Healing Bipolar Part Three: Why Mindfulness Meditation is Necessary

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Years ago I was reading the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey in yet another attempt to fix myself with a self-help book. As I was reading one day I came across this quote from Victor Frankl, “Between stimulus and response is our greatest power–the freedom to choose.” As I read that statement, I knew that was the key, I needed to work on making space between the stimulus and the response so I could choose how to act. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t create that space. 

When I experienced bipolar symptoms of mania or depression if felt nearly impossible to discipline my brain. My mind was bombarded by a tsunami of intrusive thoughts and overwhelming emotions that made attempts to take control of what was going on in my mind feel useless and futile. I felt like I was in bondage to my bipolar symptoms, and I felt hopeless.

The first glimmer of hope was when I finally found the micronutrients that enabled me to get off medication and help my brain begin to heal (see my post Why Do You “Push” Micronutrients). That made it possible to create the space because my brain was starting to function in a healthy, balanced way. That was when I learned the value of mindfulness meditation in taking responsibility for my life.

by Pixabay

My Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation

The first exposure I had to the practice of mindfulness was around 2006 when one of my sisters was getting her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She recommended a guided meditation CD by Jon Kabat-Zinn. I bought the cd, listened to it for a few minutes, and thought, “what kind of hippy, dippy stuff is this?” I put the CD back in its case and didn’t look at it again for several years. 

In 2013, when I was pregnant with my third baby, a friend of mine recommended that I try hypnobirthing. I really wanted to have a natural birth and I was very open to her recommendation. Hypnobirthing is a form of mindfulness practice, and the birth was such an amazing experience that I wanted to have another baby just so I could do it again (my husband said no, we’re done).

In 2014 my mom told me that she and my stepfather had started practicing mindfulness meditation to help with some health issues. They were using the same guided meditation CD’s that my sister had recommended. Because of my experience with hypnobirthing I was more open to it. This time I bought Kabat-Zinn’s book Full Catastrophe Living to try to understand the science behind the practice. 

I only made it through two chapters of the book and three weeks of sporadic practice before I gave it up. The guided meditations were so long that even though I could see the benefits of the practice, I was really having a hard time consistently finding 45 minutes a day to dedicate to it. The book was also difficult for me to read because it was 499 pages longway more information than I wanted or needed.

A Simple Program That Works

Then in 2016 a childhood friend of mine posted on Facebook about his struggle with anxiety and depression and how much mindfulness meditation had helped him. He referenced a book I hadn’t heard of Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman, both of whom had studied or worked with Jon Kabat-Zinn. I got the book and decided to try again. This book was so easy to read and understand and the practices were shorter. 

I had a few false starts with this program. I struggled with consistency and prioritizing the time for practice. Little by little, though, I was starting to learn the tremendous value of mindfulness meditation. As I began to read and practice consistently I finally started to see why this was so essential to my healing. 

Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

Why You Need Mindfulness

Often when you have a thought or experience, your mind tries to decide how to engage with it by going through its “files” and pulling up every possible scenario in the past it thinks is related, and every possible outcome that could result from the present situation. It does all of thiswithout you realizing itto tell you how you should feel, think and act in response. 

When you are living with bipolar symptoms, this scenario is amplified because you feel like your symptoms are outside your control and your mind has a mind of its ownyou’re just along for the ride. Mindfulness meditation puts you back in the driver’s seat.

Learning to Exercise Your Mental Muscles

This process takes time, like beginning an exercise program when you are totally out of shape. The way this program is set up reminds me of a couch to 5k running program. It is designed to slowly retrain your brain and exercise your mental muscles. 

Each week you read a chapter that teaches you a new principle and then use guided meditation practices to practice that principle. Just as with exercise, consistency is the keyyou need to make it a prioritywhich means making the time in your day to do the meditation practices for that week. The amazing thing is that the small amount of time that you dedicate to the practice doesn’t feel like a sacrifice once you start to experience the benefits. 

