Topic: bipolar disorder

Bipolar Is Not The Destructive Mental Illness You Think…And My Life Proves It

Bipolar Is Not The Destructive Mental Illness You Think...And My Life Proves It

Approximately 5.7 million Americans are living with bipolar disorder right now. Most people know this is a serious mental illness, but there is a lot that we still don’t understand. Like, what exactly is it? Who gets this? What causes it? And as with any mental illness, there are a lot of stigmas around bipolar disorder. So to help break those stigmas and set the record straight about this illness (and how someone can lead a perfectly productive and happy life), we talked with Linea Johnson, who has suffered from bipolar since she was a teenager. She and her mother, Cinda, have since co-authored Perfect Chaos: A Daughter’s Journey to Survive Bipolar, a Mother’s Struggle to Save Her. In her book, Linea writes, “There is no form of art capable of expressing this madness.” More »

Why It Matters That Jesse Jackson Jr. Has Bipolar II, Not Bipolar I

Why It Matters That Jesse Jackson Jr. Has Bipolar II, Not Bipolar I

The news that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is being treated for bipolar disorder has been making the rounds, after the Mayo Clinic of Minnesota — where Jackson is being treated — released a statement about it Monday. What’s interesting to me is how little has been made of the distinction between bipolar I, which is what most people think of as bipolar disorder, and bipolar II, which Jackson has. For a politician who ever wants reelected, the difference between the two could be crucial. More »

Karly Long Died Of Prescription Drug Overdose At 29; Are Doctors To Blame?

Karly Long Died Of Prescription Drug Overdose At 29; Are Doctors To Blame?

This week, Michael Jackson‘s physician Dr. Conrad Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. It’s a huge headline, and not just because it involves the death of a celebrity. Prescription drug abuse is a huge epidemic, and celebrities aren’t the only ones involved. Around the world, there is shockingly little oversight over the drugs that are prescribed by doctors and filled by pharmacists every day. In Jackson’s case, he was taking a highly potent drug cocktail and Dr. Murray had more than enough information to do something about it before the singer died. More »

Online Test Says I’m Bi-Polar, And You Probably Are Too

Online Test Says I'm Bi-Polar, And You Probably Are Too

I probably shouldn’t ever do online tests that claim to be reliable indicators of my health or personality, but that doesn’t stop me from frittering away my time every once in awhile. Who doesn’t want to know how their IQ stacks up with their friend’s, whether their personality type is compatible with their partner’s, or if they could be considered a “fitness junkie”? I know I do. So when Alternative Depression Therapy’s online bi-polar test showed up in my Twitter stream, I was too curious not to see my results. I’ve never been diagnosed with any mental illness, but hey, this could save me the trip to the psychologist, and an excuse to get my hands on some good pills! (Kidding, of course.) But all the test really taught me is that I’m, in fact, much cooler than I’d ever imagined. More »

Driving While on Bipolar and Depression Medication Is Usually Safe

Driving While on Bipolar and Depression Medication Is Usually Safe

We know it’s unsafe to drive after two or three glasses of wine, but what about after 1,050 milligrams of Lithium?

Sure, my impulse response is good. My cognitive functions are fine. I know when I have to stop, where to look, and how to flip the bird if I have to.

But my hands do tremor. And although most of the time no one notices, there are times when the shakes are quite visible, and embarrassing. Like on the morning of my first day at my new consulting job, where 300 consultants waited in one single file line to submit proper paperwork. I couldn’t get my Styrofoam coffee cup to stop shaking as I held copies of my birth certificate, driver’s license, and proof that I was not an alien.

The man behind me noticed my shaking hands and said, “Oh, you poor thing. Your blood sugar is low. You’re diabetic, aren’t you?”

“Something like that,” I responded, not wanting my first hour at this new job to turn into a freak show courtesy of the bipolar consultant. More »

The Lithium Chronicles: Is There a Link Between Chelation and Bipolar Disorder?

The Lithium Chronicles: Is There a Link Between Chelation and Bipolar Disorder?

The Lithium Chronicles is a Blisstree series focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder.

Last time in The Lithium Chronicles, we heard Ross McKenzie’s story of how he got fired by his psychiatrist when he decided to go off of lithium, a drug he took daily for 15 years. Bipolar patients going off of lithium is already a pretty controversial topic. But there’s an extra twist in Ross’ story that isn’t exactly in the mainstream.

