How Coping with Bipolar Disorder Prepared Me For This Crisis

I’ll admit it, I’ve always worried I wouldn’t be able to handle crisis. Because I have bipolar disorder, I often see myself as an emotionally delicate creature easily overwhelmed by the slightest trigger. When the pandemic began, I thought I’d be hit harder than people who don’t live with mental illness. But I’ve actually surprised myself. I’ve realized I’m specially equipped to handle crisis precisely because of my bipolar disorder. I’ve had to overcome incredible odds to make it to where I am today, and my journey to recovery is what’s made me stronger.

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Knowing This is Temporary is What’s Keeping Me Sane Right Now

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and hopeless in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. My life has changed so dramatically, it’s been hard to see a way out. Are we ever going to get back to the way things used to be? If so, when? Will things change forever? If so, what will this new world look like? Will it be better or worse than before? Sometimes, the idea that society could ever get back to normal seems like a pipe dream.

I have bipolar disorder. Even before the coronavirus, I struggled with negative, intrusive thoughts and all-or-nothing thinking. I’ve been a victim of my own black and white view of the world. The words “always” and “never” have been firmly cemented in my vocabulary for a long time.

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Mindfulness Has Taught Me it’s Okay to Have Feelings

DISCLAIMER: The information and opinions on this site are for educational purposes only. This site, and any content herein, should not be seen as a substitute for an official mental or physical diagnosis, or for professional health care.
This is just my personal opinion.

You know when you see something disturbing or upsetting in a movie or on a TV show, and you shut your eyes tight, so you don’t see it? You just wait for it to be over with? Or if you’re watching a show with someone else, and you ask them to tell you when the bad part is over? That’s what I want to do every day. But I can’t. What’s happening around me is real, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be over anytime soon.

I can’t just stick my head in the sand and wait for all this to pass. Even when I limit my news exposure, the world just *feels* different. Scratch that. It doesn’t just feel different. It feels like it will never be the same again.

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7 Ways I’m Protecting My Mental Health In Light of the Coronavirus

DISCLAIMER: The information and opinions on this site are for educational purposes only. This site, and any content herein, should not be seen as a substitute for an official mental or physical diagnosis, or for professional health care.
This is just my personal opinion.

OK, I’m not going to lie. I’ve been feeling anxious with all the recent news about the corona virus (COVID-19). I feel overwhelmed with the daily announcements about event cancellations, empty store shelves, and of course, the fatalities. Because I have bipolar disorder, I tend to be especially sensitive to routine changes, bad news, and just general external triggers. Even people who don’t have underlying mental illness or anxiety issues are experiencing extreme stress right now.

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Quieting the Imp of Impatience and Impulsivity

Zippers are my enemies. I know that may sound strange but hear me out. I have bipolar disorder, and I tend to be impatient.

Picture this: you’re heading outside on a chilly winter evening, throwing on your coat as you grab your keys. You’re meeting up with friends, but you’re running late. Your coat has a zipper running all the way up the front of it. You’re in a hurry and you don’t have time to waste. Now, try to slow down and zip up your coat slowly and carefully. Something as simple and mundane as bundling up in a warm jacket before entering the frigid air outside should be easy. It should be quick. But it’s not. Zippers—of all things—actually require some patience. The place at the bottom where the two sides connect (actually called the retainer box, if you’re interested) has to fit together just right. Perfectly, in fact. And if your coat has any folds in it, the zipper can easily get stuck. If your coat is old, it can run right off the track. If you’re not careful, slow and above all, patient, it’s actually pretty easy to break a zipper. This has happened to me more than once. And not just with outerwear. I’ve broken purse zippers trying to hurry myself out of line after buying something at a store. I’ve botched up gym bags at the end of a workout because I couldn’t wait to get home and shower. Zipping something up isn’t rocket science, but because I often rush through things, it feels like it is.

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How Online Shopping Wrecks My Stability

I wrote an article several months ago about stopping hypomania by recognizing my thoughts and actions, one of which was excessive online shopping. It’s one of my biggest weaknesses, and probably the hardest one for me to keep in check. It’s a constant battle. I’m constantly bombarded with online ads, emails (no matter how many I unsubscribe to), and coupons luring me to “Buy! Buy! Buy!”

Online shopping can be dangerous for someone with bipolar disorder like myself. Why? Because by nature, my illness causes me to constantly seek stimulation and emotional highs. Because I have bipolar disorder, my brain is more vulnerable to dopamine rushes than people who don’t live with this illness. I’m lucky in a way, lots of people who live with bipolar disorder also struggle with drug, gambling or alcohol addiction as a means to achieving a highly sought after high. I don’t have any of these addictions, but I really feel empathy for those who do. I get it. I chase highs too, but mine are mostly achieved by purchasing stuff.

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Coming Out of the Bipolar Closet at Work

I have bipolar disorder. I also have a career. Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. It’s important to take care of myself, but I also need to work. Should I practice self-care and stigma-busting by disclosing my mental illness to my coworkers and, most importantly, my employer? Or should I play it safe and keep my diagnosis hidden? I’ve been struggling with this question for fourteen years, ever since I started working as a freelancer in the film industry. I’m still not sure I have an answer.

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Why I Write


If you like the image above, thank you! I designed it!

Check out my online store on Redbubble.

I’m one of those creative people with bipolar disorder. Some experts believe bipolar disorder is often accompanied by an artistic temperament. From actors to musicians, painters to poets, there’s no shortage of artists who live with this mental illness.

I’m a graphic artist by trade. I primarily design graphics on my computer, and I also work with typography, both of which can be very rigid, methodical processes. For me, graphic design is a way to relax and calm my mind. It’s akin to enjoying a coloring book or cleaning for some people. But I don’t often use my visual as a way to express my thoughts or feelings. Although art can be calming and satisfying, you probably won’t see me in a manic state slamming swashes of intense color onto a canvas.

I’m also a writer. Taking pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) is the key to unlocking my internal world and understanding my surroundings. Writing helps me get in touch with my thoughts, calms the chaos in my head, and enables me to live mindfully. While my visual art isn’t really informed by my mental state, my writing very much is. I’d even say the entire reason I write is to express my feelings and make sense of them. I write to help untangle the chaos in my head. Writing helps me stay in touch with my inner thoughts.

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5 Ways I Keep My Fall Hypomania in Check

I’ve always wondered if I have reverse seasonal affective disorder. Although spring and summer bring more light with longer days, I don’t struggle with the same hypomania many people with bipolar disorder experience during those seasons. I usually find myself less motivated to go out and socialize in the warmer months. Maybe it’s because I live in the south. I’ve always hated the heat and humidity that accompany summertime here. I just want to stay inside in the air conditioning until it’s over.

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Girl Talk Time! Menopause & Bipolar Disorder


If you like the image above, thank you! I designed it!
You can check out my online store on Redbubble.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2002. I’ve had plenty of time to figure out my medications and my moods. Now, that’s not to say I don’t experience mood swings and I haven’t had episodes since my diagnosis, but I’ve worked very hard over the last 17 years to get my moods stable.

I went into early menopause. Early, like at age 42. And there’s nothing like a big hormone change to throw everything out-of-whack. And the imbalance that comes with menopause has really thrown a monkey wrench in my otherwise stable lifestyle. Even doctors agree, menopause can actually exacerbate bipolar disorder. Lovely. Isn’t it fun to be a woman sometimes? Ugh.

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