Press

Support Group Meeting in Central Next Monday (Mon 27th March)

See you at the Starbucks on Duddel Street (just off Queens Road Central opposite the giant Gucci) this coming Monday! 7pm – 9pm

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Meeting tomorrow! Feb 27!

The next group meeting will take place tomorrow MON FEB 27 at Starbucks Sai Kung at 7pm until 8.30pm (approx).

See you there!

Call for Submissions!

Brainstorm is a glossy new quarterly magazine and continuously updated online publication promoting awareness of mental health issues, self-expression, artistic creativity, innovation and wellbeing. Each edition of Brainstorm has a bold and inclusive theme highlighting issues related to mental health that need and deserve a bigger voice. Brainstorm spotlights artists, filmmakers & social entrepreneurs from Hong Kong and globally, exploring how they are using the arts and the media to engage, communicate and educate the public about mental health.
In addition to the magazine, Brainstorm offers workshops, projects, gallery exhibitions and events, including the Hong Kong Brainstorm Film Festival and the annual Brainstorm Awards, rewarding ingenuity in the fields of artistic creativity, journalism, filmmaking and social enterprise. In all its endeavors, Brainstorm creates opportunities for one of the most complex social groups to share ideas and unite as a global community of activists: initiating changes in the way mental health is defined, discussed & treated.
Brainstorm will officially launch in April 2017. In the meantime, if you would like to submit articles on mental health, artwork, poetry, creative writing, music & films for consideration, please email brainstormsubmissions@gmail.com.

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Bipolar HK @ HKU

Bipolar HK founder Sadie had the honor of being invited to give a talk and Q&A session at HKU (University of Hong Kong) last night to HKU students studying for degrees in Expressive Arts, exploring the relationship between bipolar disorder and creativity. Thanks to Anna Glazkova who arranged the event….

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Happy Christmas from Bipolar HK!

Hey guys,

Sadly, tomorrow evening’s BIPOLAR SUPPORT GROUP is cancelled and as the next one happens to fall on New Year’s Eve (!!!) so is that one, meaning that unfortunately the NEXT BIPOLAR GROUP MEETING in not until JAN 30TH 2017 7pm – 9pm at STARBUCKS SAI KUNG!!! 

Hope to see you there and have a very merry Christmas!!!

Bipolar HK

Lol!

http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/queen-offers-to-restore-british-rule-over-united-states

Wonder if she’ll offer to take back Hong Kong too? 

Bipolar HK Founder Sadie in the South China Morning Post Sat Oct 29 2016

Bipolar Hong Kong Founder Sadie Kaye in the South China Morning Post

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/2041246/how-bipolar-sufferer-came-down-earth-after-flight

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Interesting article on discrimination in the workplace – do you agree?

http://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/2016-10-26/9-out-of-10-people-with-mental-health-problems-discriminated-at-work/

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Jamie Oliver Proves McDonalds Unfit For Human Consumption

As if we didn’t know it in our hearts already, chef Jamie Oliver has successfully sued Mikkey D’s by proving that a McDonalds’ burger meat is unfit for human consumption, consisting of dog meat that has literally been painted to look like food with colorants. If this don’t give you indigestion, nothing will….

JAMIE OLIVER V MCDONALDS

Bon appetit, crappy mealers!

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“You want fries with that?” Jamie Oliver applies for a job at McDonalds

REMINDER: Bipolar Support Group 31st October (NEXT MONDAY!!!)

Looking forward to meeting some new members at the next bipolar support group on Monday 31st October (Halloween) at 7pm. We will meet at Starbucks at DUDDEL STREET (opposite Gucci on Queens Road Central) for 2 hours and continue the Halloween fun at Ocean Park. Sorry about the venue change. With so many new people joining, a more conservative venue seemed desirable. TEXT 64092877 to confirm your attendance and we look forward to a ghoulish evening of Halloween high jinx and chat! Nearest MTR: Central, Exit G the landmark, turn left on Queens Road Central and you’ll see Gucci straight ahead….

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Shout out to all OCDs: RTHK Need YOU for a new documentary!

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Following the unexpected & slightly derailing awards success of her 2015 documentary The Bipolar Express, Bipolar Hong Kong founder Sadie Kaye has been commissioned by RTHK to produce & present another lively half hour documentary for the broadcaster, this time exploring the myths, truths, stigma & stereotypes of life with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). The doc, titled As Bad As It Gets, will air in 2017.

If you would like to share your views & experiences with OCD in the documentary, email ocdmerthk@gmail.com introducing yourself and providing your phone number. 

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Sadie as RTHK’s Miss Adventure

Happy Bipolar Awareness Day!

It’s that much celebrated public holiday Bipolar Awareness Day! Ok, it’s not a public holiday…. But it IS bipolar awareness day! Happy thoughts and well wishes! Only a couple more weeks to Halloween! The next bipolar support group takes place at Ocean Park! Details to follow…..

