Of Mental Illness, Amanda Bynes, And Her Mother…

I typically don’t pay much attention to pop culture or celebrity garbage, mostly because I don’t care about it; but my eye is usually caught when mental illness comes into play. I’m always interested in the way the public perceives the person’s behavior as they are exhibiting their instabilities. Charlie Sheen was a good example. I would have bet money he was screaming through a Bipolar manic cycle when he was coming unhinged and lost his contract for Two and a Half Men. Many folks argued it was cocaine, which is a valid point if not for the length of time it ran. You would have to do a ton of cocaine to maintain that kind of pace for that length of time.

Amanda Bynes was recently trending due to the actions of her mother, Lynn, who pursued a temporary conservatorship over Amanda and won. Now, her mother has taken her off all of the psych medications she had been on for the past 9 months or so because “she hasn’t had an episode since”. The mother now claims that Amanda does not have a serious mental illness, even though she was placed on an LPS Hold which requires doctors to show evidence of grave disability as the result of mental illness or chronic alcoholism.

The basis of this move- she’s not mentally ill, it was marijuana that did it to her. If you’ve ever smoked or associated with people who smoked pot- please use this time to get the laughter and disbelief out of your system. I’ll wait.

You good? Cool.

Not only is it a great example of ignorance of mental illness; it’s a great example of the 1980′s Public Service Announcement misinformation mentality about drugs.

Yes, certain drugs can have a negative affect on people with mental illness.

But I have to say that of the hundreds of times in my life that I’ve smoked pot, hung out with several people that smoked pot, and been a third party witness to pot-smoking shenanigans; nobody ever thought it was a good idea to set fire to a neighbor’s driveway with gasoline, strip off their pants because they were on fire, retrieve their now gasoline soaked Pomeranian, run to a liquor store to the backroom to wash it off in their sink, and have a melt down when confronted by the employees which resulted in an arrest.

That’s wayyyyy too much activity for someone who was supposedly under heavy influence of pot.

Some have posited that removing her from psych meds and claiming it was pot is a form of damage control. I don’t think her mother is stupid; just ignorant. I don’t think that her or her lawyers would be dumb enough to think you could “damage control” 4 years of drastic instability that even had Courtney Love of all people tweeting to her to “Get it together girl”. When Courtney Love acknowledges that you have a problem- you have a fucking problem.

And this long ass intro leads into the point of this post. What I’m seeing from her mother is something I see on a regular basis from the loved ones of folks with mental illness. It’s often just related from the mentally ill person rather than the third party.

It centers around that person’s inability to accept their own perceived “failures”. You take a mother who loves her daughter, has had pretty significant difficulties in her life over 30 years or so, but she loves her unconditionally and does everything she can to create a better life for her. Now, you reveal that the daughter has been hiding some pretty significant behaviors from her mother for a long time. Cutting, drinking too much to cope, drugs, reckless behavior, maybe even a suicide attempt or two. The daughter gets worse with age to the point where her quieter behavior suddenly starts getting much louder. Now she’s getting hauled in by the cops, setting fires, doing the insane shit that severely mentally ill people do.

What goes on in the mother’s mind? Some parents are able to adapt and help. Others can’t. They would “know” if their child was mentally ill. They did everything in their power to make sure that child was taken care of and had opportunities in their life; so they couldn’t possibly have a mental illness. Acknowledging that their child has a mental illness is a blow to them as a person because it’s easy to perceive it as them failing their child. How could someone you love miss something that important and major? Well; it’s pretty simple actually. It’s not like everyone is walking around with a PhD in psychology or anything.

And in Amanda’s case; she was successful. A multimillionaire and retired by 26, as she said. So in her mother’s mind; it couldn’t possibly be Amanda’s mental health that was exploding. No, it must have been the pot even though there is a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Mental illness doesn’t care about how wealthy you are. It’ll tear down a wealthy person just as easily as a poor person. But her mother is ignoring all of the evidence supporting mental illness and taking her off a medication cocktail that is commonly used for schizophrenia.

I’d give her less than six months to have another psychotic episode if she sticks to this course of action.

Pride has no place in this struggle. Whether you’re a supporter or mentally ill; pride is an enemy. We must all understand that we can fuck things up. Pride prevents apologies, it prevents acceptance, it prevents progress.

If I’m right about her mother’s mindset; her pride is undermining Amanda’s mental wellness. Is the daughter going to listen to her mother or her doctors? Many people would trust their mother more and wind up screwed for an even longer period of time. Who knows how long her mother’s decision is going to set back her mental wellness? It could be years. Or maybe Amanda will remember how much better she felt on the meds and get back on them soonish. Who knows?

If you are in a similar situation or were handed this article by someone; it’s not your fault or any kind of knock on you as a person if you missed a mental illness. Lots of people don’t understand or “get it”. It’s no flaw to have not understood what your loved one was going through.

What is a flaw is a refusal to acknowledge the evidence that supports it when it’s staring you in the face. That refusal can fuck your loved one over far into the future. The past is done. Help your loved one reach a better, saner future for themselves.

And regardless of the position you are in; educate yourself on the claims being made about the person in your life. I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve talked to who are diagnosed Bipolar that couldn’t tell me what Bipolar Disorder is. How the hell are you supposed to help yourself or anyone else if you don’t understand what the claims are? It doesn’t matter if you’re the loved one or the mentally ill one; educate yourself!

I get asked constantly “what books do you recommend?” and my answer is always the same- “All of them.” Read anything and everything you can get your hands on. Mental illness is an intensely personal experience. If you’re Bipolar, you can read a book about another Bipolar person that has no relation to how you experience the Disorder. Now you’re questioning if that’s actually the case when the next book may have struck home for you. Read everything you can get your hands on. That way you’ll have a much better idea of how to help your loved one or help yourself.

