Tag Archives: depression

“How to Help Someone Who Is Experiencing Bipolar Psychosis” by Natasha Tracy

25 Feb
As Natasha Tracy writes, psychosis is most commonly associated with schizophrenia, but it can also manifest in people with bipolar disorder. People with bipolar I are at risk for psychosis during manic episodes; however, those of us with bipolar II aren’t off the hook. Tracy notes that while hypomania cannot cause psychosis (it can, however, result in delusional perceptions and thoughts),  severe depression puts us at risk as well. I can personally attest to this: during my worst moments, I’ve had visions of wraiths floating over my bed, seen my face turn into a skull in the mirror, and heard God’s voice telling me I was evil and should kill myself.
As there’s evidence that depressive episodes are more frequent and durative in bipolar II, those of us with that diagnosis shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that we’re immune to psychosis. Considering the overlapping and symbiotic symptoms of bipolar disorder and PTSD, those of us with a comorbid diagnosis should be especially cognizant of the risks.
Reblogged from Answers.com

While psychosis is normally associated with schizophrenia, psychosis is also a dangerous mental state that can occur in people with bipolar disorder. A person experiencing psychosis may feel they are a deity and try to fly or they may feel like they can talk to animals. They may see, hear, taste, smell, and feel things that aren’t there. They may become highly agitated when these beliefs or experiences are questioned. Here’s how to help a person suffering from psychosis in bipolar disorder.

What is Psychosis?

Psychosis is a mental state personified by the presence of delusions and hallucinations. Delusions are false beliefs that may be held even in the face of direct evidence to the contrary. Delusions of grandeur are common wherein the person believes themselves to be extremely special in some way such as being a genius or a god.

While most people think of hallucinations as seeing things that aren’t there, that’s only part of it. Hallucinations can actually manifest through any sense although the most common is to see and hear things that aren’t real. Someone suffering from psychosis often hears people who don’t exist talking about him or her and this can be very distressing.

Other symptoms of psychosis include changed feelings, changed behaviors, and confused thinking. See: What is psychosis?

How Does Psychosis Manifest in Bipolar Disorder?

Typically, psychosis manifests as part of mania or a mixed episode. Bipolar mania is a highly elevated mood experienced by those with bipolar type I (or possibly Other Bipolar and Related Disorder). According to Medscape Reference’s information on bipolar disorder, it’s estimated that up to 75% of people who suffer from mania, also suffer from psychosis. By definition, psychosis does not occur in hypomania.

Psychosis can also occur during bipolar depressions. It’s less clear how many people experience psychosis in this mood state.

No matter how psychosis is experienced, however, it is typically considered a medical emergency and help should be sought immediately. See: Psychosis and bipolar disorder

How to Help Someone Experiencing Bipolar Psychosis

According to the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society, there are many ways to help someone experiencing psychosis. Helpful things to do include:

– Stay calm and protect the safety of all involved.
– Be aware that unusual behavior during this state is a symptom of an illness and is not about you.
– Avoid arguing with the person about their delusions. Delusions are extremely difficult change.
– Connect with the emotion behind the delusion. For example, it’s easy to understand that some psychosis symptoms would be very scary, so you could say, “It must be very frightening to believe that you are Jesus Christ.”
– Calm down the environment and remove stimulation such as people and noises
– Show compassion for how the person feels and give him (or her) the help he asks for. For example, if he thinks the television is trying to kill him, turn it off.
– Show him you are on his side with your body language. Sit next to him, rather than across from him.
– Speak slowly, clearly, and calmly and allow plenty of time for the other person to understand and respond.
– Give step-by-step instructions, if needed.
– Be aware that even if the person suffering from psychosis isn’t expressing much emotion, they still may be experiencing a lot of feelings.

And above all else, it’s critical to get professional help for anyone experiencing psychosis. If his doctor cannot be located in a timely fashion then an emergency healthcare team should be called or a visit to the Emergency Room should be arranged. See: What to do about psychosis symptoms

People with bipolar disorder can experience psychosis during the manic, mixed, and depressive phases of the illness. How psychosis is manifested varies but it can include hallucinations, delusions, confused thinking, and changed feelings and behaviors. Psychosis is typically considered a medical emergency so professional help should always be sought. Until the help arrives, however, it’s important to be calm, protect everyone’s safety, not argue, and remove excess stimuli from the environment.

Amber Alert

26 Apr

I’m having a rough patch. I can look at in two ways. The first way is that I’m a mess who is never going to get her shit together and woe is me it’s so hard. The second, more constructive way, is to acknowledge that as much as I’m struggling right now, I haven’t fallen to pieces and as long as I get and keep my sleep cycle under control, I am not going to find myself giving in to the Swamps of Sadness–which for anyone who’s never seen the 1984 fantasy classic The Neverending Story, is this:

I used to cry my eyes out during that scene.

Anyhoo: I’m not doing great, but I’m still on a somewhat even keel, except I’m having the worst insomnia I’ve had in a very, very long time. Once I get that under control, I’ll be almost somewhat okay.