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If you’re under 25, do this!

Lindsey McCallister OBE started the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation in the late ninetees. If you are from Hong Kong and under 25 you could have the opportunity to receive professional training and perform with the famous Cirque Du Soleil! You’d be mad to miss out on a chance to audition….

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Negative Energy

“Negative Energy”

Coming to a coffee shop near you….

“You don’t want to get too close to her. She’s got negative energy!”

I hear it all the time and each time it bemuses and irks me. Now, I can’t proclaim to be an expert on what “energy” actually means, because I’ve never found anyone who uses the term who’s been able to convincingly explain it to me. At least, not without resorting to “ENERGY!!! You know?” No, I don’t know – and apparently, neither do you. But as far as I’ve been able to fathom, Negative Energy, or its superfluous sister, Good Energy, does not relate to whether a person is engaging in strenuous physical exercise. Nor is it a reference to someone struggling with/ reaping the ‘rewards’ of ADHD. It’s not even related to person being so nervous/ excitable that he/ she can’t sit down, like a ‘normal’ person. (If you think you’re coming down with a severe bout of Normal Person Syndrome, get in touch and I’ll happily recommend my psychiatrist.)

The pompous practice of denouncing someone as having “negative energy” insinuates something far more discriminating and creepily disturbing than that. Since your “energy” insinuates your essence, your spirit, your character and contribution, your lasting impression when you leave a room. Which is fine if you are one of the lucky few deemed to have “good energy”. But if you are proclaimed as having “bad energy”, woe betide and SHAME on you! It implies that your soul is finitely “negative” . Which implies that it’s somehow faulty – your fault, to be exact – lacking, defective, the dud end of a battery, demonically deficient, rotten to the core, and that your BFF is Beelzebub. It would be funny, if it wasn’t so pointlessly cruel.

Now, I am certain that the yoga-loving, hemp seed smoothie-guzzling, usually female populous (admittedly I’m generalizing, but isn’t that exactly what they do?) who label others (rarely themselves, ironically) as having “bad energy” would never dream of loudly gossiping in a coffee shop that so-and-so has a “rotten soul”. Most only use the expression because it has become the latest, idle “buzz” phrase, given credence by any number of dollar-chasing, bullshit book launching, spiritual pop psychologists. They either can’t explain what “bad energy” means, or don’t want to contemplate the implications in any great depth. They might even think describing a fellow being as “bad energy” no more malicious in intent than the hippies’ lovable catchphrase: “bad vibes”. Man (ha!) I would argue that it is profoundly different. Getting “bad vibes” is a personal impression (internal ‘vibes’). Denouncing someone as having “bad energy” is an external condemnation of their spiritual essence (just plain nasty).

The storytellers will have you believe that the driving force of humanity; the cornerstone of civilization is the eternal struggle between good and evil. But aren’t they talking about good and evil in relation to deeds, not anything as flimsily transparent as a person’s questionable “energy”? Personally, I’d like to think humanity has progressed from viewing the world and all its occupants in such simplistic terms. There’s a warped logic to every abominable act, but let’s leave the history-makers out of this. My bone of contention is with the everyday tittle-tattlers, talking with surprising conviction of something they, themselves, profess not to understand.

Any one of us can have negative/ positive views, by another’s estimation. Negative/ positive things can also happen to us, shaping our views. But can a person you don’t know at all well really exude “negative energy”? And is it your place to sweepingly condemn him or her? Because by condemning a fellow being as having “negative energy”, the obvious insinuation is that you, yourselves, are comprised of wholly “positive energy”, whether you regard yourself in such lofty admiration and high esteem, or secretly weep into your pillow at night. Let me apply some of my own “warped” logic, by stating the bleeding obvious….

Maybe the condemned “bad energy” person has a very good reason to be feeling negative? Maybe he/ she’s suffering secret abuse, poverty, bereavement, or any number of devastating life events? Maybe they just don’t like you, or respect the way that you treat others, especially if those you denounce are practically strangers? Or maybe, and most likely of all, they’re suffering from depression? A logical assumption, since depression affects half of the world’s population. I have bipolar disorder, the mood disorder of extreme ups and downs, which means I often have what the energy speculators might describe as a mind-boggling, limitless supply of “good energy.” It’s psychiatric term is “mania”, not “good energy” of course – and it’s certainly not to be encouraged, envied, or aspired to. When the mania builds to a frenzy of “good energy”, I start to feel invincible. Next comes bizarre delusions of grandeur and hallucinating that I’m Jesus. (Useful, hey?) At other times, or at least prior to treatment and medication, I was excessively depressed, suicidal, exuding in abundance what the energy gossips could only describe as “bad energy”. But is that fair?