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Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below or feel free to send me an email at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com . I read everything sent to me and will respond to you as soon as possible. I have a number of original articles posted on the main website at www.bipolarmanifesto.com . If you find this information helpful or think it will benefit someone you know; pass it on! My body of work is to benefit others. Liking/Sharing/Printing off to show someone all accomplish a similar goal of getting it in front of more people. Thank you for taking the time to read my work!

I am also now offering Phone Consultations!

-Dennis

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Of MMR Vaccines, Autism, And Terrible People

Today’s article is going to be a bit different and drawn from a reemerging topic. Trends are a flyin’ because of a recent celebrity statement from Kristin Cavallari about her concerns that vaccines cause autism. You may or may not remember that this belief was originally championed by the illustrious Jenny McCarthy. But this is not a trash article on Kristin or Jenny; it instead serves to reinforce a point I harp endlessly about.

To get to that point we must ask the question, “Where did this connection between the MMR vaccination and autism come from?”

In 1998, the medical journal The Lancet published a research paper that supported the connection between the MMR vaccine, autism, and colitis. The media, of course, had a field day in promoting this belief far and wide to the point that celebrities like McCarthy picked up on it as well. And really, it’s understandable. My son and I are both high-functioning autistic and it’s easy to see in relatives that came before me. You have this incredibly damaging disorder that isn’t well understood and people need a place to point the finger.

The problem was with the bearer of the report. Science is subject to constant review and rechecking. Some interesting things about Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the primary author of the report, began to come to light. Such as- being connected to a lawsuit linked to the study in which he received payment to “find” a link.

The Lancet retracted the report, a rare action since the foundation of the medical journal in 1823. All of the co-authors of the report withdrew their names from it as they stated Wakefield misrepresented the information they had contributed. Further investigation revealed that Wakefield had other conflicts of interest, misrepresented research and data, and was tied to other breaches of the ethical code.

Wakefield was stripped from the Medical Register by the General Medical Council for gross professional misconduct; removing his ability to practice medicine.

The initial story of the link spread far and wide, quickly by a media looking to drive ratings. In the UK, MMR vaccinations dropped like a rock, autism rates didn’t change, but measles and mumps started to make a pretty significant comeback. Who knows how many families have suffered for this fucker’s greed. And we are still seeing the impact of it today.

So this ties into a couple of points I regularly harp about.

1. The fucking media man. They only care about marketing and selling ad space nowadays. Case in point; who gives two shits about Kristin Cavallari’s point of view on autism? But since she’s a celebrity we’ll give her air time EXACTLY THE SAME WAY we did with Jenny McCarthy about an unsubstantiated, completely discredited report written by a disgraced doctor. But fear keeps us tuning in.

2. Do you trust your Doctor? I don’t. I think my doctor is great but I don’t put blind faith in him. For all I know, he could be doing something similar to Wakefield. How many people do you know at your job (or past jobs) that were actually good at what they did? Even the people that have had in-depth training have opinions on how things should be done. I’ve met more than a couple who were going to do their job how they wanted and the hell with safety procedure.

And there are a lot of similar beliefs out there. “Big Pharma is the enemy!” Why? Because medicine is an inexact science and always has been? Everyone decries the progress on points like trying to find a cure for HIV and cancer while glossing over the fact that people regularly live to a 100 now because of medical science. But no, trot out any doctor like Wakefield to tell us all about what “Big Pharma doesn’t want you to know!” and shill their crap.

I’m not suggesting that you need to develop a doctorate of your own. I am suggesting that ignorance is often the difference between life and death. You need to truly understand what is going on with you. You need to stop placing blind faith in anyone. Ask questions, delve deeper, strive to understand why the shit is going down as it is so you can make better decisions for yourself and your loved ones.

Wakefield is an asshole whose bullshit potentially killed children. And here we sit with a reignited debate made by an off-hand comment from a celebrity over some shit that should have never been published in the first place. Good fucking game.

And there are plenty others like him out there.

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Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below or feel free to send me an email at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com . I read everything sent to me and will respond to you as soon as possible. I have a number of original articles posted on the main website at www.bipolarmanifesto.com . If you find this information helpful or think it will benefit someone you know; pass it on! My body of work is to benefit others. Liking/Sharing/Printing off to show someone all accomplish a similar goal of getting it in front of more people. Thank you for taking the time to read my work!

I am also now offering Phone Consultations!

-Dennis

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A Treatise On The Word “Normal”

In the past two weeks I’ve seen six different images with some variation of “What’s Normal?” “Just a setting on a dryer.” and “There is no normal.” I get the intent behind the images but I wonder how many people really think about them. I do- because I can’t stop fucking thinking ever- and I have a significant problem with that particular statement and those like it.

The key to wellness for many people is hope. A big part of what I do is try to instill realistic hope in people that have been slogging through years of mental illness and the sewage it creates. Hope comes in many forms. The primary goal is to help a person realize they can change their life for the better or their loved one can recover if they actually work at it.

I realize what many folks reading this are probably thinking- “it’s just a stupid phrase”. Correct. But, let’s take into account the way a Bipolar or Depressive mind works. The illness can latch onto one minor point and explode it into a shitstorm of epic proportions. I can easily see an unwell mind latching onto that statement and concluding there is no point in trying because this is their normal. That’s not the kind of thing you want an unwell person to be thinking about while they are trying to stay afloat in depression.