Grounding

Some of the symptoms of bipolar–depression and anxiety–are sometimes caused or exacerbated by you mind dragging you into the past or future or an inability to cope with intense or uncomfortable emotions. Mindfulness meditation helps you learn how to ground yourself in the present often dissipating those symptoms or emotions.

Interrupting the “Feed-back Loop”:

When you get “triggered” by something your body has a physical response–tense muscles, tight chest, difficulty breathing, numbness–which then in turn signals distress to the brain. This creates a feedback loop that can spin out of control. Mindfulness interrupts that feedback loop and enables you to engage your rational mind to make a decision about how to respond, rather than react.

You Are Not Your Thoughts

When your mind is having negative, intrusive thought it can make you feel like a horrible person. I used to say to myself “normal people don’t have thoughts like that, I must be a bad person.” Mindfulness helps you step back and observe your thoughts without judgement and then decide if you want to engage with the thought or let it go.

Becoming More Effective and Proactive in Therapy

Mindfulness is especially beneficial in helping you to become more self-aware and productive in therapy. You become aware of negative thought patterns and even manage distress when doing trauma processing.

Healthier Emotional Responses

Mindfulness helps you develop healthier emotional responses. You decide how you will respond, rather than just reacting. It really is wonderful to not feel like a victim to an out-of-control mind anymore. 

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Meditation Practice, the Key to a Balanced, Healthy Day

My meditation time is an essential part of the beginning of my day now, helping me to remind my brain who’s in charge. It is also the way I calm my mind at the end of the day so I can have a restful night’s sleep. I have also learned how to use my breathing to recenter myself when I am in a difficult situation so that I am able to handle stress in a healthy way.

I heard a saying once that I now understand in the context of mindfulness, 

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” -Lao Tzu

Mindfulness teaches you how to live in the present so that you don’t get swept up in the current of your thoughts and lose control of your mind and your emotions.  As Victor Frankl said, “Between stimulus and response is our greatest power–the freedom to choose.” Mindfulness teaches you how to create that space so you can have that freedom to choose. It is the next essential step on the path to wellness. 

To Learn More Check Out: 

 

Stop Normalizing Bipolar Symptoms!

symptoms of mania and depression

Something that I have noticed on social media over the past few years is the normalization of the symptoms of mania and depression. It is usually motivated by the desire to “raise awareness” or help foster compassion for people that are experiencing the symptoms. Awareness can be beneficial if it helps people recognize the symptoms in themselves or others so that they can get help, but normalizing the symptoms is different.

To normalize something is to “make it normal and natural in everyday life”; should we normalize bipolar symptoms?

Is It Normal?

If I had been able to see people normalizing bipolar symptoms 13 years ago it might have felt validating for me and it would have made me feel less alone. At that time, I believed the best I could expect out of my life with bipolar disorder was learning how to suffer well with it. After 12 years of trying dozens of different medications prescribed by my doctors, hospitalizations, electroconvulsive therapy and suicide attempts I had resigned myself to an existence of just surviving life.

Experience had taught me that no matter how hard I tried, or what medication I took, I would always suffer helplessly on the manic-depressive rollercoaster. The idea of helping people understand what I was going through and asking them to have compassion for me when I was compulsive and irrational would have been very appealing. 

Over the past fourteen years, however, my understanding of bipolar has changed. In 2010 I found the first tool on the road to wellness. My doctor and I found a micronutrient treatment that helped my brain begin to heal. Over the following decade I started finding other tools to continue the healing process and I eventually discovered that I could recover completely. 

Once I recognized that it was possible to heal, I realized that normalizing bipolar symptoms is actually very detrimental to those who are living with it. 

A Mind in Distress

Bipolar symptoms are information, they are indications of a mind in distress. We don’t normalize the symptoms of other illnesses, so why do we do it with bipolar?

If someone consistently ran high fevers you wouldn’t seek to normalize that because you didn’t want to make the person feel bad. That would be ridiculous! You would recognize that there is something wrong with the body. It is in distress and needs treatment to identify and address the underlying cause of the symptoms.