Let’s take a moment to contemplate the helpfulness – to anybody – of substituting the term “mental illness” with “bad energy”? Would it have helped me? Nope. My friends and family? Nope. The people who were genuinely convinced I was Jesus? Ummm? Probably not, no.

Nope, there’s no possible “positive” (energy) outcome. Instead it’s horribly insulting, misinformed, discriminating, ignorant, narcissistic, even. Most mentally ill people don’t want your sympathy, but is it wrong to hope for your compassion, your tolerance, and your patience?

Trite “energy”- related buzzwords just feed the fire of victimization that threatens to implode our world. Should your victim get wind of your unsubstantiated views, it will only exacerbate his/ her condition further. And since statistics show that even the energy gossips have a 50/50 chance of experiencing depression in their lifetimes, you users could come to regret your intolerant views.

Neither is having continual “positive energy” in my mind the same thing as friendship. Unless you are one in ten billion, it just means you are better at putting on an unnecessarily self-sacrificing act. The ludicrous pressure to display continuous (and boringly monotonous) “positive energy” is surely a form of mental illness in itself? I’m certain it’s not what Chopra meant in his books highlighting his path to spiritual enlightenment. In an utopian world, surely we could be relaxed about being feeling sad, happy – most importantly ourselves – in the moment, without fear of being tagged “bad energy” in absurd coffee shop reprisals.

And do you really want to pass on this negative, intolerant, discriminatory nonsense to your kids? What are we raising here? Oh, just judgmental little bigots. Isn’t finding your place in the playground of life tough enough without listening to your parents divide the universe into “good energy” and “bad energy” people? What if your kids are victimized by the “bad energy” bullies? What if they grow up to develop a serious mental health condition, like I did? How will he/ she and you feel about your careless remarks then?

So, for those peddling discrimination, intolerance, prejudice, ignorance and injustice by passing judgement on another being’s soul, or “energy”, I have one question for you. Do you believe in goblins?

Published July 2016 by SANE, the UK mental health charity

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Bipolar Express Wins Radio Television Hong Kong Award

Sadie Kaye’s Bipolar Express documentary has won an internal Radio Television Hong Kong Award!

RTHK Awards

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Coping With The BLACK DOG

Dealing With The BLACK DOG – The Telegraph

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Charlotte Farhan ‘The Outsider’ Collection

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CHARLOTTE FARHAN.COM

ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL.COM

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Bipolar @ Work: Keeping Healthy In A High Stress Job

KEEPING HEALTHY IN A HIGH STRESS JOB WITH BIPOLAR – VOX

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10 Things We Should Give Up To Be Happy :)

1. Give up your need for control.

Be willing to give up your need to try to control everything that happens to you. We often don’t realize that getting caught up in trying to stick to schedules, trying to modify the behavior of others, or trying to create predictability in our surroundings, only creates anxiety and chaos within us. Allow everyone and everything to be just as they are.

2. Give up your need to be right.

So many of us get so caught in the web of wanting to be right, we don’t even realize how much suffering it’s causing us. Ask yourself: Would I rather be right? Or would I rather have peace?

3. Give up your criticism (of yourself and others).

This often begins with loving intentions: we want to motivate, inspire or help ourselves (or others) to be better, do better, or have better. But this quickly goes sideways and ends up deteriorating our wellbeing. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, move toward what’s going well, what’s working, and what kind thing you might be able to say.

4. Give up your need for people to understand you.

This one’s a doozy. We can spend an enormous amount of time and energy trying to get someone to understand things from our perspective—for them to see things from our point of view. But this one is similar to wanting to be right because in the end, peace is found within your own business: knowing that only you need to understand you.

5. Give up your desire to be liked.

Stop trying so hard to shapeshift yourself into something that you believe other people will like. Most people are more intelligent than you give them credit for, they like authenticity, they like the real deal. As Joseph Campbell said, “The privilege of a lifetime is being yourself.” The moment you stop trying so hard—the moment you take off all your masks and accept and embrace the real you—is the moment people will be drawn to you, effortlessly.

6. Give up your resistance to change.

Not only is change good, it’s inevitable. Resisting change only creates suffering. Change will help you make improvements in your life and to the lives of those around you. Follow your bliss and embrace change—don’t resist it.

7. Give up trying to please others.

So many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They are living the life that their parents think is best for them, or that their friends, their competitors, their teachers, or their children think is best for them. They’ve stopped listening to their inner voices. They are so busy pleasing everybody that they’ve completely lost themselves in the wreckage. Make it a practice to check in with yourself first. Don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path.

8. Give up your attachment to the past.

This one can be hard when your past looks much better than your present moment. And I know it’s frightening, but the present moment is all that we really have. To let go of the past, you must stop deluding yourself and stop telling the stories of how life used to be. Require yourself to boldly step into this moment, right now. If you don’t like the present moment, change it—and start to create a future that you love.