To me, the statements could be interpreted by an unwell mind to mean there’s nothing to look forward to. This is their normal. This is their lot in life. This is ALL they have to look forward to. And frankly, that kind of thing would have had me slitting my wrists a few years ago if I had thought for a moment the rest of my life would have to be like the past was.

But that’s not the way it works for many people nor is it representative of “normal”.

So many people beat the drum about being just like everyone else but that just sets unrealistic expectations. We, the mentally ill, are not like everyone else no matter how much we want to be. We have to do things differently to maintain a sense of stability and sanity in our lives. Hoping, wishing, and praying for things to be different is a waste of time, energy, and oxygen. The sooner anyone can come to terms with their differences the faster they can start working to find something that actually works for them.

I don’t enjoy analyzing my thoughts constantly. I’m fucking tired of taking psych meds like I know many of you are. But my brain is an abnormal pile of shit and will run screaming back into insanity if I let it have even an inch.

People are different and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re less deserving of kindness or respect. You don’t necessarily have to be public about it; and I don’t recommend you do unless you’re stable enough to lock horns with people that challenge you about it. The most important thing is to find stability and peace of mind. Attempting to engage with the ignorant is a pretty efficient way to find your rage. Privately, you can work to find the right solutions with people you trust.

So the question then becomes- what is normal?

In my eyes, normal has to encompass people from about every race, religion, creed, and walk of life. Thus, I think the best way to think of “normal” is to go back to Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s a pretty simple, clear definition of what is commonly believed to be necessary for human existence and growth.

Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Problems with the mind become mental illness when they interfere with the basic needs of human existence. Therefore, it only makes sense to point back to the same for defining “normal”. Normal is simply the ability to conduct one’s life in a gainful fashion. We can all strive to reach for that sense of normalcy without jeopardizing individuality and a sense of self.

Normal is more than a setting on a washing machine. Normal is being able to live your life and pursue your goals without your own brain and scars fucking you over in the process. It’s something to fight and strive for through doctors, medication, and therapy; whatever gets the job done for YOU.

That’s just how I see it anyway.

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Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below or feel free to send me an email at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com . I read everything sent to me and will respond to you as soon as possible. I have a number of original articles posted on the main website at www.bipolarmanifesto.com . If you find this information helpful or think it will benefit someone you know; pass it on! My body of work is to benefit others. Liking/Sharing/Printing off to show someone all accomplish a similar goal of getting it in front of more people. Thank you for taking the time to read my work!

I am also now offering Phone Consultations!

-Dennis

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Preventing Catastrophic Damage In A Bipolar Relationship

I am regularly asked about a particular situation that involves the perspective and decision making of a Bipolar person. In this situation, the Bipolar person appears to be doing reasonably well, but they eventually swing into mania or depression. If they swing into mania, they can do a number of different things that are damaging to the relationship. If they swing into depression, they may feel they have no emotions at all for their partner or they are not worth loving.

I find this situation comes most often from people who are diagnosed but do not understand the Disorder, the undiagnosed who clearly need to speak to a doctor about what they experience, and older folks (40+) who are used to making decisions a certain way. That statement being based on the one or two emails a week I get asking about some variation of this situation. Your mileage may vary.

So let me address the common points.

1. Does my Bipolar loved one love me?
Supporter: The closest point a Bipolar person comes to their true emotions is when they are at a point of stability. Chances are pretty good you can identify the ups and the downs even if you don’t know how to put a name on it. There are likely to be other times of relative peace and harmony. Those are the periods you want to use to gauge their true emotions. Some civil strife is normal in relationships. The over-the-top and abnormal are what indicate unwell periods. During those periods the Disorder is lying to your loved one and warping their perception.

Bipolar: You MUST learn that you cannot trust your brain while you are unwell. You MUST learn to hear your loved ones and trust them when you are unwell. If you learn to identify when you are in an unwell cycle, you can stop yourself from making important decisions. An example. “I was fine last week, I feel miserable and numb now. I feel nothing for my wife; so it must be her fault.” Feeling numb and apathetic are depressive symptoms. It has nothing to do with the wife and everything to do with the fact that YOU HAVE A MOOD DISORDER.

And I hear you asking- “But Dennis, what if I really don’t love my wife anymore?” This is where you have to start realizing that what you experience while you are unstable is not real emotion. It absolutely feels real but it’s manufactured by the Disorder. That is why I beat the drum so loud to not make life-altering decisions while you’re in an unwell cycle; or if you have to, involve people you trust to help you figure things out.

What do you do? You call your doctor and tell them what’s going on. You do NOT make major decisions while you are in an unwell cycle. If the loved one is the actual problem, you’ll still feel that way when you come out of the cycle. If your relationship was loving and good while you were balanced, your moods and emotions should return to that baseline after the unwell cycle.

2. You cannot take a Bipolar person’s words at face value during an unwell cycle.
Supporter: Learn your Bipolar loved one’s unwell symptoms so you can identify when they are getting sick. Once you are able to do so, you must then learn to let their unwell words slide off of your shoulders. That does NOT mean you should put up with abusive or destructive behavior. It does mean accepting that the person is probably going to make bad, foolish decisions they normally would not make while they are balanced and well. Accepting that and not being emotionally invested in their unwell decisions will save you a lot of stress.

Bipolar: Use your loved one as a filter. They spend more time with you than anyone. They likely know your moods and mentality better than you do because they are a third party whose perspective is not skewed by the Disorder. If you’re unwell, run your thoughts and ideas through people that you can trust to see whether it is actually a good idea or if it’s the Disorder fucking with you. Don’t embrace and act on your thoughts while you are unwell. Talk about them and get outside perspectives on them. If you can’t do it with family, look into local or online support groups that provide a safe place to communicate. Outside perspective is invaluable.

