About Natasha Tracy, Author of Breaking Bipolar Blog

Friday, May 28 2010 Natasha Tracy

Hi, I'm Natasha Tracy, a 30-something writer living on an island in the Pacific Northwest and the author of the Bipolar Burble. I have leaped from planes, helicopters, and cliffs trusting nothing but nylon and canvas to save my life. I have worked for many tech companies including the biggest boy on the block. I have visited twelve different countries, have a bachelor’s degree in computer science and I think a law should be passed preventing Apple from naming anything else beginning with the letter "i."

And I have bipolar disorder.

I've been diagnosed with a series of variants finally landing on bipolar type-II, ultra-rapid-cycling. I've been in treatment for over a decade. Treatments have included over 40 bipolar medications, vagus nerve stimulator implantation, electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) and several types of psychotherapy.

Breaking Bipolar is my way of entertaining and enlightening on the topic of bipolar disorder. Its shearing honesty aims to put the reader inside a brain suffering from mental illness. It’s designed to elucidate the subjects of pain, loss, depression, hypomania, hope, and humanity. It explores the difference between a sick brain and a mind left trying to cope with it.

I hope my writing will allow people to truly appreciate what the mentally ill experience and ultimately lead to greater understanding and respect, as well as reduce the fear people show around the mentally ill.

I look forward to the day when humans can fly, breathe underwater and latte art becomes recognized as a serious area of study.

Natasha Tracy's Breaking Bipolar Blog Welcome Video

If you would like to know a little more about me, watch this bipolar video.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or Google+ or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at Bipolar Burble, her blog.

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitterGoogle+ and Facebook.

View all posts by Natasha Tracy.

About Natasha Tracy, Author of Breaking Bipolar Blog

Herb
says:
May, 31 2010 at 6:30 pm

Hi Natasha,

Good for you and I wish you good luck with this new opportunity.

I hope your stepping out of the shadows also represents a breakthrough and cessation to the downward spiraling you’ve been experiencing.

I place a great deal of importance upon socializing although real live contact is probably the ideal this may have to suffice at the moment. I was going to suggest an additional alternative such as Skyping when I came upon your recent blog entry. I thought Skyping for both you and Susan might be beneficial as both you young ladies have much to share while at the same time supporting one another at the most difficult of times at little or no additional cost.

In your video I think you also omitted about yourself the word “charming”.

Once again, the best of luck and most important of all I wish you wellness.

Warmly,
Herb
VNSdepression.com

Natasha Tracy
says:
May, 31 2010 at 6:46 pm

Hi Herb,

Thanks for dropping by. I'm not sure what this represents, exactly, but it is positive, and I am grateful to be here. And yes, Susan is amazing. We've actually chatted.

Thank-you for your kind words. "Charming" is good one.

Christian Louboutin
says:
June, 3 2010 at 3:14 pm

i have enjoyed reading thank for sharing your story Greeting.

Natasha Tracy
says:
June, 3 2010 at 4:26 pm

Hi Christian. Thanks for dropping by.

- Natasha

Christian Louboutin
says:
June, 9 2010 at 8:50 am

Nice post...Thank you for sharing some good things!!

Jackie Borkowski
says:
June, 10 2010 at 2:12 pm

Natasha:
You are a beautiful, talented, young, awesome writer! I can sympathize with you greatly on the loneliness mental illness can bring! I often feel down like this too, and what helps for me is to think about people who have it worse than me, and help them if possible. I was reading your writing and thinking..."I wish I was Bipolar, and not Schizophrenic..." My diagnosis started as Bipolar, then schio-affective (bipolar with voices), now just schizophrenia. I long for the days I could enjoy a beach...even if I get myself out there...and breath deep the salty air....the voices leave me not one moment of peace.... . I can't think very well, or concentrate, or enjoy most things anymore.... . I only tell you this, not to make you feel bad, but to encourage you and to help you to realize you are special! And you are Blessed!!
With Love
Jackie

Natasha Tracy
says:
June, 10 2010 at 2:44 pm

Hi Jackie,

Thank-you for the wonderful comment. I have a lot of compassion for people with schizophrenia. I know there are forces in my head, and I even talk about voices, but I know these voices are not like the ones of schizophrenia. Those must be very difficult to deal with.

I wish you well. I've always felt like bipolar and schizophrenia were cousins so you have a home here; drop by any time.