9. Give up your need for acknowledgment.

Byron Katie said, “If I had a prayer, it would be: ‘God spare me from the desire for love, approval, and appreciation. Amen.'” I couldn’t agree more. We chase after love, approval, and appreciation because we think that this acknowledgment will help us feel happier, loved, and more at peace. But the pursuit of these things causes immense stress and suffering. To live a happier life, give up your need to be special, acknowledged, and appreciated. The moment you do this, you can relax and tap into your own inner well of joy.

10. Give up your distractions.

We distract ourselves constantly. Whether we’re binge-watching Netflix, munching through a bag of Doritos, or browsing through the digital aisles of Amazon.com. We distract ourselves because it offers us temporary relief. But when we refuse to distract ourselves, we come face to face with what’s really going on within us. And yes, it is temporarily more painful. But in the long run, it’s the only way that we’ll understand where our hidden pain is coming from. It’s the only way that we’ll be able to make smart decisions for lasting change.

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Woof by Mat Ricardo

MAT RICARDO – WOOF 

Humorist, juggler, table cloth lifter and writer-performer extraordinaire gives his spin on a meh week with bipolar disorder. 

MAT ON THE JONATHAN ROSS SHOW BBC TELEVISION

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Association For International Broadcasting Awards Announce Winners List

http://aib.org.uk/aib-announces-winners-of-the-aibs-international-broadcasting-awards/

The Association For International Broadcasting have announced their 2015 AIB Awards Winner’s List and we’re happy to report that Bipolar HK founder Sadie Kaye‘s Bipolar Express for Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) is Highly Commended in the ‘Best Creative Feature’ radio category. 

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A Bit Of Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry is a British actor, writer, comedian, TV presenter, narrator, raconteur, poet and philosopher. He also famously has bipolar disorder. Through his work he weaves humor, razor sharp intellect, and a refreshingly open attitude about his own life. The result is a tapestry of eminently quotable wit and wisdom. Below, his engaging and illuminating TV documentary Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive. Below that, I’ve collected a few of my favorite Fry quotations on bipolarity and life.

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1. Fry On Incuriosity
“The only reason people do not know much is because they do not care to know. They are incurious. Incuriosity is the oddest and most foolish failing there is.”

2. On Kindles
“One technology doesn’t replace another, it complements. Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.”

3. On Cultural Diversity
“Look at the kind of people who most object to the childishness and cheapness of celebrity culture. Does one really want to side with such apoplectic and bombastic bores? I should know, I often catch myself being one, and it isn’t pretty. I will defend the absolute value of Mozart over Miley Cyrus, of course I will, but we should be wary of false dichotomies. You do not have to choose between one or the other. You can have both. The human cultural jungle should be as varied and plural as the Amazonian rainforest. We are all richer for biodiversity. We may decide that a puma is worth more to us than a caterpillar, but surely we can agree that the habitat is all the better for being able to sustain each.”

4. On Libraries
“What’s great about them is that anybody can go into them and find a book and borrow it, free of charge, and read it. They don’t have to steal it from a bookshop… When you’re young, they’re almost sexually exciting places because books are powerhouses of knowledge, and therefore they’re kind of slightly dark and dangerous. You see books that kind of make you go ‘Oh!'”

5. On New Age Philosophy

“The key word for me that triggers my rage is the word ‘energy’, when people start talking about it in terms of negative or positive types. For instance, ‘there’s very negative energy in here.’ What are you talking about? What do you mean? I mean, let’s think about it. What does energy mean? Well, we know what it means: energy from petrol when it’s burned, it moves the car. ‘This room has positive energy’ — well, where the f***’s it going then? It’s not moving. It’s covering up such woolly thinking, such pathetic nonsense!”

6. On Smoking
“I think I have always linked smoking and sex. Maybe this is where I have been going wrong all my life.”

7. On Clichés
“It is a cliché that most clichés are true, but then like most clichés, that cliché is untrue.”

8. On His Singing Voice
“I have to mime at parties when everyone sings ‘Happy Birthday.’ … mime or mumble and rumble and growl and grunt so deep that only moles, manta rays and mushrooms can hear me. I’m not even tone deaf, that’s the arse-mothering, f***-nosed, bugger-sucking wank of the thing.”

9. On Poetry and Laziness
“You cannot work too hard at poetry. People are bad at it not because they have tin ears, but because they simply don’t have the faintest idea how much work goes into it. It’s not as if you’re ordering a pizza or doing something that requires direct communication in a very banal way. But it seems these days the only people who spend time over things are retired people and prisoners. We bolt things, untasted. It’s so easy to say, ‘That’ll do.’ Everyone’s in a hurry. People are intellectually lazy, morally lazy, ethically lazy.”

10. On Drugs and Music
“LSD reveals the whatness of things, their quiddity, their essence. The wateriness of water is suddenly revealed to you, the carpetness of carpets, the woodness of wood, the yellowness of yellow, the fingernailness of fingernails, the allness of all, the nothingness of all, the allness of nothing. For me music gives access to every one of these essences of existence, but at a fraction of the social or financial cost of a drug and without the need to cry “Wow!” all the time, which is one of LSD’s most distressing and least endearing side-effects.”

