Category Archives: Mental Health Reference

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

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.



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

The Tyranny of Peer Pressure

Are you a “people-pleaser?” Do you worry more about what people think of you than what your inner convictions and dreams tell you is what is right?

Many of us fall subject to the tyranny of peer pressure. We often think of peer pressure as a problem exclusive to adolescents, but how often have we decided against doing something we really desired because we worried, “What will people think?”

That’s a really limited way to live. Read this article at pluginid for a fresh perspective on how to break those bonds.


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Filed under healthy self esteem, Mental Health Reference, self-conscious

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.



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

Creativity as a Healing Force

Debbie Allen has said, “But out of limitations comes creativity,” and certainly anyone who has had mental health issues has felt the bonds of limitation. The good news is that by being creative — writing, drawing, making music, or even just listening actively to it — we can heal some of our psychic wounds. By expressing our deepest fears, hopes, or dreams through creative means, we can more easily face them, work them through, and achieve our goals.

Neurobiologists have demonstrated that the act of creating causes a measurable change in hormonal and neurotransmitter levels for the better.

You don’t need to be an accomplished artist to benefit from this effect. Get out your pencil and write a story or poem, draw a picture. Sing a song, even if it’s off-key. Crank up some music and dance, no matter if you have two left feet. I challenge you to try it. I’m convinced you’ll feel better.

And hey, when you’ve finished that poem, short story, or drawing, why not submit it to We may even include it in the next issue of our magazine.


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Filed under Creativity, Literary pieces, Mental Health, Mental Health Reference

Comorbidity in Bipolar Disorder

As if it weren’t bad enough to be diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, there seems to be a cluster of psychiatric and medical symptoms that often occur in those so diagnosed.

Most people are aware of the “dual diagnosis” of Bipolar Disorder and substance abuse, although there has not been a consensus about why that happens.  One theory is that persons with Bipolar Disorder (especially prediagnosis) “self-medicate” their symptoms to even out the mania, or to try to lift themselves out of depression.  Personally, I have too much healthy respect for the power of pharmaceuticals, and too much fear of street drugs to abuse them.  I did, however, try to “self-medicate” my moods with alcohol at times when I was in my 20s.  Once I was definitively diagnosed and began taking psychotropic drugs for bipolar disorder, I no longer felt the need to “self-medicate,” and I knew that drugs and alcohol do not mix!  I still know several persons who are bipolar and continue to abuse drugs and alcohol.  This not only makes the mood disorder worse, it significantly increases the person’s risk for death from any number of things, from overdose to suicide.

Another comorbid feature of Bipolar Disorder is migraine, and again there seems to be no clear reason for the connection.  My own theory is that both affective disorders and migraine have in common a problem  with serotonin re-uptake. In fact, Valproic Acid, which is a popular medication for Bipolar Disorder, also seems to help prevent migraines in those who are prone to having them.

To delve further into this subject, I recommend this scholarly abstract and article on the subject:  Psychiatric and Medical Comorbidities in Bipolar Disorder

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Filed under Mental Health Reference

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:


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