3. Ending the cycles of destruction.
Apologies, loved ones; but I have to finish this piece with the mentally ill because this is on us.

Each of us is engaged in a personal war- and that’s not a metaphor. What else do you call an entity that deprives you of happiness, well-being, stability, and peace of mind? What else do you call an entity that strips you of relationships, careers, and friendships? You call it an enemy as only an enemy would do that to you. So you have to fight it like an enemy until you’re standing with your foot on its throat.

Look at everything you’ve lost to it in your life! Your life story is your own road, but our roads run parallel. And I’m 100% sure your road is just as littered with the burnt out husks of what used to be your hopes and dreams as mine is.

You want to beat this shit? You have to learn to stop following the decision making processes that have been fucking you since you started cycling. It doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or 50. I don’t give a shit if you feel “too old to change”. Better to continue on the cycle of destruction and being perpetually fucked?

No. You’re strong and resilient enough to have made it this far in life with mental illness. You are definitely strong and resilient enough to face some changes that will ONLY benefit you.

Take control. Educate yourself. Work on communication with the people you trust. Identify your depressive and manic symptoms so you and your loved ones can spot your unwell cycles with ease. Once you do- stop making life-altering decisions during an unwell cycle!

You can do it.

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Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below or feel free to send me an email at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com . I read everything sent to me and will respond to you as soon as possible. I have a number of original articles posted on the main website at www.bipolarmanifesto.com . If you find this information helpful or think it will benefit someone you know; pass it on! My body of work is to benefit others. Liking/Sharing/Printing off to show someone all accomplish a similar goal of getting it in front of more people. Thank you for taking the time to read my work!

I am also now offering Phone Consultations!

-Dennis

Posted in Coping | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Bipolar Manifesto Celebrates Its Second Year!

Today, Bipolar Manifesto celebrates its second birthday. Well- near as I can tell anyways. It was the day I registered the domain name and began to upload what I had written for the website. My goal was to provide information based on what I thought would have helped me at the times when I was going through a lot of this bullshit. I read a lot when I was first diagnosed and I felt that there was a lack of actionable information on the internet. I found plenty of rehashing of DSM criteria, plenty of trying to make people feel better about what they were going through, and plenty of people trying to make sense of their struggles. Quite a bit of it useful- but not a lot of it you could put to work for yourself in a meaningful way.

And really, that’s what’s driven the information I present on my Bipolar Manifesto. I feel it is also why I have had such a great response from a number of people. So far there have been 250 blog comments and 1500 emails in my inbox since I launched the site. And yes, I read and respond to every single one in as detailed a way as possible.

So- how are things looking for the coming year?

-I have been working on this Friendships and Relationships e-book for awhile now. I’m putting a cut off on my work on it for May sometime. I’ve gone back and forth on a number of things with it that have caused me to push it back, plus the ebb and flow of my own brain-meats. The quality I expect for it is a bit difficult to reach for. I want either a professional or a novice to be able to pick it up, understand it, and view it as a strong piece of work. To that end- I’ve been including references where I know there to be some and have worked to distinctly separate my opinion from established fact. But in doing so, I need to make sure it is easy to understand for the novice. So it’s a balancing act for sure.

This will hopefully be the first of several e-books that I will offer on a pay what you want basis. I mean, there’s easily more than enough info collectively on my site to cram into a book but meh. Too disorganized and ineffective when presented that way.

-I’ve been contemplating picking up a web cam and doing short, 5 minute Q&A videos or my own “talks” of a sort. I see a lot of common questions that I have addressed in blog post form but people like video as well so what the hell? Quite a few pros; only cons are- I’ll have to wear pants and periodically make myself look socially acceptable. I know, I know- I’m just as horrified as you are.

-Well, that’s really it in the immediate. I have some personal goals- like Peer Support Certification- that will be reflected in what I do here. But other than that, no great ideas at the moment other than to keep exploring information and trying to communicate the bullshit better to the people out there that need it.

I kind of feel like that will be a “forever” project.

And I will close this post with a big Thank You. Thank you to the people who have offered praise and criticism, to the people who have shared my work or pointed me to others, to the people who have contributed donations to me. I greatly appreciate it all. Every bit of it helps give me the drive, exposure, and resources to hopefully bring my style of information and pursuit of well-being to people that need it.

So thank you!

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Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below or feel free to send me an email at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com . I read everything sent to me and will respond to you as soon as possible. I have a number of original articles posted on the main website at www.bipolarmanifesto.com . If you find this information helpful or think it will benefit someone you know; pass it on! My body of work is to benefit others. Liking/Sharing/Printing off to show someone all accomplish a similar goal of getting it in front of more people. Thank you for taking the time to read my work!

I am also now offering Phone Consultations!

-Dennis

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Breaking Through The Walls Of Undiagnosed, Untreated Mood Disorders

There is a train of thought that I have been wrestling with since I started being open and doing what I do through my website- “how do you get through to someone who doesn’t realize there is a problem?” I’m alright with rock bottom and I know that some people have to fall that far before they can recover. The problem is that “rock bottom” usually entails a lot of awfulness that would be better avoided. Is it homelessness? Divorce? Addiction? Suicide? Rock bottom is an unpleasant place and I know there are times I treat it with a flippant attitude because I managed to get through mine somewhat unscathed. I find that to be unsatisfactory.

