Five Tips for a More Harmonious Bipolar Relationship

I had a recent request for some tips on relationships where both partners have Bipolar Disorder. The following would be applicable in about any relationship, but I feel as though these points are the most important for a relationship involving mental health and stability.

1. Both partners need to have the same attitude regarding their wellness.

You can’t have one partner who is recovered and the other partner just doesn’t put in any effort into recovery. Why? Loving and living with an unstable mentally ill person is a hell of a lot of stress. Stress can easily serve as a depressive or escalation trigger that can cause unwellness in a person with a mood disorder. Minimizing stress is an important facet of mental health management for many.

2. Remember that wellness is an individual path.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard some variation of, “Well, my boyfriend tried this, so I’m going to try it, too.” or “Well, my wife had a bad reaction to that, so I’m not going to try it.” Your path is not the path of your partner. Their success with a given treatment or approach has zero affect on yours. You can walk the path together, but everyone experiences their mental illness in different ways. And we all have individual body and brain chemistry that means you can’t know how a medication is going to affect you until you’ve taken it as directed for as long as it takes to reach its functional range.

3. Work to not respond to your partner when emotions are running high.

Attempt to approach problems and challenges in the relationship from a position of neutrality. The couple can easily destabilize one another into unwellness by constantly fighting. Take some time to cool off and let your emotions settle before you toss more fuel on the flames. That small campfire can easily explode into a volcano of emotion. Work on improving communication in the relationship. There are tons of self-help books out there about it or you may want to consider a relationship counselor to work on communication skills.

4. Have and enforce boundaries to keep yourself well and healthy.

In my experience, a Bipolar partner who is doing better than their partner will often flex their own boundaries. They understand what it’s like to be misunderstood or for people to not have patience with what they are dealing with and want to be compassionate. That person may wind up destabilizing as they bend their limits. Boundaries are important because they help you stay balanced and healthy. I’m not saying to never flex boundaries, just be mindful when you make that choice and don’t flex them too far. I will note, this is just an observation from interacting with many mentally ill couples.

5. Work to turn your home into your sanctuary.

Ideally, a home should be a sanctuary, a place of peace and respite where a person can retreat after dealing with the bullshit of their day and life. Life is hard and stressful. Both partners committing to making the home a place of peace (as much as it can be) will create a lower stress environment. Of course, that is easier said than done…which is a stupid phrase because everything is easier said than done. Regardless, it is worth the effort so you don’t have the additional stress of dreading your home life on top of everything else.

If you would like for me to write about something specific, please feel free to let me know in the comments!


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The Problem With Mental Health Professionals

There are a lot of people out there who have had terrible experiences with mental health professionals. Sometimes those experiences are valid, other times they are the result of the way we interact with them. But you want to know the real problem with mental health professionals?

They’re human beings; not so different than you or I.

We expect them to understand hundreds of mental illnesses and the way they affect each of us specifically. Mental illness is an incredibly personal experience. Though we are bound by threads of symptoms, they can manifest in very different ways from person to person.

Many of us walk into their offices, withhold important information, lie about what we’re experiencing, and then blame them when they can’t meaningfully help us. Too many of us walk into their offices and expect them to fix decades of mental illness in the course of a couple hours a month.

It’s easy to think that many professionals don’t give a shit because they are under tight time constraints to meet whatever quotas they have to meet standards imposed by other parties; be it a medical conglomerate, the government, or just keeping up with paying the bills. Thus, they can appear to be callous when harshly enforcing time limits or being rigid.

Nobody becomes a mental health professional to get rich. It’s one of the lowest paying, highest stress divisions of the medical industry. The people that do go into it are often there due to personal reasons, be it a mental illness of their own or having been affected by watching a loved one suffer. And I have talked to several who have reached out to me over the years who are dealing with their own mental illness while trying to help their patients.

Too many of us expect perfection out of our professionals because we are suffering. But they can’t give us perfection, because they’re human. And they certainly can’t read your mind if you choose to withhold information or misrepresent what you’re dealing with.

Do you want to know the secret to making meaningful progress with a mental health professional? Be a proactive participant in pursuing your wellness with as much honesty as you can.

What does it mean to be a proactive participant?

