Let’s Talk About Suicide & 5 Ways to Take Life Back

When people have suicidal thoughts and desires, we so often dance around those thoughts and feelings.

Instead, we go right into fix it mode. We write out a “no suicide contract”, assess, increase or change medication, develop a safety plan and support, assess for risk, intention, and a plan of action to carry suicide out successfully. When we’re done with all of that, we build hope.

Rarely do we ever talk about what the thoughts and feelings that cause someone to really want to die.

Here are some things that people have shared with me when I’ve listened to them when they really want to commit suicide:

“I want the pain to end.”

“I want the suffering to end.”

“I want off of this emotional roller-coaster NOW.”

“I want the feelings of being trapped in their body to end.”

“I feel alone. I feel I don’t belong. I feel no sense of purpose and value.  I feel like a burden to others.”

“I want to die because I can’t see my circumstances getting any better. I want my circumstances to end.

I feel out of control in my own mind and body and ending my life is the only act of taking control that I feel I can do.”

“I am carrying the burden or weight of not only my own life, but also the lives of so many other people and I can’t do it anymore.”

“I want the numbness to end.”

When I really listen, I am able to understand…

They don’t want LIFE to end.

They want these horrible feelings and thoughts to end.

They want to be able to take their life back.

5 Ways to Take Life Back

  1. We can’t always change the pain and suffering we feel. Nonetheless, we can change, influence and define the meaning we give pain and suffering and how we respond to it.
  2. We can learn how to identify what triggers our emotional roller-coasters and understand what fuels it. With this understanding we can intervene when triggered and remove the fuel of the roller-coaster before it takes control.
  3. When we feel trapped in our bodies or disconnected from our bodies, we can re-connect with our body by focusing on breathing deeply, feeling our lungs fill with air and our heart beat. We can notice the world through our senses – touch, taste, smell, sound, sight etc.
  4. We can recognize that everyone comes into life with a bucket of shit and a shovel. Our goal is to keep other people’s shit (ex. pain, negativity, judgment, criticism, issues, fears etc) out of our bucket. And we don’t have to let other people’s shit cause us to feel bad about ourselves and be isolated. We can stop carrying other people’s shit on our shoulders…and use our own shit to help us grow something beautiful.
  5. We can learn how to not use our thoughts and feelings to go against ourselves.  We can learn to think in ways that are not abusive of ourselves; that support us, nurture us and open our mind and heart to our own abilities, belonging, purpose and worth.


“To Thrive” or “To Struggle & Suffer” with Bipolar Disorder requires tremendous effort and energy

It takes just as much energy and effort to struggle and suffer with bipolar disorder as it does to thrive with bipolar disorder.

When I share this, often people’s first response is often disbelief.  They say to me, “Robin, how can that be, I don’t have to do anything to suffer and struggle with Bipolar Disorder. I’m not making the choice to struggle and suffer, it’s because of what happens to me everyday.”

When people share this with me it makes me sad. People do not know how much power they have. Nevertheless, they give it away to forces that cause them to struggle and suffer.

Our effort and energy is our power. What we do with them is the difference between thriving with bipolar disorder and struggling and suffering with it.

Here’s one perspective I like to share and explore in response to feeling they have no choice in struggling and suffering:

If we imagine a scale between 1-10 where 1 = no effort and energy at all and 10 = an exhausting amount of energy and effort…

  • How much effort and energy does it take to hide bipolar disorder and episodes from your family, friends and colleagues?
  • How much effort and energy does it take to try to control your mood and your feelings?
  • How much effort and energy does it take to resist how you are feeling?
  • How much effort and energy does it take to deny what you are feeling?
  • How much effort and energy does it take to try to break free from bipolar disorder?
  • How much effort and energy does it take to experience something beyond your control that is painful?

Hiding, controlling, resisting, denying, breaking free, and being in pain take tremendous amounts of effort and energy.

By investing our energy and effort into these ways of being, we maintain a lifestyle of suffering and struggling.

We don’t have the ability to control what happens to us or within us, but we do have the ability to choose how we respond.

We don’t have to hide bipolar disorder from our lives. That is a choice we make.

We don’t have to control our feelings and moods. We have the ability to invest in developing an awareness of our feelings and moods which enables us to choose how we respond to feelings and mood.

Just because we have a feeling does not mean that we have to believe it.

We do not have to find evidence to support or justify our feelings.

And we do not have to allow our feelings to control our thoughts.