11. On Critics
“It may be true that critics perform a service, that actors and writers and artists need their egos deflating, that the public needs to be advised about how, where and when to spend their money on artistic activities, that ‘standards’ must be maintained. All the foregoing may be fine and convincing reasons for the existence of critics. The point is that no one would volunteer for this dreadful trade but the kind of worthless and embittered offal that we, by and large, get. What decent person would want to spend a life picking and caviling? Picture this scene. A critic arrives at the gates of heaven. ‘And what did you do?’ asks Saint Peter. ‘Well’, says the dead soul. ‘I criticized things’. ‘I beg your pardon?’ ‘You know, other people wrote things, performed things, painted things and I said stuff like, “thin and unconvincing”, “turgid and uninspired”, “competent and serviceable,”…you know’.”

12. On Believing in Oneself
“I used many times to touch my own chest and feel, under its asthmatic quiver, the engine of the heart and lungs and blood and feel amazed at what I sensed was the enormity of the power I possessed. Not magical power, but real power. The power simply to go on, the power to endure, that is power enough, but I felt I had also the power to create, to add, to delight, to amaze and to transform. Yet I was unwanted, rejected and unthought of. My mother, yes, she believed in me, but everybody’s mother believes in them. No one else believed in me. Principally of course—oh how one sees that now—myself. Principally, I did not believe in me. I believed in ghosts more than I believed in me, and take my word for it, I never believed in ghosts, I’m far too spiritual and emotional and passionate to believe in the supernatural.”

13. Fry On Mental Illness

Try To Get My Dark Side

If you’re not too sick of Star Wars, this one made me chuckle… 

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Yoga & Bipolar

http://www.bbc.com/news/disability-34833015

What Bipolar Is Really Like?

Interesting article. Share your thoughts: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/06/09/bipolar-and-what-its-really-like-to-have-it

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RIP Robin

RIP Robin Williams, one year on.
RIP Robin Williams, one year on.

I don’t know what I want

Sadie Kaye’s The Bipolar Express Nominated for an Association For International Broadcasting Award!

Sadie Kaye‘s Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK Radio 3) documentary The Bipolar Express has been nominated for an Association For International Broadcasting (AIB) Award in the Best Creative Feature category. The awards take place in London November 2015. If you’ve not already heard it, you can find the podcast on the RTHK website!

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Listen to Sadie Kaye’s Bipolar Express on RTHK Radio 3

Sadie Kaye‘s documentary, The Bipolar Express, aired on Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK Radio 3) for the first time on Sunday May 24th. For those who missed it, there’s still the opportunity to check it out on the RTHK website as a podcast. The doco will also be repeated early 2016~ Stay tuned!

rthk.org.hk/bipolarexpress/sadiekaye

ASLI Art Magazine & Charity Mental Illness Awareness Month

ASLI Mental Health Awareness Month – to be part of it visit- artsaveslivesinternational.com

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Sadie Kaye – ASLI Artistic Director – International Projects

Sadie KayeTo Me ASLI is a Call to Action For Artists to Value Themselves as Instruments of Social Change

http://artsaveslivesintmagazine.com/2015/04/26/sadie-kaye-to-me-asli-is-a-call-to-action-for-artists-to-value-themselves-as-instruments-of-social-change/

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Art by Charlotte Farhan

Rejecting Reality Through Art – The Struggle of the Unseen

Inspirational article by Artist Charlotte Farhan on unseen mental illness

https://artistcharlottefarhan.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/the-struggle-with-the-unseen/

We <3 Hong Kong!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXPCa00AAtw#t=109

Message from God

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How I Beat Bipolar 11 & Saved My Own Life (Forbes Article)

READ FORBES ARTICLE

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Joshua Walters on Being Just Crazy Enough

10 Things You Should Never Say to Someone with Bipolar Disorder!

Interesting article! Do you agree?

TEN THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT SAY TO SOMEONE WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER!

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RIP Robin Williams

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Mentally ill people need to be helped, not hounded!

Interesting article in today’s UK Guardian Newspaper

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/08/mentally-ill-need-help-not-bullying-by-the-state

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Wise Words from Mr. Hugh Laurie

“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There’s almost no such thing as ready. There’s only now. And you may as well do it now. I do think that, generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.” –Hugh Laurie

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The Truth About Cancer

Here’s a very VERY interesting article by John Hopkins called “The Truth About Cancer.” Cancer affects one in three of us. Please take the time to read this and forward it to your friends and family members. There is considerable overlap between the content of this article and our bipolar-friendly foods section, which we’ve just updated. Follow THIS LINK to find out more on how we can help ourselves to manage our moods nutritionally.

