Victoria Arlen has lived through more obstacles and suffering than anyone could ever conceive. From 2006 to 2010, Arlen was dealing with a Continue reading “Family Thinks 11-yr-old Daughter Is Brain Dead: 4 Years Later She Wakes Up”
Initial news coverage focused on the event itself, with reporters commenting on Trump continuing former First Lady Michelle Obama’s gardening traditions. But after First Lady fashion-watcher Kate Bennett noted the shirt’s price on her Twitter, the media exploded.
According to Net-A-Porter, the online designer store that stocks it, Trump’s shirt is meant to have a “rebellious ’80s attitude,” and draws its inspiration from counterculture icons David Bowie, George Michael and Prince. It’s a part of their “grunge” collection, meant to be worn with distressed jeans to emphasize its “laid-back feel.”
Trump isn’t the first First Lady to make waves for the cost of her outfits.
Obama was famous for her gorgeous-yet-affordable J. Crew chic, and her “sartorial diplomacy” helped define her role as the administration’s approachable “mom-in-chief.”
And as Obama drew criticism for “not looking like a First Lady,” and showing her scandalously-gorgeous upper arms, Trump is currently under fire for wearing a shirt worth almost half the average monthly American salary.
Reactions online were split evenly; some deriding the First Lady’s expensive fashion choices, others calling the focus on it “typical liberal fake news.”
While some lashed out at Bennet for what they saw as a partisan tweet, Bennett pointed out that she had given the exact same coverage to former FLOTUS Obama, including the pricing research.
And while some frustration about Melania’s outfit focused on the shirt’s political optics, other Twitter users expressed bafflement that Trump’s thrift-store-chic tartan had been that much, to begin with.
Finally, some opined that, given Trump’s obvious discomfort getting up close and personal with the dirt, the fact that she was wearing such an expensive outfit to do so was unsurprising.
Implications about the Trump family’s “out-of-touchness” aside, the story gave people a chance for a few bipartisan laughs. In a month when the world faced nuclear woes, mass shootings, monster storms and political crises, the moment of levity was well-needed.
“Are you really going to spend the money to have [him/her] cremated?”
If you’re not a pet parent, you perhaps don’t fully understand the tragedy of losing an animal so near and dear. And, just as with the passing of people, everyone has their own desires on how to handle the service. It is insensitive not to respect someone’s wishes to have an intimate funeral-type celebration for a beloved pet.
“Well at least you have other pets.”
Since each pet is a unique part of the family, they also bring something unique into our lives. You wouldn’t try to make a parent who’s lost a child feel better by saying, “at least you have other kids.”
“Come’on, it was just a cat (or dog, rabbit, bird, etc…)”
If you’ve never been a pet parent, you may not understand the profound love that animal lovers have for their pets. They aren’t looked on as property, but rather a part of the family. For many, they are like children; creatures that fur-parents do everything for, and loved for many years.
“He was really old; it was just his time and it’s for the best.”
While there is some comfort in the fact a pet had lived a long, great life, that also means that pet parents shared a long time of memories, which makes his death more profound. That’s not to say that the passing of a younger pet is easier. There really is not a good time to lose a beloved family member.
“When are you getting another pet?”
Saying this suggests that your beloved pet is easily replaceable, like a broken piece of furniture. Pet lovers view animals as children, or at least part of their family, so to imply that they can just get a “new one” is not thoughtful. Conversely, realize that everyone grieves in his or her own way so while some will want to welcome a new animal into the family quickly, others will need to time to mourn. It still doesn’t mean the pet is being replaced. There’s no right way to mourn or move forward.
Psychosis is common for people with bipolar to experience during episodes of mania or depression.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by episodes of mania and depression. Some of us also have psychotic systems during these episodes.
It’s especially common for people in a full blown manic episode to have psychosis. Sometimes we have psychotic thoughts that stay inside and we act on them, but don’t say them out loud. Sometimes we will say the thoughts out loud and really scare the people who care about us! Here are a few examples of psychotic thoughts:
I am the devil and I should die.
The world is not real and these people around me are my enemies.
My husband is trying to poison me. I can only drink bottled water bought when no one is watching.
They are all rat bastards at work who are working with the man upstairs to have my head.
The next person who comes near me gets a swift kick in the swingers with the baseball bat of my mind.
The garden is full of pests and worms and needs to be purged.
I have a secret I can’t tell you, but it is so explosive it will expose the world for what it really is and I will be seen as the savior of us all.