We can simply acknowledge how and what we are feeling and let it go.

When we resist or deny how we are feeling, the feelings only become stronger.

The act of resisting gives what we don’t want more power.

Instead, if we acknowledge that we are experiencing something that we don’t want to experience, we get to develop our awareness of how it works and invest our effort and energy into intervening.

For example, if we are experiencing depression, we have to identify what depression wants from us / Where is it getting its power?

When you thrive with bipolar disorder you have the awareness:

  • Depression is…either simply like any other living thing trying to exist OR the consequence of mania in which the brain and body have exhausted itself of all resources.
  • Depression gets its power by isolating us so that it is the only voice we hear.
  • It gets its energy comes from the energy we give it by surrendering our interests, our appetite to eat, the will to shower, and ability to sleep well or sleep too much.
  • It develops strength by causing us to feel sadness, guilt, shame, blame, and any bad feelings about ourselves. It robs us of memories of happiness.

We give depression our effort and energy by suffering and struggling to not be depressed.

In the face of depression, we must use our energy and effort to not be isolated, be interested in something, eat, shower, and choose what and how we think and what we want to believe about ourselves, our lives and the world.


Mood Tracking Tool: How to watch the roller coaster without getting on

One way to track how bipolar disorder affects you is by using this tool.

There four factors that I use to understand mood etc.:

1. Consistency: ____

(Scale it: 1 – 10…1=Almost Always; 2-3=Often; 4-5=Sometimes; 6-7=Less Frequent; 8-9=Rarely; 10=Never)

Are you experiencing the same types of feelings and thinking in a similar way over a period of time?

2. Predictability:____

(Scale it: 1 – 10…1=Almost Always; 2-3=Often; 4-5=Sometimes; 6-7=Less Frequent; 8-9=Rarely; 10=Never)

Can you and others predict how you will respond to external circumstances?

This does not mean that you are boring or that people can read your mind.  It means that people have expectations for your personality and can count on you to respond in line with your personality.

3. Appropriateness of the Response:____

(Scale it: 1 – 10…1=Almost Always; 2-3=Often; 4-5=Sometimes; 6-7=Less Frequent; 8-9=Rarely; 10=Never)

Is the response to the situation an appropriate response based on the degree of threat, urgency, or importance of the situation?

One way to understand appropriateness it to ask yourself  these questions:

  • Would a person you respect, value and trust respond the same way?
  • Would someone who really cares about you and believes in you want you to respond that way?
  • Would you choose to be treated this way?

4. Impulsivity:____

(Scale it: 1 – 10…1=Almost Always; 2-3=Often; 4-5=Sometimes; 6-7=Less Frequent; 8-9=Rarely; 10=Never)

How much thinking takes place before a response?

Do you assess the cost, benefit and consequences of your actions?

When assessing mood, notice things such as the time of day, how you slept, if you are hungry or tired, the temperature and weather. These all affect mood.

Here is a tool for you to duplicate into a spreadsheet on your computer or use by hand:

This tool will help you track your behavior, thought process, and emotional response or expression using the tool above.


Ideas for Loving Someone Living With Bipolar Disorder

Loving someone with bipolar disorder isn’t easy, but we sure are loveable.

Here are some ideas that may help when the one you love is living with bipolar disorder:

1. A long tight hug will get so much farther than any words.

When your partner is agitated or emotional, no words that you say will make them better. If you use words, it will be very easy for your partner to misunderstand or feel threatened and become more agitated.

Your partner needs to regulate themselves. The way you can help is by taking them in your arms and giving them a tight long hug. As you are hugging them, focus on breathing deeply and encourage them to join you. You will feel the muscles in your partner’s body relax. Their heart rate will slow down. Lastly, they should experience calmness and because they are in the arms of someone who loves them, they should feel safe.

Now your partner is ready to talk.

2. An imaginary remote control that has a pause and rewind button.

We express ourselves without thinking. Every emotion we have or imagine in our minds easily escapes our mouths.

When your partner is having difficulty with this challenge it can easily and probably will lead to conflict in a relationship.

If you expect your partner to be able to not impulsively express themselves, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment.

Instead, expect your partner to speak before they think and give them a gift of a remote control.

To use this imaginary remote control all your partner has to do is say “PAUSE”, just as they are getting themselves into trouble with their words.  If it’s too late and their words have already caused trouble, all they have to do is say “REWIND” and then take a moment to pause and correct their mistake by actually thinking before speaking.

