Some Insight: 

Bipolar disorder is a confusing condition, especially for someone viewing it from the outside. And let’s be honest- it’s usually confusing even to those living with it. But even if you don’t have it or even know of someone who has it; by you simply understanding it better, you gain an ability to help someone who does have it in more ways than one. 

Because Bipolar Disorder is often misunderstood (and not to mention, very stigmatized), It’s also misused often to describe the weather or the traffic or your irritable boss. 

There are also many misconceptions about Mental Illness, especially Bipolar.  I’m usually not one to take offense to things easy, but even I’ve had a hard time dealing with the comments that I’ve heard personally from people like:  You don’t look like someone with Bipolar“… As if there is some kind of uniform out there I was supposed to be wearing so that I “look” like someone with Bipolar…  And you’ve probably heard this comment before where someone says, “She’s always having mood swings. She must be Bipolar or something… And while that comment is totally inaccurate and it’d be fair if you felt offended… Let’s try to understand why it’s better to ignore the misconceptions and do your best not to feel offended because this is a perfect opportunity to educate someone. 

Even more important than learning how to explain Bipolar Disorder to someone who misuses mental illness words or has misconceptions is the fact we have a group of loved ones that we need to learn how to open up to and let inside. Those of us living with this Mood Disorder rely heavily on the support of our loved ones to carry us through the dark times. We owe it to them to try and explain what’s going on in our head and why our behavior is different at times. Let’s do our best to explain Bipolar in a way that’s easier to understand.

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The Simple Explanation: 

Mood swings are not the same as Bipolar Disorder, but I can see why they might look like it from the outside looking in or if you haven’t been around someone who has Bipolar. Ordinary people will certainly experience mood swings throughout their lives. Because not everyone will experience Bipolar, we can use the similarities and major differences between mood swings and the mood disorder, Bipolar. Keep reading to find out how to explain the complicated brain disorder in a way that’s easier to understand for those who don’t experience it themselves.

Yes, we all experience mood swings and mood swings do happen to be a symptom of Bipolar. They are not easy for anyone to deal with. The difference between the two is this: moodiness is a response to a trigger or stressor that makes sense. It is caused by either a physical trigger or psychological stressor. For example, a physical trigger could be something like poor diet habits or consistent headaches which cause moodiness. The psychological triggers that cause a mood swing are things involving high stress like a divorce, financial problems, anxiety about the kids, unemployment, etc… Even though people understand they have a lot going, they can become moody without realizing what specifically the stressor is. A mood swing is created by your body beginning to respond to the stressors in your life and begins to feel threatened. Your body responds to this threat by going into a mode similar to fight-or-flight which affects your mood. Also, a mood swing will last a few hours and then you can use helpful techniques to calm yourself down and you have the ability to return back into a normal state of mind.

So, how are they different?

Bipolar Disorder, simply summarized, involves extreme low-moods and high-moods along with a variety of other symptoms. Once the disorder is triggered, it becomes a life-long process that takes on a life of itself and remains active with no cure available. One aspect of Bipolar Disorder that’s different from mood swings is that mood swings involve a stressor a trigger that caused your body to react in a way that affects your mood. In contrast, Bipolar Disorder (BPD) consists of a dysfunction in the brain that creates intense mood shifts without stressful triggers. When someone has begun to experience a mood shift, it won’t be long before biological and physiological symptoms begin and start to affect the ability to complete everyday life tasks.  Even though there are eight different Bipolar Disorders; the one consistent factor in all varieties of Bipolar is the two different, unpredictable and extreme moods that one will go through; Depression (low mood) and Mania (high mood).

When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts to mania; your brain is overproducing adrenaline which begins to make someone feel euphoric, full of so much energy that they become restless and can’t sleep. The symptoms for both Mania and Depression become intense, all-consuming, appear out of the blue and cause impairment in judgment. They differ from mood swings because Bipolar Disorder episodes, whether it be Mania or Depression, affects sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behavior and the ability to think clearly. Besides the difference in intensity between mood swings and Bipolar Disorder; the duration of the two conditions is very different. Mood swings we have mentioned last a few hours while episodes of Bipolar Disorder can last weeks or even years in extreme cases.

So how do we explain Bipolar Disorder in a way that’s easier to understand?  2e245fed102e80bb0804fc408e2b3adeEveryone can experience mood swings and they can be very hard to manage. However, in time, mood swings will evolve and become the colors in your life. They’ll continue to come and go as long as you experience stressors, but you can avoid them by learning stress management techniques. Bipolar Disorder is a dysfunction in a part of the brain that affects mood. It will not go away, there is no cure and often there is no stressor that kickstarts a transition from one mood to the next. The levels of intensity reach dangerous peaks as they begin to affect the ability to complete everyday tasks. The duration is much longer; an episode of mania (high-elevated mood) or depression (intense, low mood). Mood swings do not require medication. Bipolar Disorder is so complex that there is a variety of medications a person with BPD has to take in order to tame the episodes and ease the intensity of episodes. Most of the antipsychotic and mood stabilizer medications come with their own set of symptoms that add to the challenges of living with Bipolar however,  people can find the proper medication and learn to manage their episodes and function normally in their everyday lives.

