Friday, March 25, 2011

Celebrate your survival with mental illness each year

The other day I was trying to think why do my Birthdays mean so much to me.  It is not the presents, it is not parties that people throw for me, and it is not the attention you get from it.  I finally figured out that it meant that I had made it another year surviving with bipolar disorder.  Some people may not understand why living another year is such a big deal but to a person with a mental illness it can be a huge milestone.  The statistics are not in our favor.  They say about 1 in 5 people with bipolar disorder will kill themselves.  I can relate to this so much because I suffer more from severe depression more and I have to fight the suicidal thoughts too often.   When I did a fundraiser walk-a-thon  for The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention, I realized just how devastating a suicide can be on the family and friends left behind.  They  have so much guilt, they feel they should of done more, or that they should of seen more and figured it out. The number one comment I have ever heard is that they all wished they had one more day back with their loved ones to tell them how much they were loved and missed.  I always keep these comments close to me when I get to feeling really down and remember how much more pain I would cause if I did end my life.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Why are Bipolar Patients more likelly to get SAD

When you first look at the title you simply think oh they suffer from depression, so of course they are sad.  This SAD is quite different though then just being sad.  SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder.  As I was going through my routine this morning and that includes any interesting topics that I find on twitter.  One tweet really caught my eye that was listed by  Per the article that Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation linked, stated that research shows that patients that have bipolar disorder are more likely to display symptoms of SAD.  The full article can be found at

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Support is key to survive with bipolar disorder

This morning as I was going through reading my daily blog post, and I was suddenly empowered by how much support there is out there for people that have bipolar disorder. Back in the 1980's when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, support groups were confined to going to a local meeting and sometimes with this disorder you are not always able to physically make it there. While those meeting are valuable and needed, it is encouraging to find new ways to interact with others immediately and read about their own struggles and success. I know this weekend my depression was starting to rear it's ugly head and I was empowered and refreshed from responses from others that follow me on twitter as well as some blog post I was reading. Here is a list of  a few blogs that I looked through that truly made me feel not alone and they knew exactly how I was feeling.  I encourage you to check these out as well and find more personal stories and others that have bipolar disorder to interact with and to most of all feel connected.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fight for your right to be healthy and stable

This weekend was a difficult one for me. I was starting to feel very depressed, hopeless, and alone.
I am fortunate though because I have a strong support system filled with people that truly can help me get back on track. Some people may not have all the resources that I have and need the help and funding from governmental programs so that they can live a fairly stable life. Then today my husband showed me an article that was very hard for me to believe. I couldn't believe that someone that is a Representative of our government could think such barbaric thoughts and be so insensitive to people with mental illness. As per the Huffington post article the NH representative said that people who have mental illness are defective and should be shipped off to Siberia. He did resign this position today but it did just show me how far we have to go to educate more people about mental illness and that there is treatment for it and why these programs are needed.  I encourage anyone that is reading this to contact your local representatives and senators and have them fight for mental health programs and not to cut programs in your state. It is crucial for people with mental illness to have access to good health care with doctor visits and be able to afford their medications. If we stop the funding for these programs I am afraid there will be more people that might become homeless or commit suicide because they do not have the access to these needed programs.

I guess I found myself in a depressed state after the personal attack to my illness, but after reading the above article I was inspired to fight even harder and to help educate even more people about the truth of bipolar disorder. It is a hard disease to live with and it takes a lot of effort to live a fairly stable life, but it treatable. This is why it is so important for anyone that lives with bipolar disorder or knows someone that does to speak out and let our government know that mental health programs are important and very needed in our society for someone to survive with bipolar disorder.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How did I go from sucessful Accountant to being on disability??

In the year 1994, I did graduate from a 4 year college with a degree in Accounting.  Now it was not the medical degree I once wanted but I thought at the time it was a good career path.  I was just thankful that I did graduate with a great G.P.A while still battling some extreme mood swings.  How little did I know at the time that working as an Accountant was going to very stressful and my mood swings would go from one extreme to another because of the pressure I was under at all my jobs.  I had these huge goals at the time and I thought I had it all planned out.  I would work at a fortune 500 company, meet a great man to marry, have two wonderful children, live in a huge house and drive a fancy sport's car.  Wow, it seems so shallow and silly to think back to those days when I just 21 years old and just starting out in the rat race. 

While I have worked at a few high profile companies and climbed the ladder to the top in my field, it did not give me all the happiness that I thought it would.  I did meet a man that I married but he turned out to be the worst nightmare I could ever imagine.  He was very controlling and abusive and he never understood my disorder.  He caused more stress in life than my career did at that time.  Between work and my home life, I had very little to look forward to or much to live for at the time.  I did have a beautiful house and I was driving a nice car and I was making a very nice salary.  But after working just 10 short years in my field I had to make some changes or I was going to die.  You see I wanted to end my life and I was very close to being successful one night. 

How was I diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at such a young age?