If you are kind enough to give your partner one of these special remotes, you get one too!

3. Your partner needs to take responsibility for how they live with Bipolar Disorder, NOT YOU.

If your partner is making their bipolar disorder your responsibility to manage and you accept the responsibility, you are enabling them to practice behaviors that will only do more harm than good. It may feel like you are helping them, but you are not.

Your partner living with bipolar disorder needs to be responsible for educating themselves about the disorder, taking their medication consistently, being in therapy, making the sacrifices they need to make in order to be stable and doing the best they can to reduce harm to themselves and you by preventing episodes if possible.

If your partner is releasing their emotions on you and it is hurting you, it is NOT okay. Your partner can learn how to release and contain their own emotions through other vehicles, for instance therapy.  It is your responsibility to let your partner know that impulsive release of emotion hurts you. It is your partner’s responsibility to learn how to channel their emotion in a way that is safe for the both of you.

Because your partner is living with bipolar disorder, they may not be able to contain their emotions consistently everyday. However, they can improve and do better.  There is no excuse for not trying their best to contain their emotions using other vehicles and tools that I will share in an upcoming blog.

4. Do NOT get on the emotional roller coaster with your partner.

Your partner is living with bipolar disorder. This means that they are going to roller coaster from positive to negative to positive etc emotions. DON’T GET ON THE ROLLER COASTER WITH THEM.

If you accept your partner to do this and are not affected by it you can have a good day and not be hurt and think you are going insane. However, if you get on this roller coaster with your partner, both of you will be nuts. Nothing good will come out of it.

Don’t try to make sense of the emotional roller coasters, instead you can  simply hug your partner.  Your partner will work their way off of the roller coaster eventually. The emotional roller coaster is simply a ride of emotions that your partner is feeling that may or may not have anything to do with their current experience.

Another action you can take that may help your partner gain awareness are the words “STOP IT.” or “Stop it, you are roller-coastering.” When said in a loving and caring way, versus an angry way, these words will bring someone into a different kind of awareness that takes them outside of their emotional process and into a reflective thinking process.

5. The Gift of Forgiveness & Acceptance

When you love someone with bipolar disorder they are going to do and say things that they will need you to forgive them and accept them for.

This does not mean that hurtful actions are okay, but it means that when they do happen, after you talk about it with your partner…the greatest gift you can give them is to let them know that you still love them, accept them, and forgive them and know that they are doing their best.

Receiving the gift of forgiveness and acceptance, opens the door for your partner to be able to forgive and accept you more freely and easily. It gives you permission to make mistakes and enjoy your gift of the imaginary remote control.

By taking these actions with your partner, your partner may be able to better return the love that you so deserve.


5 Ways to Gain Control During a Manic Episode

In order to take  control of mania you first have to be able to recognize that you are experiencing mania.  Many people have a very difficult time doing this because the early and middle mania are pleasurable and productive.

To recognize the early signs of mania please see my blog entitled, “Early Warning Signs of Mania: 6 Areas to Notice Mania on the Horizon”.

Once you know the early warning signs and how to recognize mania, here are ways to intervene:

1. Identify the Triggers.

It is important to be able to identify what triggers your mania.  This will help you intervene because  will be able to identify what is fueling it.

People often get triggered into mania by a combination of excitement, stress and sense of urgency.

To develop your ability to identify triggers:

  • Notice what is taking place in your life and how you are responding to it near the onset of mania.
  • Notice your feelings about it.
  • Notice what thoughts keep you awake at night.
  • Notice what you feel a sense of urgency towards.

Note: Not all manic episodes will have triggers. As the number of manic episodes increases the need for a trigger decreases. The more manic episodes you have the more hard-wired your brain becomes for mania.

2. Identify what is fueling the mania.

Fuel for mania are the actions that you take impulsively that tend to be goal-oriented that strengthen the mania.

What you have a sense of urgency for or are behaving impulsively about is fuel for mania.

3. Take the fuel away.

Whatever manic actions you are doing. STOP. Stop doing the action. Put it away. Whatever it is, it can handle you not attending to it right now.

Example: I get triggered into mania by excitement combined with a sense of urgency. In one hypomanic episode over 3 years ago (not full-blown mania) I built my first versions of my two very large websites all in five days.  That is unheard of productivity for “non-bipolar” people. I wasn’t sleeping, forgetting to eat and wasn’t able to see my clients at work because I had all the early mania symptoms and I could not stop building these websites.