I am not real and my life is actually a movie being filmed by a director who can’t show his face.
I am holding the world between my fingers. If I move my fingers, the world will blow up.
The number three is here to give me a message that I really need to get a grip and count to three each time I have a sexual thought.
Psychosis is a break with reality that involves hallucinations and delusions. People with bipolar disorder only have psychosis during a manic or depressed episode. If a person with bipolar disorder has psychosis when not in a manic or depressed episode, the diagnosis is schizo affective disorder.
Do you experience psychosis?
Don’t let other people to make you feel inferior because of your bipolar disorder.
I have a friend named Magui, who worked in the cardio room at the Y.
I work out there several times a week.
One day she pulled me aside and said, “Allison, these other people here that I work with….… they laugh and call you the crazy bag lady.”
It wasn’t a shocker. Still, I was disappointed. These people smile and initiate conversations.
AND YES, THEY KNOW I HAVE BIPOLAR DISORDER. TMI IS MY MIDDLE NAME.
(I’m working on this in therapy).
“Allison, don’t feel bad. They are closed-minded. If you aren’t religious and stuff, they write people off. They don’t see what you have to offer.”
I mulled this over; analyzing my act at the gym.
I carry around an enormous bag of newspapers, food and drinks in a drippy cooler. I’ll buy a new one when I can afford it.
While I pore through the New York Times on the treadmill, my pile of papers is the size of Chicago.
I like my music and l like it loud.
Reading, lifting weights and listening to my mix tapes music puts me in the Mile High Club.
Maybe…. I hadn’t been too mindful of my environment or the people around me.
It’s hard to be considerate of those you don’t even see.
When Magui left the Y for a better job, I had my opening.
It’s so easy for me to feel inferior because I have bipolar disorder. It just isn’t right.
I approached the manager of the cardio room, a beautiful woman named Jeanneatte.
Magui had identified her as the main source of all the scuttlebutt.
According to Magui, she was the one keeping it alive.
I smiled and lied to her face.
“Hey, Jeanneatte…hi…uh…a current employee told me that you guys make fun of me and my bipolar disorder.”
She looked troubled. Probably trying to figure out which employee had outed her. Lol.
I lied again.
“Oh Jeanneatte,” I know it wasn’t YOU, I know YOU’RE not that kind of person. …What I really want is to thank you for the job you do. I get all my ideas for my articles and blogs right here.”
Her jaw dropped. I don’t think she ever considered I have a working brain.
“So,” I ventured, “What can I do to make your job easier?”
“Well,” You bring an awful lot of bags. Maybe you could use the lockers??”
“I’m Pre-Diabetic,” (True).. “It’s a side effect of my medication FOR BIPOLAR DISORDER,” I emphasized.
“I need healthy food when my blood sugar—”
“Oh,” she cut in, “I’m soooooooo sooorry. You can bring anything you need. Maybe If you put your bags closer to the wall you’d take up less space.”
Lying again, I said, “Jeanneatte, I appreciate getting to know you a little better. I’m sorry about the mess. I’ll be neater.”
I feel a little bad about telling all these lies, especially the one about getting to know her better.
I lied because I love that gym and still want to go there, without discord or aggravation.
That gym is mine, not hers.
She just works there.
It’s so easy for me to feel inferior because I have bipolar disorder. It just isn’t right.
I pay my dues, so technically, I’m her boss, bipolar or not.
That doesn’t mean I have to like her-I only have to get along with her.
I’m headed to the gym now. Right after I eat my oatmeal, low sugar raspberries and pack my drippy cooler.
Only this time, I’m taking a towel to put under it.
And that’s the God’s honest truth.
We can teach the children in our lives to be open, honest and healthy around mental illness.
Can kids help us manager our bipolar disorder? Of course they can, but it does take a delicate approach that starts early. I will share my story and hopefully this can give YOU hope that having bipolar disorder as a parent, or in my case a very involved aunt is not a detriment. Instead, it is a chance for you to teach a young person about bipolar disorder and mental health management in general.
My nephew was born in 2002. At age four, I started to talk to him about my bipolar disorder. I had no idea what I was doing, but I used my intuition and had basic rules I created that I have always followed:
I told him from the beginning that I was simply describing what I go through when I get sick. I explained that he will never be responsible for me.