The same should be true for bipolar symptoms of mania and depression. They are indications that the mind is in distress and needs treatment to address the underlying cause. Normalizing these symptoms doesn’t help you when you’re suffering, it just prolongs it unnecessarily.

Damaging Relationships

One of the worst challenges that I experienced when I was struggling with bipolar for the first decade was that I would do and say things when I was manic or depressed that I wouldn’t normally say or do. This included behavior that was abusive and painful to my family. 

When I was back in a rational state of mind, I felt humiliated and discouraged by what I had done and vowed that I wouldn’t repeat it again, only to break that promise the next time I experienced symptoms. This left me feeling helpless and hopeless. I knew I was damaging relationships, and I didn’t know how to stop it. 

The most distressing experiences came in 2008 when my symptoms were at their worst. That year I was hospitalized multiple times, experienced my first psychotic episode and I made three attempts on my life. The symptoms I was displaying were emotionally and mentally damaging to my husband and my children. Regardless of whether I was doing them on purpose, my family was being harmed and I knew it. 

Normalizing the symptoms that were hurting me and my family wouldn’t have helped, it would have hurt us. It wasn’t fair to me that I had bipolar symptoms, but it also wasn’t fair to my family. I needed to find a way to heal and recover, not expect them to accept abusive and damaging behavior as part of our relationship.

Normalizing Perpetuates Stigma

Finally, the idea that trying to “create awareness” for bipolar by normalizing the symptoms actually has the opposite effect than what is intended. Instead of creating more compassion around the disorder, it can make people who see it from the outside more cautious about entering into relationships, or hiring people who have bipolar because it looks like people are trying to make excuses for unhealthy behavior.

While it can create a feeling of solidarity among those suffering with bipolar, it perpetuates the stigmas for those who do not. Additionally, it can make those who are newly diagnosed feel more helpless and hopeless that they can ever recover.

The Road to Recovery

The road to recovery from bipolar begins with proactively managing your symptoms. Healing takes time and rather than be a victim to the mood swings during your recovery process you can learn to proactively manage them by using a Mood Cycle Survival Guide

This guide will help you:

  • stop feeling like a victim to the mood-swings, 
  • lessen the impact on you and your family, and 
  • shorten the duration of the symptoms.

The next step is getting curious about what caused your symptoms to occur in the first place. There is a misconception that a bipolar diagnosis is describing an underlying medical condition that is chronic, incurable and requires medication to treat for the rest of your life. None of these have to be true. You can identify the underlying causes of your symptoms and then treat them using a research-based, integrated approach that leads to recovery and healing.

    To learn more read: The Mindset Shift to Heal Bipolar Part Three: The Steps to Heal Your Disorder

    Bipolar Symptoms Are NOT a Disease, They ARE Information

    When someone is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, they are led to believe that they suffer from a clearly defined medical condition or disease similar to diabetes. However, bipolar symptoms are not a disease, they are information

    The Problem with the Disease Model of Treatment

    Over the past fifty plus years the psychiatric industry has been operating under the assumption that bipolar symptoms are evidence of a medical condition. The problem is that they have never identified any underlying medical condition, despite diligently searching for one for over five decades.

    The chemical imbalance theory continues to be used to explain the need for medications, but there are three problems with this theory:

    1. It has been repeatedly debunked. “…mental disorders have. . .been touted to the public as diseases caused by chemical imbalances but there was never any evidence to support those claims.”
    2. This false claim is used to justify the use of psychiatric drugs in treatment and those drugs themselves cause a chemical imbalance in the brain.
    3. It prevents any curiosity into the actual underlying source of symptoms. 

    The Medication Trap

    Psychiatrists use the DSM criteria to assess symptoms and assign a diagnosis based on symptom clusters and then prescribe drugs. This is a bit like playing Russian Roulette because everyone reacts differently to the medications and often the drugs can make things worse. For example “…60 percent of those with a bipolar diagnosis said they had initially fallen ill with major depression and had turned bipolar after exposure to an antidepressant.” 