- Natasha

mike
says:
July, 5 2010 at 10:27 am

theres hope for all

CHRIS GIMPEL
says:
July, 15 2010 at 6:25 am

I was diagnosed as having Bipolar 1 disorder in 2000 and having been taking Lithium and Risperdal since. NOw I feel great!

SteaceatPes
says:
August, 12 2010 at 8:37 pm

Your blog is so informative … keep up the good work!!!!

Natasha Tracy
says:
August, 13 2010 at 5:55 am

SteaceatPes,

Glad you find it useful.

- Natasha

gabriella
says:
August, 19 2010 at 7:29 am

You are both (Natasha and Jackie) wonderful persons...Jackie, you are right when thinking of people who are worse...

Imagine you are ill and have to struggle for life in a country which doesn;t offer any chances!...

I wish you all well...

Mark
says:
August, 19 2010 at 12:18 pm

Thanks for the great blog. Communication is the key. This illness can be so cruel to BP'ers and friends and loved ones of BP'ers. Never be afraid to express yourself, never be afraid to be put yourself out there. Being able to express the frustrations and the feelings will hopefully someday lead to a cure.

Natasha Tracy
says:
August, 19 2010 at 2:07 pm

Hi Mark,

I agree completely, communication is key for anyone, those with mental illness and those around them included. I think you've shown great empathy for people with bipolar, and that's wonderful to see.

Thanks for your positive thoughts.

- Natasha

garden
says:
April, 2 2012 at 4:12 am

Some genuinely quality posts on that site, saved to fav.

HealthyPlace.com: America’s Mental Health Channel Wins 3 Prestigious Web Health Awards | Mass Media Exposure
says:
June, 1 2012 at 11:00 pm

[...] manic. This alert can immediately be sent to one’s doctor or caregiver. . HealthyPlace writer Natasha Tracy won a Bronze Award in recognition of her HealthyPlace.com blog “Breaking Bipolar”. The [...]

Paul
says:
June, 16 2012 at 7:29 am

If you have Bipolar Type-II, you haven't yet experienced a full-blown manic episode (with psychotic features). Therefore, you are not truly Bipolar... in my opinion.

Natasha Tracy
says:
June, 16 2012 at 7:31 am

Hi Paul,

That might be your opinion but it's not medically accurate. People with bipolar type-II, by definition, do not experience mania, they experience hypomania.

- Natasha Tracy

John Radon
says:
June, 16 2012 at 9:41 am

I hate to sound confrontational but what are bipolar people afraid of if they quit their medication? I'm very sorry someone peformed ect on you. I know that many have lost their memories, abilities, and their lives to ect. Perhaps you could speak out against it and talk about the deception that surrounds the mental health field. Bipolar is not in the league of schizophrenia. I may be a strident voice on this blog but I've always believed in frank discussion. Perhaps those who are so enamored with psychiatry that they are in league with them will see their flawed thinking as time passes and today's barbaric treatment will be condemned. I hope that ect is made illegal in terms of prison sentences and doctors who lie about psychiatry's "robustness" will see prison sentences as well.

Natasha Tracy
says:
June, 16 2012 at 9:54 am

Hi John,

Mostly people with bipolar are afraid of depressive, manic and hypomanic episodes if they stop their medication. Each of these types of episodes have ruined and taken plenty of lives. Many people credit psychotropic medication for saving their lives and I would suggest that others have no right to tell them any differently. It's not until you have been at the depths to attempt suicide that you can truly know that feeling and it's not until you have looking into your families eyes after just having slashed your wrists that you can truly understand how imperative it is that you get help.

Someone didn't "perform ECT on me." I elected to undergo that treatment for a severe depression. While it didn't work for me, it works for more than 80% of people with depression. I am not against the treatment although I will be the first to say that it comes with risks and it's not very fun.

You can feel that bipolar is not in the "league" os schizophrenia if you like, but technically, more people with bipolar commit suicide than people with schizophrenia.

