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.

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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.


SPECIAL FOR MOTHER’S DAY: My Own Story of Depression Coming After Full-Blown Mania

This is dedicated to my mom who loved me and stood beside me when I was horrible to her. I will never be able to thank her enough for how she has been there for me and believed in me. I love you, Mom.

This is my personal story of experiencing severe depression after full blown mania at the age of sixteen.

For two weeks straight every emotion I ever had, came exploding out of my body. I was the full emotional spectrum all at once. And no one ever knew what they were going to get and much of it was aimed at my mom. My family was playing Russian roulette with a ticking time bomb made of their own flesh and blood. After multiple explosions, I finally depleted myself. And it was over. It was as though the lights went out and the mania that I had grown to love, before it got really nasty and ugly, was over.

The transition between mania and depression happened in my sleep during a nine hour car ride home from what was supposed to be a vacation.

I remember being like Satan’s spawn in the beginning of the car ride, wanting to buy a vicious dog so I could have it sick my mom. But by the time we arrived home. I was weak and quiet. Something put out my raging fire and I knew that what came next was not going to be good.

I went to sleep that night and woke up feeling like I was unable to move, but my body still worked good enough.  All the emotion I had was gone. I felt nothing. Feeling nothing is the most horrible feeling ever.

It kept getting worse. I couldn’t think enough words to put a thought together, let alone express myself. It was like my brain was dead. However, I had the awareness of what was happening to me. It was like I was floating over myself, watching myself go through this but unable to do anything about it.  If I could have hope, I probably would have hoped for someone to pull the plug or shoot me.

I believe two weeks went by in this state until Zooloft kicked in and my lithium was starting to work, maybe.

As Zooloft began working, I began to feel the fear and pain of depression.

I felt tremendous guilt for how I treated my family, particularly my mom, during my mania.  I was horrible to her and wanted to hurt her badly. I feared that they would not love me anymore.

Then more shame and guilt hit me like a brick by blaming myself for  grandmother’s death that occurred when I was thirteen because the night she had her final stroke, I resented her and wished she would go away so I could have my bedroom back. And I felt horrible for running away when my mom had cancer (at the same time my grandma died), when she needed me the most. All these feelings of powerlessness flooded me. I was swallowed by shame and guilt as I was coming out of this deep depression that was worse than death. Now that I could think, I couldn’t even think of reasons why I should live.

At that time I had forgotten about all the things that I did during my mania to my friends, teachers and in front of my peers at school that I could be held accountable for. I was lucky, people treated me with curiosity and kindness. I lost some close friends, but my best friend stood by my side (even though during mania I told him he needed to get me pregnant because our child would be the messiah….but that’s for another time and that story is on my websites).

Nonetheless, the medication started to work and I was able to get off the couch little by little. I didn’t admit this to my mom until I was an adult, but what saved me from this depression was her forcing me to go to summer school to take a creative writing class. I loved creative writing, but had no desire to do anything at the time.

I sat in that class with my cheek glued to the desk writing beautiful poetry about the ocean and doodling. When people asked me what’s wrong, I announced to the class, “I am crazy.”. No one knew how to respond to that, so they just gave me my space.

As the days passed, my face became less glued to the desk. I moved onto resting my face on my fists and eventually as my medication lithium fully kicked in I was able to sit up and participate in class.

This is quite embarrassing to admit, especially when I feel comfortable sharing a lot of stuff openly. Of all things, a multi-level marketing opportunity selling long-distance phone service deeply excited me and triggered me into a mild hypomanic state that lifted me completely out of the depression and stabilized me in that state.  As the consequence of investing myself for a few years into a get rich scheme (that I will never do again), I began the process of re-building myself by immersing myself in personal growth books (I refused therapy because I hated therapy…even though I am a therapist now)  (I’ll share more about these experiences in another blog down the line.)

Too this day, I will do anything I possibly can to prevent a manic episode, even though I can’t even put words to how amazing my full blown manic episode was….the depression was so bad, that the most beautiful experience I have had in life (not the nasty part of mania) is not worth it.

I hope sharing my own story of living with Bipolar Disorder is useful.

With Love,



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:
  • 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.


Early Warning Signs of Mania: 6 Areas to Notice Mania on the Horizon

No single one of these qualities means that you are manic, but they mean that you could be vulnerable to mania.

1. Notice your sleep.

If you are not feeling tired, having difficulty falling or staying asleep, or your need for sleep is decreasing this is a very important warning sign that your body and mind are giving you to alert you that mania is on the horizon.

Pay attention to is what is keeping you awake. If there is a repetitive thought playing like a tape recorder in your mind, if you can’t stop thinking about a goal that doesn’t have an external stressor, or nothing of importance is on your mind and you simply can’t sleep, mania may be on the horizon.

This is different from having difficulty sleeping one night because you have an exam, deadline, or any external stressor.  However, if you are unable to sleep multiple nights due to external stressors it could very easily lead to mania.

2. Notice your thoughts.

If you notice that the speed of your thoughts are increasing, the number of thoughts you have at once are multiplying, your thoughts get jumbled or you have difficulty expressing your thoughts…mania may be on the horizon.

3. Notice your drive towards goals.

If you have a sense of urgency towards a goal, especially a goal that does not have a deadline or any external pressure, you may be experiencing the early signs of mania.

4. Notice your energy.

If you experience yourself as having more energy than usual. For instance, if you find yourself more exuberant than YOUR usual, you may be approaching an early sign of mania. This is especially true if you find that you cannot contain your energy appropriately to fit the situation you are in.

5. Notice your impulses and drives.

If you notice that you are more impulsive than usual – spending money, gambling, taking risks, sexually etc. If you are beginning to be driven by your impulses you may be in the clutch of mania.

6. Notice your emotional sensitivity and emotional response. Also known as agitation.

If you are experiencing levels of sensitivity or agitation that are greater than usual, keep a look out for mania on the horizon.

However, if your response to an emotion causes you feel out of control, mania may be close. This does not mean that if you get angry and yell that you are manic. Nonetheless, if you find yourself feeling out of control of your emotions then you may be vulnerable to mania.