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Good News For Insomniacs

Insomnia

Helping A Bipolar Loved One

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Respect to you. It can be a nightmare caring for a bipolar loved one. Trust me, I’m bipolar.

During the extremes of our bipolarity, we are incapable of seeing things from your perspective. We are relentlessly inconsiderate of your feelings. It’s always ten steps up, twenty steps down with us. We’re exhausting. And the worst of it is: when we’re wrapped up in the chaotic irrational thinking that heralds our extreme mood states, believe me – you and your feelings don’t enter our minds for a nanosecond! Not when we’re so far removed from our personalities. And what you don’t understand scares you. Sometimes, you’re frantically trying to protect us by predicting our thoughts (you’re not even close, Mystic Meg), tortured by premonitions of behavioral worst case scenarios that haven’t happened yet, and probably never will. You’ve been tippy-toeing on eggshells around us for soooo long in your own home, you now have a permanent limp and secretly fear you’re the crazy one.  And by the way, if you think you’re “normal”, you could probably use some therapy yourself.

Whether we’ve retreated into our second womb (our bed) for days, or we’re bouncing off the walls, just so elated about everything, caring for a bipolar loved one during the extremes of bipolarity can be strenuous. If your own mental health is suffering, or in serious jeopardy, it’s time to step back from the fire. Sacrificing yourself to support us is not doing either of us good. While your support is invaluable to our recovery, we need YOU to be healthy and strong, not pretending to be healthy and strong, like a bad vaudeville actor. We’re bipolar, we’re not stupid.

So, how can you realistically help us without damaging yourself?

The first way you can help yourself is to research our disorder. It won’t make you an expert on what we’re going through, but it will clarify that it’s not personal, it’s an illness of the mind.

The second most important thing you can do for us (my own bipolar point of view, of course) is offer us endless hope and encouragement by believing in the hope and encouragement you proffer. It’s a mathematical certainty with bipolar disorder that any abnormal psychology that we’re experiencing will pass, so you can be utterly genuine in reminding us we won’t be feeling this way for long, while retaining your own healthily detached perspective – and you can be absolutely certain that you are right.

If you’ve got the time and energy to do it without sacrificing your own needs, you can also help by keeping a track of our moods – how long they last and the symptoms. By doing so, you become a partner in our treatment, without becoming a nag. This is reassuring for both of us. We’ve all got our own limits and unless you’re a clone, your limits will be entirely different to your friend’s limits or another family member’s limits. Don’t think “Ooh, maybe I should be doing more?” Set healthy realistic personal boundaries based on your own limits. We want you to be healthy and well, so we have someone to turn to, even aspire to. We want you to support us, but not as malfunctioning robots.

We need you to encourage us to seek support and continue our treatment, even when we’re feeling miraculously “cured”. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Because when we’re deludedly and psychotically euphoric about how amazing our life is, how well we are, and how enthusiastic we are about everything and everyone, the last place you are likely to find us is a doctor’s surgery, waiting patiently for a check up or repeat prescription. Remind us cheerfully not to run out of meds. We need you to be our emotional compass. Preferably without pissing on our enthusiasm, because we’ll remember your sarcasm the next time we’re “GOING DOWN!!!” to chronically depressed. I’m a rapid cycler, so you may find it helpful to think of me as a high-speed elevator. Got the picture? Okay, good. But whether we’re elevators, or take the stairs, it’s the same old shit we experience over and over again.

NEVER wait to see if we get better. If we’re suicidal, or doing the loop da loopy, encourage us to see a doctor and get treatment straight away. It may just be our regular personality shining through, but if you’re concerned, don’t take risks. With severe bipolar depression and mixed episodes (when we’re simultaneously manic and depressed), there is always a risk of suicide. Be as patient and soothing as you can, without driving yourself to a nervous breakdown.

If you can’t afford to pay for your loved one to see an expensive psychiatrist, there are other free, hugely beneficial things you can do to help. You can find out the nearest bipolar support group in your area, drive your loved one there yourself, call the Samaritans, find your nearest bipolar charity. You can cook them a delicious meal full of naturally mood stabilizing ingredients, suggest vitamins, and you can encourage us to get outdoors. We need Vitamin D. Even if we’re weeping and wailing, or lashing out verbally (if we’re being violent, call a health specialist immediately), we’ll by humbled by your support once our extreme moods stabilize. And they will stabilize. We often enjoy long periods of mood stability, where we’re more grounded than you are, between our extreme ups and downs. This is one of the main difficulties we face in achieving an accurate early diagnosis.