I had to take my computer AWAY. I had to stop building my websites and not allow myself to work on them until I was able to do so in a contained way.

It wasn’t enough to just take the computer away, I had to replace it with something that my mind could focus on, yet would not cause me to feel a sense of urgency. Without replacing it, I would not be able to keep my impulses from causing me to grab my computer and keep intensely working.

So I made art. I did a form of calming and centering art called “Mandalas” which is drawing or paining in a circle. I did contained art to contain me.

Other things you can do to replace your goal-oriented behavior:

  • Spend time outside – walking, hiking, bike riding, exploring, swimming, etc
  • Work on jigsaw puzzles, suduko, crossword puzzles etc  These activities engage your brain in a way that contains it.
  • Spend time with friends outside of your home or watch a movie.
  • Cook food that you enjoy or explore new recipes or concoctions, but don’t cook for a banquet, just for yourself.
  • Make art, unless making art is fueling your mania.

4. Sleep

When you are manic, you must force yourself to sleep.  This is much easier to do when you take away your access to the trigger and fuel of your mania.

Sleep will not be easy.

Actions that promote sleep:

  • Deep breathing: inhale deeply into your belly slowly through your nose for about 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, and exhale slowly for 5 seconds.  Do this as long as you can until you fall asleep.
  • Guided Visualization: There infinite ways to guide yourself, this is just one…imagine yourself being in a place that is beautiful, comforting and welcoming of you. Notice the colors, the sounds, and the smells. Notice who is there with you. Notice how you feel in your body and your mind being in this place that is so peaceful and welcoming of you. Let this carry you into a dream.
  • Light a candle (a safe candle in glass that cannot easily tip or break). Lay in bed and watch the flame and the light.
  • Complete darkness in your room. Have black out curtains. People living with bipolar disorder are extremely sensitive to light. Small amounts of light can prevent sleep (this does not include candle light, because of the properties of warmth and life in the flame)

If these actions do not help you sleep, contact your doctor and discuss being on a sleep medication that is not addictive.

5. Contact your Psychiatrist

During an episode your psychiatrist will often make changes in the amount and balance of medication that you take to help stabilize you during this process.


Structure, Routine & Rituals: 5 ACTIONS to prepare you for when life changes on a dime

Life is never going to be predictable. However one of the toughest challenges with living with bipolar disorder is coping with times of change, chaos, loss and crisis. We must have the tools and abilities already in place before these events happen, otherwise these events can be very dangerous not only for our mental health, to prevent mania and depression, but also to save our lives.

There is no way for us to plan for these events and see them coming.

Instead of planning for things to happen, we must plan and prepare our response for how we will take care of ourselves when something does happen. Doing so will help us be able to respond to the circumstances we face to the best of our abilities.

Actions to take care of ourselves when life changes on a dime:

Action: Stick To Your Routine and Rituals

No matter what happens, if you have a routine and rituals you use to structure your day, you will have some predictability which promotes stability.

Develop morning routine and rituals:

Note: Your routines and rituals can and should be flexible, but as you design your own routine and rituals also come up with ideas where and how you would like to be flexible and areas you want to keep strong solid boundaries that will support you.

  • Wake up in the morning at consistent time that you wake up daily.
  • Before getting out of bed create a ritual – ex. taking a moment to focus on what you appreciate in your life, pray, or share positive affirmations with yourself; playing with you dogs; noticing how your body is feeling; deep breathing; listening to enjoyable music; visualizing your day etc
  • Decide what comes next on a daily basis when you get out of bed and prioritize it in the order that you will do it. Ex. brushing your teeth, showering, breakfast, getting dressed, checking email etc, feed your pets etc. However you want to do it.
  • Ideally, if you are able to, do some form of exercise at some point in your day wherever you can fit it in on a consistent basis.

Develop bedtime routine and rituals:

  • Go to bed each night at a consistent time.
  • Try to refrain from doing any work, computer stuff or anything that may engage your mind to want to be very active at least an hour before bed. (This is very hard to do, but very necessary if you want to sleep.)
  • Develop a relaxing bedtime ritual that you will do consistently an hour before bedtime. Ex. lighting a candle, relaxing bath or shower, listening to peaceful music, doing peaceful art such as a mandala, meditation, deep breathing, read a book etc
  • Try not to have your bedtime ritual be watching TV, even though we all do it, because TV may engage your mind and keep you from sleeping.