I told him what to look for during my mood swings. Here is an example of how I explained my depression: David, on some days I can get on the floor and play Thomas the Train with you. I can laugh and have fun and hug you and roll around. That is the real me. The well me. On other days, you will notice that I am just sitting in a chair watching you play. I may cry a bit and I may smile through tears, that is my depression. It has nothing to do with you. It is simply my illness. Depressions is a mood swing I have because I have bipolar disorder. It is normal for me. You are not responsible for making me feel better, but watching you sure does give me joy even when I am sick.”
As David got older, I told him exactly what to SAY to me when he saw that I was ill. I explained my symptoms of mania and told him that he was always allowed to let me know if he thought I was manic. Today, he is very open to helping me recognize mood swings that I might not see at the beginning. For mania he says, “Julie, you are talking really loudly.” That is his code for saying, “Julie, you are manic.” I get embarrassed when he says this. I think to myself- oh no. I missed the mania! I am a failure! On and on! But I stop myself quickly and say, “Thank you David. You are helping me stay well. I will work on my voice volume and do something about my mania.” This took years of practice, but it was worth it. It’s now second nature for him at age 15.
He has two members of his immediate family with bipolar disorder. The chance he will have sings of the illness are high. He is ready for this. He knows what can cause symptoms to appear and is open about his moods. Like many teens, he has acne. He went to a dermatologist and said, “I can’t use steroids. My family has a history of bipolar disorder and steroids can cause mood swings.” He did this on his own!
We never know if what we teach young children will stick. This was an experiment. I can say that it worked. If you have bipolar disorder, yes, you can get help from the kids in your life. They need to know that they are in no way responsible for you- that is for other adults including health care professionals, but they CAN help you stay stable by knowing what to look for when you get sick and having a plan in place to help you find stability.
I will end with a story I know you will love! David was 11 during this story and he called me Auntie Wee.
I love travel and flying, but I always have to deal with anxiety. A lot of anxiety. David knows that I have panic attacks and suicidal thoughts when I travel. It’s a huge bother as I love to travel and it’s really a big part of our family life. I started a panic attack right before leaving for the airport to fly to California where I was to give a keynote speech on bipolar disorder management.
We are in the living room packing my suitcase:
Julie: Darn it! I’m having a panic attack. I hate my bipolar disorder! I have to breathe. Let me sit down a minute. I can get through this. I won’t listen to what my brain is saying, but it’s pissing me off. I’m not going to die.
David: Auntie Wee. We know what this is. This is your anxiety. It’s not about the plane flight. It’s the bipolar.
Julie: Yep. That is what it is. I wish I could just get on with my life and not have to go through this David. I hate it so much, but it’s here and it’s bipolar so I have to deal with it.
David: You sit in this chair. Now I’m going to go into the bathroom and I’m going to get a wash cloth and run it under the warm water. Then I’m going to get the lavender oil and put it on the wash cloth and put it on your forehead. You sit there and I’ll be back.
I sat in the chair and he put it on my head!
The kid was 11! He did what I taught him to do many years before. I had NO idea if what I was teaching him was getting through. It was. From age four to nine, he would listen and not talk as much. Around age ten, he started to interact with me and truly help in an appropriate way.
We can teach the children in our lives to be open, honest and healthy around mental illness.
You can start today!
If your bipolar disorder symptoms threaten your job security, it’s time to educate yourself about disability protections and whether you want to disclose your diagnosis.
Jon B. has been in the workforce since he was 21—almost as long as he’s had a bipolar I diagnosis. Call his story a best-case scenario of bipolar on the job.
Jon, now 33, has been employed on the facilities staff at a Midwestern campus for the past couple of years. The others on his team of four know he has bipolar, something he cautiously shared in one-on-one conversations after he’d been on the job for six months or so and began to feel that they were friends.
“My co-workers had no negative reactions,” he says. “They simply listened to me and my story. I didn’t feel judged in the slightest.”
If he needs to leave work a little early for a therapist’s appointment, he says, “it’s just not a big deal.”
He hasn’t had any big issues due to bipolar symptoms, either.
“I try to be a happy and level-headed person, on my best behavior, who takes good care of myself and takes my medication regularly,” he says.
Of course, the employment picture isn’t so rosy for everyone. For one thing, research suggests that from 20 to 50 percent of people with bipolar don’t have paid employment. Among those who do, some find that mood symptoms lead to trouble on the job or stigma fosters a hostile environment.
“My co-workers had no negative reactions. They simply listened to me and my story. I didn’t feel judged in the slightest.”
