Hiatus Announcement for the Bipolar Parent

Hello!

It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing a two-month hiatus for The Bipolar Parent. For the past eleven weeks, I have been working on personal projects, and have lost all motivation to work on the blog.

I have high hopes that a two-month hiatus–one month to rest and take the pressure off, another to get back into the swing of things–will help me recharge my batteries.

I appreciate all of you as readers. Thanks in advance for your understanding. Please stay safe in quarantine, and tend to your families.

Stay healthy, stay hydrated, stay sane.

Cassandra Stout

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The Bipolar Parent’s Saturday Morning Mental Health Check In: Sleep Edition

The Bipolar Parent’s Saturday Morning Mental Health Check In: Sleep Edition – How are you? I’d like to get to know you, so please stop by!

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Hello! Welcome to The Bipolar Parent’s Saturday Morning Mental Health Check In: Sleep Edition!

How are you? How have you been sleeping? Well, I hope! How’s your holiday planning going? If you have kids, how are they? How has your week been? Please tell me! I really do want to get to know all of you.

The Bipolar Parent's Saturday Morning Check In: Sleep Edition - How are you? I'd like to get to know you, so please stop by!

My Hellish Week of No Sleep

Well, last week was good, but this one started off on the wrong foot and stayed awful. Last Saturday night, I stayed up late messing around on the internet and inhaling articles about how to grow my blog traffic. Quickly becoming obsessed with making my own website (which I did eventually–it’s coming soon!), I realized I needed to sleep, and shut my laptop at 10:35pm. Then I laid awake in bed until 3am with my mind spinning. I ended up having to take a sleep aid, which I loathe. I wasn’t able to wake up at 7am to hang out with my son, as I’d promised him the night before. He seemed to understand, but I hate disappointing him.

That lack of sleep a set the tone for the rest of the day (and week). I was irritable, still obsessed with my blog, and tired. I couldn’t sleep during the rest of the week, either. By Wednesday, I’d had enough. I took a two-hour nap while my preschooler was making Christmas artwork at school, and felt loads better–during the day, at least. At night, I stayed awake until 2am. Ugh.

On Thursday, I attended both a psychiatry appointment and a therapy session, which always help me re-center myself. My psychiatrist and I decided not to adjust my meds and to meet in three months. My therapist suggested that I take the sleep aid at 10pm for the next few days, so I’ll be asleep by 11pm when it kicks in. On Thursday night, I took the sleep aid at 8pm, fell asleep by 9pm, and slept for 12 hours. Friday morning, I was still tired and groggy, but feeling less manic.

I’m still obsessed with growing my blog, but the frantic, urgent nature of the obsession is blunted. I hope I’ll be able to better manage the work/life/mom balance in the future. Wish me luck, and thanks for reading.

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The Bipolar Parent’s Saturday Mental Health Check-in: Mother-In-Law Edition

The Bipolar Parent's Saturday Morning Mental Health Check In: Mother-in-Law Edition - Cassandrastout.com

Hello!

How are you? How’s your day going? How’s your week? Do you have any holiday plans? If you have kids or a partner, how are they? Let’s chat!

How I’m Doing

My week has been a good one. My mother-in-law was here, and we all adore her. The toddler especially loves her Grandma. We made cookies on Sunday, and hung out the rest of the week. My family’s holiday plan is to fly across the country in mid-December to visit her where she lives. We’re all looking forward to it!

So please let me know how you’re doing. I do genuinely want to get to know you all.

The Bipolar Parent's Saturday Morning Mental Health Check In: Mother-in-Law Edition - Cassandrastout.com

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Hiatus Announcement for The Bipolar Parent

It’s time for me to take a break.

cassandra stout photo
Blogger Cassandra Stout. Protected under a Creative Commons license.

I’ve been burned out with family responsibilities and dealing with some intense conversations in therapy, and my blog has suffered for it. You may have noticed a dip in quality, for which I apologize for. I’ve only written a single post in the past six weeks. In short, while I have the motivation to blog, as I don’t want to disappoint you guys, my readership, I have lost the inspiration. I don’t want to churn out low-quality posts just to have something up on Fridays, so it is with a heavy heart that I’m announcing a hiatus until the first Friday in September, 2019. I promise to start blogging again then, and to give you the level of detail and quality you expect from The Bipolar Parent.

Thanks so much for being here with me. Until September.

-Cassandra Stout

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How to Talk to Someone Experiencing a Bipolar Mood Episode

Trigger Warning: This post contains a brief discussion of suicidal ideation.