Develop Transition routine and rituals:

  • When you leave your home on your way to work or school develop a ritual that you will do upon arrival to transition you into work or school mode.
  • Examples: Focusing on your breathing, visualizing your day, singing a song, playing a song you love, positive affirmations, prayer, noticing the beauty around you etc.
  • Also develop a self-care routine that you will do when you are transitioning from work to home using actions that relax you and allow your work day to end and your alone or family time to begin.

If you develop a routine and rituals and something happens in life that knocks you down, you will still have your routines and rituals available to help you get up.

Action: Develop and Be Aware Of Your Belief System

It does not matter if you are religious, spiritual, agnostic or atheist. It would be in your best interests to develop a belief system that helps guide your understanding of how and why things happen in a way that comforts you and promotes acceptance so that you can depend on it during times of chaos and devastation.

This will not protect you from the pain of your experience. However, it will give you a structure and guidance in which to experience your pain.

This will help you stand up when life knocks you down.

Action: Identify Key People In Your Support System

It is a must to have people in your life who you can count on to be there for you when you need them. Not only should you identify them, but you should contact them and inform them now so they know you will come to them when you need support.

If you don’t have family, friends, support group or therapist in your life who you can count on to be there for you, find them NOW. Do not wait until your life changes on a dime if you want to maintain stability with bipolar disorder.

Action: Be Consistent With Your Medication

No matter what happens, do NOT suddenly stop taking your medication. Doing so could cause potentially dangerous and in some cases lethal effects.

Action: Do NOT rely on Alcohol or any illicit drugs to get you through tough times

Drugs and alcohol only make situations and bipolar disorder worse. They will not help you and they will worsen depression and decrease your quality of sleep.

By having a structure for your pain to exist in it will make the pain more tolerable.


“Newly Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder Club” Topic #1: Complying & Coping With Medication

This blog series is dedicated to everyone Newly Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Welcome to the club!  You have unwillingly joined an elite club in which some of the members are among the most brilliant, creative and talented in history.

Unfortunately there is no manual that comes with our bipolar disorder diagnoses when becoming a member of this club.

This blog will be followed by a series of blogs called “Newly Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder Club”. Each blog will address issues that members have shared with me or issues I or clients I have worked with when newly diagnosed face.

Today’s topic is coping with medication and medication compliance.

Topics coming soon based on members’ request will include:

  • Building daily routine and structure
  • Developing sleep patterns

If you would like to make a request for this series, please contact me and I will be happy to address your concern.

Today”s Topic:

The #1 problem that people have when joining this club is coping with medication and medication compliance.

There are not many people in a club like ours where the medication completely changes your experience of yourself.

Our medications may change:

  • Our energy and exuberance level
  • Our ability to feel the rich emotion of emotion
  • How we think
  • How we express ourselves
  • Our creativity and innovation
  • Our memory
  • Our weight
  • Our ability to be super productive and goal-focused

*Note: Not all medications cause these effects, but all medications are mood stabilizers which function to reduce emotional extremes.

Nobody would want to take medication if it did changed who they are AND keeps them from feeling like themselves and maybe weird or slightly off at first.

This is why we, the members of this club, are so strong and courageous. Each one of us has a different reason for why we are willing to sacrifice the amount of some these of these things. I made this sacrifice because I was willing to do anything I possibly could to prevent myself from experiencing the peak of full-blown mania and feeling like I am dead in depression. Some of the people I’ve had the privilege of working with shared with me that they made this sacrifice because medication made their quality of life so much better. They got to experience stability for the first time. It improved their abilities to function at work and improved their quality of relationships.

Most often, the consequences of not making the sacrifice are far more painful than what there is to gain by taking medication.

It’s a hard choice to make, but something we remember by taking our medication every day at the same time.

Before continuing on to an activity, take a moment and ask yourself what has you committed to being on medication.

Now that we understand why we are committed to being on medication, let’s explore how to cope with the losses:

The loss you experience is a death because it is that significant of a loss therefore in order to cope, I invite you to mourn the loss for a specific set amount of time before taking actions to explore your new life.