Unfortunately, my appetite has dwindled. Food isn’t appetizing and my stomach’s in knots. This morning, I stared at my breakfast and actually felt repulsed. I’ve never had an eating disorder but I think I may have achieved some empathy today.

I also keep clenching my jaw. Not exactly grinding my teeth, but certainly applying pressure.

But I’m up. I’m showered. I’m cleaning and cooking and doing things. I’m not having any flashbacks or thoughts about hurting myself.

I think of mood management as a ship at sea. Sometimes the waters are clear and calm. Sometimes they’re choppy. Just try to keep the damn ship upright.

So: how do we do that in this particularly stormy time?

1. SLEEP CYCLE. That needs to be addressed posthaste. To whit: limit consumption of coffee to one cup in the morning. Begin winding down for bed two hours before intended bedtime. Benedryl and sleepy time tea. I hate sleeping pills, so I work with what I’ve got. This isn’t going to be easy, but if I keep at it for a couple of days, I’m confident I can get it under control.

2. Once the insomnia is in check and I no longer wake up embarrassingly late in the day feeling like I was hit by a bus, back to exercising. Walks in Forest Park are excellent for both fitness and general peace of mind.

3. Take a hiatus from reading about and engaging in the culture wars online, and limit my news consumption to local and international current events. I’ll skim the headlines on the national stuff, but nothing more in depth than that.

4. Go back to my support group–I missed it last week because I’m embarrassed to be around people when I’m like this, but that’s the entire goddamn point of the support group, so I need to put my big girl panties on and engage.

5. Answer my phone when it rings and answer texts when they come. I let my phone die and ignored it for two days. No more of that.

6. Lots of reminders to pause, take a diaphragmatic breath, and be mindful about whatever loopiness my mind is currently producing.

7. Stop watching dark messed up shit like Hemlock Grove. If a television show, film, or piece of writing gets even slightly rape-y, immediately put it aside and cleanse the palate with lighter fare. Watch and read enjoyable things; my sweet spot is standup comedy.

8. Make myself eat light things that can get me through the day, such as bananas and yogurt. Carbs and meat are too heavy and sit in my stomach.

9. Do the dishes and laundry. Once I break through the inertia and start, it’s actually quite soothing.

We’ll start there and build on it in a few days when things are more manageable. I’m stoked.

New Study Finds High Rate of Bipolar Disorder in Postpartum Depression

19 Mar
from NAMI’s website; by Bob Carolla, NAMI Director of Media Relations:

The largest study to date of postpartum depression has found that one in seven women experience symptoms of depression after childbirth.

Published in JAMA Psychiatry by theAmerican MedicalAssociation, the basic finding is consistent with past prevalence estimates however, the study’s follow-up evaluations of women at risk revealed especially serious symptoms.

Approximately 20 percent of the mothers with depressive symptoms were experiencing suicidal thoughts. Among those who were followed for a full year, 22 percent experienced severe depression.

In the study, 10,000 mothers who gave birth at a Pittsburgh hospital were contacted by telephone and screened six to eight months later for symptoms of depression. Fourteen percent were identified as being at risk. Approximately 60 percent of the at-risk group received follow-up home visits. Another 11 percent completed diagnostic interviews by telephone

Forty percent of the women’ symptoms began postpartum. Thirty-three percent were assessed as having begun during pregnancy and 27 percent beforehand. Follow-up evaluations most often resulted in a diagnosis of depression with a co-occurring anxiety disorder.

“A striking 22.6 percent had bipolar disorder,” the study warned.

The study calls for all pregnant women and new mothers to be screened for depression, beyond what current medical practice requires. It also emphasizes the need for “strategies to differentiate women with bipolar from unipolar disorders.”


You’re Not Stable, You’re Euthymic

8 Mar

I recently realized that I spent the past few months trying to avoid hypomania. I did this by sleeping more than usual, deadening my mind with television, and distracting myself online. I accomplished my goal, but my depression didn’t lift. It just became my new normal.

I thought that it was safer to live within this moderate depression. I wasn’t suicidal. I wasn’t crying constantly. I wasn’t sustaining constant waves of anxiety. No flashbacks testing the borders of my consciousness.

While tracking my mood yesterday, I saw that I am becoming hypomanic. Things seem a lot more manageable. Washing the dishes no longer overwhelms me. I’ve felt good for two days: energized, optimistic, and inspired. I’m speaking and thinking more quickly. That awful stalled car sensation of not being able to retrieve the right word or detail has been dissipating. My mind’s working better.

But according to my psychiatrist and a lot of the articles I’ve been reading, that’s not good. It’s part of my illness. Embracing that hypomania will only result in a crash into a more pronounced depression. The conclusion I subconsciously reached was that is was better to hide within the moderate depression. Accept this grey box of a life. Numb myself completely so that I never fly off the handle or end up in the loony bin ever again.

I was so angry when I discovered that there’s a psychiatric term for balanced mood: euthymia. It makes me feel like I can never live without being defined by my illness. If I do ever manage to achieve that elusive emotional and energetic equilibrium, I won’t be “doing well.” I’ll be euthymic.

