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Breaking Bipolar

Natasha Tracy
It’s time to dispel another myth that ticks me right off. This particular myth is that mental illness is but a symptom of childhood abuse. People who think this claim that simply by getting therapy and dealing with this abuse, the mental illness symptoms will go away. Bipolar – cured! Yay! This, of course, is absolute nonsense.
Natasha Tracy
I’m pretty sure I have anxiety and bipolar. I've never been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and I’ve never talked about anxiety with my doctor, but I’m pretty sure it’s there. I meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder and and it wouldn’t be altogether shocking if this were the case as anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness and comorbid disorders with bipolar disorder are the rule rather than the exception.
Natasha Tracy
As I mentioned, I recently took a trip east to see some family. In addition to 5-hour plane rides and meeting a long series of people I didn’t know, there was also the three hour time change to contend with. In other words, there was a lot of things that could, and did, mess with my bipolar. Now, like many people, I’m quite good at handling stressors in the moment. I can travel and meet and charm with the best of them and I can say it mostly went very well. The trouble, though, is upon return. Upon return I feel like I’ve been hit by a bloody truck and act pretty much the same way.
Natasha Tracy
Recently I went on a little trip east. In addition to the plane being 2.25 hours late, the thing that got to me was the 3 hour time change.
Natasha Tracy
  People with bipolar disorder, regardless of medication, are, on average, heavier than the average person. This is likely due to sedentary lifestyles and poor dietary choices due, in part, to reduced income. I suspect it’s also because of untreated and undertreated people exhibiting major depression and never getting off the couch (something I know a lot about). But then, of course, there are the side effects from medication and one of the big ones that effects people drastically is weight gain. Antipsychotics, in particular, can make a person put on a lot of weight and fast. (Tip: the antipsychotic that was newly approved in bipolar disorder, lurasidone, has been shown to be weight-neutral.) And while many people work very hard to try to lose it, the fact of the matter is, most can’t. Losing weight is something that is tough in the average population let alone in a medicated one. So sometimes, acceptance is the only answer.
Natasha Tracy
I’m useless in the afternoon. My functional, working hours are extremely limited. And this is thanks to my bipolar disorder. It’s like every character I type and every minute that goes by zaps just a little bit more of me until, by mid-day, there’s nothing left. This is hugely disheartening. I want to be like everyone else. In fact, I want to be like me a few years ago – me when I worked a full day – like everyone else. But the fact of the matter is, I’m not like everyone else in this regard. In this regard I’m limited. In this regard I’m disabled.
Natasha Tracy
This morning, a girl from the United States (I’m in Canada) contacted me and said she had taken 40 pills in a suicide attempt and now needed help immediately. Please don’t do this. Please don’t treat the internet like it’s 9-1-1. It isn’t. It just so happened that I was checking the comments on my blog three minutes after this girl posted this comment so I caught it in time. (Help was called.) But I very much could have missed it. It could have taken me hours to get to this comment. I get many comments and emails and sometimes it takes me a long time to get around to reading them, let alone responding. I am, in no way, an emergency service. Reaching out to someone is always better than reaching out to no one, but please, if you need mental health help, know who to reach out to.
Natasha Tracy
Many of us know a person who has suffered a bad bipolar outcome. Perhaps the person has lost their friends and family because of bipolar. Perhaps the person lost their job because of their bipolar moods. Perhaps the person became so unwell they ended up on the street. Perhaps the person was driven to suicide. Those are all very scary and worrying outcomes from a mental illness and, the trouble is, they’re real. I can’t take away your fear and worry by telling you that these things don’t happen because that would be a lie. These things do happen, every day. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you can do to fight the fear and worry that surrounds bipolar disorder.
Natasha Tracy
Mental illness isn't something that only exists in adults, the mental health of kids and teens is crucially important too. Talking to kids about mental illness early is critical.
Natasha Tracy
I deal with suicide a lot in my writings. I’ve talked about people who have just attempted suicide, those left behind by suicide and the family and friends of those who have attempted suicide, among many other subjects. That’s because suicide is a subject that I think is very important. It’s critical to break down the walls of silence that keep people who have contemplated or attempted suicide at arm’s length from everyone else. Thinking about suicide or attempting suicide doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you; it just means that you have sought a way out of an extraordinary amount of pain that wasn’t the best way. But the way in which suicide is written about matters because of a phenomenon known as suicide contagion. This is the act of copycat suicides and believe it or not, it is a real problem. The way a suicide is reported in the media actually affects the number of people who attempt suicide. So if you plan on talking about suicide – and I encourage you to do so – think about these guidelines on how to do it.