The roles and goals of fear & intuition. How problems with fear and intuition affect bipolar disorder.


On team THRIVE, we began a conversation to explore the differences between fear and intuition.


Here are some of my ideas.  They are simply ideas.  They are NOT “the truth” or right or wrong. They are simply ideas to try on and see if they fit and make sense.




The role and goals of FEAR



Survival. Fear exists to ensure our survival.



The challenge is that with intelligence as human beings we make so much meaning of the fear that it may cause things like anxiety, depression, mania, panic etc.



Warning Sign. A red flag that says, “This is dangerous to me. It could hurt me.”



Role in Memory. We remember things that we have a strong emotional response to (good and bad emotional responses).


When we have an experience with a strong negative emotional response the fear centers in our brain create a strong memory. Therefore, when a similar experience happens in our lives we know to be cautious or to avoid or escape from the experience that may be dangerous to us.




The Big Problem With Fear



Our fear remembers things from our imagination that cause us to have a strong emotional response.


Therefore, fear will respond to our imagination as though an experience is real…even though it is not something that we have experienced. This causes multiple forms of anxiety disorders and causes us to become fearful in ways that have a strong negative impact in our lives.

The role and goals of INTUITION



Determine our next best response or action.

The role of intuition is to take our beliefs about life — our hope, faith, spirituality and natural instincts — and everything we have learned through experience and knowledge throughout life and apply them to make the best decisions we can possibly make without having the gifts of hindsight.


Intuition will not always be correct, but it is the best we can do with the resources and knowledge we have to make a decision about what is best for us.


Help us to determine what is right or best for us.

Intuition often kicks in simply to let us know that something “just feels right”.  Intuition lets us know, “This feels safe or good to me.”



Problems with Intuition



I someone is raised in an unhealthy environment — an environment of abuse or neglect — they grow to feel comfortable with abuse and neglect to the point that even intuition says, “This is comfortable for me.” “This is best for me.”  “This is safe for me.”

This causes environments and relationships that are NOT abusive and neglectful to feel uncomfortable, not good and unsafe.

So many people living with bipolar disorder struggle with the way fear and intuition function in their daily lives.

Awareness is a step towards developing fear and intuition in ways that work best for you.


5 Pillars of Creating a Stable Circadian Rhythm: Structure & Routine (vital for people with bipolar disorder)

Everything in life and in being human has a rhythm.

Our hearts have their rhythm and if the rhythm becomes irregular we have problems.

Every part of our body plays a role in circadian rhythm. When circadian rhythm becomes irregular we have problems.

All of life has a balance and rhythm and when it is out of balance in life (which it is) there are problems (which there are).

Many of they rhythms that affect our lives we have absolutely no control over…for instance we have no control over WHAT HAPPENS TO US.

In this article we will focus on the rhythms that we do have the ability to INFLUENCE.


We may not be able to control these rhythms, but we can influence their STABILITY.



We cannot easily influence the QUALITY of sleep, especially when we have stressors in our life.

Living with bipolar disorder affects our ability to sleep.  Mania prevents us from having the ability to sleep.

We have complete influence of WHEN we sleep.

We influence our sleep by what time we go to bed and what time we wake up.

If we go to bed consistently at the same time and wake up at the same time when we are rested, our body is in rhythm and we can best function.

Sleep is SOOOO important because this is when our bodies do some of the most important things for our survival:

1.) Repair what has been damaged.
2.) Create memory.
3.) Learn.
4.) Grow.
5.) Rejuvenate.
6.) Collective Unconscious (Dream).
7.) Heal emotional wounds.

Sleep is vital as a human being.  Without it we cannot survive.




What we eat, when we eat and how much we eat.


We have full control of what we give our body as nourishment and fuel.


What we choose to eat plays a large role in our bodies abilities to do what it needs to do to best function.


If we feed ourselves crap…we will probably get crap from our bodies.


If we don’t eat often enough…we spend a lot of our time being hungry and not being able to function.


If we eat too much we affect our bodies health and ability to function…we make it significantly harder to function.



What we do with our bodies.


Frankly, if you don’t use it you lose it.


To have a strong body, we have to do what builds strength and if we don’t do it…we won’t be strong and our bodies will not be able to endure much.



We have complete influence over:


– What we learn.

– The time we spend learning.

– How committed we are to learning.