- Natasha Tracy

John Radon
says:
June, 16 2012 at 10:28 am

With that type of thinking perhaps we should invent a medication for adult spoiled brats who commit suicide when they don't get their way. I had depression once and in hindsight it's an intriguing experience but an experience I immediately recognize cmes from my own selfish desire to have things go my way. Life is a struggle. I don't ever tell people what I think about their taking medication but what I do talk about is that it's a choicce and one that should be supported by close friends as long as they don't do dangerous things. Psychosis can actually be managed if they have experience and people to help them. That goes against the psychiatric protocols I'm aware. You are lucky or perhaps not fully aware of what ect did to you. You know about the people who no longer remember their husband their children or how to play the piano. Whereas you perhaps (maybe your telling a story) attempted suicide others reach the end of that tunnel and instead of harm turn around and actually recover without a bag full of pils that are no more effective than placebo in depression. You say no no no to the abiity to recover from bipolar or perhaps depression without help. Your way of thinking is countermanded by he thousands who believed in themselves. Your love of pills and medical procedures as well a your flair for crass dramatics really paints you to be on the spoiled side. At this point I would say that maybe your calling is to speak out against abuse and to take your own advice and you not tell others what to do when they become experimental subjects of a doctor's fancy. At the end of the day those medical profssionals go home and enjoy their money while you and others go hoe asking yourself what the hell just happened. The fact that the majority of foster children are on some type ofpsychiatric disorder shows in clear light the unlimited capacity of the medical sadist profession. I await your reply.

Natasha Tracy
says:
June, 16 2012 at 11:02 am

Hello John,

To be clear, I will not be getting into a big argument here. It's not what I do.

Your depression is not an indication of what every depression is. You experienced one thing but many others experience depression differently and it has nothing to do with "selfishness" although yours may have.

_Some_ psychosis can be managed in alternative ways, yes. That is the case with all mental illness. A variety of treatments work for different people as people experience the illness and response to treatment differently.

I like people who say, "you don't know what ECT did to you." Um, and you do? Were you there? Do you know me? No? Well then I'll thank you to let me make that assessment.

It is not the case that antidepressants are not more effective than placebos - that is the case in _minor_ depression, statistically, but it is _not_ the case in severe depression and there is no evidence to the contrary. Moreover, antidepressants are approximately as effective as other medications used in internal medicine, as a meta-analysis recently showed. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20051569

You may attack my character, if you wish, but that says more about you than it does about me.

- Natasha Tracy

John Radon
says:
June, 16 2012 at 11:51 am

If you look at studies where instead of sugar pills they used ingredients such as atropine that causes a side effect of dry mouth instead of just an inactive ingredient in the sugar pill, patients assumed they got the antidepressant and thus the placebo effect was srengthened and those patients reported the same improvement in their depression as those that got the antidepressant. This worked in major depression. On the subject of ect your reasoning baffles me. You may not be aware but there are videos that ect doctors view that trains them on how to adjust the voltage past the manufacturer's default setting and how to modify the machine beyond it's normal capacity although your doctor will not tell you this while you lie on the table. Look at ect hall of shame on google for starters. You may have received less than a "therapeutic" dose. There are countless people who have lost yars of memory and forgotten family members. Your amivalence to this points to something I won't theorize. If you find that callin you spoiled upsets yu what about your family's feelings and then hearing you describe logically that it was your illness. I tell it like it is and what you say here infuences people until brainwashing has no further effet. But aside from the very serious matter of people's decisions, things in internal medicine actually have a target and an established relationship between the targt the drug interacts with or effects and the therapuetic model that is known to be a culprit in the disorder or pain. In other words they understand what the disease pathway is or the pain model is. What exactly is that antipsychotic you take doing in th brain and what does it do to the patient? Does it stop voices, improve organization, or what or is it just to calm the nervous system and slow down all connections so that florid symptoms are not present? One certainly can'tcompare for instance insulin's effectivenes and antiepressants so I would say there are flaws in what that study is saying exactly.

Natasha Tracy
says:
June, 16 2012 at 12:09 pm

An interesting point. I would think those studies with an active placebo were taken into account in the meta-study I linked to, but I couldn't be sure without further reviewing the data. If you would be so kind as you link to a study you're referring to, I'll review it.

There are reasons for selecting voltages in ECT. I won't get into them, they're technical, but they have to do with seizure threshold of the patient and type of ECT being done.

Yes, we know how some medications work, many we do not. This is hardly unique to psychiatry. We use drugs that work long before we understand them. Like, say, Aspirin that was used for decades before we understood it.

You are correct that insulin's effectiveness doesn't compare to antidepressants, however, if you look at the study, many other types of medications (like statins, statins have a tiny effect size when compared to antidepressants) do. Antipsychotics for schizophrenia fair even better.