You need to work to understand your diagnosis and how it affects you SPECIFICALLY. Bipolar Disorder, and several other mental illnesses, can look very different from person to person. A lot of material that is produced is written from a perspective that may not necessarily reflect your personal experience. A counselor can be very helpful for working to better understand how your mental illness affects you.

Ask questions. Know why your professional is making the decisions that they are making. How is this medication supposed to help you? What is it supposed to do? How will I know if it is working or not? What side effects should I be looking for? How long should it take? A good professional will take the time to explain it to you; a bad one will just ask for blind trust or make you feel like you can’t understand.

There are a lot of good people in mental health care that want to help, but caring about people is a very difficult thing to do. The chaos and instability of mental illness, bad decisions, malicious and toxic people all take a very drastic, deep toll on caregivers.

That’s not even touching on the unethical or bad mental health professionals out there. They definitely do exist. Not everyone is good or even competent at their jobs.

Mental health professionals do not fix mentally ill people. They are there to help us fix ourselves. Mental health recovery is like 95% personal work and effort. No one can just hand wellness to you. It’s something you struggle, fight, and sacrifice for.

Understand that and you’ll have a much better time dealing with your professionals.

And, to any mental health professionals that may be reading this, thank you for your personal sacrifices and doing what you do.


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Bipolar Disorder is Not a Gift

I wish I could put more expletives in the title and still have it be acceptable through common social distribution channels. Bipolar Disorder is a brutal mental illness that can result in suicides, deaths, destroyed quality of life, abuse, substance abuse, destroyed relationships, and so much more. What ingenious think-tank decided it was a good idea to promote a mental illness that regularly features delusion as a gift to be cherished!?

And why is it, that every time I see one of these pieces come out of some advocacy group, they always use the most well-adjusted and healthy looking people to promote it? The last one I saw featured an aesthetically pleasing woman with a gleaming white, broad smile. Nary a trace of coffee or cigarette stain to be found! You know what that makes me think? They hired an actress and gave her a script.

Why not show the OTHER faces of Bipolar Disorder? The mentally ill that end up homeless? The mentally ill that end up disconnected from reality and turning their families inside out? The people that cycle in and out of mental institutions or prison?

I suppose “mental illness can be hell” isn’t as great of a promotional point and slogan.

I have to wonder what demographic of people they are trying to reach with this narrative. The people who are not diagnosed? That can’t be right because they wouldn’t have the context to understand the message. The people who are diagnosed but not seeking help? I don’t know about you, but it was a rare time I would have considered Bipolar Disorder a gift when I was alternating between suicidal depression and hypomanic instability and rage. That doesn’t seem right either.

The only groups it seems to be relevant to are the people who trend towards euphoric escalations and the artsy types who view mania as their muse. Or, maybe, they simply chose that angle because it has such a dominant narrative in Bipolar communities and social media groups around the internet? I don’t know, but it’s an ignorant message that I believe alienates more people than draws them in.

Why not present a realistic message? Why not something like: “Hey, Bipolar Disorder is a brutal, difficult mental illness that can destroy your life. Seek help so you don’t wind up insane, homeless, and with a family that hates you by the time you’re 50, assuming you don’t kill yourself by then, because you didn’t do shit to try to control it.”

And I feel reasonably certain I’m going to get angry comments from people who experience euphoria about how it feels so great and is their muse and blah blah blah. Just because something feels great doesn’t mean it’s good for you. If you have anyone in your life that loves and cares about you, I would be willing to bet money they are scared shitless during euphoric escalations because who knows where the limit is at?

Mania as a muse? No. Mania is a creative crutch that far too many Bipolar artists milk as their “tragic gift”. You want to create interesting, inspired art? Practice. It is so very common for unstable Bipolar people to circulate lists of artists or other creators as personal validation. And it’s not.

Those people were not special because of their mental illness. Those people were special in spite of their mental illness.

Bipolar Disorder is not a gift. It’s a challenge that needs to be controlled and overcome. And the stakes are far, far higher than any of those idiotic campaigns ever insinuate. Be greater than the Disorder by working with your mental health professionals to combat it.

Don’t delude yourself into thinking that the pain and misery of this mental illness is a gift to be cherished. It’s fucking not.