Another problem is that I’m sitting here across yon internet. I typically don’t have the benefit of being able to talk to the person and get a glimpse of their life story. I think that getting through the walls is best accomplished through an entirely personal approach that speaks directly to the individual. That way you have an opportunity to explore the history and thought processes of that person and introduce the potential for a better, attainable reality. I believe that it hinges on making the person realize that the way they experience their life is abnormal. After all, if you’ve lived a certain way for 10 or 50 years- how are you supposed to know there’s anything different waiting for you?

The methodology I employ splashes over into what is important to the medical profession. Medical professionals are looking for abnormalities that inflict significant disruption to the patient’s quality of life and their ability to care for themselves. Thus, I feel it’s a good idea to stay along those lines so when the person goes in to talk to the professional they are introducing these significant points.

As usual, let me use myself for as an example.

Employment – I’ve had no fewer than 25 jobs. Some I lost on my own volition. Others I lost for legitimate reasons. I lost at least a dozen because my brain dropped into a severe depression and I just couldn’t function, I couldn’t communicate what was going on in my head, and I would just throw the job aside and stop going. There are others where my brain would be so scattered and chaotic, I’d be furious with everyone, impatient with everything, cuss out a manager or customers. You know, typical Bipolar shenanigans.

How would I use this information if I was confronting me?
“Do you realize it’s not normal to go through dozens of jobs in the span of 15 years? Your brain should not cause you so many problems that you are unable to maintain anything long-term. It’s a possible indicator of something wrong that could be treated. You may be able to end that cycle of destruction and have some stability and consistency.”

And this point is one a medical professional would be interested in because we all need income to exist. This is the kind of thing that should be considered a symptom.

Inability to Feel – The inability to feel is very common with depression. The void consumes everything. I’ve been fighting with depression since I was about 13. In that time, I’ve done the following to cope with it- self-harm in the form of burning myself, a lot of drugs and alcohol, sleeping for 20 hours a day and avoiding everything, and one active and six suicide attempts to finally end it. The days that should have been the happiest days of my life I felt little to nothing. Often, it was only a brief wisp of emotion that was soon sucked under and devoured by depression. To say it fucking sucks is an understatement.

How would I use this information if I was confronting me?
“It’s not normal to not feel. It indicates a potential problem that you need to talk to a doctor about. It’s normal for you because that’s how it’s been in your mind- but that’s not how it has to be if you confront it and fight it. Depression is treatable but you have to get up and pursue it. The suicide attempts, hurting yourself to see if you can feel; it’s normal for us but isn’t the kind of existence you should accept for yourself.”

Again, this is a person’s mental processes drastically interfering with their ability to live and conduct their life. Social interaction and self-care are both essential parts of human existence that can be severely derailed by depression.

And that hits on the biggest problem I run into. How do you convince a person who’s been living a mentally ill life for the last 40 years that there is anything better waiting for them? How do you show them they aren’t just a fuck up, deserve peace of mind, and happiness?

I feel like it’s not going to be in generalized articles or trying to speak through a loved one from a thousand miles away. I think a knowledgeable third party needs to really analyze their history and present it back to them with an eye for the things that would fall into the scope of potential symptoms so they could be contrasted with “typical”.

It’s definitely difficult for a loved one or a friend to assume this mantle but it is often necessary. A spouse or a friend often has to get that person to realize they need to see a doctor at all. The good news is that they are often familiar with that person’s history. I would avoid suggesting that it is anything specific; but stick to the severe issues and encourage them to talk to a doctor about them. Chances are pretty good it will take awhile to sink in so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen overnight. Remember- you’re trying to get through years and years of living unwell.

Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible. The person will often latch on to a weak point and ride it for all it’s worth to avoid looking inward.

Please share any thoughts or comments with me you may have on this subject. I’m interested to know what got through to you or if you have any input on the problem.

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Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below or feel free to send me an email at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com . I read everything sent to me and will respond to you as soon as possible. I have a number of original articles posted on the main website at www.bipolarmanifesto.com . If you find this information helpful or think it will benefit someone you know; pass it on! My body of work is to benefit others. Liking/Sharing/Printing off to show someone all accomplish a similar goal of getting it in front of more people. Thank you for taking the time to read my work!

I am also now offering Phone Consultations!

-Dennis

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A Shift In Focus And Change In Phone Consultations

A few months ago I rolled out an offering for phone consultations to help facilitate contributions to my site and offer another form of service to the people I regularly interact with. That venture and subsequent research has taught me a few things.

1. There is a demand for it; which is good.
2. An hour tends to be too long for most people.
3. What I’m doing doesn’t really fall anywhere in an industrial or regulatory way.

Point 2 led me to reconsider and revise how I provide the Phone Consultation service I’m providing. I have decided to end the ambiguous language and just call it a service. Before, it was a convoluted mess I had to explain constantly- so fuck it. I am also changing the structure.

- $15 for 30 minutes
- $25 for 60 minutes
- If you’re interested in more, contact me directly and we’ll work something out.

- I am only providing Phone Consultation to United States residents.
- I answer all emails and comments sent to me. If the time comes where I have more emails than time; I will prioritize emails from contributors.
- Additionally; time will be used in 15 minute blocks with a minimum of a single block. So; if you contribute for 60 minutes; you can break that up into a 15 minute and a 45 minute, four 15 minute blocks; or any combination you desire. I will just track time via spreadsheet.
- Time does not “expire”.
- Payment must be made upfront through Paypal. You do not need an account; they can process any supported card. If you are not satisfied with our time together; I will refund your money.
- If you have contributed to me and my site in the past and would like to make use of a consultation; let me know.
- Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, therapist, medical professional, lawyer, or non-profit entity of any sort. I am not in any way equipped to handle emergency circumstances. If you or a loved one is having an emergency; utilize local services. I can offer you the perspective of an eloquent mentally ill person who is familiar with a number of things surrounding the industry, trials we face in life, and a neutral perspective. My goal is to offer real hope and an actionable plan for participants.

