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Bipolar is Not Going Anywhere, but Neither am I – By Sarah Jickling

The first time a doctor told me I had bipolar disorder, I didn’t believe her. Bipolar is a scary word that to me that meant “crazy”, and I didn’t feel crazy. I mean, I got straight A’s in high school! I was the “happy-go-lucky” musician who wrote cute songs on the glockenspiel. I had just done a photo shoot lying in a field of 300 homemade cupcakes. When I wrote sad songs, they were about missing my boyfriend, and… missing my boyfriend. I wasn’t writing about the suicidal thoughts, the loss of control I felt of my body and my emotions. I felt like I was sinking. Suddenly, I had dropped out of university, my closest friends didn’t want to see me anymore, and my boyfriend told me I was “too crazy” and I “needed help”. I felt like I was losing everything.

Striving for Healing with Bipolar Disorder

Before this point, songwriting was just another thing that I did. It wasn’t my life’s purpose, it was just something I had picked up and enjoyed. But now, when I felt like my brain and my emotions were somehow destroying my life, songwriting changed for me. It became a magical thing. The songs began to pour out of me. It was almost like I would go into a trance, and when I woke up, there would be a song. For once, I wrote a song in a minor key. I was heartbroken by the state of my life.

At this point, I googled bipolar and I discovered it was a chronic illness that never goes away. I was more scared than ever.  I wanted to cure whatever was wrong with me. I learned secret meditation techniques, I got acupuncture, I bought crystals and herbal medicine. I even went to an alternative doctor who thought I’d feel much better if I just tried LSD. I wanted to be calm and wise and strong and happy, but nothing was working.

The third time I was diagnosed with bipolar, I was in the emergency room in Saint Paul’s hospital on boxing day. The psychiatrist told me not to be afraid of the diagnosis. At this point, I wasn’t afraid. I was a girl on a mission. I was sick of this and I was going to get better.

Finding the Words to Share my Bipolar JourneyDoc1

I needed a way to tell people what was going on. I felt alone. I remember sitting down at the piano and thinking I had to write the truth. I had been bawling all night, and I thought “This isn’t time for poetry, I need to say exactly how I feel out loud. No editing out. No metaphors.”

I wrote about overdosing. I wrote about side effects of pills. I wrote about panic attacks. I wrote about being ugly and angry and scary. And I noticed, my songs started having more of an effect on people. I got emails from people telling me they could see a light at the end of the tunnel, just knowing they were not alone in feeling this way.

I want to give this story a happy ending, but I’m not there yet. I spent the next year looking for the cure, only… there isn’t one. My psychiatrist told me that from day one, yet I still wasn’t ready to hear it. The truth is, no one ever arrives. There is no “better” for any of us. We are always getting better and worse and better and worse, Bipolar is just an exaggerated version of that.  I remember seeing this Douglas Coupland quote at his exhibit in the art gallery last September. When I read it, it hit me right in the heart.

“It doesn’t go away, you just learn how to live with it.”

It’s beautiful how plain it is, how truthful. He broke down the last 6 years of my life into one sentence. To me, that’s art. That is what I want to do with my music. I’m still in the process of accepting my illness and learning how to live with it. The truth is, it’s a part of me. It makes me the musician I am today. I can work with it or against it… it’s not going anywhere, but neither am I.

Author, Sarah Jickling

Listen to Sarah’s unique and creative music on

her YouTube Channel called Sarah Jickling and her Good Bad Luck.

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Andrea Paquette, the Bipolar Babe on SHAW TV, Victoria

Thank you to Daphne Goode and SHAW TV in Victoria, BC for showcasing the Bipolar Babe story and the great work of the Bipolar Disorder Society of British Columbia. We are truly grateful for your support.

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A Story of a Bipolar Babe on World Bipolar Day

On this day I recognize all of the people in the world that live with bipolar disorder. I feel every one of us has a very important story to share with the world. It is often in the depths of our depression and challenges where we often realize the pleasure of just being able to live through another day. I have truly learned that from my darkest of moments, I am able to appreciate the most simple and beautiful things of this world. My appreciation for life is beyond measure and to be able to embrace a life that is extraordinary is my most valued triumph.

“No matter what our challenges, we can all live extraordinary lives.” ~Andrea AKA Bipolar Babe

 

UNCUT: Part 1 of 2 – Bipolar Babe’s Mini School Presentation

Visit us @ www.stigmafreezone.com 🙂

Here is Part 1 of 2 of Andrea’s Bipolar Babes Presentation at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary in Vancouver.
Life is about being authentic and Andrea is excited to share her uncut version of her talk. I think it is the funny things like the P.A. system and squeaky chairs that make it seem like you are actually there!