Using your new knowledge to give Help & Hope: 

On a personal level, I have to acknowledge how hard Bipolar is. I live through it every day and take a lot of time to learn about it so I can eventually learn to manage it, but I have a long way to go. While some people have learned to manage their disorder and function more normally in their everyday life– that takes a lot of time, patience, trial and error, and practice. Even after two years, I haven’t found one medication that’s helped me more than it’s symptoms harmed me, mentally. I know many people take years of living with these intense, life-changing mood shifts before they find out how to manage them. My emotions seem to come unhinged, my thoughts feel out of control, my mind and body are never in sync and my mood shifts rapidly cycle from day to day. It’s taken a lot of work trying to keep Bipolar from negatively affecting my ability to function in life; and to be honest, I haven’t always been successful. My relationships with friends, my husband, my family and at my workplace have all transitioned in one way or another.  This brain disorder does indeed take on a life of its own. It becomes so complex and causes your thoughts to become so distorted that you truly can’t put together words that explain how you are even feeling because it’s hard to understand yourself. The brain is arguably the most powerful part of our bodies and we are essentially trying to win a fight against ourselves when we have Bipolar Disorder. I share this with you because there are times where someone simply checking in helped me more than they knew. Because someone knowing more about Bipolar than just the misconception helps people that live with the disorder realize they’re going to be okay; life is full of struggles and one of mine just happens to be Bipolar right now.

Knowledge is power, it doesn’t even have to be on Mental Health. Learning new things is a way I keep my mind busy.  It puts a stop to the racing thoughts and gut-wrenching anxiety because my brain is occupied and the overwhelming thoughts immediately become background noise. But there is something powerful and beautiful when you decide that you can learn what you know and apply it in a way that helps someone else. I think people can forget how important and what a big difference it can make when someone is kind enough to ask the simple question, “how are you really doing?” then listen and respond without judgment. This simple skill set allows someone with a Mental Illness to feel a sense of normalcy again as they begin to open up to you. Someone who could be feeling isolated from the world and uncomfortable in their own skin just needs someone to remind them that they will be okay, and if you can understand what they are going through, then it’s you that has the power to be the one that helps get them through the darkest moments in their life… and it’s all because you took the time to educate yourself on a topic as important as Mental Health and Mental Illnesses.

Do you struggle telling people about a Mental Illness you battle on a daily basis? Let’s hear your story!

Leave your comments below!
Until next time,

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How To Explain Bipolar To Someone Who Doesn’t Have It

anxiety, bipolar, personal development

img_3689A day, a week plus one whole month dedicated to showing support for the millions that took their life to suicide. It’s the one month that brings awareness to the problem that 1 in 5 people deal with every day for the rest of their life; Mental Health and the fact it results so often in suicide.

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I’m grateful for this movement because doing something is better than nothing. But why don’t we raise awareness all year long? when did “serving & helping others” become a second/third/nineteenth priority to people. We declared a war on drugs and although there is debate whether that helped, it was a problem recognized on a national level; something everyone was involved in. That’s what we need with Mental Health and for suicide prevention.1925996346f46dfbd6186cc66aa35a41.jpg

When did “commit” suicide become a loosely used term? They didn’t commit suicide. The reality is someone took their life and suffered unimaginable pain in doing so.

It is no secret that Mental Health is my passion, but it’s also my biggest battle. Regardless, it’s in my bones & soul to feel compassion and deep empathy for the people who struggle with the will to live. I know I was given these struggles to contribute to the Mental HEALTH CRISIS that exists in America. Not enough psychiatrists, insurance doesn’t cover rehabilitation, psychiatric wards closing down in hospitals– the problem is growing, the solutions are decreasing and now it’s up to you, me, our society to raise awareness and do what we can to show we care; to make a change in someone’s life. If not in our time– let’s do it for our kids; the next generation!

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I had my own loved ones attempt suicide, a trauma I’ll never recover from. To imagine losing someone I loved was the greatest pain I’ve felt. To know I loved someone who was in that much pain that the world becomes so painful to live in & killing them self is the most realistic option at that point—- that feeling is something I can only imagine to be the equivalent of living in hell. A real life, living Hell. & yet every 16 minutes someone is in this living hell & attempts to take their life. What a sad reality we’re living in. But we can help! This month I’ll post a lot about Mental Health in an effort to bring awareness.