- If you want to just make a donation; that’s fine as well. Since I am not a NPO, I claim contributions as income and it is NOT tax deductible for you.

Point 3 is an important one, to me. I have many goals for what I do. Legitimacy is at the forefront. You see, many people typically look at the industry as providers and consumers. Providers are the doctors, therapists, and so on; consumers are those of us that utilize those services. My personal goal has been to find my place as a knowledgeable mental health peer but I want to function between the two. I want to help providers understand the people they deal with better so they can provide more effective care. I want consumers to understand what I’m saying, dispel the fears, get well, and preserve their lives as much as possible. I want their loved ones to have the knowledge they need to make good decisions in how to respond and help the mentally ill person in their life.

After a shitload of research, I realize there are no non-profits (that I can find) that share my specific vision or approach in accomplishing what I want to accomplish. And there certainly is not from an institutional perspective.

For a long time, I had thought I would go to work for a Non-Profit; but I’m beginning to think that’s not the best way to go about accomplishing my goals. But where does that really leave me? I mean “The Bipolar Guy That Talks To People” would be kind of cool to put on a business card but doesn’t really help the legitimacy issue.

Through my research I’ve uncovered a couple specifics. The industry and title that is closest to what I’m doing is “Life Coaching”. Essentially, a Life Coach helps people make positive changes in their life through development of a solid course of actions, information gathering, encouragement, and accountability for failure to execute. Life Coaching is also a fairly unregulated industry; which means any asshole can call themselves a Life Coach. There are a couple groups trying to help their legitimacy through training and certification; but it really doesn’t mean anything from a legal perspective. And many Life Coaches provide service through video conferencing and phone consultation- at about $50 an hour- which is not what I would call “affordable” for most people in a position like I used to be.

So I think what I may do is function as an “Independent Consultant” as a 1099 independent contractor and build a career for myself in that way. I think I may opt for the Peer Supporter and Life Coaching training (which are both relatively inexpensive and short; mostly ethics shit) to assist with my legitimacy.

I contemplated the process of starting a NPO or a for-profit business; but frankly I feel like that would add a lot of cumbersome bullshit and administrative duties. For the few past few years, I have worked as a 1099 independent contractor so I’m familiar with how all that shit works for taxation purposes. I’m not all that interested in write offs for expenses since what I have is relatively compact. As long as I have an internet connection, a phone, and electricity; I can do what I’m doing and earn.

Ultimately, I want to get to the point where I can not need to “work a day job” so I can solely focus on what I do through my site.

I’m posting this for thoughts and feedback from you guys. So if you have any, feel free to let me know!

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Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below or feel free to send me an email at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com . I read everything sent to me and will respond to you as soon as possible. I have a number of original articles posted on the main website at www.bipolarmanifesto.com . If you find this information helpful or think it will benefit someone you know; pass it on! My body of work is to benefit others. Liking/Sharing/Printing off to show someone all accomplish a similar goal of getting it in front of more people. Thank you for taking the time to read my work!

I am also now offering Phone Consultations!

-Dennis

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Do You Think Bipolar Relationships Can Work?

I cannot tell you how many times a week I get asked the title question- “do you think Bipolar relationships can work?” I can also tell you the numerous amount of criticisms and negativity that the people asking have read on other forums. “Bipolar? RUN!” “Never. Cut your losses and go.” “It’s hopeless.” Blah blah blah. You get the point.

That does not mean that the negative advice is necessarily wrong. There are absolutely times when a person should distance themselves from a toxic, mentally ill person. The problem is that I almost never hear context from the person asking or see context on some of the forums where I periodically lurk. What did that person do to warrant being discarded? I have no arguments if it’s justified. The reader doesn’t know and their situation doesn’t necessarily reflect the advice giver’s.

To answer the question- yes, they can work. Relationships between a normal and a Bipolar person or two Bipolar people can work. However (you were waiting for the but, weren’t you?); they have to be approached differently than you would approach a traditional relationship. There are things you would do in a normal relationship that are best avoided in a Bipolar one. And a Bipolar couple? Christ, sign me up! At least I would have a better grasp on her emotional processes because hey- I have similar ones.

I think the best approach is some ground rules so everyone is clear where the lines are.

1. Take the meds. If you’re going to stop, consult with your doctor first to do it safely.
2. Separate financial accounts. No cosigning. We don’t want to be cleaned out if you swing unwell.
3. Boundaries. Anything abusive will be reported to the authorities.
4. Partnership. As the person that spends more time around you than anyone; your partner can help you spot unwell periods if you actually listen to what they’re telling you.

As for the normals?

1. Don’t use unwell actions and thoughts against us in a petty way; such as throwing it in our face in an argument.
2. Please learn to forgive what you can. We will never get our management 100% right.
3. Don’t be subtle about our unwell periods if we’re missing it. The unwell brain will take it, twist it, chew it up, spit it out. Be direct.
4. Don’t assume we’re unwell because we’re sad or pissed off. If you see other symptoms; then worry. We can experience normal emotions too.

These are just a few basic points that I think can make relationships a whole lot smoother. You don’t want to get bogged down in legislation for a relationship; but you definitely want to have guidelines so everyone is clear on how things go.

But there is an unfortunate side to the equation. I also get asked, “How can I make my loved one understand?” Usually it comes from someone who is trying to get support or help from their partner but their partner has completely closed off to them. That’s usually not a good sign. It usually doesn’t take too many probing questions to see that their partner probably doesn’t give a shit. They would probably see that too if they weren’t the partner in question and having a difficult time. Ultimately, it takes two to make a relationship work. If the other person refuses to work on it or try to understand; then where does that really leave the relationship?