    The psychotropic drugs cause a chemical imbalance in the brain—they abnormalize brain function instead of normalizing it. Therefore, for some people with depressive symptoms, when their brains attempt to adapt to the introduction of the “antidepressant” it causes symptoms of mania. It is not revealing that a person actually has bipolar, it is causing it.

    In addition to the potential for side-effects that are identified as another psychiatric diagnosis (i.e. depression turning into bipolar), when someone discontinues the use of the medication it causes withdrawal symptoms and often those symptoms are attributed to the bipolar disorder instead of the drug withdrawal.

    Because there is an assumption of an underlying medical condition and zero curiosity about what else might be causing the symptoms the underlying issues that led to the diagnosis persist and are never addressed. This leads to a dependence on drugs and doctors for life!

    Doctors tell you that bipolar disorder is a chronic, incurable mental illness that you will need medication to manage for the rest of your life. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy! The reality is that the disease model of treatment is creating a chronic, incurable, medication dependent condition. The treatment is preventing the cure.

    Bipolar symptoms are not a disease, they are information. If you can learn to interpret that information and treat the source(s) of your symptoms you can heal. A bipolar diagnosis does not need to be a life-sentence!

    To learn more about how some of the causes of bipolar symptoms see The Mindset Shift to Heal Bipolar Part Two: What is Bipolar, Anyway? 

    Psychology Today Article Review “A Psychiatric Diagnosis is Not a Disease”

    This week I read a fantastic article in Psychology Today that highlights one of the primary issues with bipolar diagnosis and treatment. The article titled “A Psychiatric Diagnosis is Not a Disease” by Jonathan Shedler, Ph.D., points out that the diagnoses listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) identify descriptions of symptoms, not causes.
    In the article Dr. Shedler states,

    “Confusion arises because medical diagnoses often point to etiology—underlying biological causes. This is why “chest pain” is not a disease, it is a symptom. Atherosclerosis, myocarditis, and pneumonia are diseases. They are underlying biological conditions that can cause chest pain.

    Psychiatric diagnoses are categorically different because they are merely descriptive, not explanatory. It’s not that we don’t know their causes yet. It’s that DSM diagnoses cannot speak to causes, now or ever. The DSM was not designed to speak to causes, only describe effects.”

    The problem with the DSM diagnosis of bipolar disorder is that it promotes the misconception that an underlying cause has been identified when in fact the diagnosis is simply describing a symptom cluster.

    Dr. Shedler further clarifies:

    “The ever-expanding list of entries in the DSM sound a lot like medical diseases, especially with the ominously-appended term disorder, but they are not. If we speak of generalized anxiety disorder or major depressive disorder as if they were equivalent to pneumonia or diabetes, we are committing a logical fallacy called a category error. A category error means ascribing a property to something that cannot possess it—like emotions to a rock.”

    A bipolar diagnosis does not need to be a life-sentence. If you become curious about what is causing your bipolar symptoms and then treat the source of the symptoms, you can heal.

    To learn more about healing your bipolar symptoms, check out The Mindset Shift to Heal Bipolar Part Three: The Steps to Heal Your Disorder.

    Healing Bipolar Part Two: Therapy and Trauma Healing, What I Wish I’d Known

    During the first decade after my bipolar diagnosis, I was encouraged to go to therapy by my psychiatrists to learn coping mechanisms for managing my bipolar. I attempted therapy several times but found it frustratingly unhelpful. 

    The coping “tips” that I was given were largely ineffective and did nothing to help me cope with the overwhelming symptoms I experienced: the mood swings, negative intrusive thoughts, compulsive spending, out of control rage and suicidal ideation. 

    I was exhausted with trying to “cope” with my life; I needed help!

    Once I switched from medication to micronutrients and my brain began to heal, I had my first positive experience with therapy that finally helped me see the potential in this powerful tool. Over the years as I studied and continued to utilize therapy for healing, I learned some valuable lessons that I wished someone would have shared with me in the beginning.

    What Is the Point of Therapy?

    The purpose of therapy in treating bipolar should not just be “coping” with your symptoms. The symptoms you are experiencing are the body and mind’s indication it is in distress. What is causing the distress?

