Category Archives: Bipolar Disorder

What are We?

    I’m sure you’ve heard me say, or seen me write, that I’m Bipolar. Well today I want to tell you that I’m not Bipolar — I simply HAVE Bipolar II Disorder.

    Please join me in stopping defining yourself as your illness. I am Juliana, a writer, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, and friend…and oh, by the way, I happen to have a mood disorder; just as you are Jim, Suzy , or Brittany, who besides many abilities and relationships, also struggles with a mood, anxiety, or thought disorder.

    You see, it matters what we say to ourselves, and consequently, to the world. If I only define myself as my illness, I narrow my world immensely. I might buy in to many persons’ stereotypes as to what someone with my disorder is able or not able to do.

    For example, from the time I was diagnosed, I have not lost even one IQ point. Strange, huh? I’m just as intellectually “intact” as I’ve always been, but from the reactions of some people when they hear of my diagnosis, you might think I’ve become dimwitted, childish, or even hard-of-hearing.

    My point today is that, while fully owning the fact that you have a mental illness, and are receiving treatment for said illness, YOU ARE NOT YOUR ILLNESS. You are “fearfully & wonderfully made.”

    We are so much more than that one aspect of our being. Let us celebrate all aspects, as we would delight in the multiple facets of a beautiful diamond– because, indeed, we are all priceless jewels. Don’t ever forget that.

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Filed under Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Disorders, healthy self esteem, Literary pieces, Mental disorder, Mental Health, Mental Health Reference, mental illness, Mood, social anxiety disorder, stigma of mental illness

Stuff Happens

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Stuff happens, life happens, and if you’ve been diagnosed with a major mood disorder, you’ve got to do something about it. While others may seem to thrive on stress, we know that we’ve got to keep a handle on it, to not let it take us down to that deep dark place we know so well, but never want to visit again.

So, just as we take our cars to the mechanic to change the oil, check the spark plugs, balance the tires, surely we must regard ourselves at least as much as we do our vehicles. Every now and then, especially when problems arise, we need to go in for a check-up.

I did that just yesterday. Had my meds tweaked a bit, had some lab work done to make sure whether or not another disease process was affecting my mood state. I’m still awaiting the results on that one. It was also fortunate that my sister accompanied me on my doctor’s visit, to fill in the blanks when I forgot certain things. Like I’ve stated many times before, support systems are SO important!

Alright, so now I’m a little shaky, but I’ve been down this road many times before. I have faith that once the right medications reach therapeutic doses in my system, and when I make connection with a new therapist, my road will smooth out a little, and I’ll be back to my usual “quirky” self.

As with any other illness, we have to take responsibility for our treatment. There may not be a “cure” yet, but there is hope, and we can live beautiful lives. We just have to step out in those things in which we have faith. In my case, they are God, family, friends, and medicine — in that order. Your list may be different, but the key is to always be proactive. For all my readers, i wish you a healthy, fulfilling life. Do what you must to make it happen.

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Filed under Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Health, healthy self esteem, Major depressive disorder, Mental Health, mental illness, Mood

Is Depression Overhyped?

I saw a feature story on CBS Sunday Morning titled “The Broad Reach of Depression,” and I’ve been pondering its implications ever since. Read the transcript here: Examining the Broad Reach of Deptession

While I admit that it does irk me a little when someone says they’re feeling “depressed” when they’re really just disappointed over being passed over for promotion, or they just had a spat with their spouse or child, I sometimes think that saying that depression is over diagnosed may keep someone who is truly clinically depressed from seeking help.

And yes, more and more now in America at least, both primary care physicians and psychiatrists follow the pharmaceutical model for treatment, which may result in giving psychotropic drugs to people who only have situational depression, or a brief bout of sadness. It is my belief that such people would be better served with “talking therapy” or “behavioral therapy. “

Still, for those with moderate to severe depression, as outlined by DSM IV: What is Depession? , medication can mean the difference between feeling trapped in a deep, dark hole, and living a functional life. Indeed, it can mean the difference between life and death.

Bipolar Disorder and true unipolar depression, along with other serious mental illnesses, are chronic Illnesses, like diabetes and heart disease. They are not curable, but their symptoms can be managed by medication and psychotherapy.

So, if you’re sad every once in a while, relax, you’re human! If you are feeling deep sadness for over two weeks, have sleep disturbances, (too much or not enough sleep) significant weight loss or weight gain, feelings of worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, and all of these symptoms affects your functioning ability, it is time to make an appointment with a psychotherapist and/or a psychiatrist.

There is no shame in getting help for clinical depression. The real shame would be if you did not get help and had to keep living in pain because of your fear of the stigma of mental illness.

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Filed under Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Major depressive disorder, Mental disorder, Mental Health, Mental Health Reference, mental illness, stigma of mental illness

We’re in Good Company

The stereotype of someone with Bipolar Disorder is often a very unstable person, who bounces between psychotic euphoria or hostility and suicidal depression.  Yes, there are persons like that, especially if they are not treating their illness.  I continue to stress that there is a continuum of severity between individuals, because like fingerprints, no two persons’ experience with Bipolar Disorder is exactly the same.  Having a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder does not mean that one’s level of functioning has to stay subnormal, especially if one manages the disorder with the proper medications and therapy as needed.

Some of the best and brightest of people across the world, and throughout history, have struggled with Bipolar Disorder, yet have made a significant impact on the world of arts, sciences, politics, and philosophy.  Watch the following video to see a list of these famous/important people:

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Filed under Articles and Research, Bipolar Disorder, Disorders, Health, Major depressive disorder, Mental disorder, Mental Health, Mental Health Reference, Mood

Mental Illness Myths

Today being Sunday, I’ll make this short and sweet.

One of the ways by which we can attempt to lessen the stigma of mental disorders is to demystify them. If we learn the true nature of these disorders, perhaps we will be less apt to judge harshly those struggling.

Read this list of common myths about certain disorders, and the truth about them from ListVerse.

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Filed under agoraphobia, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Mental Health Reference, mental illness, social anxiety disorder, stigma of mental illness

Is There a Link Between Bipolar Disorder and Creativity?

Obviously, it has been my subjective experience that there is, indeed, a link between affective disorders and creativity. That is, after all, why I created this magazine ten years ago. Is there quantifiable evidence of such a link? Many neurobiologists have made this claim over the years. This article by a student at Bryn Mawr makes a compelling argument: http://bit.ly/xyeivk

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Filed under Art, Bipolar Disorder, Creativity, Depression, Literary pieces, Mental Health Reference, Music, Poetry, Writing