Ways to take action and help mourn the loss of your manic and depressive self:

1.  Write down the qualities you miss.
Examples: creativity, exuberance, productivity, passion, emotion etc

2.  Write down what you miss about each quality.

3.  How did it affect your life?

4.  How did you feel when you experienced it?

5.  What did you tell yourself about yourself when you experienced it?

6.  What abilities did each quality give you?

7.  What qualities or parts of qualities did you get to keep?

8.  What new abilities do you have because of being on medication?

9.  What action are you willing to take to further develop these abilities?

* This is an activity that could be very useful done in therapy if it feels overwhelming to do on your own.

Here’s one example put in action from my life.

1.  Write down the qualities you miss.

I miss my exuberance that was expressed through passion and an energy that completely filled the room.

2.  Write down what you miss about each quality.

I miss the feeling I had when I walked into the room and the affect my presence had on people. I felt special. I felt wanted. It felt so good to make people smile. (I wasn’t aware of how uncomfortable it made some people until I was in graduate school.)

3.  How did it affect your life?

People relied on my presence to make them feel good. I relied on my presence as a way to not be vulnerable because I always had a smile on my face and was a burst of energy. It made it easy for me to meet people and engage groups of people.

4.  How did you feel when you experienced it?

Wanted. My presence made people’s day. I felt passionate and alive. I felt seen.  At times insecure because with age, I could feel that it made people uncomfortable.

5.  What did you tell yourself about yourself when you experienced it?

People like me. People want me around. My presence matters and makes a difference. I make people’s days better.

6.  What abilities did each quality give you?

The ability to be free and break social rules (which I didn’t inherently know what they were anyway).  I could get away with so much because I did everything with a smile on my face.

7.  What qualities or parts of qualities did you get to keep?

I still have my passion and exuberance, but it has changed form. Now I’m a light in the room, instead of completely filling the room. I am not overwhelming. My energy is more relaxed and channeled, yet still very passionate. My energy isn’t as anxious and manic, except when I go to the doctor.

8.  What new abilities do you have because of being on medication?

I am able to feel peace and centered. I don’t feel the need to be “on” or performing all the time. Instead, I feel more genuine because I don’t always have to have a permanent smile on my face.  I’m able to use the abilities I’ve always had with more ease. I could go on and on…it has been tremendous.

9.  What actions are you willing to take to further develop these abilities?

Focus on my breathing during to increase my feelings of peace and centered. Continue to be transparent about what I’m thinking and feeling and continue being honest when I’m not able to be what people expect from me.

If this is helpful, feel free to contact me with interests for future blogs.


The DO’s & DON’Ts for Responding to Trauma

The message I hope you take home after reading this:



It is believed that our response to trauma is an ignition for the inherited genes of Bipolar Disorder.

Earlier I shared with a Bipolar Disorder Awareness group that I had opened an old wound caused by trauma from my childhood these last few days. I’ve discovered that no matter how much I know, even though I’m a psychotherapist, that I’m human and get to live with wounds or holes that never fully heal and can’t be filled. So I’m doing my best to decorate my own wound/hole by giving it nurture and a home…instead of forcing it to not exist (which is so easy to want to do because wounds hurt.)

I share this because one common problem all human beings have is that starting at birth we are all completely vulnerable to trauma, we have no protection and nothing to defend us. So when we experience trauma it can easily leave a hole or a wound that doesn’t heal, but we’ll do anything we can, consciously or unconsciously, to heal.  We may not even have the awareness of how vulnerable and how hurt we have been by life until we are adults.

At least this is my story because I did a lot of the DON’Ts I will share with you about trauma.

I was a child, like many others, who didn’t always get what I needed from my parents.  My parents were great parents and did the best they could. They loved me with all they had to give, but there was no manual for raising children. Its so funny to me that we need a license for everything in life, but after childbirth, they let us walk out of the hospital if with a helpless child if you have a car seat.

For instance, my parents didn’t know that putting me in day care when I was three months old would be traumatic for me. They had no clue that it would be a loss for me that would leave a hole/wound that would affect me throughout times in my life. They did not know that deep down inside that trauma would make me feel that I am not wanted or that I am not wantable.  If  they had, they would not have done it, they might have found an alternative. Not every child who goes through this experience has this response, but I did.

In response to this trauma and a few others that came later, I told myself over and over again the “I’m not wantable story”. I made this story become true by choosing people to be in my life who weren’t available or ready to want me in the way I wanted them to. I used this as evidence to reinforce my “I’m not wantable story.”

Don’t do this to yourself! If you’re telling yourself this kind of story, STOP IT, RIGHT NOW!  Tell yourself a new story and go find evidence to support it.

