I wrote that Mindfulness Doesn’t Help My Bipolar Disorder. And I think mindfulness, at least how I was taught it, just doesn’t significantly, positive affect a serious, neurological illness. I find it works best in people who experience stress and anxiety. And many do agree with me on this.
That said, John McManamy does not. Here are his thoughts on mindfulness in bipolar disorder.
Mindfulness is essentially the mind watching the mind. The practice has been around forever. It is a staple of Buddhist practice, and is also the basis of modern talking therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), even if its proponents fail to give it credit.
In all likelihood, if you have had success in managing your bipolar, you are employing mindfulness techniques, though you may be unaware of it.
Today Bipolar Burble welcomes Adele, a 36-year-old newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Read her story of a new bipolar diagnosis and how she’s handling her first few bipolar months.
When I was diagnosed as bipolar this past November, it was both the best and the worst news I have ever received. I knew that my life was probably going to get better, but that it would definitely never be the same.
People with mental illness do, sometimes, need a push to make things happen, but when do you push a person with a mental illness forward? Obviously, you should never push a person until he or she breaks – and there is a risk of this with those with mental illness because many of us can’t take the same pressures (stress can cause bipolar hypomania, among other things) that other people can. Nevertheless, a supportive push forward can be helpful but do know when to push a person with mental illness.
One of the things my writing does is validate bipolar experiences. This is helpful for people for a very simple reason. When you know that even just one other person is facing the same challenges as you because of bipolar disorder, you feel validated, this has many benefits and it is something we all need. Additionally, harm definitely comes from not validating bipolar experiences – and many of our loved ones do this, perhaps without even knowing it. It’s important to realize that validation of bipolar experiences actually helps a person’s mental health.
I’ve noticed something about when I’m suicidal: I’m more accident-prone when I’m suicidal. I know that the word “accident” suggests that nothing would be causing it as it is unintentional – this is true, sort of – but I still find that suicidality affects the presence of accidents.
I hear people say they have “down days” in bipolar disorder. These people are, typically, those who are doing well but still have these things called “down days.” But what is a “down day?” What are these people talking about? I do not identify with this concept at all. My bipolar disorder don’t contain “down days” it contains days, weeks and months that try to kill me.
I often wear myself out with bipolar disorder. The odd thing about it, is that I don’t know when I’m doing it. I run and run and run and run and do and do and do and do until I’m completely worn out and then the next day, inevitably, I just collapse into a pile of fatigue. But while I’m running and doing I don’t know that I’m wearing myself out. Everything feels fine, until it doesn’t. It’s seemingly impossible to know when I’m wearing myself out with bipolar disorder.
I have experienced so many bipolar medication side effects that I can’t remember them all. They have ranged from the common that many people experience like weight gain and dry mouth to the more unusual such as falling out hair and me falling over. When I started taking bipolar medication and started experiencing side effects, I tended to just grit my teeth, bear it and suffer. And I see this all the time in people. People constantly contact me and ask what to do about bipolar medication side effects because they are currently suffering.
I don’t believe in needless suffering. I believe there are things you can do about many, if not most, of the bipolar medication side effects.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about 18 years ago and I can honestly say, that being diagnosed with bipolar disorder feels like a death. It may not feel like it immediately, but, over time, mourning a death is what being diagnosed with bipolar disorder feels like.
People ask me about the research on bipolar disorder and pregnancy quite a bit. Now, I am not a doctor and nor do I claim to be one; moreover, this is a subject that I haven’t studied exhaustively so I tell these women to talk to their doctors. Unfortunately, that’s the best advice I have been able to give about bipolar disorder and pregnancy.
That said, I read a new paper on bipolar disorder in pregnancy and I thought I would take the time to summarize some of its recommendations regarding pregnancy and bipolar disorder. I’ll add my two cents here and there (clearly noted as just my opinion), but for the most part, this advice comes from the references following the article and not from me. If any of the below concerns or interests you, please check the references and discuss it with your doctor.
It’s difficult to find real patient experiences with, and perspectives on, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) online. Well, it’s easy to find patient experiences and people’s perspectives on ECT but what tends to happen is that those that scream about ECT the loudest are the only ones people hear. I suspect this is thanks to the extreme animosity held on at least one side of the debate.
I aim to change this with real data from real people who have experienced ECT. What I want is data that will prove or disprove the assumptions that people make about ECT. I really hope you’ll support me in this effort.
I used to be a person who was very mad about psychiatry and psychiatric medication (psych meds). I had that vehement anger we often hear from antipsychiatrists although I was not antipsychatiry, per se. My biggest fantasy, at the time, was to take the horrible medications I was prescribed and shove them down the throat of the prescribing doctor. If only they had to take the medications, they would be more empathetic, more compassionate, more human. But I learned that being mad about psychiatric medication and psychiatry is a losing game and it really got me nowhere.