- Natasha Tracy

John Radon
says:
June, 16 2012 at 6:19 pm

I will tell you a little about my experiences. While at a group home still under a misdiagnosed illness I noticed some things. We had group meetings where the psychologists presented an agenda, and afterwwards we had group comments and discussion. Although we talked about side effects of drugs they were spoken as inevitable for many of them. It was known that some of the drugs were known to cause weight gain but we were given less food han I normally ate to maintain weight and we were always hungry. Like children our snacks tha we ate were locked up except we could eat what we wanted from the snack locker twice a day but what we ate wwas recorded. How about I get to eat whn I want to? Sure nobody starved to death but they bought low fat and no fat items which of course were tasteless and lacking in sustenance. But through all this was a noticeable lack of voicing questions of treatment in those group meetings. They had the subtle threat of sending you across the street to a secure facility for non compliance of any kind and of course would delay you getting out. The mental health field by widening its diagnosis with the new dsm will even more send more threats to the average family. People can only be thhreatened for so long before they demand change. Psychiatry through its greed has declared itself unfit to handle our childen our aging mothers who they target with ect, and ultimately you. I'm not the only one who has woken up to the incompetent mishandling and cowardice of your average psychiatrist. I'm not afraid of psychiatrists or of speaking what I know directly to them or their umbrella of front men and government pawns. Just look at your low cost mental center. Everybody walks out with a dumb ass prescription in their hand. I'm not afraid of what they'll do to me anymore and I'm not intimidated by their threats. It's this use of threat that keeps most people in line and their check happily deposited in their bank all the while treating 2 year olds for bipolar. Somebody should put these men and women in jail. If a few of them did go to jail the mass incompetence on their part would have them squealing the lies they've concealed for years.

Natasha Tracy
says:
June, 17 2012 at 5:59 am

Hi John,

Thanks for sharing your experience. It's quite different from mine.

- Natasha Tracy

John Radon
says:
June, 17 2012 at 7:33 am

I appreciate your responses. People have to use their brain in making choices of a medical nature. I hope I have spawned an ounce of doubt on top of the doubt you already have concerning interactions with brain doctors. Perhaps our little disagreement can be neutralised and we can talk about things without worrying about an agenda.

mdhuizar
says:
July, 4 2012 at 12:40 pm

I had ECT done after burning thru diff meds which ceased to be effective anymore. This most severe ever depression was sent into moon when I (stupidlly)

Eric
says:
January, 25 2015 at 7:30 am

Wow... Just came across this blog as I've been dealing with bipolar since I was 13 years old. Originally diagnosed with OCD alone, the symptoms didn't quite 'fit'. I've had a few periods of remission over the years, but once my brother was diagnosed with severe bipolar (he is in a halfway house under state care), things started to 'make sense'.

Fortunately, I have a doctor that I met eight years ago that actually cares, and is not a pill pusher. He's worked with me diligently on getting me the right mix between medicine (I don't want to just be burdened by 1000 medications), and my 'sanity'.

I also am a high-functioning 'victim' of bipolar. I say that, because fortunately I have been able to become very successful in my career and my bipolar with OCD tendencies really helped me along in my project-management field.

As you stated, people don't even guess that I have bipolar, but I like to share that I do to remove the stigma associated with it. However, I do not like the association that people have with their OCD and/or bipolar, when they have no idea what it truly is like to have it.

I can't say how much things struck me with your blog to make me actually register and post - as it truly mimicked what I go through. From the exhausted weekends and the 'secret' home-life that the work relationships don't reveal. The want to be the person to go out, but the desire to stay home. The frustration of living with it, and the want to icepick my head with the earworms that I have had lately.

Suicide has fortunately not been an issue for me. I have a son who I cannot leave without a father, but that I hope I can explain the times where I was not so nice, where I was frustrated, and how much I regret it, but love him.

Thanks and it's nice to know something like this exists on the web.

Adam
says:
March, 9 2015 at 7:51 am

You are my new best friend :)

Fly
says:
April, 24 2015 at 1:38 am

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.
You wonderful creature.
Words fail me. This is what the internet is all about, or should be. I don't know how to cheer in comments, but if I could I would deafen you with my cheers. Keep it coming Natasha. You've made my millennium. God bless you. Bipolar sufferer in Ireland xxxxx

@peter
says:
August, 24 2015 at 5:47 pm

G'day Natasha.

I'my Peter from Perth, Western Australia. I wonder if one of your travels included Australia? If not, you need another holiday! Come to Perth, meet my wife, our menagerie of pets, and my humble, bipolar self.

