younger me about being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Anxiety Disorder?  This picture was taken 13 years ago.  I was 28 and oh so manic, but had no idea.  This was pre-diagnosis.  I traveled to two continents, several...

Advice for the Newly Diagnosed

Advice for the Newly Diagnosed

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Type II disorder on January 28, 2014 and I want to write my first blog post in this space about some of the things I wish I had known then. Here is what I wish someone would have sat down and told me on that Tuesday morning: It...

Five Myths About Bipolar Disorder

In light of Robin Williams passing I decided to focus on this topic. Somebody said to me, “He had everything, why would he want to kill himself”. Depression does not discriminate, whether you’re rich or poor, or have all the family and friends support in the world,...

Genie, You’re Free

Suicide has been in the media a lot over the last little while due to the very sad passing of Robin Williams. As such a public figure, his death has started a broader conversation about suicide. I do not know his circumstances and so I will not dwell on what lead Mr....

The Beginning – My Bipolar Life

The Beginning – My Bipolar Life

Five years and five months ago I heard the word “bipolar” for the very first time.  Honestly, I did not know what it meant nor what it would come to mean to me and my life.  I learned pretty quickly that it meant I was very sick and that I was...

Silent Killer of the Greats: How to Honor Robin Williams

The day Robin Williams passed away my husband woke me up from an impromptu nap. I had a rough day and I was very tired. The first words I heard from my nap were “Robin Williams passed away”. How? “Apparent suicide” he replied. Now I don’t normally get emotional...

When Asked to Give Advice

When Asked to Give Advice

A few of my friends who know that I have been diagnosed with bipolar have come to ask for advice on how to help someone they know, someone who seems to be going off the rails. Recently an ex-colleague asked about how to engage a friend who has stopped taking his...

My Reaction to the News about Robin Williams

       I write this entry in my blog with a very heavy heart, as I mourn with the rest of the world over the tragic news of Robin Williams passing. A brilliant man, in every sense of the word, an amazing actor, a Talented Comedian, a man who shared...

Terrific Tools: Peddling Prayer

Terrific Tools: Peddling Prayer

During my recovery from bipolar illness my therapist suggested that I increase my physical and spiritual health.  He said I should establish routines that could make daily prayer and exercise something I could look forward to (are you kidding me?) After many...

Immediate Gratification

Immediate Gratification

Since I can remember I have always been an extremely impulsive person. Even before my diagnosis of Bipolar. I would spend large amounts of money without even a drop of perspiration or a sense of regret. I took diet pills in hopes to shed large amounts of weight as...

It Will Get Better

It Will Get Better

I hate myself right now. I hate myself every time I’m depressed.  I just started a new medication after gaining 9 pounds in a month on the previous med I tried, so I’m depressed about that on top of having general depression.  Since I’m starting over...

A Great Divide

A Great Divide

Lately I’ve been wondering about friendship, including what I can realistically offer as a friend now.  To be honest, I don’t have that much to give this summer.  It has only been a year since my last hospitalization for bipolar depression.   I’ve...

Mania

Mania

Last year at this time, I was soaring high with my first full-blown manic episode. I was feeling better than I've felt in my entire life. Colors were brighter, music sounded better, and my talents came out like never before. I had recently taken up painting and my...

Identity and Neurodiversity

I'd like to discuss, briefly, to what extent neurodiverse conditions affect conceptions of identity. For those of you familiar with the “Neurodiversity” movement, you'll be aware of the debate that self-advocacy has stirred in the world of mental well-being. The...

My Story

My Story

I’ve had episodes of depression throughout my life, but it was only seventeen years ago that I realized I had a mental illness.  Up until that time, I blamed the episodes on circumstances of my life like being away from home my first time, escaping from Vietnam...

Guilt

Guilt

I'm here to talk to you about guilt. This is something that I felt for several years after I got help for my disorder. I couldn't believe the things that I had said and done to both my husband and mother. I was beyond devastated. I was apologizing constantly. I...

How Many Incompletes Do You Have?

How Many Incompletes Do You Have?

Like many or most of you, I have ideas popping into my head all the time.  They range from simple things like sending a text or email to someone to just say hi, all the way to new businesses that I’d love to start up.  I also have projects at home that I...

Tough Decisions!

Tough Decisions!

When I was a child, I always imagined myself living in the country when I was an adult. Living off the grid in a small cottage in the woods, completely self-sustainable surrounded by beautiful rolling hills and lush green fields and keeping a goat for company. As...

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