We cannot control HOW we learn.


We cannot control our ACCESS to tools for learning.


However, there are libraries that make knowledge VERY accessible so there are no excuses.


Each person has a different learning style.


But we have complete control and responsibility for LEARNING.


If we choose NOT to learn, ignorance is our fault.



Connection with Others

As human beings our survival relies on connection with others.
Without a relationship with others, we would not have food, shelter, clothing or any form of physical, mental or emotional security.

Relationships have a rhythm to them.


Relationships are a huge part of being human.


We can’t control what happens in relationships, EVER.


But we can control whether or not we are CONNECTED with people (mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, sexually etc)



When all of these rhythms are a part of our daily life…we have balance, we have structure and we are more likely to have routine.

This empowers us to be able to be productive, to work hard, to be effective and efficient in what we do.

When these rhythms are missing, lacking or are out of balanced in our lives episodes are far more likely to occur for people living with mental illness and the absence of these rhythms may invite mental illness into someone’s life.


Types of Bipolar Disorder & Related Disorders – Schizoaffective Disorder, Schizophrenia, Borderline Personality Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Before a professional diagnoses any mental illness,

it is important that they know your medical history and any medical conditions or problems that could cause mood disturbance.

Bipolar Disorder is solely diagnosed by the presence of MANIA.


This means that a person experiences:

– Hallucinations: our brains experience things with our senses that are not really there. We hear things, see things, smell things, taste things and feel things that are not really there. IT MEANS THEY ARE REAL TO THE PERCEIVER…NO ONE ELSE CAN EXPERIENCE THEM.

– Delusions: are beliefs about things that are happening, have happened or will happen that are not and have not taken place based on the perception of others. IT MEANS THEY ARE REAL TO THE PERCEIVER…NO ONE ELSE CAN EXPERIENCE THEM.



Is based solely on the presence of:

1. Full-blown mania

– Full-blown mania is mania that disrupts your ability to function in work, socially, in your responsibilities and roles and contribute to productively to society.

– Full-blown mania puts yourself and others at risk for harm.

2. Mixed Episodes

– Mixed episodes are episodes that have BOTH mania and depression taking place during the same day.

3. Rapid Cycling

– Rapid Cycling is when a person has 4 or more cycles of mania and depression in one year.


Is based solely on the presence of HYPOMANIA.

Hypomania is a form of mania that does not significantly disrupt your ability to function.

You are still able to work without losing your job. You are still able to function in your daily responsibilities and social relationships.

Bipolar Disorder, Type 2 is diagnosed when a person IS NOT rapid cycling…meaning that they do not have more than 4 episodes a year.

People with Bipolar Disorder, Type 2 tend to struggle more with depression than with mania.

Depression tends to be more severe.

The depression may impair the ability to function to the point that it disrupts the ability to work, function in daily responsibilities, social relationships etc.


This is when a person experiences HYPOMANIA (mild mania) and MILD DEPRESSION and it cycles back and forth between episodes for a period of 2 years.

Neither the mania or the depression are severe enough to disrupt the ability to function in their responsibilities.


This diagnosis is for people who experience MANIA that does not fall into the other categories…

For example:

People who ONLY experience full-blown mania without depression. This may still be diagnosed as Bipolar Disorder, Type 1 by many psychiatrists.

ONLY experience hypomania without depression.


[box] These related diagnoses are NOT my first hand specialization based on my experience…I do not live with these disorders…I am sharing from my education and knowledge and experience as a therapist with working with clients)[/box]


Is a diagnosis given to someone who experiences Bipolar Disorder or Major Depressive Disorder or another Mood Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)

That experiences psychosis during time periods when they are NOT experiencing depression or mania.

With Bipolar Disorder, the psychosis ONLY occurs during mania or depression.


Is a diagnosis that is given when a person experiences delusions and hallucinations for a period of more than 6 months.

As with the majority of mental health conditions out there, schizophrenia can be treated with a combination of therapy and medication. However, the medicines used in the treatment of schizophrenia, such as Seroquel for example, can have side effects and therefore sometimes it can be necessary to try alternatives.

Seroquel Withdrawal Psychosis refers to the appearance of psychosis when the dosage of Seroquel is reduced, especially where the reduction is too fast, or without the necessary preparations.

