Mental Awareness Week 2008 is Oct 5 – Oct 11 and I wanted to share some stuff. So this is a lot of information on Bipolar.. In case you didnt know I am bipolar and I am in control. Yeah I have had bad times and the manic times. I am open to questions. Please read.

 

Top 10 Ways to Support Your Bipolar Mate

 

1. Give us confidence. If you can make your partner or loved one feel good about him or herself, life will be SO much easier for both of you.

2. Take an active role in our treatment. Help with med administration. Don’t count on us to be faithful to our medication, we all slip from time to time. If we are under the care of a psychiatrist or counselor, maybe a yearly session where you join us would be helpful. At a minimum, if you have questions or concerns write them down so we can take them with us to our appointments.

3. Recognize there are things we just can’t bring ourselves to do, and try to work with us on this.
4. Remember that we have certain strengths and super-hero abilities at times. Take advantage of this. For example, if we go hypomanic and suddenly desire intimacy for hours on end, or multiple times per day, help us out. Keep in mind our meds sometimes take this desire away for months on end, so when it does come around use this to your advantage. You might even go so far as to say "Paint the house and I’ll fulfill that little fantasy you’ve been hinting at for years…" The house will be painted in a matter of hours.

5. When we get in a really bad frame of mind, and we all do, be there for us. Don’t be afraid, don’t put up a defense against us, don’t brace yourself for something bad. Be there to talk and support. It may not be pleasant, personally I can be downright mean when in a bad frame of mind. But you’ll both be glad you were there.

6. We know when we’ve made fools of ourselves, or done something bold, brash, or stupid. We’ll be embarrassed to face you, or others affected. Don’t hang us out to dry. Step up and support us, not in a condescending way, but as you would with any loved one. Don’t say "that’s the bipolar disorder talking" or something like that. We may say that, but please let that be our decision. Accept us, don’t dwell on it, give us a hug to show you understand, and move on. We’ll be eternally grateful.

7. Embrace our diagnosis, it’s not going to change, and may not improve. Meds can control it, but we won’t be "cured". Realize that it’s not always a bad thing, we’re still the same people we’ve always been. To look at the bright side, we now even have an official title.

8. Remember that even though we’re diagnosed, and likely medicated, things aren’t necessarily going to be easy. In fact, when the bad times come around, we now know what’s happening, and we understand why. Rather than use our old (and maybe dangerous) coping techniques, we may try harder to rein in our feelings and behaviors. This can make these episodes even more dangerous and volatile than before.

9. Help us to recognize those coping mechanisms that may not be good for us. We may not realize we are doing something, and the gentle input from a loved one may be extremely valuable.

10. Watch for triggers, and watch our behavior for clues of an upcoming change of mood or frame of mind. You are in the best position to recognize this, and to help us see and understand this.

There’s not much that love, understanding, and trust can’t improve. Keep the love flowing, be understanding of our limitations, and continue to trust us. We’ll try hard to do the same for you.

 

Top Ten Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health

 

10. Be Realistic. If you are taking on more responsibility than you can handle, rank the activities you are involved with and drop those which are unnecessary.

9. Drop the "superman/superwoman" mentality. Nobody is perfect, so don’t expect perfection from yourself or others. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

8. Reflect. Take time out to collect your thoughts. Personal reflection in the form of meditation, prayer or other ways can reduce stress.

7. Plan ahead. Feeling unprepared or scrambling to do something in the last minute can be stressful.

6. Exercise. Regular exercise is a great way to reduce stress, increase self-esteem, boost energy levels, and improve concentration.
5. Healthy lifestyle. Eat a well-balanced diet, and limit your use of caffeine and alcohol. Make sure you are getting enough sleep to feel refreshed and energized.

4. Share your feelings. Talking to a friend or family member about problems in your life can help you organize your thoughts and get support for your feelings.

3. Hobbies. Take a break from stressful situations by doing something you enjoy. Whether it’s reading, gardening, or cooking, make time to relax and do something you like.