Today’s call to action:

If mental health wasn’t something you thought about– maybe because you never experienced it or didn’t know much about it– I challenge you to spend this month finding one way to contribute to this problem. Whether you learn, volunteer, or simply reach out and show someone you care; stop the stigma. Help be a big part of an important cause. You have the power to save a life with your words and actions; which are the superpowers we were given as humans.

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Let’s start by telling someone we care, today!

& Today, I’m bringing attention to the campaign I am super passionate about which is called imlistening.org 

They share the proof that Mental Health and Suicidal thoughts don’t discriminate. Anyone can fall into a Mental Health Illness or go through periods of suicidal thoughts. This organization interviews celebrities, athletes, singers & more who share their truth with the world and they allow you to share your story too. Check them out!

And below are resources from their site! Please repost them, share them, talk about them with people. Nobody needs to feel alone!


RESOURCES:

If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or any other type of crisis, you are not alone.

If the situation is potentially life-threatening, get immediate emergency assistance by calling 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL)
Phone: 1-800-273-8255

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This free and confidential service will provide crisis resources for you or your loved ones. Their website also offers a live chat for anyone in need.

Crisis Text Line (741-741)
TEXT: TALK to 741-741

The Crisis Text Line serves anyone, in any type of crisis, and it is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their trained Crisis Counselors are available for coping with any painful emotion for which you need support.

Additional resources:

If you are seeking any form of assistance, the below list of resources can provide support or refer you to a local resource which can help.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
Phone: 1-888-333-2377

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention raises awareness, funds research, and provides support and resources to those affected by suicide.

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)
Phone: 240-485-1001

For information on the symptoms, treatment, and prevention of anxiety and depression.

Concussion Legacy Foundation

Concussion and CTE Resources

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
Phone: 1-800-826-3632

For information and online or in-person support for those with bipolar disorder and depression.

Now Matters Now

Now Matters Now provides skills and support for coping with suicidal thoughts.

Psychology Today
Provides a national directory of therapists, psychiatrists, group therapy, and other options.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Phone: 1-800-662-4357

Provides referrals to mental health care, substance abuse, and dual diagnosis treatment at a low cost/sliding scale.

Talkspace

Online, on-demand digital therapy.

The Trevor Project
1-866-488-7386

The Trevor Project provides confidential support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people. Their phone hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Veteran’s Crisis Line
1-800-273-8255
TEXT: 838255

The Veterans Crisis Line is available for veterans in crisis and their families and friends who are in need of support. Their hotline, text message service, and online chat are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide confidential support to those facing a crisis.


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How YOU Can Save A Life— it’s easier than you think!

Avoiding Small Talk., contribute, courage, depression, lets talk, lifestyle, mental discrimination, mental health, mental health awareness, Mental Illness and Recovery, mental stigma, new post, Stop the Stigma; Mental Health., story, strength, suicide, suicide prevention

I’m a pretty deep person as it is, I’m so awkward at small talk because I just want to talk about deep life topics in conversation. So this is my warning that I get deep into thought when I feel my perspective changing. These lessons hit home.

Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to hear from a doctor what your life expectancy timeline is? Maybe it happens to someone close to you or maybe it will soon– it’s a really, incredibly hard time. But Imagine you’re in a doctors office and the doctor says to you, “You have three years left, at most”. Well, I don’t know about you, but that terrifies the shit out of me, just thinking about it hypothetically. Not death– I don’t find that so scary. What terrifies me is that I’ll wake up one day and realize I didn’t do half the things I wanted too.

About three years ago, I was 24 and my state of mind just never considered the importance of living in the present moment.
-I never took action towards goals I really wanted because I cared too much what people would say.
-I mainly worried about petty things like how I needed new shoes, missed a friend’s get together or any topic that really wouldn’t matter in a few days.
Essentially I just didn’t think too deeply into the true purpose of my life.
I was on autopilot. 

But over the last few years, a lot has changed. Today, I spend a lot of my time (I’ll be honest.. nearly all my free time) watching, listening and learning from people I consider to be role models and people that inspire me to do what it takes to live a fulfilling life. I am infatuated with the idea that you can change and grow, it’s been the journey of a lifetime diving deep into the meaning of life and so I constantly feel the need to keep learning and adopting skills that make me live authentically and with intention.

Below are the 5 lessons that I’ve heard over and over again. I think that’s because they happen to be the common theme in personal development; they’re considered to be the most important ways we can change our current mentality and behaviors to live the best life and become our best selves. No matter how different we all are, I’m sure we can agree that the last thing we want to do is look back and reflect on our life only to realize we missed out on so much.

