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.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is an option for depression treatment and may be an alternative, for some, to electroconvulsive therapy. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (when used as a treatment for depression known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation or rTMS) is actually similar to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in that it’s also a neuromodulation technique. It does differ, though, as rTMS is much less invasive and has a very favorable side effect profile, particularly when compared to ECT. There are reasons that people aren’t flocking to rTMS as a depression treatment, though.
[Note: I am running a survey on real patients’ experiences with, and perspectives on, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). If you’ve had ECT and want your voice heard, please take the survey here. More detailed information on the ECT survey can be found here.]
As some of you may know, I write pieces that sometimes get a lot of hate mail in response to them. This is normal for a writer with an opinion. It happens here, it happens with newspaper pieces, it happens in response to books, it happens absolutely anywhere a writer stands out and says something others consider controversial. (Sometimes, people even threaten to sue me.)
I totally get that and pay it no mind, as a general rule. In fact, I mostly don’t talk to critics as I have very limited time and feel they are not worth it. I write for the people who respond positively to my work, not those who don’t. If you want to know my thoughts, I suggest you reread the article, as that’s where they are.
Peer-Support-Based Initiatives Funding Clarifications
However, I am making an exception today. People have so misrepresented my views and so spewed such ridiculous notions that I feel compelled to at least clarify a few things.
Here is my additional clarification on We Shouldn’t Fund Peer Support-Based Initiatives for Mental Illness.
There is this growing movement of people who think that peer support is critical in the treatment of people with mental illness – but I would contend that, in spite of this movement, peer support does not treat mental illness. And, in fact, by funding these peer support-based initiatives and peer-delivered services we take away dollars that should actually be spent on the evidence-based treatment of serious mental illness.