Thanks for your support! 🙂 ~Andrea

UNCUT: Part 2 of 2 – Bipolar Babe’s Mini School Presentation

Visit us @ www.stigmafreezone.com 🙂
Here is Part 2 of Andrea’s Bipolar Babes Presentation at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary. Life is about being authentic so I am excited to share my uncut version of my talk. Once again, I think it is the funny things like the P.A system and squeaky chairs that make it seem like you are actually there! Thanks for your support! 🙂 Part 1 of this presentation may be found at:

VLOG: Thank you for Visiting the new Bipolar Babes Website!

Hello friends,

I want to offer you a personal thank-you and big hug for visiting our new Bipolar Babes website. As we conclude the year 2015, we have reached amazing heights with the Bipolar Disorder Society of British Columbia with the impacting Bipolar Babes Programs. In 2009, it all began with my own quirky and fun t-shirt idea and I wanted to wear the Bipolar Babe name boldly, which was my own form of self- empowerment from stigmatizing myself for having bipolar disorder. This t-shirt provided the catalyst for great things, not only for me, but now for so many people seeking help who live with bipolar disorder and any form of mental illness.

As I reflect on our Society’s last five years of success, I am both humbled and in awe with how far we have come in regards to our growth and the ability to reach so many wonderful individuals with our message of hope and resiliency. I want to share my personal message with you today via my first vlog on bipolarbabes.com and I thank you again for your much appreciated support.

Much love to you. ~Andrea AKA Bipolar Babe

Bipolar Myths

Once in awhile we invite guest bloggers and I am so happy to introduce Valerie from www.healthline.com  Thanks Valerie for contributing to the cause and educating others about bipolar disorder.  **You’re a star!**

Bipolar Myths

As bipolar disorder enters the public lexicon, it remains one of the most misunderstood conditions from which a person can suffer. Here are a few common misconceptions regarding bipolar disorder and how people can change their views and understanding of the disease.

Myth No. 1: It’s Not Real

One of the reasons that bipolar disorder is so misunderstood is that it can be difficult to detect and many of the symptoms don’t seem all that different from the odd day everyone goes through once in a while. Everyday has experienced mood swings, and the everyday stresses of work and other parts of life can lead to some shifts in a person’s emotions or bodily functions. However, bipolar disorder is a very real condition, and it is not just an extreme case of everyday mood swings.

Nationwide, an estimated six million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder, although the disease comes in a few different types. In general, bipolar disorder affects people by causing dramatic shifts in mood and mindset, from a high stage called mania to the lows of depression.

Bipolar I disorder involves episodes of both mania and depression, whereas bipolar II disorder involves mostly depression with episodes of a lesser mania, called hypomania. Each of these conditions varies greatly between patients, as cycles between the emotional episodes can vary. Some people suffer from mild forms of the disorder, fluctuating between hypomania and mild depression, while other people cycle through the stages very rapidly.

Bipolar disorder is frequently misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, and understanding the way that bipolar manifests itself is important for diagnosing it properly. The stages of the disease are frequently very slow (weeks or months in one episode), and the fluctuations also take time, so long-term observation is vital.

Myth No. 2: It Only Affects the Mind

Bipolar disorder is commonly associated with mental or emotional effects, but the condition also has an effect on patient’s bodies and daily lives.

Bipolar disorder has different effects during different episodes. Manic episodes come with a decreased need for sleep and a higher tolerance for risk. This means that people going through manic episodes may feel no effect from not sleeping, even though this can lead to more extreme symptoms. Patients tend to make riskier decisions involving finances, drinking and drugs, and sexual encounters, and these decisions often put themselves and others at risk.

Depressive episodes involve more sleep and greater fatigue, as patients lose interest in family, friends, and activities. Anxiety and guilt can accompany these, and patients tend to change their eating patterns, as well. Thoughts of suicide can also occur.

Myth No. 3: Meds Are the Answer (or the Enemy)

In working to address bipolar disorder, treatment should include more than just medicine, but it’s also important to understand the role that medicine can play.

Medicine has a key role in treating bipolar disorder, so patients should understand that side effects of such medicine have been misrepresented. Side effects can arise, but most of these decrease as the patient becomes accustomed to the medicine and dosage is adjusted properly. For example, some bipolar medication like antidepressants or antipsychotics can cause drowsiness, but this typically comes with high dosages and new uses. As the medicine takes effects and the patient’s mindset adjusts to a normal level, less medicine is required and fewer side effects arise.

In addition to medicine, those suffering from bipolar disorder should also make an effort to adjust rebuild a healthier lifestyle. Finding an emotional support network is important because the effects of bipolar disorder can feel magnified in the absence of support. Physical health is equally important, as a healthy diet, exercise, and proper sleep can help decrease the effects of the disorder.

Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.

 

 

Bipolar Babe Women's Peer Support

I am so inspired right now and I want to share my experience tonight with the bipolar babe women’s peer support group.  We have been hosting the support group for the past few months and it began with a call out to any and all participants who have a mental illness.  To my delight eight amazing women responded to the call and then more women with a mental health condition came to the group over time.  The Bipolar Disorder Society of BC named it the ‘women’s peer support group’ formed in Victoria, British Columbia.  As we all shared the story of our week, the room radiated with positivity and excitement.  One woman obtained two new jobs which she had been striving for during the past months and another woman shared her personal journey of leaving an abusive relationship and has been shining ever since.  I truly see a significant impact in the lives of these women and it is truly  an honour to be facilitating the group.  The women’s peer support group meets every Tuesday at 7-8:30 PM at the Blanshard Community in Victoria, BC.  Come and check us out or preferably contact Andrea AKA Bipolar Babe for more information at: babe@bipolarbabe.com HUGS XO

Star Gaze More Often

Life has been a series of ups and downs as it often is for everyone, but most especially for myself lately.  I have mostly been concerned with the side-effects that my medication has been having on me, particularly lithium.  My thyroid is enlarged, perhaps pointing to a future dysfunction, my skin is broken out severely, the potassium levels in my kidneys have risen and I am completely distraught about the weight gain.  I can handle and accept vanity over sanity but I have to admit that once my thyroid changed and my potassium levels rose, I was a little more than concerned. 

The most disturbing factor has been losing my hair.  I ignored the fact that I had been losing about 50 strands a day, hoping that it would stop but it hasn't!  For the first time in a very long time I cried the other day.  On the kind shoulder of my understanding boyfriend actually, and I felt that I was mourning everything that I was losing.  He told me it was okay to cry and I suppose I was trying my best to stand tall with a stiff lip of courage.  I made a decision to go off lithium completely for the first time in 7 years with my doctor's guidance and support.  He listened to what I had to say and we agreed that I will stay on my other medications but it was advisable to go off the lithium.  I have a game plan for this drastic change which consists of taking my medications at the exact same time during the day and night, regular sleep, exercise and a mood chart.  I really should have been doing all of these things all along, but in reality I admit that I have not and I find myself staying up too late, forgetting meds at times and lacking a sense of routine in my daily living.  I plan to change this and REALLY take a hold of my health, begin a new way of being and push for a lifestyle that works for me.  I pray that going off lithium will work for me and I won't be pushed into another mood stabilizer.  I know when something is working for me and when it may be failing so I promise to pay close attention.  

I tend to star gaze with my boyfriend these days.  This is when everything seems to ease, all the worry and pain certainly fade away when I take time to appreciate what I have and appreciate the beautiful surroundings and people that encompass my every day life.  Thank you Sami for giving me a shoulder and I thank all of you for reading and caring.  I know many of you have expressed your concern for the changes that are taking place but I know myself and I will know if this is the path both to healing and health. 🙂  Bipolar Babe   

BDSBC's Annual General Meeting

The Bipolar Disorder Society of BC had their 2nd annual general meeting on Monday, June 25th, 2012.  People often ask what a general meeting is; well, it is a requirement of the province to keep our charitable status and more importantly it is a cause for celebration.  Can you believe that the society has been around for 2 years already?  It is amazing the leaps and bounds that it has crossed to date and all of the funding that we have garnered.  We have huge expectations put on us for the Fall and at times I get a little nervous as things are growing at such a fast pace.  I feel that at times I am expected to get all the classroom presentations lined up and I fear expressing my doubt and worry over such things.  I'm am sure things will work out but it is daunting. I am often thought to have it all together and we are now expected to deliver results.  We have a mental health tree (A tree handout for youth that will direct them to where they need to go for help) to produce and a video to tape that will train presenters across the province.  Excited?  Yes.  Nervous?  Just a tad.  I love that I can be frank on this BLOG and tell you how I 'really' feel.  

We also just started a new bipolar babes' women's group.  We already have 11 participants!  The demand is huge and seems to be growing.  Soon enough I will be able to start a waiting list and eventually begin a new group.  We have applied to the Victoria Foundation for funding as this is only a pilot project.  I have no doubt that it will be successful.

Things are hopping on the babe front and we have you to really say thank you to.  We appreciate your love and support and hope that we can continue to rely on you in the future.  We thank you for all your likes on our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Bipolar-BABE-Bipolar-Disorder-Society-of-BC-wwwbipolarbabecom/168880573172522 and your participation on our facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/90862654894/

Much love and hugs!  Babe  XO