2. Be flexible. Respect other people’s opinions and be prepared to compromise. If you are willing to give a little, others may meet you halfway. Not only will you reduce your stress, you may find better solutions to your problems.

1. Take one thing at a time. When people are under stress, an average workload can seem overwhelming. The best way to handle this feeling is to take one task at a time. Pick one project and work on it. Once you finish it, choose the next one. The feeling of accomplishment will encourage you to keep going.

 

 

Top 10 Signs Your Girlfriend Might have Bipolar Disorder

 

10. She is a natural blond AND still has an IQ of 140.

9. She thinks PMS is for wimps.

8. There are times in the year were she STOPS talking.

7. She is the one in the Club dancing with glow sticks for hours without taking a break.

6. She takes drugs to have a normal state instead of freaking out.

5. One word – EXTREME
4. Always interesting.

3. DON’T PISS HER OFF.

2. Never any problem with money, because she will have spent it all.

And the Number One Sign You Know Your Girl Friend is Bi-Polar.

1. She is the most altruistic, sexually adventurous, interesting, moody, optimistic, smart, pessimistic, creative, caring, beautiful, sexy, hyper-sexual, loving person you will ever have the honor to meet.

 

Top 10 Signs you might have Bipolar Disorder

 

10. You think Robin Williams should Perk Up.

9. You just bought the Kenny G and Berry Manilow box set just because.

8. You think going to bed on Monday and getting up on Friday is a good rest.

7. What do you mean you’re tired — I had only 3 orgasms!

6. You cannot remember doing number 7.

5. You know the names of at least 15 antidepressants and 3 mood stabilizers.
4. Your cat’s name is Kay and your dog’s name is Jamison.

3. You bring your own research to the doctor’s office.

2. You think a drive from Vancouver, BC to Miami is something to do in four days.

And the Number One reason you may be Bipolar is:

1. Last night you understood the secrets to the universe and this morning you are contemplating whether the jelly goes on top of the peanut butter or under it.

 

Official Diagnostic Signs for Bipolar Episodes and Bipolar Disorder

 

The following are the ‘official’ signs of what an episode must consist of in order to be classified as manic, depressed, or mixed. The following information was taken from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition.1

Diagnostic Criteria for a Manic Episode

* A distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood, lasting at least 1 week (or any duration if hospitalization is necessary).

* During the period of mood disturbance, three (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted (four if the mood is only irritable) and have been present to a significant degree:
1. Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
2. Decreased need for sleep (e.g., feels rested after only 3 hours of sleep)
3. More talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking
4. Flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing
5. Distractibility (i.e., attention too easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli)
6. Increase in goal-directed activity (either socially, at work or school, or sexually) or psychomotor agitation [You get twitchy].
7. Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences (e.g., engaging in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments)

* The symptoms do not meet criteria for a Mixed Episode.

* The mood disturbance is sufficiently severe to cause marked impairment in occupational functioning or in usual social activities or relationships with others, or to necessitate hospitalization to prevent harm to self or others, or there are psychotic features.

* The symptoms are not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication, or other treatments) or a general medical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism).

* Manic-like episodes that are clearly caused by somatic antidepressant treatment (e.g., medication, electroconvulsive therapy, light therapy) should not count toward a diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder.

Criteria for a Hypomanic Episode

* A distinct period of persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood, lasting throughout at least 4 days, that is clearly different from the usual non-depressed mood.

* During the period of mood disturbance, three (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted (four if the mood is only irritable) and have been present to a significant degree:
1. Inflated syllabify or grandiosity.
2. Decreased need for sleep (e.g., feels rested after only 3 hours of sleep).
3. More talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking.
4. Flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing.
5. Distractibility (i.e., attention too easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli).
6. Increase in goal-directed activity (either socially, at work or school, or sexually) or psychomotor agitation.
7. Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences (e.g., engaging in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments).