So many people ask me how I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at such a young age.  Back in 1989, very little was really known about this disorder and there was such limited information.  Back in those days it was still referred to as Manic Depressive.  The one thing that I believe caused my illness to surface so early was all the stress in my life.  A lot people have said at 16, how could the stress be bad enough to cause symptoms.  Well as most people remember that time in any one's life can be difficult.  The problem with me though was was my need for perfection and overachieving.  I was taking 5 college level classes in the 11th grade, I was on the school's dance team, I was President of the honor society, and I was involved with many clubs and doing volunteer work as well.  I still remember the shock in the eyes of the treatment team when they looked at just my class schedule.  They said that no one should be under such stress and it was no surprise to them that I was having extreme mood swings.  I was barely sleeping back then and I was also obsessed with my weight so I would skip eating for days.   This was a recipe for disaster. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fighting the stigma of Bipolar Disorder

I was reading another one of my blogs today that I follow at and he brought up an excellent point on how some people out there want to say that Bipolar Disorder is an addiction.  He has a great blog on the reasons it is not an addiction.   I am a strong advocate of fighting stigma associated with bipolar disorder.  The media is notorious for jumping on the band wagon of misconceptions about this disorder.  I don't even understand how some people could say that bipolar disorder is an addiction.  For starters it is a genetic condition that the person is born with and there is nothing that caused this other then being born.  I will agree that self medicating can lead to an addiction but bipolar disorder is not an addiction.  This just shows that there are so many people out there that have no idea what the illness really is and what it is not.  I have channeled my disdain for these misconceptions and partnered with NAMI at and joined their stigma alerts.  I have found new empowerment by writer to Senators, and Representatives as well as people in the media.  I would encourage anyone that wants to fight this stigma to join the stigma busters and educate the world that Bipolar Disorder is just and illness and it is treatable. To take action go to and sign up to educate and stop these misconceptions about bipolar disorder.

So I was told I have Bipolar Disorder... Now What???

The first 5 things you should do once a doctor tells you have bipolar disorder.

1. Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor
2. Seek out therapy to work through the stress in your life and coping with the illness
3. Find a support group and support system
4. Eat healthy and try to exercise at least 3 days a week
5. Educate yourself with books and online material

Hearing those words is not easy and it can be overwhelming to you and others around you.  Probably the first thing a Psychiatrist will do is prescribe medication that will help stabilize your moods. As I said before everyone is different so the medicines you are prescribed will be different than other people with bipolar disorder. Also note a lot of medications have side effects and you will need to work closely with your doctor to work out the best combination for you. I still have to change up medications and normally do so on a yearly basis. Your treatment plan does change throughout the years. Your Psychiatrist will probably refer you to a therapist that will give you tools to better cope with stress in your life and your illness. Stress can play a huge factor in causing mood changes so it is important to find ways to help control that as much as you can.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

So how do I know if have Bipolar Disorder?

It is a question I have been asked by many people along my journey. It's not that easy to answer as everyone might think. Everyone I have ever met with bipolar disorder show different signs and symptoms. There are the classic symptoms of course that I will list at the end but with my experience everyone has a different treatment plan and no one with bipolar disorder can be put in a box. I think that this is probably why it is so hard for people to get help and maybe get the proper diagnosis. As I have shared in my earlier blogs that I looked in a psychology book and after reading the classic signs, I knew then that I probably had this disorder. I ofcourse went to my doctor at the time with my concerns and was later properly diagnosed with it. For some people it is not that easy though and sometimes the disorder can even mask itself as just clinical depression because the mania has not shown up in the person at that time.

I am not Bipolar... I have Bipolar Disorder

My last blog was an introduction on how I first heard the words Bipolar Disorder and it's the journey I have been on that has inspired me to write this blog. I would like to share how I have survived with bipolar disorder and help others out there that may be confused as I was at 16 years old. My goal is to help others find the help they need and maybe find some answers on how to survive with Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar Disorder is nothing to be ashamed of and it is no one's fault. It is simply a disease just like any other that has to be treated. I have wanted for many years to reach out to others with my own personal knowledge and I thought this would be the best device. I have kept journals for years so I have many stories and experiences to share. If I could help just one person from going through the struggle that I went through with so much confusion than I feel that I have achieved my main goal in life. That was my original goal after all from the very beginning. I wanted to add something very important to the human race and I think that sharing my journey is that important thing that might educate and fight stigma associated with this illness.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

How I was first introduced to two little words - Bipolar Disorder

I was always a very driven person that had one main goal from my earliest thought as a child. That goal was to finish college and become a highly successful person that could add something very important to the human race. This was coming out of the mind of a 9 year old. I always sought perfection in myself and in anything I ever tried to do or attempted. I never needed anyone to push me to succeed because I was my toughest critic. My parents of course always encouraged me to do my best and strive for perfection. I was always on the honor roll at school and I never missed a day because I loved to learn and improve myself. I studied as much as I could even as early as Elementary School. I have an older brother who was also brilliant and I was always chasing him to achieve more than he did. Quiting or failing at something was never an option in my family. As early as 14, I knew I wanted to become a doctor and nothing was going to stop me from that goal. Neither my father nor my mother had achieved a 4 year degree from a college and that is what they wanted for their two children more than anything. That is until my life collided with two words I had never heard before in my short 16 years of life. In fact no one in my life knew what those two words meant. The year was 1989 and we were all utterly clueless. The two words were Bipolar Disorder.