It kind of sucks that I find myself in the position to point out that the other person probably doesn’t give a shit; but I’m not here to tell people what they want to hear or instill false hope. The reality is that many of us are alone in our struggle for sanity even though we’re in a “relationship”. That is an incredibly unfortunate truth I have seen play out over and over again. Some partners have just been through too much to keep trying to push forward, they’re too damaged themselves, or they never cared in the first place.

Communication is an essential part of all relationships. I feel that it is even more important in a Bipolar relationship. The Bipolar party has to be able to hear what their partner is trying to get through to them. They have to accept that their perception and brain is periodically in the crapper. A Bipolar relationship cannot work with one partner telling the other “it’s your problem”. That’s fantastically stupid on so many levels. How is that person supposed to make sound decisions while their perceptions are skewed by an unwell cycle?

But even in normal relationships we don’t hear one another or even address what’s actually bothering us. We cover up the anger and frustration with a partner with bullshit distractions and pointless arguments. That approach simply won’t work if you want to make a Bipolar relationship successful.

You have to learn to shelf petty problems and deal with the real issues of the relationship before they explode in your face. If you can’t get past that, the relationship will be just another point on the leaderboard of losses we Bipolars have.

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Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below or feel free to send me an email at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com . I read everything sent to me and will respond to you as soon as possible. I have a number of original articles posted on the main website at www.bipolarmanifesto.com . If you find this information helpful or think it will benefit someone you know; pass it on! My body of work is to benefit others. Liking/Sharing/Printing off to show someone all accomplish a similar goal of getting it in front of more people. Thank you for taking the time to read my work!

I am also now offering Phone Consultations!

-Dennis

Posted in Coping, General | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Mood Disorders And The Choices We Make

The central point of everything I bitch and harp about in regards to mood disorder management is education. The afflicted and their closest loved ones need to understand every facet of the mood disorder if they want to effectively counter it. It’s a simple matter of understanding the enemy to engage and win the battle. Understanding the way a mood disorder warps and twists a person’s perception gives them much greater leverage in not jumping on the unwell thought process and rocketing into insanity.

Near that central point is a choice; an often simple choice that we make incorrectly because our brains are fucked up at the moment. A choice we normally would have never made if our brains were in balance. We can prevent a lot of chaos and misery for us and our loved ones by changing the way we make our decisions while unwell. But first, we have to understand when we are unwell!

1. Work on developing your understanding of your triggers and the way you feel while you are unwell. You likely have symptoms while manic or depressive that you have at no other time. In my case, I have pressured speech, racing thoughts, hypersexuality, arrogance, and I can’t sleep more than 4 hours at a time but am never tired. Depression is easy to spot in my own apathy, general annoyance at everything slightly inconvenient, and a desire to sleep too much. I only have these qualities when I’m unwell- never any other time.

2. Utilize loved ones to help identify your unwellness. If you have kids, relatives, or a spouse that gives a shit they can help you identify when you’re getting unwell. You can tell younger kids “just tell me if I start acting really weird”. They don’t need to be inundated in details but they know when mom or dad is being irrational or volatile. I feel it’s a good idea to help older kids understand what’s going on so they don’t learn to fear and resent mental illness.

3. Make better choices before taking action. Are you manic? Does the sound of laughing children piss you off? Can you just not stand the sound of your spouse’s voice? Are you depressed? Can you not see any hope for tomorrow? Is every day going to be shit for the rest of your existence?

Those questions are the kind of warped thoughts we all struggle with. It is your choice on how you respond to those children, your spouse, and the hopelessness. Every fiber of your being may be urging you to scream, yell, or worse; but you have to fight that urge. You have to remember that you have a mood disorder and will have disproportionate responses to about everything while you are unwell. And you have to choose to look forward to tomorrow or remove yourself from your manic stressors.

It is not the world’s responsibility to give two shits about managing your triggers. A lot of people don’t understand and don’t want to understand. That means YOU have to be the one to manage YOURSELF.

That’s not an impossible goal even though it may seem like it. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard “Easier said than done”. Well, no shit. Everything is easier said than done. But you fucking do it anyways because it’s your family, your life, your well being, and your future. And you CAN do it.

Yes, you will inevitably make stupid mistakes. We all do. It gets much easier the more you do it and when you start finding meds that reduce the impact of the unwell swings.

Making better choices can be as simple as removing yourself from a situation that is threatening to spin you out or asking for input from someone you trust. I do both regularly if I don’t trust the defective pile of shit my brain can sometimes be.

You must understand that you are not your Disorder. You may be a terrible person while you are unwell but that does not mean you would make those same choices if you were well. Therefore, you want to get back to making the kinds of decisions you would make while you were well. A mood disorder is just one part of you that can be overwhelming and dominating if untreated, but you do not have to give in to what it will make you think and feel. You can fight it and fight for wellness.

That is a choice.

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Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below or feel free to send me an email at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com . I read everything sent to me and will respond to you as soon as possible. I have a number of original articles posted on the main website at www.bipolarmanifesto.com . If you find this information helpful or think it will benefit someone you know; pass it on! My body of work is to benefit others. Liking/Sharing/Printing off to show someone all accomplish a similar goal of getting it in front of more people. Thank you for taking the time to read my work!

I am also now offering Phone Consultations!