Ultimately, if schizophrenia is well managed, by recognizing the signs of any acute episodes, taking medicine as prescribed, and talking to others about the condition, it is entirely possible to reduce the chance of severe relapses.


Is a diagnosis that is given when a person experiences delusions and hallucinations for a period of less than 6 months.


BPD is a diagnosis of the PERSONALITY.

This is is NOT KNOWN if it is a genetic disorder. It does not cause depression or mania.

This is a disorder MAY BE a reflection of our ATTACHMENT with our primary caregivers.

People who often have Borderline Personality Disorder struggled as babies and young children who do not know what to expect from their primary care giver.

It is common for people with bipolar disorder to have borderline personality disorder because their primary caregiver was bipolar and they were not able to know what to expect from them…

Example, children do not know if mommy will be happy to see them or sad to see them. They will get confused messages from mommy that say things like “Come here & go away”

Borderline Personality Disorder affects ATTACHMENT:

People often have an intense fear of abandonment or feel abandoned.

They put people up on pedestals one moment then knock them down the next.

Trust is very hard because they struggle with uncertainty and confusion about if their needs will be met.


This is diagnosed when a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event that is a threat to their life and as a result, they experience extreme anxiety and paranoia, nightmares, vivid memories and flashbacks that looks like psychosis (they re-live the event as though it is happening right now)

Most of the time, seeing a therapist or counselor who specializes in post-traumatic stress disorder will help to relieve some of their symptoms of anxiety and paranoia. In some cases, people may even decide to try something like these edible marijuanas canada located, (if you live there) to see if this can help them back into a healthier mindset.

PTSD relates to bipolar disorder because it can resemble mania: irritability, emotional outbursts, impulsive behavior.

People experiencing PTSD may be misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder if not thoroughly assessed.

It is common that people with bipolar disorder also experience PTSD. Many people with bipolar disorder have experienced severe trauma that endangered their lives.


How to take baby-steps in order to thrive with bipolar disorder.

Using this analogy…

“There was a sidewalk that had a hole in it. As I walked by it I fell into the hole. The next day as I walked by I walked around the hole. The following day I crossed the street when I saw the hole. Finally, I chose a different street. It’s small goals, one day at a time”


I will break down baby steps.

Step 0


If we can’t see or feel where we are we are and that there is a place to stand…we can’t stand, period.

If we CANNOT see that we are having an episode, an emotional roller-coaster, an emotional outburst or responding impulsively

…this is where we are.


0.25 If we can see where we are, but don’t have a place to stand…at least we know that standing is possible.

If we CAN see that we are having an episode, an emotional roller-coaster, an emotional outburst or responding impulsively

…this is where we are.


0.50 If we know standing is possible, yet we do not have the strength to stand for long…we can practice standing for a little bit at a time, then rest.

We stand here when we see that it is possible to prevent

an episode, an emotional roller-coaster, an emotional outburst or responding impulsively

but we do not know how.


0.75 If we can get ourselves standing we can begin to build balance and practice standing with balance.

We stand here when we see that it is possible to prevent

an episode, an emotional roller-coaster, an emotional outburst or responding impulsively

but we do not know how…but we are learning and trying to see what works for us.

Step 1


We stand with balance and take our first step forward by channeling our strength:

a.) we have to free up a foot so it can move…this is the same as freeing up our thoughts in order to think differently.

b.) we have to plant our other foot and leg with strength in the ground and keep balance as we use it to propel ourselves forward…this is the same as taking what has worked in the past to help us and using it in the present.

We stand here when we see that it is possible to prevent

an episode, an emotional roller-coaster, an emotional outburst or responding impulsively

AND we have figured out what works for us…we just have to develop our ability to implement it.

[box type=”info”]


And even when we are great walkers, there will be times when we trip and will either have to catch our balance really quickly or fall down and get back up again.


This is true for episodes, emotional roller-coasters, emotional outbursts and impulsive behavior.


Step 2


We have to learn to recognize what holes and cracks look like….this is the same as recognizing what triggers episodes, emotional roller-coasters and outbursts and impulsivity.

We won’t see every episode, an emotional roller-coaster, an emotional outburst or responding impulsively that are out there…we will still fall from time to time, but we will get better at recognizing them.


Step 3


We have to be able to see where our FOOT ends and where the hole or crack begins so we don’t put our foot in it…


This is the same as learning with time what makes who you are different from an episode, an emotional roller-coaster, an emotional outburst or an impulsive response.