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Contemplating the Masks of Depression

What do you think of when you hear the word, “Depression”? Is it an image of a sullen, morbid soul who is sitting in darkness by themselves? That is a very common stereotype facilitated by pop culture and some of the easiest to understand extremes of depression.

Depression has many masks. The name is quite literal. It literally depresses a person’s ability to experience many emotions in a way that you would expect from a healthy mind. It can look very stereotypical, like anger, or in some cases, it can look like nothing at all. The person may be totally functional in every day life. They hold down a job, have a family, go about their lives; but they are unable to feel the emotions they are supposed to.

How many people do you know that are just angry and bitter all the time for seemingly no reason? And I’m not talking about just a hard life either. That can certainly contribute. Even people with hard lives do have temporary reprieves from time to time. Maybe it’s being proud of a child for an accomplishment, getting a raise at work, or having a great night with the spouse.

Instead? There’s just nothing there. Just emptiness, hollowness, pointlessness. And that emptiness gets filled with anger and bitterness as the weeks, months, and years grind on. Depression won’t let that person feel happy or any kind of joy or satisfaction. Maybe enough time passes where the person moves past that into a desolate landscape where the mind can’t even muster up anger anymore.

Many people think that because life is hard, it’s normal to never feel joy or happiness; for anger and bitterness to replace sadness. It’s not.

It’s depression. And it can be caused by anything from a bad diet, to poor sleep hygiene, to trauma, to not exercising, to the seasons changing, to a lack of sunshine, and so much more.

Are you depressed? I think there are a couple of pretty easy questions to ask yourself to determine whether or not you should speak to a doctor.

Do you feel any strong emotions other than emptiness, anger, or bitterness? How did you feel the last time something good happened to you? Were your emotions appropriate for what transpired?

Many screening tools ask a question like, “Are you able to enjoy your hobbies or interests?” The reason is that you’re supposed to be able to, but depression can rob you of that, too.

Sadness and depression get a bit trickier. Genuine sadness is not supposed to feel empty or hopeless. It should also not make you feel as though you should hurt yourself or not be here any longer. Genuine sadness is not a black hole. There is supposed to be emotional pain there. A lack of emotional pain and numbness may also potentially point to depression.

If this writing resonated with you, if it’s something you see in yourself, talk to your doctor. That does not necessarily mean you need or should go on meds, either! Quite a few people successfully combat depression with lifestyle changes and healthier habits.

Life is difficult enough as it is. Don’t let it rob you of the ability to feel emotions, too.


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A Video Post from Sophie

Bit of a different post today. Was recently reached out to by Sophie, a young lady who wanted to share part of her own journey with others. As y’all may or may not know, I’m generally pretty picky about what I choose to share from other people. I appreciated her short presentation for it’s authenticity and genuine nature.

Also, she is a person who was misdiagnosed for quite awhile as well. Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder get confused on an all too regular basis.

So, I am passing her video along.

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Mental Illness and The Importance of Professional Diagnosis

There are a lot of people in the world that are looking for easy, convenient answers. Not a week passes when I don’t receive correspondence from someone asking, “Am I Bipolar?” or “Is my loved one Bipolar?” And my response to all of these people is the same. “I’m not qualified to make that kind of statement. You need to discuss everything you just told me with a mental health professional.”

It’s not hard to find statements on the internet, throughout mental health websites, and advocates talking about how important it is not to self-diagnose or attempt to diagnose a loved one. But, I’ve yet to see anyone really address the question, “why?”

It’s not that difficult to tell if someone needs to be speaking to a mental health professional. A mental illness is defined as some form of behavioral or mental pattern that impedes a person’s ability to meet the basic needs of human existence, often compared against Maslowe’s Hierarchy of Needs as a rule of thumb. Once you understand that, it is much easier to see in the way a person conducts their life.

What is not so clear are the details of that person’s history, life, and medical history. Furthermore, many mental illnesses look very similar. People regularly confuse Borderline Personality Disorder with Bipolar Disorder because they both can include drastic swings. However, the details of those mental illnesses differ greatly.

