Her Bipolar Life’s First Year: Reflection and Hope for 2014

Thanks to Dr. John Grohol, I started Her Bipolar Life on January 17, 2013.

It has been a fantastic first year for HBL—a faithful fan following and great dialogue every month. This blog has also allowed me to work through the challenges and learning experiences of 2013, while simultaneously connecting with and helping others.

My goals for 2014 are to reach more readers, discuss more important topics, and continue to provide a meaningful blog for fans.

In reflection, and great hopes for the New Year, here are my top-five blog posts for 2014:

Explaining Bipolar in 20 Seconds—February 2013

This article begins with a question—“How would you explain bipolar to someone in 20 seconds?”

This year, I discussed the inevitable occurrence of bipolar disorder coming up in conversation with family and friends.


Christmas and Its Inevitable Fallout

Yesterday, I was worrying about other people.

I was enjoying Christmas with family and friends, getting way too many gifts, being spoiled with food and hugs and love.

What about everyone else? Were they getting the love they deserved?

I was happy, secure, at one with the Holy Spirit. It was a joyous day.

Unfortunately, inevitably, the brightness started to fade.

The realization of the Christmas holiday coming to a close started to set in.


2013: Another Year in Music

WARNING: Many of these songs are Explicit—watch videos with caution.
Overall, it was a good year.

Every year comes with mood swings, treatment issues, and challenges directly related to bipolar disorder.

In order to roll with the inevitable punches, you have to get creative and use your resources—and the strategy can be different for everyone.

Throughout the year, I have had many amazing things happen. It has been a year where a lot of hard work has come into fruition.

I hope I started a trend, where I will manage my weaknesses in order to utilize my strengths.


Opting for Online Psychotherapy Sessions

The past couple of weeks, my job change has made it difficult to get to my therapist’s office.

I emailed her last week letting requesting to delay our session one week until I settled in.

She emailed me back with quite a surprise response:

I am moving to Virginia in a couple of weeks. My husband got a new job, and with the holiday, we have to have the movers come right away. Is there any way you can meet me for a weekend session?

I was stuck between understanding and disappointment—even a sense of loss.

Why did you have to email me about it? Was also I understand you are going through a change and don’t have a lot of time.

I cannot believe she’s leaving balanced Change is inevitable.


Battling Negative Thinking in Bipolar Disorder

The cyclical nature of bipolar disorder often leaves me wondering, "Which comes first, the depression or the negative thoughts?"

Negative thinking can have a devastating impact on one's life. For me, it's a personal hell. My co-workers and friends rarely notice anything is wrong; I keep it to myself, but with because I keep it to myself, it is hard to cope.

The  more I rehash negative thoughts and feelings about myself in my head, the more likely I am to feel sad and anxious.


Tracking Bipolar Mood Swings

One of the most difficult parts of having bipolar disorder is knowing how to prevent and manage mood swings.

Although mood cycles vary from person to person, most people with bipolar are profoundly aware of how hard it is to manage and control mania and depression.

The best way to deal with bipolar mood swings is to get treatment. However, hypomania, mania, and depression are not completely preventable.

Even with medication and good health habits, mood swings still occur.

Before the tech age, people with bipolar disorder relied on print notebooks and drawn charts only to record their moods for themselves and their clinicians.

This is still a viable way to track both mood swings and how environment and health affect the outcome of one's course of illness.

For those that are computer and mobile device-savvy, however, there are a multitude of tools available at your fingertips.


How to Help Your Bipolar Caregiver

People with bipolar disorder are often focused, even consumed, with how to get well and stay well (and rightfully so).

With all of the time we spend taking care of ourselves, it is easy to forget our significant others deal with a significant amount of stress due to our chronic illness.

Our romantic partners are fully exposed to our symptoms, which can include everything from irritability and anxiety to suicidal behavior and hospitalization.


Enjoying Three Types of Thanksgiving Holidays

Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

This means different things for different people—traveling, planning and coordinating with family, busy schedules and spending money are all common themes during the holidays.

People with bipolar disorder may have difficulty dealing with stress, depression, or hypomania during the holiday season.

Whether you have a big turkey dinner at home, travel to a popular restaurant, or refrain from participating in the Thanksgiving holiday, here are some tips for getting through Thanksgiving Day (and actually enjoying it):


For Bipolar Patients, Medication Compliance Is Difficult

Knowing you have to take medication for the rest of your life is a tough pill to swallow.

As a teenager, I fought my mother and the medication.

In my 20’s, it is hard to keep up with the large doses my doctor prescribes me.

I have been incredibly stable and happy for a long time—for the most part. Because I have occasional mood swings, my doctor wants to see evidence of stability for an even more extended period before she will consider reducing the 10 pills I take each day.

I feel trapped. I don’t want to take them, but she wants me to. I respect her opinion, but I can’t do this.

And so, I confess. I am on my own doses—and I have been, for a couple of months now.

I have a lot of medication in my cupboard because I haven’t been taking the “correct” amount.

Now, I don’t have to go back to the doctor for a while. I don’t have to argue with her and tell her what I’ve been doing, at least for another month or two.

She will catch me.


Bipolar Disorder, Predicting Emotions, and Impact on Social and Personal Life

I am interpreting and predicting others’ thoughts and emotions, almost unconsciously, every day.

I do not know exactly when it started, but it is regular, constant.

I focus on my husband, friends, colleagues, boss—I think I know what they are thinking, and it is usually negative.

For a while, I thought some more: Do I have some kind of psychic power? Am I just super-emotionally-sensitive? Overly intelligent?

Does it actually stem from anxiety?

It causes me internal stress all the time.

According to brand new research from the Yale Psychology Department, there may be a new-found reason why people with bipolar experience stress from others' emotional expressions and reactions.