Step 4

Once we know that we are NOT the hole or crack…when we know that we are affected by the hole and crack…then we have power to respond to the hole and crack differently.



Step 5

NOW we have OPTIONS…


We can start by seeing the hole or crack and pointing at it and saying, “There’s that damn hole / crack/ episode, emotional roller-coaster etc that made me fall down. I hate it!”




5.25. Next we can make up our minds that, “I am going to do my best to not step on this hole / crack / episode / emotional roller-coaster / impulse etc because I am going to pay attention to where the cracks and holes are in my life.”



5.50. We can make a decision, “I will choose how I respond to this hole/ crack / EMOTION I am feeling.”


We can choose how to respond if we take time to breathe and think before we automatically respond to the emotion.

5.75. Then, I will make it harder for the hole/crack/etc to trip me and make me fall down by not even getting close to it…I will cross the street.


Emotionally that would be NOT responding right away to every feeling we have. It would be noticing the feeling and letting it pass.


Step 6


“I will take a different street that does not have as many holes and cracks on it.”


What this means is choosing HOW WE THINK AND CHOOSE TO RESPOND in ways that are supportive of who we are and making choices that reflect what we want for ourselves.


How to talk with young children about Depression, Mania & Mental Illness: Strategies for talking about bipolar disorder and mental illness with children

I have worked as a therapist with parents have bipolar disorder.

Here are examples of what I share with parents to help them talk with their children about bipolar disorder.

I will turn these ideas into a video to share with your children.

How to talk about DEPRESSION with young children


KEY: Children need to know that what you are experiencing is NOT their fault AND that there is nothing they can do to make you not feel how you feel.  They need to know that they are not responsible for making you happy or changing your mood.


Here is how I encourage people to talk about DEPRESSION with children.

If a child is afraid of monsters, mom or dad can say…

“Monsters are scary. I am scared of monsters too.”

“Sometimes MONSTERS come into my life, and just like you, I do my best to face them.”

“Sometimes the MONSTERS are soooo scary, that I have to go to sleep and cover up under the covers so I can face them in my dreams and win.”

“When I go to sleep, I am winning against the MONSTERS. I don’t want you to worry about me when I sleep…that is when I am WINNING.”

“Sometimes it takes a long time to WIN. But don’t worry, I will WIN.”

“Sometimes the MONSTERS make me sad and make me cry. It is a good thing to cry…it means I am facing the monsters. In order to WIN, I have to face the MONSTERS.”

“Sometimes the MONSTERS steal all of my energy. It is no fun at all. But don’t worry…when the MONSTERS do this…I will go to sleep and start WINNING in my dreams.”

“You can’t make the MONSTERS go away.  But you can help me by letting me know when you see the MONSTER in my life because sometimes it sneaks into my life and I cannot see it.”

“When MONSTERS come into my life, sometimes I have so many of them that I have to go to the doctor.  Don’t worry, the doctor is helping me so I don’t have too many MONSTERS.”

“When I have too many MONSTERS, I lose control and do some pretty wacky things.  When that happens, it is not your fault and it is not my fault.   It is the MONSTER’S fault.”

How to talk about MANIA with young children

KEY: Children need to know that what you are experiencing is NOT their fault AND that there is nothing they can do to make you not feel how you feel.  They need to know that they are not responsible for making you happy or changing your mood.

How to talk about mania with young children…


“Sometimes I get the HAPPINESS BUG! The HAPPINESS BUG makes me sooooo incredibly happy.”

“The HAPPINESS BUG makes me want to dance and sing…it makes me feel that I can do ANYTHING.”

“The HAPPINESS BUG gives me so much energy and makes it so that I can’t sleep.”

“When I can’t sleep, it is scary. I really want to sleep, but the HAPPINESS BUG doesn’t want me to, it wants me to play.”

“Sometimes the HAPPINESS BUG plays way too much for me…and it cheats in the games we play…and it makes me soooo angry.”

“When I get angry…I am never angry at you. I am angry at the HAPPINESS BUG for cheating in our game.”

“You can’t make the HAPPINESS BUG go away.  But you can help me by letting me know when you see the HAPPINESS BUG in my life because sometimes it sneaks into my life and I cannot see it.”

