Dear family & friends: How can you be supportive?

I’ve received a lot of questions on how to help their bipolar/depressed/anxious family member or friend cope, and today is the day to let it all out! Last week I mentioned that rapid cycling season is quickly approaching (or has started already) so there’s no better time than to practice and sharpen those skills. I…

Breaking free from rapid cycling

Tis the season to spring forward and welcome new mood changes and rapid cycling. I know that I cycle through depression, anxiety and hypomania when the weather drastically changes, which is usually around March to April and again August to October depending on the year. Another one usually creeps up around June too. Rapid cycling…

Alternative mindfulness

I learned this formula when I began my mindfulness journey –> mindfulness equals meditation, which is why I tried to be a zen yogi at first. I immediately enforced this rule when I was hospitalized a few years ago. I’d lay out a towel on the floor and meditate with my legs crossed for 20…

Confessions of a functional bipolar chick

I’m writing this after a long 12 hour shift with snot all over my face and completely naked because clothes make me feel like I should just crawl out of my skin. This is the truth about living with bipolar disorder a little too… functionally? I trick myself into thinking none of the depressed, anxious,…

Is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy helpful or nah?

I have a very, very, very philosophical theory about recovering and getting better – it starts with “I’ll get better” followed by “then I’ll try therapy.” A little contradictory, no? You don’t start biking without a helmet, bump your head, and say, “I’ll consider wearing a helmet.” You very well will wear a damn helmet…

Rapid cycling: The devil you know

Rapid cycling – the quick turnover of depression, anxiety, and hypomania – is the familiar devil that I know and live with. We all have our worst nightmares within us… our flaws and all. But this devil is one that I could happily live without. I try my best to embrace it but it’s gnawing…

I’m “crazy” and psychotic

Me, and the 1 in 5 individuals living with a mental health disorder, are “crazy”. But how crazy are we really? If you try to dissect that statistic to find out how many people live with bipolar disorder, you’ll sadly find an inconsistent range of numbers and percentages. This means that… You don’t have to…

Holiday hibernation

Christmas is coming in full speed and there is nothing better than transforming into a bipolar bear and hibernating from the whole world. This winter holiday is a great excuse to spend quality time with family and friends but sometimes it’s just way too much stimulation. If this is you, take a deep breath and…

Step 3 to Conquer SAD This Winter: Therapy

Therapy comes in many forms – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), mindfulness, pet therapy, sex therapy, and so on. Oh c’mon… (safe and responsible) sex is important! But the traditional and most effective therapy to conquer Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) would be CBT, DBT, and mindfulness. Warning: this is a long blog…

Step 2 to Conquer SAD This Winter: Routine

It’s time to spring out of bed – Say hello to routine and bye bye winter blues! Um… as if. Bad days come and go with the cold gloomy weather but the winter blues buries you into the snow until spring comes to melt it all. It disables you from being able to do all…

Step 1 to Conquer SAD This Winter: Sleep

November is in full swing and it’s time to start planning for SAD, aka Seasonal Affective Disorder, aka winter blues, aka winter sucks. I tried to tackle the cold gloomy days last year by using different DBT skills and techniques but it still left me hanging by a thread. After months of having mixed episodes…

The “Complain” Train

Misery loves company so it’s easy to be caught up in a cyclone of negativity, especially on social media. This sparked my attention while I was on Reddit – someone asked other users to share their positive happy endings living with a mental health illness in the Bipolar Disorder group. It became crystal clear how…

Mental freedom

There’s a constant buzzing in my head that doesn’t go away. It’s not the steady buzz from cute furry bumble bees, it’s not white noise, and it’s not the usual voices I hear. They’re just conversations between people and myself. For example, I’ll walk by someone with nice shoes and wonder to myself where she…

The best ships are bipolar friendships!

Staying friends with someone who lives with bipolar disorder is like running a marathon. You can’t win the race by trying to dash to the finish line. It’s a mental game that requires equal parts of love, compassion, and patience. And maybe this sounds cruel, but it’s important to be honest with yourself and really…

Dear weathered soul

Dear weathered and withering soul: You may be exhausted but you are not alone. I have spent years trying to climb all the enormous mountains that feel impossible at the time but I made it. So dear and precious soul, do not give up. It does get better even if it doesn’t seem like it…

I am emotional – and that’s OK

September marks the beginning of a new season – one that becomes darker and colder. The combination of these two is a nightmare for anyone with mental health issues because of our “mood disorder”. We are emotional people and that’s OK to own up to, and even embrace. The language we’ve used has changed the…

Limit(less)

“You are not your disability – you can do anything!”, can be hard to believe, and even harder to achieve. For example, anyone living with a physical and/or mental disability are often told not to define themselves by their bipolar disorder. We’re told not to confine our opportunities, hopes, and dreams by the walls of…

Beyond hospital walls

Managing a chronic illness outside of institutions like hospitals aren’t easy. Every single moment of your life is touched when your journey with a chronic illness like bipolar disorder begins or flares up again. There isn’t a time machine that will zap you back to where you were before it. And the truth is that…