Ross attributes the process of chelation with much of his mental health today. More »

6 Celebrities Who Are Honest About Their Depression to Help Others

6 Celebrities Who Are Honest About Their Depression to Help Others

Look, Catherine Zeta-Jones isn’t the only Hollywood superstar to make a public statement about the fragile state of her mental health, and she likely won’t be the last. While I applaud CZJ for not equating being diagnosed with bipolar disorder with shame or negativity, long before her recent revelatory statement to the press on her way to rehab, there have been plenty of other luminaries who’ve taken advantage of their high-profile nature and used the unfortunate circumstances of their depression to help eliminate the societal stigma surrounding it for the benefit of others. Click through our gallery of Hollywood celebrities who have been brave and honest enough about their depression in an effort to help those who feel they have no voice battle their own mental health issues: More »

Catherine Zeta-Jones Open About Mental Illness, Other Celebs Not So Much

Catherine Zeta-Jones Open About Mental Illness, Other Celebs Not So Much

Catherine Zeta-Jones released a statement yesterday, announcing that she not only has Bipolar II Disorder, but that she also recently sought treatment at a mental health care facility in the wake of hubby Michael Douglas’ cancer scare. Good on her for being so forthcoming – usually, celebrities go to exorbitant lengths to hide their illnesses from the public which, in most cases, is a recipe for disaster. Hollywood just can’t keep secrets today like it could 20 years ago. TMZ, Perez Hilton, and the 24-hour AP newswire all have insiders and whistleblowers informing them of every celebrity hang-nail, papercut, bunion and sniffle. But Zeta-Jones has effectively issued a preemptive strike against speculation by just owning up to the truth of her situation. More »

The Lithium Chronicles: My Psychiatrist Fired Me When I Decided to Go Off My Meds

The Lithium Chronicles: My Psychiatrist Fired Me When I Decided to Go Off My Meds

The Lithium Chronicles is a Blisstree series focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder. Ross McKenzie was diagnosed as bipolar at the age of 21. After 15 years of daily lithium doses, he went off his meds last February. He’s been drug free ever since. This is the continuing story of how he made his way back to a life without psychotropic medication, after he ended up walking naked down a highway on one ill-fated night.

At the end of my first year on lithium, I almost died. For an entire year I had been taking 1200 milligrams of lithium a day. At the end of the year my psychiatrist called me in a panic telling me to drop my dosage immediately:

“Your test results were in the extreme toxic range. Which can cause death.”

All psychotropic drugs are highly toxic. Which is why dosages of such drugs are extremely important. But they’re still not monitored closely enough.

In the past when people experienced mental health symptoms they received physical lobotomies. Today, they receive chemical lobotomies by ingesting high quantities of psychotropic drugs for prolonged periods. Initially the drugs act as a numbing band-aid. They mask the symptoms, but don’t address the underlying causes. We can’t just keep people on these potent drugs their entire lives.

In my case, lithium initially alleviated my symptoms. But I took that drug for twelve years. And as time went by, instead of helping with the symptoms, my body became addicted and I felt myself becoming more and more symptomatic.

Over the years, I bounced between doctors, doses and treatments but I never “got better. I tried several times to wean myself from my dependency on lithium but it wasn’t until last year, at a holistic healing clinic, that I was finally able to successfully detoxify my body. More »

The Lithium Chronicles: I Am Bipolar. Not Disabled.

The Lithium Chronicles: I Am Bipolar. Not Disabled.

The Lithium Chronicles is a Blisstree series focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder. Ross McKenzie was diagnosed as bipolar at the age of 21. After 15 years of daily lithium doses, he went off his meds last February. He’s been drug free ever since. This is the story of how he ended up walking naked down a highway and making his slow journey back to a life without psychotropic medication.

When I was 20 years old, I had a tumultuous relationship with my father that was only becoming more tenuous as I approached adulthood. At one point, I had all my amalgam fillings taken out of my mouth and then spent a weekend at an intensive Tony Robbins retreat. Some combination of what was happening in my brain and in my life at the time triggered a chain of events that led me to be spend the better part of two decades on lithium.

I was in college, studying in New York City when I started exhibiting abnormal behaviors. Looking back, it was a pretty classic manic episode. I was acting very out of character, and my actions soon devolved into a full blown psychotic manic episode.

But any kind of symptoms you experience now, very quickly today, you’ll find there’s a prescription for that, or a label. Someone will quickly tell you:

“Here’s what you have for the rest of your life. And here’s what you have to take.”

That’s what happened to me. At the age of 21, I ended up tied in a straight jacket in a padded room. All of the dreams that seemed achievable weeks before were suddenly outside my grasp.

But I wasn’t ready to roll over and play dead. 15 years later, I’m finally off my meds. But it was a long complicated process to get to where I am now. More »