Details are vitally important. A lot of loved ones of the mentally ill do not get to see all of the details that will really help explain the whole picture. We keep a lot buried and hidden away from others. Furthermore, many mentally ill people do not always understand what details point to symptoms. It’s easy to view a “minor quirk” about ourselves as just part of our personality instead of a problem.

That makes the work of mental health professionals all the more difficult because we don’t necessarily know what information needs to be communicated. That’s a knowledge that we gain over time as we grow to understand our mental illness and how it manifests in each of us, specifically.

The biggest threat of self-diagnosis is convincing yourself that you have a certain mental illness. The biggest threat of attempting to diagnose a loved one is convincing them that they have a certain mental illness. Because an unwell mind can latch onto that and hold tight to it as an explanation for why things are the way they are. Why is that bad? What if the person becomes convinced that they have the wrong mental illness? How long is it going to take to convince that mentally ill person that they do not have that mental illness? Months? Years? The rest of their life?

Diagnosis by a professional is the only way to go. Yes, misdiagnosis happens. The doctor may not be as knowledgeable on a particular mental illness, the patient may not be cooperative or communicating, important details may get overlooked. There are numerous reasons for misdiagnosis even in the best of conditions. But, that can be corrected by the patient educating themselves on their diagnosis, working out how it affects them specifically, and openly communicating with their professionals about what they learn and the affects of their treatment.

If you take nothing else from this blog post, I want you to understand this. There is NOTHING simple about confronting, fighting, and overcoming mental illness. Even getting a correct diagnosis can be hard and can take time. Do not make that process more complicated for yourself or your loved one by attempting to diagnose. Leave that to qualified professionals.


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Cutting Medication Costs With

I want to start this blog post by informing you all that I am NOT in any way affiliated, receiving compensation for, or have any connection at all to I am writing this blog post because medication is a pretty major part of managing and maintaining Bipolar Disorder, so finding ways to cut costs on medications is generally a good thing.

What is is a search engine, of sorts, that compiles and compares pharmacy pricing information to help you find the lowest cost on your prescriptions. Their service offers different coupons as they come available to further help the user cut their cost. They do not require a sign up or a credit card, in fact, their service and app are both free. If you create an account, you get a few additional benefits such as: price alerts, new coupons, finding the lowest average price to get all your prescriptions at a single pharmacy, as well as updates sent to your email.

As of this writing (7/8/2016), they currently have 27,000 reviews and a 4.7 rating on the Google Play Store for their app.

So, what’s the catch? is not forthcoming about how they are actually making their money. In the research I conducted, I mostly agree with this write up by Ejovi Nuwere, as well as his concerns. Namely, that they have partnered with Pharmacy Benefit Managers to generate sales. The PBMs earn a transaction fee in exchange for driving customer traffic to certain pharmacies. The marketer ( is then paid a transaction fee from the PBMs. Essentially, a type of internet affiliate marketing.

The other concern is information. Data is king in marketing. Users of this service are essentially providing “free” data to on their prescriptions and whatever other personal information they provide. It is written into into their Terms of Service that they will not sell that information. However, if was created and funded by another company, that information will go to that company. So, for example, if Pfizer is the one that paid for it, then Pfizer would have access to those assets because it’s not “selling” the information.

A concern that Nuwere puts forward is the sale and acquisition of the company. If the company is sold, any data collected would go with it as part of the company’s assets, because it is not technically a sale of the data. It would be a sale of the company.

Should you use

It depends on how you feel about providing information to a third party. You can use their website and service without actually signing up, thus you can avoid providing any directly linked personal information; but they are still collecting data, even if it’s not directly attached to a name.


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Bipolar Disorder: Beware the “Spark” and Honeymoon Feeling

You’ve met an awesome new person, you feel an immediate click with them, you feel amazing, everything is great! If you have Bipolar Disorder, that can potentially be very bad. That click and the honeymoon feeling of meeting an awesome new person is the result of a flood of endorphins that your brain produces in response. That endorphin flood can kick off an escalated cycle and send your mind running into hypomania or mania.

Probably 80% of the correspondence I receive is from people asking questions about this. They meet an awesome person, things are amazing for anywhere from a couple months to a year, and then it all comes crashing down in a storm of chaos, confusion, and depression. In the course of that year, both parties may end up making life-altering decisions as a result of the escalation.

