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Our Mental Health Blogs

Are You Bipolar, Or Do You Have Bipolar Disorder?

Are You Bipolar, Or Do You Have Bipolar Disorder?

Words have power. I know this because I’m a writer and I’m perfectly capable of angering, saddening or frightening people with my words. If words were not powerful, bookshelves would be empty.

And bipolar is a powerful word when used in the context of a mental disorder. Depending on who hears this word, it can conjure up images of violence, danger, suicide, crime, fear, and many other unsavory things. It’s really no wonder that people don’t want to “be bipolar”.

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Denying Bipolar Disorder

Denying Bipolar Disorder

We all take part in the game of denial. Humans need denial to exist. We can’t think about our inevitable death, the fact that we are aging, or that our marriage may end in divorce and expect to care about jobs, mortgage payments and the obvious importance of Jimmy Choos. We know unpleasant possibilities and inevitabilities are true, but on a daily basis we deny them. We need to. Denial produces a workable life.

What gets under my skin though, is the fact people expect me to deny my bipolar disorder, my experiences with it, and its effects – mostly just to make them feel better.

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Bipolar Treatment: If I'm Doing Everything Right, Why Am I Still Sick?

Bipolar Treatment: If I'm Doing Everything Right, Why Am I Still Sick?

Once you’re on a magical medication cocktail, see doctors regularly, have done years of talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), tried shock therapy (ECT), exercise, have social contacts, a support network, a support group, eat well, tried light therapy, dark therapy, and a series of awful tasting herbs and you find yourself still unwell; the question must be asked:

If I’m doing everything right, why am I still sick?

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Understanding Bipolar: Show and Tell

Understanding Bipolar: Show and Tell

When I was a kid, show and tell created the most memorable moments in school. Not the tell part. The tell was boring. We heard about Betty going to a “real, real fun zoo” and Bobby getting a new bike; this information made us shift in our seats, roll our eyes, and make funny faces at whoever was talking. But the showing, now that was great. We got to touch a slimy frog, hear Cathy scream as a budgie landed in her hair and be frightened as a snake’s tongue lashed out in front of us. Showing was where the action was.

But with mental illness, it’s never the show that people want, only the tell. People are frightened by, and run from, the show.

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Adventures in Bipolar Diagnosis – Enter the Antipsychotics – Part 2

Adventures in Bipolar Diagnosis – Enter the Antipsychotics – Part 2

Adventures in Bipolar Diagnosis continued from part one

Lamictal was indeed a miracle for me. It allowed me to finish my bachelor’s degree, get a job in my field, and even become a skydiver. In retrospect, it was an amazing time to be me, to be in remission.

Everything was good, until it wasn’t. I felt myself slipping about two years into the Lamictal treatment. For no known reason, the medication simply stopped working. This is a common problem with psychotropic meds and something else no one likes to mention.

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Adventures in Bipolar Diagnosis – How I Got Here – Part 1

Adventures in Bipolar Diagnosis – How I Got Here – Part 1

In late 1998, I knew that something was wrong with me. My life was going well; I was in university, on my way to a computer science degree, in the co-op program and had completed an eight-month job in Calgary. I had been contented and grateful since leaving my mother’s house and moving to a new town. I was more happy than I had been in years. But little by little, I found myself increasingly sad and life became peppered with bouts of meaningless, spontaneously crying. I was unreasonably moved by the foretold unfolding of TV plots and commercials.

In November 1998, I found myself in a pitch-black room, unable to get out of bed for an entire day. I was in the south of Spain, a ten minute walk from white sandy beaches and half-naked women. That was the moment I truly realized I was broken: I was in heaven and yet crushed with sadness.

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Depression: Why Do People Keep Asking What Happened?

Depression: Why Do People Keep Asking What Happened?

Most people don’t understand depression or bipolar disorder. They ask: why are you depressed? When living with depression, you don’t need a reason. That's what they don't get.

I have had this exchange a thousand times,

“I’m really depressed.”
“Why, what happened?”

Have you been missing the plot?

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I’m Damaged. I’m Bipolar. Love Me. Save Me.

I’m Damaged. I’m Bipolar. Love Me. Save Me.

Last night, I watched Crazy for Love a very bad movie wherein a man, Max, is put into a mental hospital for attempting suicide for the tenth time. When he’s there, he glimpses a very ill, schizophrenic, Grace, whereupon he instantaneously falls in love with her. She too is determined to kill herself. His life’s mission then is to “make her better”. To “make her happy”. Having found his new mission in life, he no longer wants to kill himself.

Well, pin a rose on his nose.

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Inside a Bipolar Mind: Interview with Natasha Tracy

Inside a Bipolar Mind: Interview with Natasha Tracy

This week I did an interview for the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV show. We discussed what it is to have bipolar disorder, the impact, what works and what doesn’t.

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Are Bipolars Crazy? I Am.

Are Bipolars Crazy? I Am.

I am crazy. I tell this to people in my personal life. It’s not a secret. I figure there’s no point in trying to cover it up; it’ll come out eventually. The approximately 20 scars on my forearms rather give away that something is wrong.

But people really don’t like the word “crazy”. In fact, most often, what people say to me is, “no, you’re not!”. Well, actually, I am. I’m bipolar and I’m crazy.

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