“When I get the HAPPINESS BUG, sometimes I have so many of them that I have to go to the doctor.  Don’t worry, the doctor is helping me so I don’t have too many HAPPINESS BUGS.”

“When I have too many HAPPINESS BUGS, I lose control and do some pretty wacky things.  When that happens, it is not your fault and it is not my fault.   It is the HAPPINESS BUG’s fault.”

A key for talking with children about bipolar disorder is we want them to know:

“When I am sad or angry, it is never ever your fault.”

“You do not make me sad or angry. I love you very, very much.”

“Sometimes the MONSTER keeps me from being able to be happy. It is NOT your fault, ever.”

“Sometimes the HAPPINESS BUG makes me really, really angry. It is NOT your fault, ever.”


Mania & Depression disrupt our CIRCADIAN RHYTHM – How to get our RHYTHM OF LIFE back.



Our circadian rhythm is our RHYTHM IN LIFE.

It guides the structure and flow of all our bodily systems and our brains:

    • It tells our body and mind that we are tired.
    • When to sleep.
    • How long to sleep.
    • When to wake.
    • Our sleep cycle being out of whack can cause stress on our bodies which has the ability to trigger mania or depression. Many people are letting their sleep cycles diminish in the modern world due to the exposure of blue lights being emitted from digital devices with bright screens, one way people can find their rhythm again is to use the likes of these blue light glasses to filter the blue light their eyes are being exposed to, allowing the brain to realize the day and night cycles correctly.


    • It tells our body when we are hungry
    • What to eat…what we crave
    • How much to eat / when we are full
    • What and how much acid etc our body needs to break down food etc.


    • When our hormones are disrupted it has a huge affect on our mood, emotion and all human drives
    • Affects our reproductive cycle, stress, mania and depression can significantly alter the reproductive cycle.
    • This plays a huge role in our social drives toward connection with others as well as need for autonomy.
    • This plays a huge role in all bodily functions.
    • Our hormone system being out of whack can cause stress on our bodies which has the ability to trigger mania or depression.


    • During times of stress – including: lack of sleep, mania and depression our immune systems can become over-active or under-active
    • Some people get sick just after the stressor passes, other people get sick when they experience stress
    • Our immune system being out of whack can cause stress on our bodies which has the ability to trigger mania or depression.


    • Our blood pressure and heart rate are affected by all of the other systems in our bodies.
    • When our rhythm is messed up by stressors (lack of sleep, mania, depression etc), our heart rate and blood pressure can increase or decrease.
    • This can be unsafe and should be examined by medical doctors if you experience significant changes in your circulatory system.


    • When we are affected by stressors (including mania and depression) our physical energy and strength are heightened or impaired.
    • Mania causes and increase in physical energy and strength
    • Depression causes a decrease in physical energy and strength
    • Depression can cause psychomotor retardation, which is the inability or have difficulty moving.


  • ALL OF OUR ORGANS necessary for our survival ARE AFFECTED BY THESE CHANGES


    • Emotion is a physical release of energy. It is “Energy in Motion”.
    • When emotion is unpredictable it may be because our circadian rhythm is out of balance AND we have an abundance of energy produced and we must release it or a lack of energy and are unable to release anything.


    • We do not know what comes first…does the brain get out of whack causing a chemical imbalance that leads to a disturbance in our circadian rhythm OR does the circadian rhythm become out of whack and cause chemical imbalance in our brain?
    • EITHER WAY, it truly affects our MOOD and the result is mania and depression.




How to get our RHYTHM OF LIFE back



  • When we go to sleep and wake up.
    • Our body is able to re-set because we can depend on sleep-time which is when the body repairs itself, generates memory, works through challenge etc.


  • When we eat AND what we eat.
    • Our body is able to re-set because we can depend on nutrition.


  • The use of our bodies (exercise).
    • Our body is able to re-set our energy and strength levels.


  • Routine activity throughout the day lets our bodies know how much energy we need for each task, creating predictability and stability.








Advantageous Coping Skills: Ways to contain impulsive outbursts of emotion and rage. Strategies for thriving with bipolar disorder.


A VERY common problem we experience when living with bipolar disorder is the impulsive outburst of emotion and rage.

These impulsive outbursts can be very difficult to contain, especially once you are already riding an emotional roller coaster.