I say this because the stories I told myself made the hole bigger and my pain greater. I re-lived my own trauma over and over again. I didn’t tell anyone about it (except for my mom once when I was five).  I kept it all bottled up inside until it exploded out in rage during mania. Deep down inside I was trying to find someone to want me so the wound would heal. But I never wanted the person who easily wanted me to want me. I wanted the person who didn’t want me YET or enough to really want me.

Unfortunately, all of my efforts for years were unproductive. Even when I earned someone’s “want” that I had to earn, it was never enough. It did not and would NOT heal the wound from my trauma. Even though I was wanted, they could not take me back in time and give me what I needed from my mom and dad when I was 3 months old.

So if you are stuck on this path of story telling, you can stop right now in your tracks and explore new responses and stories. You may need help to stop the story, but it is doable.

We do this often. We want to heal so badly. But this type of response to trauma, what I did, is not what heals. At least it never has for me. Instead, what I choose to invest my healing energy into is creating new stories to respond to the trauma and finding ways to live with holes and wounds that aren’t going to go away. Most of the time I’m not effected by wounds and holes that don’t go away, except when they hurt. That is why I nurture them and give them a home instead of trying to force them to not exist.

My genetic disposition and the flawed stories and types of response to various traumatic experiences in my life may be why I am living with bipolar disorder.

Before we can explore in more detail the mistakes I made with trauma, that so many other people make too. First we should understand what trauma is and how it works.

There are four parts to trauma:

1. The EXPERIENCE is deeply distressing or disturbing.

2. The EMOTIONAL RESPONSE to the experience.

3. What we do to MAKE MEANING of  the emotional response.  How we think about it.

4. How we ANTICIPATE our future based on how we responded.


DO: Acknowledge you are experiencing or experienced something that was deeply disturbing or distressing for you.

DON’T: Bury trauma under the rug as though it never happened. Don’t put a smile on your face and make everyone around you feel good when you feel trauma or pain.

DO: Ask for help.

DON’T: Feel you need to be strong and hold it all in. You’re not supporting anyone else if you can’t support yourself. In that case, everyone falls down.

DO: Allow yourself to feel all the emotions the experience causes you to feel…and actually share them preferably with someone who you can receive support from or in a journal so it can contain your feelings and your body and mind don’t have to.

DON’T: Seal all the emotions in a jar…that’s asking for mania with exploding emotions, at least it did for me.

DO: Make meaning of the experience with a mindset, attitude and language that empowers you. For example, “I did the best I could with the resources that I had.” “I survived a….” “I overcame the loss of my job and found one that I like.” “I am living with bipolar disorder.” “I can do….” “I found my strength by….experience.” “I learned….lesson from this experience.” “I am a better person for experiencing….”

DON’T: Make meaning of the experience with a mindset and language that goes against yourself or weakens you. For example, “I could have or should have done better, but I’m not….” “I almost died in a car accident.” “I will never find a new job.” “I am (something negative that you don’t want to be).” “I can’t do anything.” “I’m just weak, stupid etc.” “The experience taught me nothing, I refuse to learn anything.” “I have nothing to offer.”

DO: Anticipate that because of this experience and everything you learned and gained from it you will and can do better in the future.

DON’T: Anticipate that because of this one experience you will never be good at anything, no one will love you and want you and you will always be alone etc etc etc (all the mean and nasty things we could say to go against ourselves.)

DO: Get professional help if your trauma is bigger than what you and/or your support system can handle.

DON’T: Waste your time by (excuse my language) bullshitting your therapist the way I did. If you don’t feel your therapist gets you and can help you. Fire them and get a new therapist.


How depression knocks on your door…And how not to let it in.

Do you ever hear the doorbell, and feel the rush of anticipation feeling that it’s a friend surprising you. Then when you open the door…it’s a salesman, trying to sell you something you don’t need. That salesman is just like depression. But when it knocks, it is carrying all of your “baggage” and it will do anything it can to sell it to you and get you into bed.

Our goal today is to explore how it does this and ways to not answer the door. But if we do because depression is very sneaky, our goal is to not let it stay in bed with you long.

In order for depression to come into your life, there are things it needs to take from you.

Like mania, depression needs to either prevent you from sleeping OR cause you to sleep too much. Hence, why the first place it wants to get you is into bed…it MUST do this before it can even sell you its crap.