When Greg S., a registered nurse, was employed at a hospital in the South three years ago, he took time off to deal with an untenable combination of family problems and his bipolar. On his return, his diagnosis somehow became common knowledge. He perceived a shift in how co-workers treated him, including how his actions and reactions were interpreted.
In his experience, he explains, “Once you are ‘labeled,’ sometimes you’re not allowed to get mad anymore, or stand up for yourself when you need to. Maybe I’m given too many patients to take care of during my shift, and when I bring it up, what might have been a simple disagreement … turns into, ‘There he goes again.’ ”
In his view, people with substance use issues get more leniency and understanding when they return after rehab than he did after his leave.
“I feel it’s more culturally acceptable to be a drug addict than to have a mental illness,” he says.
In some cases, the demands of a particular work situation just don’t mix well with managing bipolar. When Bijal D. had a full-time job at a construction company under a difficult boss, she had trouble staying stable—even with accommodations like getting a half- or whole day off when necessary.
After a year and a half in that position, she made the difficult decision to resign.
“I needed money, but my mental health was more important,” the 48-year-old says.
Law on your side
Bijal lived off her savings for a year, taking a couple of temporary jobs to tide her over. One was a part-time position with a mental health professional—and getting that position meant explaining the long gap in her resume.
“I said I had family health problems—and in fact, my father had just passed away,” she says.
Explaining that you were dealing with bipolar mood episodes—or any other medical condition—likely won’t endear you to a future boss. Indeed, experience has taught Jon that radical honesty may not be the best idea when you’re trying to get work.
Looking to get hired at a bookstore one summer, he listed “bipolar disorder” on a job application line that asked about having a disability. In hindsight, he says, “I really didn’t have to answer that.”
Whether or not that was the reason, he didn’t get the job.
“I would have been the friendliest, best bookseller ever, but I didn’t hear back,” he says.
According to experts at the Job Accommodation Network, a U.S. government program that offers free advice on the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), you have no obligation to discuss your diagnosis with an employer during the hiring process.
“Under the ADA, generally speaking, you don’t have to disclose a disability until you need accommodation,” says Melanie Whetzel, a consultant with the Job Accommodation Network.
“If you’ve taken time off, you can say, ‘I’m just dealing with stress and some personal issues’ and that’s enough.”
(Just to clear up any confusion: In mental health circles, the term “disclosure” generally refers to telling someone your diagnosis. That’s not the same as “disclosure of disability” under the ADA and another U.S. law known as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.)
The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in a variety of arenas, including employment. Under human rights legislation in Canada, everyone has the right to equal treatment in employment and no one may be discriminated against on the basis of actual or perceived disability. (For clarification, “equal treatment” does not mean being treated the same; generally speaking, employers have a duty to provide the necessary support to perform essential job duties.)
In both countries, disability is generally defined as an impairment that substantially limits an individual’s ability to carry out one or more major life activities—and that umbrella covers mental health conditions.
Accommodations are reasonable modifications that help you remain a productive employee, such as flexible work hours, adjusting how work gets done, or tweaking the work environment. For example, if you have trouble staying focused because of fuzzy thinking during bipolar depression or when you’re overly distracted during mania, you might ask to wear earbuds to mute distracting noise or request a cubicle with higher walls.
The law provides recourse against discrimination, but doesn’t guarantee you’ll have an ideal outcome in every situation. Nor does it provide blanket protection for problematic behavior: A recent court ruling in Cincinnati found for the employer when a factory worker with bipolar was dismissed for a pattern of angry outbursts.
In requesting accommodations, you likely will need to provide your employer with a doctor’s note or other documentation confirming that you have an impairment—but “ in most situations, you do not have to share your actual diagnosis,” says Donna Hardaker, a specialist in workplace mental health.
Hardaker was director of Mental Health America of California’s Wellness Works program before taking her expertise to the Sutter Health system in Sacramento earlier this year.
She recommends educating yourself about your employer’s accommodation policies before you take any action, including whether to approach an immediate supervisor, the human resources department, or your union rep, if applicable.
It’s best to conduct conversations in a planned, calm manner, she notes. Consider bringing an ally into discussions if you need the support.
“If possible, minimize sharing of information and requesting of help when in a highly emotional state,” says Hardaker. “Request a meeting and come prepared with information and possible strategies for accommodation.”
Although employers have a legal duty no matter what, it’s good diplomacy to frame any discussions about accommodations—or medical leave—around how this will help you be a better, more productive employee.
