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Archives for March, 2015

Anxiety

Germanwings crash response

It’s World Bipolar Day. Before last week’s Germanwings tragedy, I had planned out this big post about how coming out about mental illness is freeing and can help decrease stigma. I still will at some point, but right now I want to talk about the conversations surrounding the tragedy.

For the first days, the focus was on the 144 passengers the devastation surrounding their loss. There were many stories about the students from Haltern returning...
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Anxiety

The creative side of bipolar disorder

I really don’t want to get into the “struggling creative genius” aspect of bipolar disorder. Poe, Dickinson, Plath, Woolf, Gauguin, Van Gogh, O’Keeffe, Pollack. The list of influential artists goes on for days, and that doesn’t even cover the past 50 years, but I don’t want to talk about them right now. I want to talk about general creativity and how it expresses itself in those of us with bipolar disorder.

This is also...
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ADHD

5 Genetically-linked Mental Disorders

It turns out that bipolar disorder has a genetic link to at least four other mental illnesses: autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), major unipolar depression and schizophrenia. Since depression is part of bipolar disorder, it’s not surprising that unipolar depression might be related and any search for bipolar disorder is going to bring up schizophrenia. The others came as more of a surprise. The surprising thing is that there seems to...
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Anxiety

Bipolar disorder: an invisible illness

The reason you don’t know I’m sick is because I’ve learned to fake it. I’m sure you’ve encountered someone today that you don’t know is ill. People with invisible illnesses don’t usually go around screaming “I have an invisible illness!” or introduce themselves with “It’s nice to meet you. I have bipolar disorder/chronic pain/irritable bowel syndrome.” It’s a subject that has to come up organically and then the person with the...
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Anxiety

Bipolar disorder really is a disability.

I just found out I have a disability. I knew that I had a mental illness, obviously, but what I didn’t know what that bipolar disorder is among the illnesses and disabilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. For those that may not be aware, the goal of the ADA is to provide protections and accommodations for those with, well, disabilities. It’s why things like wheelchair ramps and handicap-accessible hotel rooms exist....
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Anxiety

Take a breath.

So, I've been doing all of this talking about anxiety, but I haven't provided a whole lot of solutions. There is one in particular that has an immediate impact and can do the trick for me. It's not a long-term solution until you get used to it and practice. Use your new-found focus knowledge on a short-term focus task: to remember to breathe.

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Anxiety

Bipolar- What’s so funny?

I just opened a new tab in my browser and was going to type in the term "bipolar journals," but I only got as far as "bipolar j." The suggestion I was given was "bipolar jokes." I wasn't sure what to do with that. Is it funny? Should I be offended? What kind of jokes does one tell about having bipolar disorder or knowing someone with bipolar disorder? The results were pretty much what you'd expect. A list of how many different ways can we talk about something flipping from minute to minute. "I hate being bipolar! It's awesome!" The only times I tend to take offense at someone joking about mental illness, or generally anything, is when it's disrespectful. Other than that, whatever. Humans are funny, and we should be able to laugh about it. So what about the bipolar jokes? It turns out, I wasn't offended. I was disappointed. If you're going to laugh at my illness, you need to be more clever. Keep reading...
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Anxiety

What’s the deal with binge-eating and bipolar disorder?

What is not surprising is that bipolar disorder often has other mental health issues often tag along. By often, I mean 65% of us have to deal with other psychological problems like additional anxiety, ADHD or substance abuse. Less likely, but equally potent, are eating disorders. About 5% of bipolar disorder patients have some form of eating disorder throughout their lifetime including anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorders. Unfortunately, the earlier the symptoms of bipolar appear and the more rapid cycling in a person, the more likely they are to also have an eating disorder. Keep reading... --> Bipolar disorder is hard to deal with even on good days. Medications help keep it “under control” but there is always the chance of breakthrough symptoms. To make matters worse, bipolar disorder is often accompanied by other, physical symptoms that may seem unrelated at all. Arthritis? Asthma? It hardly seems fair to get an extra portion of illness on the side. What is not surprising is that bipolar disorder often has other mental health issues often tag along. By often, I mean 65% of us have to deal with other psychological problems like additional anxiety, ADHD or substance abuse. Less likely, but equally potent, are eating disorders. About 5% of bipolar disorder patients have some form of eating disorder throughout their lifetime including anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorders. Unfortunately, the earlier the symptoms of bipolar appear and the more rapid cycling in a person, the more likely they are to also have an eating disorder. Keep reading...
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