There is a very common theme in this correspondence. The passion can be overwhelming and exciting, but it’s the conviction that really cements the idea that this it is all real. It’s very common for a person with Bipolar Disorder in a dominant escalated cycle to be absolutely certain of what they feel without zero doubt or any reservations.

I rarely make absolute statements because there are so many gray areas, but I am willing to here. If you are Bipolar or love a Bipolar person, doubt is a good thing. A typical mind is supposed to have doubt at times. A lack of doubt, or one of my loved ones pointing out that I’m having no doubts, would be an immediate reason for me to start scrutinizing my mental state to ensure I am not escalated. A lack of doubt leads to scenarios like this:

“Of course it’s a good idea I move to another country to marry you even if I’ve only known you for six months! It’s ridiculous for you to suggest otherwise! Look at what we have! How special it is! I’m going to quit my job/school, sell my car, and buy a plane ticket! I can’t wait to start this new chapter of my life with you!”

To expand on that, many people with Depression and Bipolar Disorder subconsciously chase new relationships as a result. The endorphin flood is powerful, it can knock out depression in many people for a little while. As a result, the Depressed or Bipolar often incorrectly conclude that the key to their happiness is finding the right person and relationship.

They then attain it, that honeymoon feeling eventually wears off as time goes on, the depression sets back in, and then they conclude that they aren’t really in love because the depression swallows it up. Then the mentally ill person either leaves or feels that spark with someone else, which causes them to pick up and move on.

“This person is the wrong person because I don’t feel good or feel good about the relationship.” That is incorrect. The depression is just doing what depression does; depressing our ability to experience emotions correctly. Sooner or later, it will overwhelm the endorphin flood as it trickles off.

Love is a product of the mind, and therefore, is very vulnerable to mental illness.

When You Feel That Spark or Click

For people with Bipolar Disorder: Be wary, even if you’re well-medicated. Your body does increase its tolerance to meds and the endorphin flood can tip you into escalation even if you are medicated. If you start getting ideas of drastically changing your life within the first six months, go through whatever processes you have on confirming whether or not you are escalated. Talk to your support network or mental health professionals. If you’re not or poorly medicated, you should plan for an escalated cycle because it’s probably going to happen. Listen to the people around you if they are expressing reservations. It can save you the pain of blowing up your family or relationship.

For people with Depression: That honeymoon feeling is going to eventually go away, one way or another. A relationship will not fix the problem. It is only a temporary reprieve in the overall storm if you’re not treated. Talk to your doctor. If you are correctly treated or recovered, there shouldn’t be an issue or it should be manageable.

For the partners of the mentally ill: Be wary. If your new partner mentions they have Bipolar Disorder, it always pays to be wary lest you make life changing decisions because you get swept up in the intensity of it all. The biggest tell is a lack of doubt or any fear from the other person. A person in a reasonable mentality is definitely going to have some doubts about moving to another country or spending the rest of their life with someone they just met. A lack of doubt or fear is quite likely a symptom of Bipolar escalation. My general rule of thumb is not to make any major life-changing decisions unless you’ve known the person well for at least two years.

The key phrase there is “known the person well” not necessarily “been in a relationship with”. Two years will give you a pretty good view of the ups and downs. It will also give you time to see how the person approaches their mental health and management as well.


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Mental Illness and the Fear of Involuntary Hospitalization

There is a relatively common fear among the mentally ill of involuntary hospitalization. It is perfectly reasonable for anyone to fear the loss of their freedom of movement and choice without any real say in the matter. In relation to Bipolar Disorder specifically, the fear can easily get exploded out of proportion in a mentally ill person’s mind. Remember, Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder, which primarily affects emotions, and fear is most certainly an emotion.

The best way to combat this fear, whether you are mentally ill yourself or the loved one of a mentally ill person who fears it, is to arm yourself with the knowledge of the process and requirements for involuntary hospitalization in your local area. In the United States, involuntary hospitalization follows proof that the person poses a real and imminent threat to themselves or other people.

The best way to double check this is to inquire with a local facility and ask for a patient rights pamphlet or ask your doctor.

Every place I’ve received mental health treatment has given me a pamphlet that clearly outlined my rights as a mental health consumer. If you have not been given one or it’s been awhile since you started treatment at a particular facility, ask.

