Thursday, December 9, 2010

Getting through the holidays with balance.

Author Julie Fast has graciously offered to share a little bit about how she gets through the holidays while managing her bipolar disorder. Be encouraged, there are joyful days ahead!

Why are the holidays so hard for people with bipolar disorder? I know they are for me! I write books on bipolar disorder and you would think that after 15 years of work on managing this illness that the holidays would be a bit easier! But they are not. I may change and become more successful in how I live with this illness, but the holidays stay the same! Every year at this time I send out newsletters and write many blogs on how to prepare for the end of the year. I stress that you have to watch your relationships carefully and make sure they are stress free. (Many people laugh at this one!) I teach readers that travel time changes can really affect bipolar disorder symptoms and just the stress of an airport can create anxiety.

But there is one real reason I have such a hard time with the holidays. I get lonely. Really lonely. I’m surrounded by people and yet I’m lonely. Being single doesn’t help, but it’s a choice. I don’t like to shop and yet the television tells me I should receive really cool presents from everyone. I have a beautiful eight year old nephew whom I love, but the family dynamics with my brother and his partner are just too much for me. My mom is not really into celebrating and my friends often leave town. What a little whiny baby I am! But that is how it is for many of us with bipolar. No matter what we have and who loves us, the holidays make us expect so much more!

This year I made sure it was different. I’m getting on a plane to go visit my dad for two weeks. It’s cheery. He’s a happy person and I know this will be my best holiday in a long time! Loneliness can happen no matter how many people are in your life. My goal is to do everything possible to make sure I’m with people I love and who help me stay stable.

Julie A. Fast is the author of Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and Get it Done When You’re Depressed. She was diagnosed with ultra rapid cycling bipolar II in 1995 and struggles daily with the illness, but has taught herself to keep going! You can read more about her work at -Julie A. Fast

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Finding a way through depression

I received this letter from a woman who has struggled with her own depression. Please pray for her and her family as they continue the healing process. Thanks,

Dear Allison,

I have a very close friend that is going through a divorce from her husband, who was just diagnosed as bipolar and manic. He hid it well, because we were all shocked when she told us. She had mentioned a few things to me before about depression, but I did not realize how serious it was.
This book really touched me because I have battled depression since I was about 19. After the birth of my first son I was put back in the hospital for a week for severe post partum depression and anxiety (the worst my Dr. had ever seen). I have been on anti-depressants since. I have an aunt that is bipolar and so I have been on both sides. Both of which are hopless and extremely difficult. My younger son was diagnosed with depression at the age of 9. After talking about killing himself we made the hard decision to put our child on medication. It's hard not to feel that it's my fault, but he is doing well now. He is almost 11.
Thank you so much for sharing. I have wanted to share my story for a long time, but not sure how. I just think that getting it out there will create the awareness that is needed for mental illness. I see it as the same as a diabetic. Their bodies don't produce enough insulin, therefore they have to take medicine to help balance it. It's no different with anti-depressants. My brain does not produce enough seratonin and I have to take meds to make me balanced and normal. I thank God everyday for the medicine that helps me be a good Mom and wife.
I just wanted you to know how much your book touched me and that I will keep you and your family in my prayers for continued wellness and happiness.
God Bless,

*names have been changed

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A cry for help...

Dear Allison,

As I was reading last night, I was also crying…..I am Grant and Jim is you! I have been battling depression since grade school. Not understanding it as a young child, but spent many days feeling lonely, crying and wanting to just stay in bed. While we were in Portugal (1999-2002) we lived within the local community and our heating source was portable heaters with propane gas tanks attached. Jade had just turned two and I was laying her down for a nap and decided I was going to take my life, along with Jade’s. I closed up our little house and turned on the propane tanks and laid down with Jade. Then all of the sudden this voice asked me, “What are you doing, why would you do this to your child?” I just started crying uncontrollably and really re-thinking my actions. I got up, turned off the gas and opened the house up. That was in October and it wasn’t until New Year’s Eve 1999 that I told Jim what I did that day. He just held me that night and cried with me saying, “It’s going to be ok, we are going to get you help first thing Monday.” I got in that week to see an Air Force Psychiatrist and she put me on some meds….they helped for a couple of years and then I would need to switch meds again. I battled this cycle of switching meds for the following 9 years.

Finally, two years ago I had a massive blow out with Susie’s husband Joe (whom I love and adore). I was so manic and out of control, I actually had an ‘out of body’ experience. I was watching myself EXPLODE on Joe, Susie and Jim; I couldn’t stop! The night ended with me curled up in the fetal position in Susie’s driveway at 2 a.m. Then all the sudden my dad was there picking me up off the driveway, putting me in his truck and took me home. My mom was waiting up for us when we got to their house and my parents just held me on the couch as I cried asking, “Why me? What is wrong with me?”

The next morning Susie came over to my parent’s house and we all sat and talked, trying to figure out what our next step was going to be. Susie said that I needed to admit myself to the Hospital immediately. She said to me, and something I will never forget, “June, last night when you were yelling at all of us it wasn’t you, I am not sure who it was, but you were definitely not there and I have never been as afraid of someone as I was of you last night.” It broke my heart to hear that, but I knew she was right and I knew I needed the help that I should have gotten years ago. I admitted myself that day and that was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but I knew if I didn’t I wasn’t going to live much longer. I was put on a 72 hour hold. I walked away with some good tools, but sadly I was kind of shuffled through the system and didn’t get the treatment I was hoping for.

Mom, Dad and Susie came back home with us and we spent the next week looking for a good therapist and a good prescriber. I am happy to say that I have found a WONDERFUL therapist and she has helped me work through a lot! I was molested as a child too and I knew one day I was going to have to jump that hurdle and talk about it. It’s been good for me and good for my parents…..we have gotten answers to a lot of questions. I have many years of therapy to get through and I know I will always need to be medicated. I have to fight the demons of shamefulness and embarrassment, but I am getting there; one step at a time! 

I just wanted you to know I truly enjoyed your book (what a gifted writer you are)! It amazes me how many people I know and have known throughout my life who have or are suffering from a mental illness. I am so thankful that we live in an era where it’s accepted as a disease and we can get the proper help, instead of being locked up somewhere. So, thank you for sharing your story and not making me feel like I am the only one! I wish you and your family all the best and a continued path to happiness!