* The episode is associated with an unequivocal change in functioning that is uncharacteristic of the person when not symptomatic [Your behaviour is not typical behaviour].

* The disturbance in mood and the change in functioning are observable by others.

* The episode is not severe enough to cause marked impairment in social or occupational functioning, or to necessitate hospitalization, and there are no psychotic features. [Hypomania is not as severe as mania]

* The symptoms are not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication, or other treatment) or a general medical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism).

* Note: Hypomanic-like episodes that are clearly caused by somatic antidepressant treatment (e.g., medication, electroconvulsive therapy, light therapy) should not count toward a diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder.

Criteria for a Depressive Episode

* Five or more of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least one of the symptoms is either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.
1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g. appears tearful). In children and adolescents, can be irritable mood.
2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by either subjective account or observation made by others).
3. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day. Note: In children, consider failure to make expected weight gains.
4. Insomnia or hypersomnia [too much sleep] nearly every day.
5. Psychomotor agitation or retardation [Twitchy muscles or slowness in coordination] nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
6. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick).
8. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others).
9. Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

* The symptoms do not meet criteria for a Mixed Episode.

* The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

* The symptoms are not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., hypothyroidism).

* The symptoms are not better accounted for by bereavement, i.e., after the loss of a loved one, the symptoms persist for longer than 2 months or are characterized by marked functional impairment, morbid preoccupation with worthlessness, suicidal ideation, psychotic symptoms, or psychomotor retardation.

* Note: Do not include symptoms that are clearly due to a general medical condition, or mood-incongruent delusions or hallucinations.

Criteria for a Mixed Episode

* The criteria are met both for a Manic Episode and for a Major Depressive Episode (except for duration) nearly every day during at least a 1-week period. [That is, you are supposed to show both manic AND depressive symptoms]

* The mood disturbance is sufficiently severe to cause marked impairment in occupational functioning or in usual social activities or relationships with others, or to necessitate hospitalization to prevent harm to self or others, or there are psychotic features.

* The symptoms are not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication, or other treatment) or a general medical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism).

Bipolar I Disorder (Manic Depression) – Diagnostic Features

* The essential feature of Bipolar I Disorder is a clinical course that is characterized by the occurrence of One or more Manic Episodes or Mixed Episodes.

* Often individuals have also had one or more Major Depressive Episodes.
[You have had at least one manic episode and one depressive episode]

Bipolar II Disorder (Manic Depression) – Diagnostic Features

* The essential feature of Bipolar I Disorder is a clinical course that is characterized by the occurrence of one or more Major Depressive episodes accompanied by the occurrence of at least one Hypomanic Episode (Hypomanic episodes should not be confused with the several days of euthymia that may follow remission of a Major Depressive Episode).

[Bipolar II Disorder is not as intense as Bipolar I Disorder]

* For both Bipolar I and Bipolar II Disorders, episodes of Substance-Induced Mood Disorder (due to the direct effects of a medication, or other somatic treatments for depression, a drug of abuse, or toxin exposure) or of Mood Disorder due to a General Medical Condition do not count toward a diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder.

  • In addition, the episodes are not better accounted for by Schizoaffective Disorder and are not superimposed on Schizophrenia, Schizophreniform Disorder, Delusional Disorder, or Psychotic Disorder Not Otherwise specified.

 

Things NOT to Say to Someone with a Mental Illness

 

The most important thing to know about mentally ill people is that we need your patience, compassion, empathy, acceptance, respect, and encouragement – not indifference, prejudice, criticism, rejection, disrespect, or intolerance.

Things you say to a person struggling with a mental illness1 can profoundly affect him or her. Words can cut through us like a red-hot scalpel, which can trigger a worse episode, self-injury, or even suicide. We beat ourselves up enough; we don’t need others, especially ones who claim to care about us to do it as well.

Sensitivity and consideration go a long way when talking with a mentally ill person. Unfortunately, people frequently ignore, insult, or ridicule us. Oftentimes, it is unintentional and committed without malice, but that does not make it any less shameful, upsetting, or hurtful.