That holds true for the dreaded resume gap, too.
“If you had a gap in your work history, you would want to tell the employer if you were helping a family member, did volunteer work, or received training,” Whetzel says. “Then focus on how those experiences helped and prepared you for the next steps in your career and how ready you are to move forward.”
No matter what you decide to tell your boss, the human resources department, or a prospective employer, personal medical information must be kept confidential, Whetzel says. It’s your decision how much you wish to share with co-workers.
“If you’ve taken time off, you can say, ‘I’m just dealing with stress and some personal issues’ and that’s enough,” she says.
Choosing to be more explicit may give co-workers more context for symptoms like increased irritability or taking longer to get things done. Still, there’s no predicting how others will take the news.
Bijal says that when her mood revved up, she would get hyper at work, joke, and talk very loudly—the kind of behaviors that people around her would be apt to notice. When she did share with a co-worker that she has bipolar, though, she felt the person began to treat her differently, “with caution.”
And after his experiences at the hospital, Greg says, “My gut instinct is it say, ‘Don’t tell anybody.’”
“It’s completely false if someone says you must share your diagnosis [to get accommodations].”
The decision to “come out” depends on many factors, including the nature of your job, the climate in your workplace, and whether you consider the people you work with to be good friends.
If you feel you’re ready to have “the talk” with co-workers, Hardaker recommends timing it to when you’ve been doing well. Ideally, she says, you’ll be adding “new information to their already positive perception”—but she warns there’s no guarantee of a good outcome.
“Be prepared for possible backlash by having your own networks of support, just in case your message can’t be heard right now,” she says.
Tom (not his real name), a 30-year veteran in the human resources field, made his big reveal during a not-so-positive period.
At a former job, Tom’s boss told him he was “disruptive, dysfunctional, and that I’d hurt some people with my behavior,” he recalls. In the back-and-forth over addressing the problem, his supervisor suggested that Tom write an email to the staff explaining what was behind his actions and attitude.
“It completely backfired on me—these were health care workers and even they didn’t get it,” he says.
Coping on the job
Tom, 52, is now a human resources director at a hospital in the Northeast. Only two people on staff there know about his diagnosis—and one is his wife. The other is a nutritionist who has a son with bipolar, and who has become part of his on-site support network.
To maintain privacy, Tom keeps his explanations vague when he has an appointment with someone on his treatment team.
“When I need to see my doctor or therapist, I can say I have an appointment ‘out of the office.’ I go first thing in the morning or last thing in the afternoon, and other people can think I went to the dentist,” Tom says. “Or I say I have an important personal matter to take care of.’ ”
When necessary, he takes a literal mental health day. A workplace policy called “earned time off” gives him some leeway.
“Anything more than a day and I’d need permission unless I was out sick. Some places require a doctor’s note, but I never got into a situation long enough that I was asked for one.”
“I go [to therapist appointments] first thing in the morning or last thing in the afternoon, and other people can think I went to the dentist.”
After giving himself that bit of breathing room, Tom says, “I force myself back into the office. Otherwise things will fester too much and get worse.”
His workplace behavior doesn’t make waves now that Tom is better managing his bipolar with help from his psychiatrist, therapist and a variety of coping strategies—including tai chi, hobbies like photography, and using a light therapy lamp from October through April.
In the mornings, he meditates in his rocking chair and forms an intention for the day. He writes that on an index card and places it in clear view on his desk.
To some degree, Tom is able to make his own workplace accommodations for milder mood fluctuations, which might cycle “from laughing to grouchy” in the course of a workday.
For example, the nature of his job often requires dealing with people even when he’s feeling unsociable. One of the perks of his senior position, he notes, is flexibility in scheduling what he needs to get done when.
“Yesterday I worked on projects all day in my office, not interacting and just lying low,” he explains. “Tomorrow I’ll make it up and be friendly and gracious, even if I have to play-act it out. You know what they say: ‘Fake it till you make it.’ ”
* * * * *
Be Your Own Boss: Gain or Loss?
Carrie L. has bipolar disorder. A licensed professional clinical counselor, she chooses to have a private practice in Campbell, California—which “allows a lot of flexibility in terms of when, where, and how I work,” she says.
“With bipolar disorder, the biggest challenges I found with traditional employment were a lack of flexibility in terms of hours and a lack of control over my work environment. I was a competent and ethical professional, but in many jobs I wasn’t allowed to set my own hours or do some of my work at home.”
