Treatment Articles

My Top Four Criteria for a Psychiatrist After My New Patient Visit

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Global Warming Brains Last week, I visited my new psychiatrist for the first time.

After seven years with my last doctor, her retirement forced me into a much-needed change.

Besides the appointment being two hours behind schedule, during my work day, the visit was productive and encouraging.

After the visit, in the spirit of my discussions about a quality psychiatric doctor, I came up with four criteria that I will now use in deciding if a doctor is right for me…

Making American Mental Health Care a Priority

Friday, April 18th, 2014

9/11 American Flag In the wake of several recent violent attacks across America, including three people killed at Jewish faith and community centers, the stabbing of high school students in Pennsylvania, and the shooting of soldiers at Fort Hood, it’s that time again for the media to question and explore gun control, the root of violence, and even adequate mental health care across the country.

Last post, I discussed the unwillingness of government authorities in the state of Florida to take an educated look at the needs of patients and consumers in the mental health system.

This is an unfortunate trend, locally and federally.

While most people with mental health disorders do not engage in violence, and are actually more often the victims of violent acts, it is clear, through the nearly periodic news of deadly shootings and stabbings, family tragedies, and lost lives, that we, as a society, are failing those that are mentally troubled.

Florida’s Disinterest in Caring for the Mentally Ill

Saturday, April 12th, 2014
52 Mickey Balloons (Explored)Another proposed law that does not match up to the name Sunshine State—SB 1726 would dramatically change how the state pays for crisis stabilization units that treat mentally ill patients under the Baker Act. Mental health leaders in Florida believe it will have a devastating effect on suicidal or violent patients that need to be admitted to a hospital.

I’ve experienced psychiatric units first-hand in Florida, and it is no surprise to me, both as a consumer with experience both inpatient and outpatient, that Florida is ranked 49th in the country in mental health funding.

This proposed law makes mental health care in Florida even more difficult to obtain. A disgrace.

Who’s the Bigger Expert: Psychiatrist or Patient?

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Exploring an idea

Pondering again:

Who should have a bigger influence on treatment decisions: the bipolar patient, or the psychiatrist?

Should it be equal?

If you’ve been reading this blog lately, you know I am firing my psychiatrist currently looking for a new one.

Brief synopsis: I’ve been seeing her for a long time. Our medical relationship has grown uncomfortable. She thinks she knows what is right for me, and I do not feel she respects my input. We disagree about my treatment plan, and she, as the clinician, refuses to budge.

Listen, I know that psychiatrists know psycho-pharmacology and general medicine much more than I do, in terms of studying and clinical practice.

I am not suggesting that I don’t need a doctor.

The Effects of Spring and Sunlight on My Bipolar Symptoms

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

madame tanaka's cafeSpring will be here in four days.

Here in Florida, the weather is nearly perfect. The flowers, insects, and snakes (!) have already sprung.

Others are not so lucky. This week, my family members in western New York had a severe snow storm, and more snow is expected throughout the United States.

Although we didn’t feel it as much here, Winter 2013-2014 was bitter for most.

We were the only state in the lower 48 that didn’t get snow this year. However, we still noticed the colder temperatures and the inclement weather that created cloudy skies for days.

In Florida, we definitely notice when it is dark for more than 24 hours.

The Top 4 Criteria of My Psychiatrist Wish List

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Lucky Star Jar As I mentioned in a recent post, I just got health insurance.

I’ve managed my medication with the same Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) for years.

Lately I’ve become discouraged with her fast-paced office and unwillingness to budge on my disagreements with treatment.

What Does Mental Health Look Like?

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

morning ritual Mental illness causes me to question myself.

Am I being irrational? Do I have the right to think this way?

Am I crazy, or just human?

I have doubted myself so much, dissected the illness so much, that I don’t know up from down.

I often can’t discern whether I am mentally sick or just going through a tough life change like anyone else.

Covered: The Bipolar Side of the Affordable Care Act

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Man vs. Power


“the greatest Americans
have not been born yet
they are waiting patiently
for the past to die”

It’s fairly official…

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I too have health insurance.

The first premium is withdrawn from my bank account, and I am enrolled. I am waiting for the cards, and I can start using benefits on March 1st, 2014.

I won’t accept it as completely official until I leave a doctor’s office with that insurance card.

The Top 5 Worst Side Effects from Psychotropic Medications

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Side EffectsI am a 25-year-old woman with bipolar disorder, and I have been taking psychotropic medications for over 13 years. 

Over time, the doses have increased, and the medication combination, or “cocktail”, has diversified.

With the increase in medication comes the inevitable increase in unpleasant side effects.

The following are my top five worst side effects from medications psychotropic medications, the type of medications I must take for the rest of my life to stay well:

Dry Mouth/Thirst

I’m pretty sure lithium is the main culprit–I noticed symptoms of extreme thirst and pesky dry mouth shortly after being prescribed this “gold standard” for bipolar disorder.

Dry mouth is a side effect of many psychotropic medications.

Some of the suggestions I’ve received from clinicians include mouthwash for dry mouth and drinking an adequate amount of water.

The degree of thirst subsides a bit after the first few months, but what doesn’t subside is the milder but constant symptoms and the inability to handle too much summer heat or exercise in humid weather.

Gastrointestinal Issues

The higher the psychotropic dose, the more sensitive my stomach becomes.

After years of multiple medications, I have developed an irritable gastrointestinal tract and an increase in stomach aches.

I attribute some of my stomach issues to anxiety, but my symptoms also became worse as I climbed the ladder of more potent drugs and higher doses.

I’ve been told to eat a healthy diet, incorporate more fiber, drink a lot of water, exercise, and avoid problem foods.

I cannot take my medication “cocktail” without eating something. If I don’t eat enough, I get a terrible, burning stomach ache that I never experienced before I took psychotropic meds.

It’s side effects like this that make medication compliance difficult.


Everyone says your energy level decreases the older you get–but I am way too tired for 25.

I can’t keep up with my friends, and I need a considerable amount of sleep to function.

I can hardly stay awake past 12 hours of daily activity.

Since I decreased my medication a bit, I have noticed a spike in energy, and I think some improvement in diet and an increase in exercise would …

Online Psychotherapy: My First Session

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Blumengruß Explore (06.02.2013)Last month, you read my post about opting for online psychotherapy sessions.

My therapist abruptly moved to Virginia just before the holiday season, and we decided to try therapy via Skype.

In the last month, I received both positive and negative feedback about online counseling.

A few therapists have suggested against it, which I respect greatly.

In contrast, consumers and family members have regarded it a bit differently.

Like some of my consumer friends, who are also members of Gen Y, I do not immediately see any issues with online counseling.


Everything I do these days is via Internet.

Bipolar Life



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