I have battled with Ultra Rapid Cycling, Type II Bipolar, and comorbid (Don't you just love that hyper-appropriate word?) Generalised and Social Anxietiy Disorders, Seasonal Affective Disorder, mild OCD traits, pretty lousy self image resulting in occasional Suicidal Ideation, and some good stuff.

I am 54, a "bit" overweight, and have had strong intermittent painting neck ,back, and legs from wear an tear and a few accidents (like falling 120 -180 feet off a cliff, when I blacked out, while abseiling). And I have Severe Bilateral Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and Bilateral Brachio-Radial Pruritis which causes my shoulders down to my hands to itch, burn, and strongest below the skin'surface. I have been on the maximum dose of Pregabalin, a nerve suppressant, for a few months with total success. The last two weeks it has returned and is worsening. It drives me INSANE! Especially at night.

I came to find your site when searching for one help for my incessant, intrusive melodic humming. Often it is, as you have described, a persistent tune. Sometimes it is only a non musical word or short phrase/sentence I have just heard. But the worst is when I can't think of a song/tune and start improvising. I must say at this point that my improvising is grnerally, pretty bloody good! It can go on, over and over, then changing, because it has been so long, I can't remember how it started! Often I will recognise a few notes an the incessant, infuriating improvised, humming will morph into an existing song or tune or symphony. :-D

I sometimes scream out, "SHUT UP!" - usually tearing at my hair and trying to resist the urge to punch my head or bang it into a wall to interrupt what has become unbearable, unrelenting, repetitious, melodic "noise" in my head.

I too have been, and still am, on numerous medications, but I genuinely express my sadness for your ECT experience.

Thank you for letting others know we are not alone in our "crazy" behaviours.

Regards, Peter

Jason
says:
July, 12 2016 at 2:01 pm

My wife has only been on her new bi polar meds for a couple weeks the non functional hours are really showing. She's up at 3/4am does stuff here at home goes to work gets done around 1/2pm comes home does more stuff and by 4 she's done. This worries me because it's as if every night we are in bed by 6 or 7

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natasha Tracy
says:
July, 14 2016 at 2:43 am

Hi Jason,

Well, honestly, most of us would be pretty happy at those working hours. She has a job and then gets stuff done at home? That's pretty good. And if she's in bed at seven and up at three, that's only eight hours of sleep. That all sounds pretty reasonable.

That said, anyone can be affected by a medication like that, especially in the beginning. You need to give it six-eight weeks to see what might a long-lasting concern.

Try to be patient for now. It sucks but waiting is all we can do.

- Natasha Tracy

Jason
says:
July, 14 2016 at 4:24 am

Thank you and of course I will be patient .. Just don't want it to affect her quality of life when not working where she doesn't feel like enjoying it or doing things thanks for your time I do appreciate it

Randy White
says:
June, 8 2017 at 3:06 am

I have what I consider to be a healthy skepticism of sharing materials and experiences here. I've looked at the 'abouts' and read some posts. So now lets see if I get a reply before I share what is by comparison to other posts, an unusual experience. A tiny bit of the experience is: some symptoms of hypomania, but not depression, no anger, some irritability, and (legitimate) ultra high performance. Oh BTW: no meds...

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natasha Tracy
says:
June, 8 2017 at 10:27 am

Hi Randy,

If you wish to share your story you're more than welcome to but there is no pressure to do so. And please keep in mind that I can't answer most comments as there are just too many.

Thank you.

- Natasha Tracy

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Shaz
says:
July, 8 2017 at 2:39 pm

My son has biopolar for 15ys. And does not take medicine.

Youth
says:
March, 19 2018 at 8:26 pm

Hi I am a youth and I do not know how to tell people I am hurting without disappointing them. What do I do?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natasha Tracy
says:
March, 21 2018 at 7:22 am

Hi Youth,

I know how hard it can be to be hurting and I know what it's like not to want to disappoint. Please understand, your pain is not disappointing, it's just something that is happening. It's something you can't control and it's something you need help with.

You may want to read this about telling your parents: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2012/04/how-do-i-tel…

You do need to tell an adult your trust whether that's your parents or a school counselor. But you can also call a helpline for help. Reach out to one of these lines: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline…

Remember, people who love you want you to reach out. It might feel like you're going to disappoint them, but being honest is courageous and you can do it.

- Natasha Tracy

Dennis
says:
June, 26 2018 at 1:37 pm

A CRUTCH IS A TOOL.

Leave a reply

Follow Us

Most Popular

Comments

Mental Health Newsletter