It’s true that working for herself, by herself, means she has to forego the companionship of co-workers and the comfort of a steady paycheck. Plus, she notes, working in a traditional job provides the kind of daily structure that can be very helpful in managing bipolar.
When you’re self-employed, she says, “you have to build structure and find social connections on your own.”
Running your own business isn’t for everyone, however. Another option: a “portfolio career” consisting of two or more occupations, related or not.
“You might have a part-time office job in the morning, tutor kids or college students in the afternoon, and walk dogs through a site like Rover.com on weekends,” Carrie explains.
Carrie highly recommends people use resources such as a career counselor, business coach, or vocational rehabilitation service. Another resource: “microenterprise” programs that offer guidance and financial support to start a business.
To tell the truth?
If bipolar symptoms affect your ability to perform your job, it may be worth considering “disclosure of disability” (which is different from disclosing your diagnosis) to your supervisor or human resources department. This is what triggers an employer’s duty to explore accommodations. Some expert advice:
There’s an advantage to taking action as soon as you start to have performance or conduct issues on the job. If you wait too long, “your employer doesn’t have to rescind discipline, low evaluations, or even a termination when they didn’t know a disability was a contributing factor,” says Melanie Whetzel, a consultant with the U.S. Job Accommodation Network.
You also want to act when you’re able to have conversations in a calm, planned manner. “If possible, minimize sharing of information and requesting of help when in a highly emotional state,” says California-based workplace mental health specialist Donna Hardaker. “Request a meeting and come prepared with possible strategies for accommodation.” Consider bringing an ally into discussions if you need the support.
Collaboration is key. “Ask your employer to work with you to develop a plan for your success,” says Mary Ann Baynton, program director for the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace in Canada. Focus on solutions for how best to manage various work pressures, demands and conflicts.
Depending on your symptoms, your plan may have to address “what the employer can and should do if you become unwell,” Baynton says. For example, if you are at risk of a psychotic episode, your manager should have contact information for your doctor or another trusted person to support you.
It’s a difficult decision to have “the conversation” about your disorder to anyone; keep these in mind:
#1 Consider the risks and rewards
Talking about your bipolar can seem like a huge risk. It can feel like you’re gambling your emotional stability, or professional and financial stability. However, disclosing your diagnosis at your workplace may actually give your employer better insight into your performance and be more apt to support you. And explaining bipolar to a friend or family member could in fact gain you some practical and moral support.
#2 Think it through
As much as you worry about how people will react to your news, it’s impossible to predict someone’s response. You might be pleasantly surprised. Think about the potential consequences and implications of disclosing or not disclosing your disorder. For example, how does staying silent affect you? If you go public, you’ll experience the freedom of not keeping the secret, but just think through the repercussions so you’re not blindsided.
#3 Be prepared
If you’re considering telling your employer, first have a look through your workplace disclosure guide and review the employer’s privacy and accommodation policies. Also, it’s best to be prepared with enough reliable information about bipolar disorder before going into the disclosure talk, whether with friends, family members or a supervisor. Be prepared to soothe any concerns or satisfy any questions.
#4 Be patient
Don’t expect people to understand all the facts or have a deep understanding and therefore respond less judgmentally. Clinical psychologist Carrie Bearden, PhD, lists some points to emphasize in both professional and personal settings: “You’re managing a treatable illness, are aware of how this illness affects you, that you’re being responsible about all of it, and are focused on having a very productive life.” Also, be aware you may have to address an employer’s fear that an employee with bipolar would be unpredictable, unproductive or lose control of their emotions.
Impulsivity as a symptom of bipolar disorder has many negative risks; here are five ideas to keep control:
#1 Limit the risks
If you know that impulsivity manifests as overspending money when you’re manic, then only carry a limited amount of cash with you and cut up your credit cards. Or if you can’t control yourself around alcohol, make sure there is none in the house. When you know you’re in the midst of an episode, decline an invitation from friends for a night on the town.
#2 Know your weak points
The initial and perhaps most important step is to look deep inside yourself and realize where your weak points are. Are there situations that make impulsive behaviors harder to resist? Or maybe a certain person brings out your wild side. When do you regret your behavior most often? Only by honestly recognizing your triggers for impulsivity can you find a solution for avoiding or at least preparing for such events.