Here is a basic guide for how to prevent impulsive outbursts before you get on an emotional roller coaster:


1. We must have the awareness that impulsiveness in our emotion and/or temper is a problem.

We must be aware that we actually do lose control OR can lose control of our emotion.


2. Just like mania, our impulsive responses have triggers…we must learn how to identify when we FEEL TRIGGERED…then we can identify the trigger.


For example, I feel triggered when someone pokes one of my wounds…my family is really good at poking me in my wounds…as a result, at times I do lash out with anger and I am out of control.

When I am triggered for an emotional outburst of rage or emotion, the thoughts and feelings I get within me are similar to when I was a child.  I feel that no one is listening to me and that my needs are being ignored and will not be met.  I feel scared, whatever is taking place is a threat to me and it is beyond my control.

However, before I have the time to process this, I have already lashed out with anger or emotion.

This is why awareness of the triggers is NOT enough.


3. By having awareness of our triggers, we can identify the kind of environments and situations that make us most vulnerable.


I have learned that I am most vulnerable to emotional outbursts in environments  and with people where I feel very safe, such as home.

I am also highly likely to have emotional impulsiveness over text-messages because it is a contained form of communication.  Those text-messages are classified as books…I have written books by text messaging.

However, in my work I have learned that environments that cause people to be the most vulnerable are environments where there is NO EXIT or NO WAY TO ESCAPE from whatever is doing the triggering.






When I am triggered, the best thing I can possibly do for myself is give myself time to PAUSE…for me pausing is often stopping my current action…walking away…getting alone time and nurturing myself to gain containment.

  • STOP the trigger…just PAUSE…stop talking…stop doing anything

  • REMOVE OURSELVES from what is burning or poking us causing us to lash out

  • TAKE ALONE TIME (this prevents us from doing harm)


    • Meditation
    • Yoga
    • Making Art
    • Journaling
    • Listening to Music

To nurture myself in the heat of emotion, I breathe deeply into my belly until those intense emotions stop churning and I physically contain myself either hugging myself…wrapping myself tightly in a blanket…or in my cocoon hammock chair (that I love and highly recommend)….then I pray and make art (from my Mandala coloring book)


What do you do if there is NO trigger, what if you just snap?



When we “just snap” that is because we have been building the emotion up for as long as we are able to tolerate and we simply are not able to tolerate it anymore.

This is a common problem with people living with bipolar disorder…we bottle things up and snap.
In order to THRIVE we are required to learn new coping skills that are more advantageous for living with bipolar disorder….we have to say goodbye to the bottle.

Bottling things up inside when we have bipolar disorder is setting us all up for disaster.

Learning how to vent will prevent build up in our emotional bottles AND by not holding things in that bother us, our emotions will not boil.

I encourage you to participate in the group I facilitate “team THRIVE” located at

I highly recommend learning how to let emotion out of the bottle by participating in the “VENTING SPACE” daily section.


PTSD and Bipolar Disorder can be partners and look a lot like each other

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

is NOT a genetic disorder like bipolar disorder.


It comes into our lives based on

HOW WE RESPOND to a traumatic event.


When PTSD partners with bipolar disorder, it can cause mania and depression without any specific triggers in your life.


PTSD itself is a trigger.


PTSD is a response to an event that causes intense fear, horror or helplessness in which there is an actual or perceived threat to our lives or serious injury of self or others.



Symptoms of PTSD



RECOLLECTIONS: images, thoughts, and perceptions that are recurrent and intrustive or distressing

DREAMS of the event

ACTING or FEELING as if the event were reoccurring…RELIVING the experience  (this can look like mania)

ILLUSIONS or HALLUCINATIONS seeing and sensing things that are not really there or happening

FLASHBACKS feeling as though you are re-living an earlier time.


How PTSD Looks in Real Life

PERSISTENT AVOIDANCE – avoid thoughts and feelings, conversations, activities and places associated with the trauma

NUMBING of RESPONSIVENESS – shutting down or not responding to any triggers of fear.