Bipolar patients suffering from mood episodes often make no sense. If they are depressed, they may say things like, “I’m a failure. No one loves me. I want to die.” On the flip side, if they’re manic or hypomanic, they might say things like, “I can fly! Let’s deep clean the house at midnight! It’s all so clear now!”

Telling the depressed person that he or she is not a failure and that people love him or her may fall on deaf ears. Similarly, trying to engage with the manic person’s delusions might be futile. So how do you talk to someone suffering from these issues?

Let’s dig in.

How to Talk to a Depressed Person

In order to talk to a depressed person, you need to address the root problem: the illness. You need to offer sympathy, understanding, and possible solutions.

For example, one thing you can say in response to his or her negativity is this: “I hear you. I understand that you’re depressed. This is normal for your bipolar disorder. I know it sucks. I’ve seen you like this before. Maybe you could take a long, hot shower; we know that helps you feel better.” This response addresses the real issue and communicates that you are there for the depressed person.

talking
A woman with very red lips on a cell phone. Credit to flickr.com user Anders Adermark. Used with permission under a Creative Commons license.

Depressed people may also suffer suicidal thoughts, which are dangerous. If they express these thoughts, you can say something like, “Thank you for telling me. You mean a lot to me, and I am here for you.” Then suggest that the depressed person call his or her treatment team and let them know that he or she is suffering from these thoughts.

How to Talk to a Manic Person

Similar to talking to someone suffering from depression, when talking to a manic person, you need to respond with patience and understanding. He or she will try to talk over you, and will not be able to stop talking. Be careful about being swept up into the conversation, as it can be overstimulating for everyone.

If the manic person ends up overstimulated, his or her mania or hypomania might worsen and he or she may become agitated. Despite their confidence, people with hypomania or mania are very sensitive in their elevated mood, and may take offense easily. If you are overstimulated, you might not be as effective at helping them remain calm. Make sure that the manic person is in a safe place and walk away for a break.

When you return, answer questions briefly, calmly, and honestly. If the manic person proposes a project or goal, do not agree to participate. You can keep tabs on them during the project and remind them to eat, sleep, and generally take breaks.

In my own experience, I was manic shortly after giving birth. I clapped my hands repeatedly and demanded that we–myself and the woman from church visiting me–clean the house, rather than let me recover. I was focused on getting my projects done, and ended up devastated once my goal was thwarted. Prepare to deal with that devastation–or frustration.

If the manic person tries to argue, remain detached. Talk about neutral topics. If you need to postpone the discussion, say something like, “I see this means a lot to you. We definitely need to discuss this, but let’s do so in the morning after I am no longer upset and tired.” You can also try to redirect his or her behavior, saying something like, “Would you prefer to take a walk or watch a movie?”

Final Thoughts

Communicating with people suffering from a mood episode, be it mania or depression, can be difficult. They often believe things that aren’t true. So taking care of yourself in the situation is paramount. If the manic or depressive person is critical of you, tell the person that you understand that he or she is ill and upset, but that you will not tolerate being spoken to in that way. Then find a way to exit the conversation and reconvene later. Be firm, but kind.

Above all, as with so many strategies for dealing with bipolar people, be patient. They are suffering from a mental illness that they cannot control. It’s not their fault. If they must deal with the consequences of their actions, try to present those consequences after they come out of the mood episode, when they are back to their rational selves.

Good luck!

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How Sugar May Harm Your Mental Health

Sugar, especially refined white sugar which has been processed, inflates waistlines and contributes to obesity. But, while some studies have shown that sugar may have a detrimental effect on the mood, not a whole lot of research has been done on sugar’s effects on mental health.

In a past post, Good, Good, Good Nutrition, part II: Foods to Avoid When Managing Bipolar Disorder, we covered how sugar can cause wild mood swings in bipolar patients. And how obesity can make some bipolar medications ineffective, especially if the weight is gained around the middle. But there are other ways sugar harms mental health.

Let’s dig in.

Addictive Properties

The addictive properties of sugar have been studied in recent years, though the research is still controversial. But anyone who’s craving a chocolate fix can understand how additive sugar is. Sugar and actual drugs both flood the brain with dopamine, a feel-good chemical which changes the brain over time. Among people who binge eat, the sight of a milkshake activated the same reward centers of the brain as cocaine, according to a Yale University study. Speaking of cocaine, rats actually prefer sugar water to the hard drug. And according to a 2007 study, rats who were given fats and sugar to eat demonstrated symptoms of withdrawal when the foods were taken away.

sugar
A spoonful of sugar on a black background. Credit to flickr.com user Gunilla G. Used with permission under a Creative Commons license.

Cognitive Effects

Sugar may also affect your ability to learn and remember things. Six weeks of drinking a fructose solution similar to soda caused the rats taking it to forget their way out of a maze, according to a University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) study. In the same study, rats who ate a high-fructose diet that also included omega-3 fatty acids found their way out of the maze even faster than the controls, who ate a standard diet for rats. The increased-sugar diet without omega 3s caused insulin resistance in the rats, which leads to diabetes and damaged brain cells crucial for memory.

Depression

Countries with high-sugar diets experience a high incidence of depression. Mood disorders may also be affected by the highs and lows of sugar consumption and subsequent crashes. In schizophrenic patients, a study has shown that eating a lot of sugar links to an increased risk of depression.

The researchers behind the study produced a couple of theories to explain the link. Sugar suppresses the activation of a hormone called BDNF, which is found at low levels in people with schizophrenia and clinical depression. Sugar also contributes to chronic inflammation, which impacts the immune system and brain. Studies show that inflammation can cause depression.

Anxiety

Sugar consumption doesn’t cause anxiety, but it does appear to worsen anxiety symptoms. Sugar also causes the inability to cope with stress. Rats who ate sugar and then fasted showed symptoms of anxiety, according to a 2008 study. In a study in the following year, rats who ate sugar (as opposed to honey) were more likely to suffer anxiety. While you cannot cure anxiety through a change in diet, you can help the body cope with stress and minimize symptoms if you avoid sugar.

The Bottom Line

The good news is, people are consuming less sugar now that the risks to eating it are clearer. A decade ago, Americans ate sugar for 18% of their daily calories, but today that’s dropped to 13%. The more we learn about the human body and how our choices in foods affect us, the more we can tailor our diets to maximize the benefits to our health and minimize the risks.

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The Bipolar Parent Master Link List

bipolar
A picture of a double-headed man. One head is smiling, and the other is screaming. Credit to flickr.com user Remy Estepario. Used with permission under a Creative Commons license.

Why, hello, there! The Bipolar Parent just celebrated an anniversary of sorts: two years of weekly posts! The blog has technically been running for about six years, but back when it started, posts were infrequent due to my not having my bipolar disorder under control. I was either riding the highs of mania and unable to focus, or suffering from the lows of depression and unable to muster up the energy to do much of anything, much less blog.

Now that I’ve managed my bipolar disorder better with the help of Wellbutrin and Risperidone, I’ve hit two years with posts every Friday. That’s worth celebrating.

So, here is the master link post for The Bipolar Parent. It will be updated periodically to include the newest posts. I will also be including related links on all future posts. Enjoy!

  1. The Bipolar Parent’s Saturday Morning Mental Health Check In: Sleep Edition
  2. Have Bipolar? You Can Still Thrive This Holiday Season
  3. The Bipolar Parent’s Saturday Morning Mental Health Check In: Mother-In-Law Edition
  4. How to Manage the Winter Blues/Seasonal Affective Disorder
  5. The Bipolar Parent’s Saturday Morning Mental Health Check In: How Are You?
  6. 11 Lessons I Learned From 11 Years of Managing Bipolar Disorder
  7. How to Support a Friend or Loved One Staying in a Psychiatric Hospital
  8. Dear Younger Me: You’re Bipolar, and That’s Okay
  9. Crisis Hotline Numbers and Resources Master Post
  10. What is a Warmline, and How Do You Use Them?
  11. Tips and Resources for Online Support Groups
  12. Getting Support During a Bipolar Depression Episode
  13. How to Communicate with Family During the Holidays When You Have a Mental Illness
  14. 10 Signs That You Are a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)
  15. Book Review: Balancing Act: Writing Through a Bipolar Life, by Kitt O’Malley
  16. Can a Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Diet Improve Depression?
  17. How to Start Seeing a Therapist
  18. Easing Anxiety About the End of the World: 4 Steps to Combat Climate Change
  19. How to Shield Your Children From the Effects of Your Bipolar Disorder
  20. Bipolar Disorder and Insomnia–And What to do About Sleep Disturbances
  21. Common Pitfalls When Communicating With Your Kids About Your Bipolar Disorder, part II
  22. Common Pitfalls When Communicating With Your Kids About Your Bipolar Disorder, part I
  23. Probiotics May Help Treat Bipolar Disorder
  24. Does Inflammation Cause Bipolar Disorder?
  25. National Depression Awareness Month: My Experience and How to Get Support
  26. National Prevention Week: How I Prevent Oncoming Bipolar Mood Episodes
  27. Book Review: Breakdown: A Clinician’s Experience in a Broken System of Emergency Psychiatry
  28. How Specific Gene Variants May Raise Bipolar Disorder Risk
  29. Shot Through the Heart, and Bipolar Disorder’s to Blame: You Have a Higher Risk of Cardiovascular Disease if You’re Bipolar
  30. How Does Spoon Theory Relate to Mental Illness?
  31. Are You White? You Have a Better Chance of Being Properly Treated for Bipolar Disorder
  32. KonMari Revisited: A Review of the KonMari Method in Tackling the Clutter Demon With Bipolar Disorder
  33. Maternal Bipolar Disorder Significantly Increases Risk for Premature Births
  34. How to Manage Common Bipolar Triggers
  35. How to Survive a Stint in the Mental Hospital
  36. How to Talk to Someone Experiencing a Bipolar Mood Episode
  37. How to Spot Bipolar Disorder in Teens and What to do About it
  38. What Are the Differences Between Bipolar in Children and Bipolar in Adults?
  39. Preemies Have Higher Risk to Develop Bipolar Disorder
  40. How to Spot Depression in Children, Even Preschoolers
  41. How Sugar May Harm Your Mental Health
  42. America has Highest Rate of Bipolar Disorder Diagnoses in 11-Nation Study
  43. Can Early Symptoms Predict Bipolar Disorder? Evidence Shows Differing Patterns of Risk Factors
  44. The Links Between Fibromyalgia and Bipolar Disorder
  45. Brain Training Shows Promise for Patients with Bipolar Disorder
  46. The Bipolar Parent Master Link List
  47. Scientists Link Bipolar Disorder to Unexpected Brain Region
  48. A Quarter of People with Fibromyalgia Show Bipolar Symptoms
  49. Bipolar Disorder Medication and Weight Gain
  50. How to Treat Common Side Effects of Bipolar Medication
  51. How to Clean Your House with Bipolar Disorder and a Toddler, part II
  52. How to Clean Your House with Bipolar Disorder and a Toddler, part I
  53. How to Follow a Mediterranean Diet to Help Manage Bipolar Depression
  54. What is Hypergraphia, and How Does It Relate to Bipolar Disorder?
  55. My Manifestations of Bipolar Mania: Crafting and Frugality
  56. Tackling the Clutter Demon with Bipolar Disorder
  57. Book Review: Dyane Harwood’s Birth of a New Brain
  58. Good, Good, Good Nutrition, Part II: Foods to Avoid When Managing Bipolar Disorder
  59. Good, Good, Good Nutrition, part I: Foods to Eat to Help Manage Bipolar Disorder
  60. Bipolar Disorder Manifests Differently in People Who Binge Eat
  61. Family Study Emphasizes Distinct Origins for Bipolar Disorder Subtypes
  62. Interview With My Parents: On Raising a Bipolar Child
  63. People With Bipolar Disorder More Likely to Die From Age-Related Diseases
  64. Bipolar Disorder Diagnosable By a 15-minute Electrocardiogram, Study Finds
  65. Book Review: Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life
  66. 22 Easy Meals to Make While Depressed
  67. Dealing With Mental Illness Privilege Guilt
  68. Left-handed People Require Different Mental Health Treatments, Study Finds
  69. Gene Breakthrough on Lithium Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
  70. Light Therapy Helps Bipolar Disorder Patients Function
  71. Brain Protein Targeted to Develop New Bipolar Disorder Therapies
  72. Pot Smoking in Teens Linked to Bipolar Symptoms
  73. Children with Bipolar Disorder May Be Diagnosed with Vitamin D Blood Test In the Future
  74. Bipolar Patients Treated with Lithium Rehospitalized Less
  75. Scientists Conclude After 12-year Study That Bipolar Disorder Has Seven Causes
  76. Treatable Condition Could be Mistaken for Bipolar Disorder
  77. People with a Family History of Bipolar Disorder Have Reduced Planning Ability
  78. People At-Risk for Bipolar Disorder May Age Faster
  79. Men and Women Differ When it Comes to Bipolar Biomarkers
  80. Researchers Create Global Map of How Bipolar Disorder Affects the Brain
  81. AI Used for Blowing Pilots Out of the Sky Helps Bipolar Patients
  82. Bipolar? Your Brain is Wired to Make Poor Decisions
  83. Six-Year Delay Between Onset of Bipolar Disorder and Diagnosis, Study Finds
  84. Molecular Mechanism Behind Lithium’s Effectiveness Identified
  85. Children at High Risk for Bipolar Disorder Genetically Vulnerable to Stress
  86. Hippocampus Volume Decreases Linked to Bipolar Disorder
  87. Depression Changes Our Language
  88. Bipolar Genes Linked to Autism
  89. Genes Linked to Creativity Could Increase Risk of Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia
  90. Bipolar Disorder Increases Risk of Early Death From Natural Causes
  91. How to Handle Intrusive Thoughts
  92. What Does High Functioning Depression Look Like?
  93. Which Mental Health Professional Should You Use?
  94. The History of the Treatment of Mental Illness
  95. Can Bipolar Disorder Symptoms Contribute to Hoarding?
  96. Bipolar? You Can Survive This Holiday Season, part II
  97. Bipolar? You Can Survive This Holiday Season, part I
  98. New Research Pinpoints Bipolar Disorder Gene
  99. What Types of Therapies Are Right For You?
  100. How to Get a Psychiatric Evaluation
  101. Disclosing That You Have a Mental Illness, part IV: Your Employer
  102. Disclosing That You Have a Mental Illness, part III: Friends and Family
  103. Disclosing That You Have a Mental Illness, part II: How
  104. Disclosing That You Have a Mental Illness, part I: When
  105. Bipolar Patients More Than Twice As Likely to Have Suffered Childhood Adversity
  106. Scientists Predict Who Will Respond to Lithium
  107. What to do if Your Child has Bipolar Disorder
  108. Bipolar Disorder in Children
  109. How to Apply for Disability Benefits for Mental Disorders
  110. Antibiotics Linked to Manic Episodes
  111. Why Should You Chart Your Moods if You Have Bipolar Disorder?
  112. Bipolar Disorder is Toxic–Literally
  113. Antibodies That Cause Encephalitis Linked to Psychosis
  114. Can Blueberry Extract Help Prevent Postpartum Blues?
  115. Substance Abuse and Bipolar Disorder
  116. Bipolar Disorder in Women
  117. App to Detect Onset of Mania In Development by Sane Australia
  118. What to do if You Run Out of Medication
  119. 4 Ways to Educate Someone About Mental Illness
  120. The History of Bipolar Disorder
  121. Mental Illness in the Media–An Incomplete Picture
  122. 5 Ways to Cope with a Diagnosis of Mental Illness
  123. 8 Myths About Mental Illness
  124. Learned Behaviors: Passing on Coping Mechanisms
  125. Nature vs. Nurture: The Causes of Bipolar Disorder
  126. What is Bipolar Disorder?
  127. 6 Strategies for Parenting with a Mental Illness
  128. How to Talk To Your Kids About Mental Illness
  129. The Price of Mental Health
  130. What is Postpartum Psychosis?
  131. How Mental Health Affects Personal Hygiene
  132. The Prevalence of “Nuts”
  133. “How Do You Define Mentally Ill?”
  134. Pregnant While Bipolar
  135. Executive Function and Bipolar Disorder
  136. Safe Medications to Take While Breastfeeding
  137. Stabilizing Medications: Risperidone and Wellbutrin
  138. What is Bipolar Depression?
  139. Bipolar and Suicidal? You’re Not Alone
  140. The Gold Standards of Bipolar Medication, part II
  141. The Gold Standards of Bipolar Medication, part I
  142. Are You “Covering” For Your Illnesses?
  143. How to Clean When Your Brain is a Mess, part III
  144. How to Clean When Your Brain is a Mess, part II
  145. How to Clean Your House When Your Brain is a Mess, part I
  146. How Privilege Affects Mental Healthcare
  147. How to Get Your Much-Needed Forty Winks
  148. How to Work Out with a 40-pound Parasite Clinging to Your Leg
  149. Bipolar? Exercise Will Change Your Life
  150. Good, Good, Good, Good Nutrition!
  151. Why Medicinal Weight Gain is Devastating to the Mentally Ill
  152. What is Cyclothymia?
  153. The Importance of Team You, Part V
  154. The Importance of Team You, Part IV
  155. The Importance of Team You, Part III
  156. The Importance of Team You, Part II
  157. The Importance of Team You, part I
  158. A Breath of Fresh Air: Deep Breathing Techniques
  159. A Beautiful Mind
  160. Hypomania: A Closer Look
  161. What is Hypomania?
  162. What is Mania?
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