I have compiled a list of SOME2 of the worst things you can say to us during an episode, especially a depressive episode. Granted, a few of the following statements have been helpful to some – usually if we are saying it to ourselves. However, many of us perceive these statements as having negative overtones, which diminishes any potential benefits they may have had. Cliches, platitudes, and banalities do not cure mental illness. In fact, they tend to make us feel a whole lot worse.

I’ve broken the list down into four classifications: good old-fashioned ignorance, condescending/patronizing, ‘good’ advice and attempted motivation, and cruel or otherwise insulting.

Good Old-Fashioned Ignorance

‘You can will yourself better.’
‘I think this is your way of punishing me.’
‘It’s your own fault.’
‘I just want to make you feel better.’
‘It’s all in your head.’
‘You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.’
‘Why are you doing this to yourself?’
‘You could feel better if you wanted to.’
‘Why are you making yourself miserable?’
‘You don’t need all those medications.’
‘Why do you hurt yourself?’
‘There’s no such thing as mental illness.’
‘You must not be living right.’
‘What do I have to do to make you feel better?’
‘You’re just being lazy.’
‘You don’t want to be happy.’
‘If you loved me, you wouldn’t act this way.’
‘You could change it if you really want to.’
‘If you won’t change for you, do it for…’
‘You are what you think you are.’
‘There’s nothing wrong with you.’
‘You do it to yourself.’
‘You must want to be unhappy.’
”You just want pity.’
What’s your problem?’
‘Happiness is a choice.’
‘You just want attention.’
‘You don’t ‘look’ depressed.’
‘Have you got PMS?’
‘You’d feel better if you would stop going to see all these shrinks and throw away those pills.’

Condescending or Patronizing

‘If you were right with God this wouldn’t be happening to you.’
‘Have you been praying?’
‘You would feel better if you went to church.’
‘That which does not kill us makes us stronger.’
‘Look at the sunny side of life and make the best of it.’
‘You’ll be a better person because of it.’
‘Your problem is…’
‘You’d feel better if you (insert unsolicited advice here)…’
‘Did you forget to take your meds?’
‘We all have battles.’
‘We have to get together some time soon.’ (If you don’t mean it)
‘Everyone feels sad sometimes.’
‘Nothing is wrong with you.’
‘Smile and the world smiles with you; cry, and you cry alone.’
‘You can do anything you want if you just set your mind to it.’
‘I know how you feel.’
‘Things could always get worse.’
‘It’s not really that bad.’
‘What do you have to feel down about?’
‘You need therapy.’
‘Who ever said life is fair?’
‘Are you trying to be a martyr?’
‘If you turn to Jesus he will make you feel better.’
‘You know there comes a time in your life, when you just have to sit down and decide what is important to you.’
‘You just need to take care of yourself.’
‘You’re wasting your life. You have so much potential.’
‘Your life can’t be THAT bad.’
‘You’d feel better if you lost some weight.’
‘My life isn’t perfect either.’
‘Get control over yourself.’
‘You just need a swift kick in the butt.’
‘You can’t let the past bother you. You have to let it go.’
‘You need to grow up.’
‘You’re only hurting yourself.’
‘We all have our crosses to bear.’
‘I thought you were stronger than that.’