-Dennis

Posted in General, Self-Help | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Approaching Mood Disorders As Partners In A Relationship

Decision making is not one of the strong suits of an unwell, mentally ill person. The unwell brain can potentially convince us that anything is not only a great idea; but the best idea of our lives. This is apparent by sifting through the ashes of the remains of our collective pasts. I would venture to say that one would be hard pressed to find a person with a mood disorder without some fond memories of a circumstance before they torched it. Friendships, relationships, employment opportunities, alcohol and drug abuse, broken homes; and the shitloads of other things I’m not listing.

Understanding that we do have this problem with a skewed perception of the world can go a long way towards managing it. I am Bipolar with severe Depression. I KNOW, 100% KNOW, that I am periodically going to make awful or stupid decisions because my brain is a dysfunctional piece of shit. I know that I have to be constantly on guard to ensure that I do not make unwell decisions. I also know that no one is perfect and no matter how vigilant I am, I will make mistakes. Everyone will.

We can minimize these mistakes through communication and leaning on people we can trust. If I get a “great” idea about something- I run it past one of the people I trust to see if it is actually a good idea or if I’m just insane at the moment. Even if they agree, I typically sit on it for a little while just in case.

Those of you who are married, in long-term relationships, or even have adult children; those people can help you separate fact from fiction if you have a decent relationship. It takes a little understanding on both sides though. The well member of the relationship needs to be able to handle getting a more direct line into the unwell’s mind.

Let’s say that Steve’s wife Maria is Bipolar. One day, she pipes up with “I don’t love you anymore, I met someone else, and I’m leaving.” Steve can’t afford to let his own emotions overwhelm him. Is there a basis for these feelings? Were they happy up until recently? Has Maria been exhibiting any of her symptoms of being manic?

If she has, then Steve can point that out to her. “You haven’t been sleeping, your thoughts and words have been all over the place; you seem like you’re manic right now. We were content and working things out just fine until just a couple weeks ago. Why don’t you wait before doing anything? Get in to see your doctor and see if you need your meds adjusted. If you still feel the same a couple months down the road then we’ll readdress it.”

This example is a simple break down of a complex situation. There will undoubtedly be a lot of emotions, turmoil, and probably conflict. There is a chance that Maria will insist she is perfectly fine and completely clear at the moment. On the other hand, if the two of you have communicated ahead of time about working through these periods together; then hopefully she will be able to see the logic in Steve’s words and he will know not to react too negatively when they occur.

Because they WILL occur.

If you are in a relationship and either party is Bipolar; it affects you both very deeply. Hoping that everything will be alright or failing to acknowledge that unwell periods will occur in the future is just pointless wishful thinking. Want to make things work? Then you have to communicate and strategize BEFORE it becomes an issue. Have the plan laid out ahead of time so you can fall back to it.

The flurry of emotions and erratic thoughts makes it very hard to make good decisions while you’re unwell. The idea is to have these decisions made before it becomes relevant. That way the well party can point at it and say “Look, we talked about this while you were balanced and this is what we agreed to. We need to stick to that if we want to make things work.”

One pitfall the well party will want to avoid is overusing it. Save it for the really serious stuff otherwise the mentally ill partner will start to resent it. You don’t want to conclude that every bit of conflict or anger is due to an unwell cycle. We get pissed off and irritated about stuff too without flying into La-La Land. Save it for the stuff that has the potential to severely damage the relationship.

There are times when no amount of logic, pre-planning, or effort will work. The unwell mind is just too far out there to be brought back without something serious happening. At times like this, you may not have any recourse. Sometimes all you can do is let things play out how they will if the person isn’t a direct threat to themselves or someone else.

It is our instinct to want to help the people we care about. We, as humans, want to try and get things fixed immediately if they are broken. This is normal. The problem is that mental illness is abnormal. Relationship problems with a mentally ill person cannot always be remedied in a typical way.

But there is good news in all of this. Relationships with a person with a mood disorder (including Bipolar Disorder) are doable. By educating oneself, the well person can learn to identify the symptoms of when their loved one is getting unstable. These symptoms present the same way that a stuffy nose and a cough may indicate a cold. A Bipolar person that hasn’t been sleeping and is rambling nonstop about nothing is probably getting manic. The well person can then point it out to the Bipolar, potentially catching an unwell period before it gets going full steam.

Children are another major factor. I have met so many people that want to shield their kids from a parent’s mental illness. I understand the reasoning. It’s a difficult subject. I think it is a bit absurd to think that children don’t know that something is up. They know when mom or dad “gets in a mood” they shouldn’t bother them. They may not be able to put a name to it but they know something is up. Anyone that spends an excessive amount of time around an unwell person is going to figure it out eventually.

My personal opinion is that more children should be included. Mature kids or adult children can even be a valuable ally in pointing out when things are a bit awry with Mom or Dad. I feel there is a great benefit in helping to reduce stigma and increase awareness as well. If we treat it as just another part of life that some people have to deal with, perhaps they will be more comfortable about coming forward with their own problems should they develop.

I know that for years I thought what was going on in my head was normal stuff that everyone else dealt with too. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that I had very little exposure to mental illness besides through media sources. Mental illness is much quieter than we are often exposed to through the media.

I believe that by confronting it together, things will be much better for everyone involved.

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Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below or feel free to send me an email at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com . I read everything sent to me and will respond to you as soon as possible. I have a number of original articles posted on the main website at www.bipolarmanifesto.com . If you find this information helpful or think it will benefit someone you know; pass it on! My body of work is to benefit others. Liking/Sharing/Printing off to show someone all accomplish a similar goal of getting it in front of more people. Thank you for taking the time to read my work!

I am also now offering Phone Consultations!

-Dennis

Posted in General, Other | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments