Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder


This book could be a resource for your patients with bipolar disorder…

Take Charge of Your Bipolar Disorder


Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder

by Julie A. Fast; John Preston, PsyD

Warner Wellness, 2006; 320 pages

I was pretty naïve in 1994 when my partner Ivan had a massive manic, psychotic episode and then went in and out of psychotic, suicidal depression before he finally stabilized after his fourth hospitalization. I watched him come home with no real plan for his bipolar disorder. There was no guidance on what to do once he was out of the hospital except medications. We were both overwhelmed and scared for our future.

Imagine my shock when I was diagnosed with bipolar and a psychotic disorder a year later at age 31.

I had lived with untreated bipolar disorder for 15 years. I just thought I had trouble managing my life! I went in search of books on management only to find there were none. This was the start of my research into how we could both manage our bipolar.

Almost 30 years later, I have written many books on the topic, including Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, the first book for partners, Getting it Done When You’re Depressed, and Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder, the first bipolar disorder management book.

My goal as an author is to fill the gap between office visits. Most health care professionals tell me their main problem is lack of time. Books can be an invaluable tool to keep a client engaged in management in between sessions.

What Is New?

The second edition of Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder keeps my original plan regarding the behavior and lifestyle changes needed for bipolar management with an emphasis on trigger management and prevention.

Chapters address a specific struggle most individuals with bipolar disorder face including medications, sleep, relationships, school, work, and of course symptom management and prevention. The book emphasizes the importance of teamwork with health care professionals and offers hope for those who feel overwhelmed by the whole process. The main change in the new edition is the addition of my research into substances that affect individuals with bipolar disorder in a chapter I call the Bipolar Significant Seven.

The Bipolar Significant Seven

For many years, I researched how specific substances affected my own bipolar disorder and psychotic disorder. When I started working professionally as a health care trainer and then as a coach for family members and partners in the early 2000s, I had access to an incredible amount of information directly sourced from those impacted by bipolar disorder. I eventually came up with a list of 7 substances that can negatively impact individuals with bipolar and psychotic disorder (Table).

Table. 7 Substances That Can Negatively Impact Individuals With Bipolar Disorder

Table. 7 Substances That Can Negatively Impact Individuals With Bipolar Disorder

It is my premise that all individuals who have bipolar disorder in their family tree should learn about these substances in order to prevent bipolar disorder moods swings. The chapter is an easy to digest exploration of the way these substances may affect the bipolar brain. It allows for a nonjudgmental discussion as there are no dire warnings that may lead to resistance to the content.

How to Use Take Charge with Patients

I never suggest telling a patient that my books will help them manage bipolar.

Instead, I suggest a focus on the benefit of the book as related to a personal struggle. Benefits include better relationships, having a stable family, earning money, and being able to go to school and work. Here is an example:

“I know the medication side effects are a struggle. Here’s a book that talks about what you can do to naturally manage the majority of your symptoms so that you can then use medications for the symptoms you can’t control on your own. This means less side effects overall.”

I also suggest creating a challenge for the patient. You can say, “This author has bipolar. Let me know if she knows what in the heck she is talking about!”

You can also assign a chapter of the book for a next meeting. You can start with the Bipolar Significant Seven chapter. This is the least contentious way to talk about substances that greatly affect bipolar including cannabis marijuana and other hallucinogens, stimulants, steroids, and supplements.

As with all of my work, the information in Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder was rigorously reviewed by my mentor and coauthor, John Preston, PsyD. The Bipolar Specific Seven chapter was also reviewed by Jim Phelps, MD, and Dr. Jay Carter, PsyD.

Concluding Thoughts

Bipolar disorder awareness has come a long way since the first edition of Take Charge. We are closer to understanding the genetic nature of the illness and most people now understand that bipolar is a medical illness.

This is progress!

Ms Fast is the author of Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder, Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, and Getting it Done When You’re Depressed. She is the top online bipolar disorder writer with over 15 million views of her work. She works as a continuing education trainer on the topics of bipolar disorder and psychotic disorders as well as the impact of substances including cannabis on the brain. She was the original consultant for the Claire Danes character on the Showtime series “Homeland” and received the Mental Health America excellence in journalism award. She lives with bipolar disorder and a psychotic disorder.

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