‘Good’ Advice and Attempted Motivation

‘Look on the bright side…’
‘You really should get out more.’
‘Snap out of it!’
‘What you really need to do is…’
‘Pull yourself up by the bootstraps.’
‘Cheer up!’
‘Hang in there. Everything will be okay.’
‘Don’t give up.’
‘It’s not THAT bad. It could always get worse.’
‘Quit feeling sorry for yourself.’
‘Pull yourself together.’
‘Stop wallowing in it.’
‘You really need to get a job. It would do you good.’
‘Get over it. Shit happens.’
"You’d feel better if you would stop being such a perfectionist.’
‘We all go through times like this.’
‘Stop worrying, it isn’t good for you.’
‘I can’t do it for you; you have to want to do it.’
‘Here’s my advice…’
‘You think you’ve got problems…’
‘The Lord doesn’t give us more than we can handle.’ 3
‘You need to get off your ass and do something about it.’
‘You have to face life head-on.’
‘Aren’t you a writer? Well, just think of all the good material you’re getting out of this.’
‘Stop hiding from your problems. It will not make them go away.’
‘If you don’t snap out of this you will end up all alone.’
‘Eventually, you’ll have to face the world.’
‘You’re too hard on yourself.’
‘You’re your own worst enemy.’
‘You just have to get on with things.’
‘You have to stop being this way.’
‘You’re ruining your life. You have to do something about it.’
‘You can’t hide forever.’
‘Go out and have a good time.’
‘This too shall pass.’
‘Make up your mind to be happy.’
‘Lighten up. You take things too seriously.’
‘There are a lot of people worse off than you.’
‘You have it so good – why are you miserable?’
‘Just don’t think about it.’
‘Shit or get off the pot.’
‘Just push yourself a little harder.’
‘It’s a beautiful day!’
‘You need a hobby.’
‘Everything happens for a reason.’

Cruel or Otherwise Insulting

‘You’re just trying to make people feel sorry for you.’
‘Everyone has problems, what makes you so special?’
‘You’re crazy.’
‘Deal with it.’
‘You’re dangerous.’
‘Why don’t you just kill yourself and get it over with?’
‘It serves you right.’
‘What’s wrong with you?’
‘You’re such a drama queen.’
‘You are weak.’
"Boo hoo… nobody cares about your problems.’
‘I can’t stand to see you like this. You need to get over it.’
‘Freak!’
‘You’re a real downer.’
‘Stop whining.’
‘You only care about yourself.’
‘If you’re not careful the men in the little white coats will be coming for you.’
‘You deserve it.’
‘You’re dragging me down with you.’
‘You are an embarrassment to this family.’
‘Have you ever been in a nut-house?’
‘Why can’t you be normal?’
‘And you wonder why you don’t have any friends.’
‘You’re an idiot.’
‘You’re faking.’
‘You’ve got issues.’
‘Are you a psycho?’
‘You are so melodramatic.’
‘You’re making me miserable.’
‘Why are you doing this to me? I have enough to deal with.’
‘Geez, after talking to you I want to kill myself.’
‘I can’t put up with you anymore.’
‘I wish you would act normal.’
‘You’re screwed in the head.’
‘Stop pretending something is wrong with you.’
‘You’re so self-absorbed.’
‘You don’t deserve to be happy.’
‘You’re just using it as an excuse.’
‘Stop acting like a bitch.’

The one that really gets my panties in a twist is, ‘Yeah, I know how you feel, but that’s nothing…’ (Cue cock-and-bull story about something ‘so much worse.’)

Usually, when a person says something like that they have good intentions. They want to encourage us and show us that our life is not as bad as we think and that it could be worse. However, the fact of the matter is when we are depressed, manic, or whatever, it is right then, not in the past. When we are going through it, we do not care if something worse happened to another person. It does not make what we are going through any less painful and it does not help us handle it ‘better.’

In all honesty, it makes us feel like you think what we are going through is unimportant and we should dismiss it because so-and-so had it so much worse. Big freakin’ deal, it is not a competition, and even if it was, who wants to be anchored with the ‘I’ve-had-the-worst-life’ medal? Nevertheless, during an episode we usually think life couldn’t possibly get any worse.

Suicide becomes a feasible option when we are drowning in a ocean of hopelessness and despair. The goal is to keep it from becoming a solution and in order to do that we need people around us that care and show support without shaming or judging us.

 

 

For more information:

National Alliance on Mental Illness – (NAMI)

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance – (DBSA)

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Mental Health America – (MHA) formerly National Mental Health Association)

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

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