As it relates to trying to soothe the oftentimes irrational fears that mental illness creates, the best route is to ground the other person in truth and reality, reinforced with boundaries. The approach I personally use is:

“I will not promise you that I will never call authorities. If you are suicidal, violent, or making threats, I absolutely will. But beyond that, I will not.”

Clear, concise, with fair and meaningful boundaries.

Involuntary hospitalization is meant to be used as a last line of defense to help a person in dire need and prevent them from hurting themselves or someone else. It is a tool to be used if a mentally ill person has completely disconnected from reality, rationality, and poses an imminent threat. It’s not something that can just be evoked over whatever. The authorities are not going to haul a person off and lock them in a padded room just because another person says they are a threat. It’s not that simple.

My personal opinion? If I were to ever reach the point where I would need to be involuntarily hospitalized? I would be glad for it once I leveled out. I’m sure it would have been used at a time when I could have done serious harm to myself or someone else at a time when my mental illness was overwhelming me. And you don’t get to take back the actions you take in those times.


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Bipolar Disorder: Do You REALLY Think You Inherited a “Chemical Imbalance?”

Every once in awhile, one of my readers will ask for my input on a product, service, or system that relates to mental health. It’s usually in the holistic or alternative medicine categories. It recently occurred to me that many of the people shilling bullshit and false hope to desperate people parade the angle presented in the title: “Do you REALLY think you inherited a chemical imbalance?”

Let’s take a dive into marketing psychology really quick. This kind of open-ended question is not designed to make you think yes or no, even though it is a yes or no question. Instead, it is designed to instill doubt in your mind. What did you think when you read the title? Did you think, “Oh that’s total bullshit!” Did you think, “Wait, that does sound kind of ridiculous.” What was the reason that you clicked the link and landed on my blog? It’s not because you thought yes or no, is it?

Businesses and advertisers bet their advertising budgets on that kind of thinking every day.

I was asked to look over a book and system that a medical doctor was selling through their website. The central theme of the author’s message was “Isn’t it a little ridiculous that the establishment says you can inherit a chemical imbalance? You can fix that with diet changes, regular sleep, and natural living!” I could tell that their website copy was written by marketers and probably proofread by a lawyer because there were no solid assertions, only leading questions like the above, designed to funnel your mind down a particular path: that it’s totally ridiculous that you can inherit a chemical imbalance and you should buy my book and two month long program for a metric shit-ton of cash to get it under control!

About 80% of the information on the site was valid, useful information. The problem is that they willfully omitted a chunk of very important, relevant information that helps to clarify the entire picture. In retrospect, I realized that quite a few people selling bullshit products and services do the same thing. They sell the angle of chemical imbalance pretty hard because it doesn’t sound severe, much like “mood disorder” doesn’t sound all that severe until you understand what it is.

Do I REALLY think I inherited a chemical imbalance? No. I think I inherited a genetic predisposition for the physical differences of the brain that CAUSES Bipolar Disorder and the chemical imbalances associated with it. It is known that Bipolar Disorder is genetic and heritable. It is known that the brain of a Bipolar person is physically different.

How many Bipolar people reading this right now can think of at least one other family member who is likely Bipolar? How many supporters reading this can clearly see other examples of mental illness in their loved one’s family? I know that it is pretty damned clear in my own family history.

Why would Bipolar Disorder frolic through the family lineages of many of us? The only truly unifying thread is the genetic information being passed down. There are plenty of people who do not manifest a mental illness that runs in the family. That’s what genetic predisposition is all about. That link points to a discussion about recessive and dominant genes as related to hair color and eye color, a very common way to explain genetic predisposition.

The same is true for several mental illnesses. Just because there is a genetic predisposition for it, a potential for it to be there, doesn’t mean it will emerge. Neither of my parents or any of my siblings manifested Bipolar Disorder; but once you start jumping out to extended family then you can see evidence of it all over the place.

Con artists and the ignorant parade and tout the chemical imbalance angle without ever addressing the real question: “Why is the chemical imbalance there in the first place?” They also tend to conveniently leave out the numerous other factors associated with Bipolar Disorder; such as overworking and inhibited sections of the brain it affects, volume loss of brain matter that intensifies unwell cycles, abnormalities in the way the brain communicates between sections, and more.