You’re not responsible for your loved one’s mood, but you can help us to help ourselves. Support groups are our chance to open up about our struggles, experiences and ‘enthusiasms’ to a sympathetic bunch of bipolar people who have been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. Ok, they’re not clones of your loved one with identical personalities and experiences of bipolarity, but they still have a far greater chance of being able to offer constructive advice and support than you do. And even if your loved one’s not in some kind of therapy, chances are they are. We also offer one-to-one peer mentoring, where we grab a coffee (ironically since caffeine’s bad for us) once a week and speak on the phone. Family members of a loved one who is struggling with bipolar disorder are also invited to attend support group meetings. We can help your loved one manage mood swings and offer any crisis support.

To summarize, dealing with our bipolar ups and downs can be hugely testing, traumatic, and extremely difficult when we’re experiencing severe extremities of mood. The important thing is not to do it on your own. Encourage your loved one to take advantage of all the support he or she can get their hands on without bankrupting yourself or them. (Mind you, there is a good chance we will have already bankrupted ourselves thanks to our irrational impulses to spend spend spend when manic.) Make sure you are kind to yourself; set responsible healthy boundaries based on your own limits, and encourage us to do the same. Don’t be our emotional crutch. Help us to help ourselves. You’re only as stressed as you allow yourself to be. Accept our illness for what it is and don’t confuse our character with our moods. It’s not personal, it’s an illness. Resist the temptation to denounce our enthusiasm, or tell us it’s not real. If you trample on our hopes, we will become hopeless. Encourage us to lead active fulfilling lives, but don’t force us to smell the roses. (We’ll smell them if we want to – and not everybody enjoys the stench.) When we’re coping, we’re coping: trust us to manage our moods without you. Don’t waste your time wondering what’s going on in our minds. Be mindful of your own mind. Be our encourager, not our jailer. The past is history. Yes, our illness, especially pre-diagnosis, is likely to mean we’ve behaved reprehensibly, shamefully, deeply hurtfully, perhaps unforgivably (that’s your choice to decide, not ours). But the future a mystery. If we’re already accepting treatment, don’t worry endlessly about things that haven’t happened yet and probably never will. It’s up to all of us, individually, to mend, build or destroy bridges. The present as a gift.

You may not feel it deeply enough, but on behalf of myself, and your bipolar loved ones, WE ARE SO ETERNALLY GRATEFUL FOR YOUR LOVING SUPPORT!

Mania warning signs and symptoms

  • Sleeping less

  • Inexplicable elevated mood (though if the bipolar person’s a natural optimist, this can be tricky)

  • Restlessness

  • Speaking rapidly (yackety-yack-yack-yack) and more loudly than usual

  • Increase in activity level

  • Behaving inappropriately and irrationally

  • Irritability or aggression

  • No appetite

Depression warning signs and symptoms

  • Fatigue and lethargy

  • Sleeping more or staying in bed all day

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Loss of interest in activities

  • Withdrawing from others

  • Change in appetite (eating more or less)

Article by SK.

Cuckoo Sleep Disorders – The Bipolar Night-Time Express

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For me, and several other bipolar people I’ve encountered, MANIA has an unwanted and dangerous side-effect: SLEEPWALKING. In fact, for months at a time, I have led an exhausting double life: My Life Awake and My Life Asleep. One of my lives makes no sense at all. And the other only occurs when I’m asleep. But before I give you some examples, I should assure you there is NO PROVEN SCIENTIFIC LINK between sleepwalking and bipolar disorder, unlike bipolar mania and insomnia, so don’t panic that because you’ve recently been diagnosed as bipolar, your neighbors will stun you with ludicrously far fetched revelations of your secret nocturnal life. Like how you woke up your entire neighborhood at 3am whacking a hockey stick on your neighbors’ doors, naked, of course, and – whoops, I’ve piled straight into a story, having said I wouldn’t – but yep, that happened to me, not that long ago. If you happen to live in Sai Kung, you’ve probably heard that tale before.

Backtracking swiftly, it’s widely accepted that insomnia is as natural to we bipolar types during manic episodes as eating figs naturally relieves our bowls (strange analogy – and I, too, don’t believe it works in this context), but for many of us, it’s much worse than that. If insomnia is natural to the manic individual, sleepwalking, or my experience of it, is supernatural. At least while you’re tossing and turning with insomnia, you are still you, or a pissed off version of yourself. When you’re sleepwalking, you’re somebody else entirely with a brand new set of values. An example from my own past: When I’m awake, I’m a vegetarian. When I’m asleep, I can more often than not be found standing by the fridge scoffing slathers of raw bacon straight from the pack. What does it taste like? I can’t tell you. I was asleep. Chicken, probably – rooster testicles, raw.