What does a balanced mood feel like? Does that mean that you feel no highs or lows? How is that healthy? Why is it normal for you but a diagnosable condition for me?

I’m tired of fighting with myself. I’m tired of monitoring myself. I am weary of fearing and censoring my own emotions, passions, and creative urges.

I’m sick of people likening mental illness to diabetes in a misguided attempt to reduce stigma. It’s not fucking diabetes. It’s shaped who I am. I’ve been a conduit of energy and emotion for as long as I can remember. My mother told me that she had trouble sleeping when she was pregnant with me because I was so active in utero, that I kicked at her insides like they were a soccer ball. My first PTSD flashback transported me back to staring out into the backyard of our house in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. We moved out of that house when I was four. I have always been this way.

But I simultaneously bristle at the idea that my personality is a product of my malfunctioning brain. I’m filled with indignation at the thought that when I reported to my shrink that I felt pretty good, she wrote in her notes, “Patient is euthymic.”

I’ve read too many articles about bipolar disorder concluding with the prognosis that we mentally ill can, with therapy and a heavy dose of medication, live out a normal life if we’re willing to make certain sacrifices. The sacrifices they list include having children and careers; in other words, having a fulfilling life.

I refuse to accept that.

It’s time to come out of hiding.

“Study Points to ‘Shared Biology’ between 5 Psychiatric Disorders”

2 Mar


From CBS News’s website:

“For the first time, researchers were able to see if there are any genetic variants that are linked to not just one of those disorders, but to all five. ‘And there were,’ Dr. Jordan Smoller, one of the lead researchers in the study, said on ‘CBS This Morning.’

Smoller, a psychiatry professor at Massachusetts General Hospital, explained, ‘There were several regions of the genome, several variations that seemed to increase the risk for all five. It’s important to realize, of course, that this is a small part of the genetic component of these disorders, but it points to a shared biology.’

The researchers took this approach because disorders often cluster in families. Smoller added, ‘It’s not only that, we sometimes see the same family being affected with multiple kinds of disorders, so there was some evidence that there would be shared links, but this is the first time we’ve been able to see specific DNA variations.'”

Thanks to the blog Depression Time for originally posting this. I highly recommend checking it out:

Calling the Angel of Death

22 Feb

When on the precipice of suicide, do we really want to die?

In season two of the television show American Horror Story, the Angel of Death, played by Francis Conroy, appears to characters when they wish for death. The Angel is portrayed as the embodiment of compassionate detachment: benevolent, serene, nonjudgmental. She asks the ones who “called” her if they are finally ready. If they are, her wings unfurl, she gently kisses them, and they die. If they choose to live, she vanishes.


In one poignant scene, the distressed character Sister Jude, played by Jessica Lange, has a conversation with the Angel in which they recount the numerous occasions Jude has summoned her. The Angel says that Jude’s call sounded different this time and asks if she is finally ready to abdicate all of her pain and suffering through death. Jude ruefully responds, “Never trust a drunk” and the two part ways until she dies of natural causes at the end of the season.


Television critic Ron Hogan has pointed out that this is a metaphor for suicidal ideation. When facing the Angel, the majority of the characters decide to live, even though their lives are sheer hell. This is true for many of us who have contemplated the act. We don’t want to die, necessarily; we just don’t want to suffer anymore. When confronted by death, many would-be suicides find themselves flooded with a frantic will to live. If they are on the verge of doing themselves in, they will back away. If they’ve already taken action, they will struggle to hold on to their lives.

I find comfort in that.

Continue reading

Cool Website: “Developing Creativity”

19 Feb


Douglas Eby has been curating the website Talent Development Resources (talentdevelopment.com) for fifteen years. He’s also written several books about honing and channeling personal creativity. This particular page focuses on psychology and creativity, including discussions about bipolar disorder, unipolar depression, and trauma. Eby started his site while studying psychology as an exploration into his own creative processes. LOADS of great articles and links, a veritable smorgasbord of info and inspiration.

healing from the freeze

trauma, dissociation and embodiment

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

'Merica Magazine

For the Unlikely Patriot.....

recovery network: Toronto

people can and do recover from what is sometimes called "mental illness"


scent . intention . consciousness . essential oils

we hunted the mammoth

the new misogyny, tracked and mocked

The Belle Jar

"Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences." - Sylvia Plath


Collaborating to Refine our Design Vision for a Growing Division

Queer Guess Code

Unraveling Sex and Gender in Pop Culture

Oregon Fall Foliage

Let us help you find the best color throughout Oregon

The Daily Advocate By Painspeaks

Advocacy is FREE and its never-ending ripples spread awareness for all worthy causes!

Musings of a Bipolar Mama

Your not-so-average ramblings of a bipolar mama

Writing for Recovery

Write, speak, heal, live. Say the unsayable.

Kate McKinnon

explorer | ingenieur

Shapely Prose


The Rhubosphere

Ro Smith's writing blog and review site

Sunny With a Chance Of Armageddon

The Beta Project in Textual Stimulation

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