INABILITY TO RECALL important aspects of the trauma

FEELING DETACHED or ESTRANGED from others (causes isolation and the loss of relationships)

RESTRICTED AFFECT – inability or difficulty to feel and/or express emotion (this looks like depression)

EXPECTATION TO NOT LIVE A NORMAL LIFE.  (This can look like suicidality, mania or depression)


SLEEP DIFFICULTY -Difficulty falling and staying asleep (big problem with bipolar disorder)

IRRITABILITY-outbursts of anger (may look like mania)

DIFFICULTY CONCENTRATING  (can look like mania, depression, or ADHD)

HYPERVIGILENCE – obsession (this can look like mania)

EXAGGERATED STARTLE RESPONSE – responding to a small fear trigger as though it is incredibly scary to you.



PTSD is diagnosed when these symptoms begin within 4 weeks of experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event AND if the symptoms persist BEYOND 4 WEEKS.

PTSD is an ANXIETY DISORDER that has depressive and manic symptoms.

There are many people who have PTSD and are misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

There are also many people who have BOTH bipolar disorder and PTSD.



Happiness, Excitement & Stress do NOT necessarily mean MANIA. Happiness & Bipolar Disorder.

One of the hardest challenges people living with bipolar disorder face is the fear that they cannot be happy, excited or experience stress in a normal way.

There is an assumption in our society that this is mania.

I believe it is NOT true.

The following article are simply my beliefs as a person who thrives with bipolar disorder and experiences a life full of happiness, excitement and stress.


Happiness that comes from feeling good about yourself…

self-esteem, self-worth, integrity, dignity, self-respect, what you’ve achieved, your family, how you treat people, give to people, gratitude for your life etc


Happiness and excitement that comes from what you plan to do in the FUTURE…

it is also JOY,

but because their is a GOAL that MAY invite the stressors of OVERWHELM or a drive of URGENCY…

the joy could lead to MANIA.

Therefore, happiness and excitement about what is current or in the past MAY be SAFE and not lead to mania at all.   It may be happiness and excitement about the future that may have the potential to welcome mania into our lives.


There is NOTHING WRONG with being happy and excited about the future.

We simply have to be more careful and pay attention to our sense of URGENCY and STOP when we feel URGENCY and /or OVERWHELM.

We must PAUSE…and take time to calm down and focus on one step at a time instead of the big OVERWHELMING picture.

The KEY here…is we have to be able to RECOGNIZE what URGENCY and OVERWHELM feel like in our bodies so we can respond to them RIGHT AWAY, before MANIA can kick in and we lose control.

On a different note:

Happiness or energy that feels excessive or strange to you could be mania.

The amount of happiness we feel, that is considered normal happiness, is often in proportion with the cause.

If we feel extremely happy and a burst of energy from experiencing something that is ordinary to us…

The chances are we may be experiencing mania.




We cannot avoid STRESS in life.

There will ALWAYS be stress in our lives.

To believe that we cannot handle stress dis-empowers us.

We have to learn how to cope with STRESS and how to receive support when we are OVERWHELMED.

People living with bipolar disorder already have the tendency to hold everything in an be STRONG.

This way of being for us, holding everything in or hiding everything, IS NOT HEALTHY FOR US.

By telling us that we must maintain a stress-free life…it encourages us to hold everything in.

I believe we appear to NOT handle stress well because our whole lives we have held the pain, the suffering, the loss, the wounds and the damage INSIDE OURSELVES.

Therefore, when stress happens in our lives…coming from the outside of ourselves, it is too much, we have an episode.

Our own shame, guilt, internalized stigma, self-fear, lack of self-trust, low self-esteem and other self-destructive emotions and actions are enough stress to cause relapse without ANY external stress.

In fact, I believe that internalized stigma is more stress than any daily external stressor.

One reason why I believe I have not had a significant episode in 15 years…is because I don’t hold anything in.

I do not hide anything from anyone.

My transparency frees me from internal STRESS.

It does not mean that I don’t have stress, it means that when I have stress, I let it out.

I am not ashamed or disgraced to have bipolar disorder.


Relapse Detection: How to detect if you may be experiencing relapse of episodes of bipolar disorder.


Every person living with bipolar disorder, no matter how stable, lives with the realistic concern and fear of relapse.

However, how we respond when we notice we are vulnerable or beginning to experience relapse determines the consequences and severity of an episode in our lives.


This article will look at relapse from the perspective of:

  1. What to notice in ourselves when we are experiencing relapse.
  2. Recognizing triggers of relapse.



Part 1: What To Notice To Detect Relapse



Our Interest


If you have a loss of interest in pleasurable activities, you could be relapsing into depression.