So here are the 5 lessons that most people report they learned way too late in life:

6b50232ea6234a1eb32b3d12286ddf34.jpgDON’T SLEEPWALK THROUGH LIFE:
Start by imagining that you have to look for the job that you want, not because you needed one. Would it be the exact thing you’re doing today, tomorrow and probably for the foreseeable future? Sleepwalking through life is emphasizing all the time we spend not pursuing the things we want most. Some of us are spending 50+ hours somewhere unfulfilled & that means you’re not actually living. We sleepwalk through life when we say, “I’ll do this and I want to do that too, eventually.” Why are we waiting? We know that tomorrow isn’t promised.  It’s wasting precious time when we could be taking action. Its wasting time hoping for something instead of taking the action to really be doing something. Something that what we love doing. Realistically, you’re not always going to love your first job, but that doesn’t mean we should give up and settle. Keep searching for the things that fulfill you with the precious time you’ve been given and don’t give up before you find it.

35243336_10208995219317556_588587802917076992_nLIVE LIFE WITHOUT FEAR
Oh, Fear. The powerful emotion that stops us from living life and doing the things we want. Will Smith was the one who inspired me to take the right steps towards conquering fear and I’ll share what he said because I don’t think anyone has really put it into such a powerful perspective like he did. To conquer fear, you have to adopt one concept– confront fear, daily. You have to confront it daily because fear lies. It tells you things or makes you believe things that aren’t actually true. The problem with fear is that it lies. Fear tells you things that aren’t true and makes you believe things will happen that most likely won’t happen.  He used the example of how in the dating world, it has this weird rule where “you can’t text back the person you start talking to too soon because they  will think I like them too much, or they’ll think *fill in the blank with some other weird thing they’re most likely never thinking*. His analogy was such a perfect example of how Fear tells you dumb stuff like that. The daily confrontation with fear has to become a real practice. Because if it isn’t practiced than fear will grab ahold of you for days, throughout the night, all the way up until the moment you realize months and years later how much fear has held you back from things you can’t imagine you missed out on. We didn’t need to carry that fear around with us if it wasn’t serving a purpose.  The lesson that many people learned later in life is that the best things in life are on the other side of terror; on the other side of fear. Like when people want to become a musician or try to run their own business but are so afraid of failing they never even tried. So instead of turning away from it, confront it.

STOP COMPLAINING-
What if I told you that today was the last Sunday of your life? Would you complain about your crap homework assignment that’s due? Would you complain about the co-worker you can’t stand? I’m so guilty of doing this not too long ago. But this lesson is a work in progress for me. If this was really our last Sunday– we go into a much higher & deeper level of thinking. If we remembered that there is opportunity everywhere we go, we’d hold our heads high with optimism and positivity. Instead, we get bogged down by the things we have to do– school, work, this, that– and we forget that there is so much life right here. It’s a beautiful time to be alive.  So challenge yourself to take a step back and think about how awesome it actually is to be alive, in this era, right now, at this moment. Than recognize you can attack the world in a totally different way, a way that brings you enlightenment and happiness. Because the truth is that we should feel lucky just to be alive– let alone alive during one of the most wonderful eras in our history.

KNOW YOUR DESTINATION-
How many times have you made a simple problem so much more complicated than it needed to be? I know I have. That’s because we use our own creativity and problem-solving skills throughout the journey of life which end up distracting us from focusing on our destination. We get so fixated on the journey and get distracted where we are headed. For example, if someone told you to walk in a straight line to the chair across the room.. it’d be easy, right? But if someone placed a chair in the middle, you can’t just walk straight ahead, and everything comes to a grinding halt. You’ll analyze, think, make decisions, then change your mind. Maybe you’ll make a turn and end up going in a different direction…eventually never making it to the intended destination. This simple analogy is how so many of us deal with life and the obstacles that come our way. This is the problem I believe this lesson is trying to emphasize: what we do in life is we take a look at all the steps we are taking along the journey–and never look at our destination. A clear destination makes obstacles easy to overcome, but if we don’t know where we are going than those obstacles take us wherever we end up; not where we want to be. Life is full of obstacles, there isn’t an instruction book or a “straight line” we can follow. What we can do is stay focused on our destination and we’ll find it within ourselves the strength, courage, problem-solving skills, everything you’ll need to overcome the obstacles. It’s not at all about what you want to achieve, it’s about arriving at your destination, it’s about what you want to achieve. That’s how you become fulfilled.  It’s not a straight line, but it’s one direction.

b1a0366b38c3aea0a0c6cc3e26a7d2c6We’re all a work in progress and some of us learn these different skills and valuable lessons at different times. We aren’t born with all this wisdom, but through progress, we develop it. So let’s all begin a small challenge this week by taking a really close look at these lessons and trying to apply what we believe will bring value to our lives. One step at a time we become the best versions of ourselves.

Any tips missing from this list that you’ve learned? Please share below. Oh, and I finally set up a mailing list where I can connect more personally with people.

Subscribe below if you’d want to connect.
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Namaste! Harbers

4 Lessons That People Admit They Learned Too Late & How You Can Avoid Making The Same Mistakes.

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