#3 Get another view
Knowing yourself and realizing what triggers your impulsive reactions is important, but it can also be helpful to ask those people you trust in your life to offer their perspective on these actions. Be cautious though because there could be friends, for example, that enjoy and are entertained by your impulsivity; however, you, not them, have to live with the consequences.
#4 Reach out
Ask the help from people you trust the most—your family and friends—who don’t judge you for your impulsive behaviors of the past. Most people will want the best for you and will be happy to be a member of your supportive treatment team. Consider seeking advice from your therapist or medical professional; medication and therapy can be helpful.
#5 Have a plan in place
Equally important as being aware of the warning signs is having a comprehensive plan in place to head off irrational decisions before they even occur. For instance, if a person with bipolar disorder has an investment portfolio, it’s prudent to work with a trustworthy financial adviser or broker. Work out a detailed overview of financial goals and develop a plan and the reasonable steps needed to attain those objectives.
A woman’s heartfelt letter to her parents about their struggles with her bipolar disorder.
Well I’m 16/or 19/or 24 years old now and as we all plainly know, I’m bipolar (because of everything that’s happened this year/or two years ago/or back when I was in high school). And there’s a few things I’d like you to know, things I can’t imagine actually TELLING you because I’m too sensitive/or you’re too sensitive/or the things are too sensitive, but here goes:
First of all, I know you’re worried about me. I know because you have that look on your face when you see me, that look, those probing, searching eyes, scrunched lips, tight look. I know because you still ask me if I’m still taking my meds, even if we’re not talking about the bipolar stuff (on the off chance that we’re not talking about the bipolar stuff, because we seem to always talk about the bipolar stuff when we talk). So just so you know. I know that you’re worried about me. That I’ll get sick again. That I look like I’ve put on a few. That my friends are not the kind of friends you’d pick. That this period of good health and relative calm is just that. A period. To be followed by another disaster. That your faces have already begun preparing for this. And since this is an imaginary letter that I never have to send to you, I would like to ask you to express confidence in me, or at least in the parts of me that you still have confidence in. Regularly. More often that you express concern. Way more often. I’m a person—not just this diagnosis, not just your little time bomb.
Second, I’m worried about me, too. I won’t tell you that. But I am. So know it. And as much as you may think that you feel everything that I feel and that my pain is your pain, well it’s not. I need to create an existence that is safe and fun and inspiring, one that has a back up plan in case I get sick, sure, but one that has fifty times the amount of hopes for all the things I’ll do when I’m well. I need help with all of that but I need to do a lot of it on my own or else it won’t count, won’t feel real, won’t last. It won’t be mine.
How much help should you give me? I don’t honestly know. But there’s a place between smothering and abandonment that we need to find together.
..even if we’re not talking about the bipolar stuff (on the off chance that we’re not talking about the bipolar stuff, because we seem to always talk about the bipolar stuff when we talk.
Third, don’t make ME worry about YOU. Got it? Don’t make me worried about how you’re reacting to me. You be steady, warm, reassuring, and I’ll be me. To you. With more honesty. Don’t become someone I have to lie to if things are hard. Be someone I can tell the truth to.
Fourth, get some help. Yes, you. Get some help. I know I’m the “sick kid” but with the amount of stress we’ve all been through and everything else you are experiencing, I think you should get help too. Read some books on the subject. And get therapy. Please. My goodness, no offense, but you need therapy. Start becoming more steady and balanced and relaxed. You can’t IMAGINE how much this will help me.
Fifth, you wonder how much space to give me and I honestly don’t know what to tell you. The bad news is I have been traumatized by what I have been through and I continue to live day to day in a culture filled with stigma. Sometimes I feel great, and sometimes I fall apart all over again. If I’m a drug addict or an alcoholic I need to be treated as such and put in a rehabilitation program. But otherwise, if I’m a good bipolar kid trying my best to have a real life, the good news is I really have a shot.
I’ve done my share of research which all says I cannot only survive, but flourish. Treatmentreally can work for bipolar people. So you guys have to position yourselves and reposition yourselves and be both flexible and firm for me. And then, I can freely look to you for support and guidance and build an independent life that makes sense to me.
And oh yeah, one more thing I would tell you if we were really communicating closely is that I love you. I really do. I don’t say it or show it often enough but I do love you.
If I could make one wish come true, more than anything else in the world, especially after everything we’ve been through together, I wish I could make a life for myself that would make you proud to be my parents. In my own way, I am working on it everyday. If you didn’t know that, I hope you know it now.