If you become obsessed with a goal that you cannot stop doing, you could be relapsing into mania.



Our Energy


If you have unusual difficulty waking up in the morning, getting out of bed and doing your daily routine, you could be experiencing depression.


If you have more energy than usual, more excitement, more passion, more pleasure, more exuberance and more irritability, you could be experiencing mania. Especially if there is a sense of URGENCY that goes along with it.



How we are thinking


If your thoughts and memories are more self-destructive than usual with the EMOTIONS of sadness, guilt, shame etc, you could be experience depression.


If your thoughts are racing through your mind, you are having multiple thoughts at once and/or your thoughts get jumbled…that’s mania.


If your thoughts are solely obsessed on a goal and you cannot stop thinking about it, that could be mania.



How we are feeling


Depression makes us feel bad about ourselves and the world.


Mania makes us feel like we can do anything, that we have special abilities or higher powers…if you are feeling unusually like omnipotent (all powerful like God)…you may be experiencing mania



Our behavior


Depression steals behavior from us. It robs us of our ability to function. If you are having difficulty functioning, you may be experiencing depression.


Depression steals our sex drive.


Mania gives us an abundance of energy to do an abundance of behaving. Mania empowers people to be highly productive if it is channeled in that way. However, mania can be incredibly destructive and cause people to do RISKY (YET PLEASURABLE) behaviors that they would not otherwise do…if you are experiencing these behaviors, you may be experiencing mania.


Mania creates an insatiable sex drive.



How we talk


Depression makes communication difficult. Thoughts move slowly and memory gets lost.


People experiencing mania cannot stop talking. They have a flight of ideas that may not even be connected because mania causes so many thoughts at once.



How we feel in our bodies


Depression can cause people to not feel alive.


Mania can cause us to feel this burning energy inside of our bodies. People with mania (once they know what it is) can recognize that they are out of control in both their mind and their body.



Part 2: Triggers of Relapse





Circumstances: Loss or illness of a loved one. Loss of a job or income. Loss of your home. etc


Home environment: there is OVERWHELMING pressure and demands on you and no time for self-care; lack of peace; constant stress between family members;


Stressful marriage/relationship: you are not getting your emotional needs met or are not getting the support you need; poor communication; not enough time together.


Financial Stress: Not enough money to make ends meet.


Children are blessings, but they cause so much stress on each of these levels. Being a parent is HARD…and extremely hard if you are a parent living with bipolar disorder.






Each one of us since the day we are conceived (I may talk about this another time) experience things that wound us.


Not all wounds heal.

In fact, many we just live with…and if we are lucky we nurture them so they don’t determine our choices and determine our lives.


We poke each others wounds all of the time. In fact, when we feel hurt, it is rarely what happens in the moment that hurts us….often times what happens in the moment connects us with all of our past hurt and makes us feel a WHOLE LOT OF PAIN.


Most of our early wounds are the ones that hurt the most and get built on by life. We seek out chances to heal those wounds by repeating hurtful things until we know better.

Those early wounds are usually happen in relationship with our parents, siblings (except in the cases of child abuse and sexual abuse that take place outside of the home) and our early peer relationships.


Rejection and denial of our emotional needs as human beings play a large role in the wounds that we ALL carry.


These wounds if torn open by an EVENT or the MEMORY OF AN EVENT can invite relapse.


People often don’t know their emotional wounds have been triggered until after the episode or after they have lashed out at a loved one or society. Some people never know and can’t understand why they feel the way they do.






I believe that a lack of fulfillment (a lack of giving of yourself…a lack of having something of value to offer others) can lead to relapse, particularly depression.


When people believe that they have nothing to contribute and are of no value, that may invite depression and drug use. If this value returns they may feel more inclined to join in socially, start trying to get out of their depressive state, and if drug use was prevalent they may even opt to drug test themselves in order to keep on a straight path.


All people have something to offer others of value. If this gets ignored or goes without nurture in a person…I believe mental illness may get significantly worse.



Why It Can Be Hard To See Relapse


I believe depression is very sneaky. It can creep in slowly and then just clobber people.


Mania, well it isn’t as sneaky, it makes you feel better than you have ever felt before and it is very hard to not want to experience it. However, the consequences of mania, may be why people choose to take medication and prevent relapse in the first place.