My boyfriend, alerted by the fridge, which was bleeping warningly, attempted to tug what was left of the raw bacon away from my greasy trotters, which led to an argument. You’d think conversation would be limited when you’re in the land of Nod, but I am quite the barrister when I’m asleep – lucid as Lucifer. I can hold detailed conversations about subjects I know nothing about – or assume I don’t when I’m awake. Quite often, it’s really hard to tell if I’m asleep or not, even to those who know me best. If confronted on the topic, I will vehemently deny that I’m asleep in my sleep. I’ve ordered confused staff at 5 star hotels back to bed after starting a minor fire in the hotel kitchens, dangled off fire escapes in my sleep, literally walked for miles around foreign cities in my sleep, driven a boat in my sleep and woken up on a 747 plane after a non-eventful flight, congratulating myself on sleeping the entire journey, to discover myself straightjacketed to an empty row of economy seats. My reaction was understandably furious. I had manically purchased myself a first class ticket – and here I was, trussed up in economy, the last turkey in the shop, remembering nothing. Open mouths and pointed fingers, now my friends are dead and gone.

I was subsequently arrested by the police at Heathrow. I’d apparently caused quite a commotion, refusing to return to my seat during turbulence, taking childish delight in being thrown around the aircraft like a grenade. I’d also repeatedly attempted to break into the cockpit, presumably to land the plane myself. Thanks to 9/11, this sort of behavior is now strictly forbidden, whereas in the 90s everyone was doing it. One of my fellow passengers had accused me of openly taking cocaine in the aisles to the police, which was undoubtedly an easy assumption based on my behavior. I was 90% certain I’d been wrongly accused, although I wouldn’t have put it past me to order a gram or two of coke in my sleep, or perhaps steal it from the cabin crew. After rigorously (and painfully) searching me and my belongings for evidence of cocaine, the police eventually branded me a liability and released me without charge. The cabin crew apologized for their role in my arrest and being British, I replied the pleasure was all mine: All I needed now was a nice cup of tea. As two burly police officers escorted me out of the airport, presumably to be absolutely certain of my departure, the female one commented she’d never arrested a passenger who’d reacted with such blasé indifference to drugs charges before. I confessed, truthfully, that this sort of nightmare happened all the time. Sure enough, three weeks weeks later, I was arrested at Malpensa Airport in Milan.

I’ve only become conscious of having been sleepwalking – rudely awoken, if you will – once, when I awoke in a North London garage in February, barefoot and wearing a flimsy nightie. The man in the garage had astutely decided there was something not quite right about my appearance (surprisingly, for London) or my behavior. He was shaking me rigorously out of my nightie when My Life Asleep abruptly ended and I snapped back into consciousness. Startled and furious, I panicked, hit him over the head with the packets of bacon I’d opened and attempted to devour (fortunately missing my mouth and using the rashers to decorate the floor). The man informed me I had to pay for the bacon. I still wonder where he thought I was hiding my wallet. Explaining“No cash – sorry mate!” I sore-footed it back to my apartment. I’d locked myself out, naturally. But my boyfriend eventually woke up and let me back in. I was less fortunate with similar situations that arose after we split up. (Yes, he dumped me.) When my nocturnal meanderings regularly led me to awaken on the filthy, festering door mat, to the communal entrance to my apartment. It amazes me that I have the poorest sense of direction of just about anyone I know when I’m awake. I can literally get lost right outside my home. And yet I always manage to find my way home in my sleep, or even to a random hotel I’d checked into hours earlier. Does a chink of my bipolar brain function as an inbuilt GPS when I’m subconscious? In which case, why doesn’t the GPS chip work when I’m awake? My early-riser neighbor would find me balled up asleep on the communal doormat and generously allow me to sleep in her bed until the locksmith arrived. The smug expression on my dog’s face, as he gently stretched his paws and lifted his head from my pillow to watch me stumble in, bits of straw doormat tangled in my hair – scarecrow chic – was infuriating.

So, after rambling on for a while, possibly in some kind of sleep-writing auto-pilot (it wouldn’t be the first time), what can we realistically do to prevent ourselves sleepwalking? Go to sleep at the same time every day (I’m not a machine!), don’t work too late (i’m working late because I failed to do what needed to be done in the day, not because I want to), never get stressed (I never know I’m stressed until the stress has magically been removed), relax (boring!), meditate (this I do consciously find very stressful). My shrink (but he’s a liar) tells me one of the most effective medications to reduce sleepwalking is lithium. I should probably mention that since I’ve been diagnosed as bipolar, my sleepwalking misadventures have occurred less frequently (but just as severely). Although I try to laugh it off, whenever I am made to listen to someone’s excruciating account of my life asleep the impact is mind-shattering. Perhaps I’m lucky. I rarely suffer hallucinations that are not sleep-induced. But each time it happens, it leaves a footprint on my waking life. Waking up with deja vu, I become a bad impression of a super-sleuth, obsessively attempting to piece together the mystery of My Life Asleep: Why am I compelled by impulses to wander? And what does it mean? Is my subconscious mind smarter than my conscious mind? I already know it’s got a superior sense of direction. Which should I ultimately trust? Instinct or rational thinking?

SK

Are you bipolar and an occasional or chronic sleepwalker? Share your stories!

Sleepwalking Dog