The truth behind recovery

Anyone living with a chronic illness is familiar with the phrase, “relapse and recovery”. That’s how it goes. It’s a series of small wins and loses that are tucked in between giant hurricanes that can consume our whole lives. And bipolar disorder is exactly that. I’ve finally dug my way out of the rapid cycling…

Safe in Sing Sing

Some people spend their whole lives searching for a soulmate. I have been spending mine looking for the perfect Dr. Mario and Luigi (or Therapist Luigi in this case). I never thought these words would come out of my mouth… but there is something really comforting about being on the mental health unit in my hospital. Old…

My eating-body image-weight loss problem

Starving myself began as an innocent affair that continued for months and months. First I felt nauseous from my medications, then I barely ate because I was rapid cycling*, and then my stomach shrunk (*see below for definition). I lost a tonne of weight and almost everyone complimented me on this weight loss, so I…

Affirmation in illness

We’re all chasing after affirmation in one way or another. Social media doesn’t help when we’re overthinking the perfect picture or caption on Instagram or Facebook. The need for affirmation brews in our minds just a little more with chronic illnesses like bipolar disorder. Simply put, we want answers and sometimes those answers don’t exist….

Bipolar and Burnout

I survived an 8 year relationship with a man while I was growing into my journey with major depressive disorder and anxiety. It was rough. It started when we were 16 years old, and we managed it a little better year after year. At some point, my ex-boyfriend became exhausted from caring and coping with…

Dear medications

Sorting out medications in the world of mental health is difficult because there are many “new”, or “second generation”, medications that are marked with a big fat question mark. No one really knows how they work, and you’re blindly creating medication cocktails based on your own history and reaction to them, and other people’s experiences…

Hello Bipolar

I often think about the good ol’ days when I lived with major depressive disorder (MDD/depression) instead of bipolar disorder. Last week, I spoke about grieving over the person I lost a couple years ago, which you can read here. It feels like breaking up with my ex sometimes; the hurt and pain doesn’t just…

Reality vs fantasy

At times, I’m aware that I’m not always “with it”; I acknowledge that what I hear and see are sometimes  voices and hallucinations. Other times, it’s impossible to pull me back from a delusion into reality. This is the space between reality and fantasy that I live in. I begin to treat life like a…

Growing through grief

Some of us may remember learning the five stages of grief identified by the very honourable psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Grief extends beyond death and dying; there doesn’t have to be a physical death in order for something to feel dead to you. For example, I felt completely dead last week so there was no new…

Bell Let’s Honestly Talk

Bell Let’s Talk mental health campaign takes place all over the interwebs on January 25th. I had to maintain a level of namaste when I scrolled by #BellLetsTalk. For a girl with little patience, I got through it by casually humming to the beat of my own voice chanting, “If you don’t have anything nice to…

Ignorance is bliss

I preach education all the time. I  believe that educating others about mental health, bipolar disorder, and suicide can greatly reduce suicide rates. AND YES, let’s never forget how important this is. But I’m talking about being hypervigilant about our own signs and symptoms. We’re often told, “You’re over thinking it.” right? … So are…

The common denominator

While I was in the hospital post suicide attempt, I distinctly remember this brief interaction I had with my friend. I was given an hour to be on a “supervised outing” and somehow we began discussing religion and Gods, which left me a little defensive because I always had my reservations about organized religion. Nonetheless, the discussion continued…

Frosted windows & Suicidal thoughts

The reality of winter really sets in when the holidays are over. Suddenly we see snow as this hideous yellow-brown colour instead of glistening with sparkles, and the sun just doesn’t shine anymore. And no I don’t mean the crack between your cheeks. I’m talking about winter and how all its gloom and doom reminds…

Pay it forward – write, write, write

I’ve spent almost half the year sharing my past and present stories. If you’ve been afraid to share yours, I hope this blog post will give you the courage to open up in the New Year. There is nothing more powerful than storytelling and helping others feel less alone by sharing your own experiences. I strongly encourage…

Water down the drain

I don’t usually write on a whim but I guess this is what our community is for. I haven’t had the energy to write, let alone sift through social media outlets at all. I’m coming undone. So I apologize for being MIA to everyone’s words and feelings here. I’m completely numb and disinterested in life….

A place called Hope

Warning: This is a translation of a fantasy of mine. Reminder: Not all madness is scary. Some madness is magic. Read for yourself and see. I haven’t visited this place called Hope before but it’s a destination I will move to soon. I shall be an expat there! That’s hopeful right? Seriously though, so much…

Dangerous truths

We are all full of shit. Our brains and egos trick us into believing exactly how we foresee our future goals, plans, dreams etc. Here is the proof. Remember the person you imagined you would be and the plans you had in mind while you were in high school or university? Now look at where…

Mirror mirror on the wall

I stared into the steel rails and wooden grills of our Toronto subway tracks on my way home the other night. I thought, “These old subway tracks have so much meaning; it holds such substance from me, to you.” Meaning also shifts as your life changes. In the recent 5 or 6 years, these tracks…