“But, Dennis! You’re not a doctor or mental health professional!”

Correct. I am not. There are plenty of qualified professionals out there who are ignorant, have no idea what they’re talking about, or are just plain terrible people. A lot of people look at “Doctor” and think “trustworthy.” I once had a doctor for all of 10 minutes, right up until he revealed that he “didn’t believe in Bipolar Disorder,” and wasn’t going to re-prescribe my lithium because “I didn’t need it.” Now, for people that are unaware, lithium is not a “fun” drug. No one wants to take the shit. It doesn’t get you high or anything of the sort. I don’t take it because I like it or because it’s fun. No one does. I take it because it keeps me sane and from tearing my life to pieces on a regular basis.

And that does not mean that all doctors or mental health professionals are bad. Not at all. I’ve had some great ones. Trust, but verify.

“But, Dennis! People with Bipolar Disorder are normal just like anyone else!”

No. We’re not. And the sooner that we come to terms with that, the easier it is to swallow all of the bullshit that we have to go through to be well, balanced, and maintain it long-term. Our minds are physically different. Our thought processes are different. Our emotional reactions are different. We are not “normal.” We have to learn how to live and exist in a way that is right for us, that will allow us to find whatever happiness and peace of mind that we can find, and mitigate the destruction that can surround us due to unwell cycles.

People that push ideas like, “it’s just a chemical imbalance” are not just selling a product, they are selling false hope that we can be normal. “Just buy my books/program/services/crystals/chakra realignment/psychic healing/nutrition plan/herbal supplement and then you can be just like everyone else, too! We have a simple solution to all of the pain, misery, suffering, loss, and destruction you’ve suffered! Big Pharma just wants to turn you into a customer! Not cure you! BUY MY SHIT!”

Those products have as much chance of curing mental illness as it does of curing a gunshot wound. They don’t address the CAUSE of the symptoms, and science isn’t far enough along in it’s understanding of the brain and several mental illnesses to provide an ACTUAL cure. I may not be a doctor, but I know enough to understand how monumental and complex the task is.

“But, Dennis! Psych medication doesn’t treat the cause of the symptoms either!”

Correct. It doesn’t. Nothing that we currently have does. Many people interpret this to mean that everything is equal, but it’s not. No one’s spent millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours, research, and study on the cause and effect relationship of how chakra realignment or “purging toxins” benefits a person. And frankly, if there were anything to it, “Big Pharma” would have already bought the rights to it and produced their own products if they were as Machiavellian as the alternative health crowd would have you believe. Martin Shkreli, anyone? It’s not like we’re living in a vacuum where Big Pharma would be totally oblivious to the information and claims.

“But, Dennis! Big Pharma does x, y, z evil/shady/awful thing!”

No. “Big Pharma” does not. Humans involved in Big Pharma may or may not be doing awful things. But the same is true for anything, anywhere that humans are involved. For example, Steven Nardizzi, the CEO of Wounded Warrior Project allegedly using donation funds like a party slush fund. The Non-Profit sector didn’t do that. The Wounded Warrior Project didn’t do that. These are the alleged actions and decisions made by one person that affected a whole lot of other people, including denying wounded veterans the resources that donors were putting into their mission. Can we just write off the entire Non-Profit sector because of his actions? No. That would be stupid.

Just like we can’t write off the pharmaceutical industry because there are bad players in their number.

Be wary of anyone providing easy answers or making grand claims. In my experience, they’re either ignorant of the complexity of the problem or are con artists preying on the confused, hopeless, and desperate. I hope the few bucks in profit are worth the tax that comes with contributing to the suffering, chaos, and suicides of at-risk people and their family members.

And yes, I purposefully chose not to include that doctor’s name in this blog post. Putting that person on blast is not the point. The point is to better enable you to spot any person like them that may derail and jeopardize your pursuit of wellness and happiness.

Bipolar Disorder is a manageable mental illness. But it’s hard. It’s all hard. And not everyone will succeed, for reasons too numerous to list.

Beware of anyone selling simple solutions. They do not exist.


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