It does this because it knows sleep is very vulnerable. You cannot force yourself to sleep, so depression goes after sleep first. Sleep is best target because it regulates your brain and body. Without sleep you cannot function. Not being able to function is exactly what depression needs in order to come into your life and for it to survive.

To prevent depression or mania from having easy access to your sleep here are some actions to take:

  • Be consistent in your sleep pattern – go to bed and wake up daily at the same time.
  • Do not work on anything past a specific hour you set that is a few hours before bed time. (This is the hardest one especially if you are manic or having mixed episodes.)
  • Have a relaxation routine that you start an hour before bed. Ex. Turn the lights low, listen to relaxing music, take a warm bath, burn a candle. If you are tempted to try a natural approach to getting to sleep, you might even find that using a cannabis strain such as blue dream weed can help you to relax and unwind. Never smoked cannabis before? If so, you might want to consider using a mini bong. You can learn more about mini bongs here: https://fatbuddhaglass.com/collections/mini-bongs.
  • Keep a notepad by your bed so that when ideas wake you up in the middle of the night you can write them down and go back to sleep.
  • Don’t use alcohol to sleep. It will only let depression in more.
  • Talk with your doctor and request a non-addictive sleep aid.

Depression’s next easiest tool for plowing down your door is FEAR.

Fear is depression’s most highly developed and effective tool. This tool affects your life on many levels including: how you think, what you feel, what you do and how you do it – your body’s heightened stress response.

How You Think:

In order for depression to be in your life, it needs to manipulate and control your thoughts. In order to do so it will persistently tell you things like, “You will ALWAYS be (insert negative statement here)….You will NEVER (insert positive statement here)….You CAN’T…” And it plays these ugly messages to you like a tape recorder in an authoritative voice (sometimes your own, or maybe your mother and father’s etc).

This is how depression gains your trust….


When depression comes into your life after mania or hits you like a ton of bricks, it controls your thoughts differently. Because it didn’t knock on your door at all, it keeps you depressed by making you incapable of thinking and feeling PERIOD. (But this will be discussed another time.)

How You Feel:

When depression knocks on your door it needs you to feel bad. So bad that you hurt. It can’t exist unless you feel so much guilt, shame, blame, doubt, sadness, loss, pain etc…that you are willing to not resist the feelings and own them.

This is why it tells you, “Everything is your fault….” “You aren’t worthy of…” “No one will love you.” “No one wants you.” “No one will believe you.” etc.

Depression’s goal is hurt you until you go numb and can’t feel anything because it needs you to not be willing and able to do anything about it.

Depression does NOT want you to care. It needs you to not care in order for it to survive. This process often invites suicide.

What You Do:

Depression needs you to do absolutely NOTHING. In order for it to survive and make itself at home with you, it steals your energy, interests, your ability to focus, your ability to experience pleasure.

Depression needs your strength, resources and abilities in order to live.

How you do it – Your Bodies Heightened Stress Response:

The best way for depression to make you believe the thoughts and feelings that it feeds you is by making you feel it in your body.

It does this through agitation, anxiety and panic attacks.

Depression needs you to feel out of control in your body so that it can control you.

To not answer the door when depression tries to control how you think, feel, and respond in your body:

  • Acknowledge that the thoughts and feelings you are having are depression, NOT YOU.
  • See depression for what it is: Like all other living creatures it wants to survive. In order to survive it must manipulate and control you so you give it your resources. It is like a parasite.
  • Do not believe the tape recorded lies depression tells you about yourself and your life. Don’t buy what the salesman is trying to sell you. If you have to curse at him, “F*** You Depression!” It just feels good.
  • When you feel negative feelings in your body, PAUSE, breathe deeply and slowly, and ask yourself is this F.E.A.R. “False Evidence Appearing Real”.
  • When depression is stealing your interests from you, find at least one thing and keep doing it no matter what…even if its just getting out of bed.
  • Exercise – your body needs to release the stress hormones and exercise is how your body does it.
  • Focus on the “Here and Now”. You will find that when you are in the moment, depression can’t exist. Depression gets to you by focusing your attention on the past (what happened or what could have been) and the future (what might happen or “what if…”)…but never the present (what is, right now). Right now, there is no problem. The present lacks FEAR.

Doing these actions can be challenging. For help overcoming these obstacles and taking action, feel free to set up a consultation with me if you are in the Los Angeles area OR seek out a psychotherapist in your area:


I will be writing a blog on what to look for that will make a therapist a good fit.