    While it can be helpful to develop skills for how to manage uncomfortable symptoms in the short term, the long-term objective should be getting to the bottom of what is causing the symptoms to occur in the first place! 

    Some of the underlying causes of symptoms are:

    • unhealed trauma, 
    • unhealthy thought and behavior patterns,
    • unhealthy boundaries and relationship patterns, and 
    • unhealthy coping mechanisms. 

    A competent therapist can help you identify these various issues and then devise a plan to process and resolve them.

    Find a Competent Therapist You Feel Safe Working With

    Therapy is a tool, and the therapist is a facilitator. You need to find a competent facilitator:

    • who you feel comfortable and safe working with, 
    • Who is proactive about helping you heal, not just cope, and
    • Who is trained in modalities that will best meet your needs.

    Therapy “modalities” are approaches and techniques that are used by therapists to address different issues. Most therapy modalities require specialized training; therefore therapists tend to specialize in specific areas.

    It will be helpful to learn more about various options before selecting a therapist. If you have a history of trauma, you might look for a trauma therapist that specializes in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Internal Family Systems (IFS), Rapid Resolution Therapy (RRT), or Somatic therapy, for example. (This is by no means a comprehensive list but serves as an example of some common trauma modalities.)

    Give Your Therapist Something to Work With

    Often people don’t know what to talk about when they go to therapy. It can be awkward or uncomfortable opening up to a stranger about the most personal parts of yourself. The first step is of course making sure you feel safe with your chosen therapist, but then you need to be honest with them. They aren’t mind readers and if you hold back or hide things it can hinder your healing process.

    Two of the best tools I have found helpful in identifying things to work on in therapy are:

    • Using a Mood Cycle Survival Guide to help you become more self-aware and proactive in identifying connections between symptoms and triggers, and
    • Journaling, both short and long form, to help you get your thoughts out on paper.

    Be Proactive, Not Just Reactive

    For years I viewed therapy as a sort of triage, something to help me when I was in crisis and then when the crisis was over, I stopped. The problem this creates is twofold:

    • The therapist got a skewed picture of who I was because they only ever saw me when I was dysregulated emotionally.
    • I was never getting to the bottom of what was causing the crisis to occur in the first place!

    Finally, I realized my mistake and I decided to go to therapy until I had nothing left to talk about. Working proactively with a competent therapist to identify the sources of emotional pain and dysregulation empowers you to heal instead of just cope.

    Focus on Healing, Not Blaming

    When you are working to heal emotional trauma or unhealthy boundaries it is easy to get focused on the person or persons who have hurt you. The problem this creates is that you have no control over another person. Focusing on them can keep you in a victim mentality and prevent healing.

    A great analogy came to mind one day that helped me understand a healthier, more empowering approach. If someone caused you to break your leg–whether intentionally or accidentally–you would initially tell the doctor what happened to aid in diagnostics. The focus would then be on the injury itself, not on the person who caused the injury. You might need to set some boundaries to protect yourself from future harm, but the focus would be on healing the wound.

    In therapy you can choose to empower yourself by doing the work to heal and choosing not to be a victim.

    You Get Out What You Put In

    When you go to therapy you need to identify changes you can make in your life–your thoughts, behaviors, self-care, etc.–that are going to move you forward on the path to healing. This requires effort outside of your sessions with your therapist. 

    I have found it extremely beneficial to use a therapy notebook to write down new habits, tools and resources that my therapist and I discuss and then follow through with those things between sessions—do my homework!

    Therapy Takes Time

    Be patient! Therapy is like peeling back layers of an onion. It takes time to establish a safe connection with your therapist, it takes time to identify the things you need to work on, and it takes time to learn the tools that will help you heal moving forward. 

    Therapy is an important element in the integrated, research-based model for healing and recovery from bipolar disorder. It enables you to identify sources of symptoms in order to process and resolve them. Learning how to use therapy effectively and proactively will move you forward on your path to living a joyful, healthy, balanced, productive life.

    Click here for part one in this series: Healing Bipolar Part One: From Medication to Micronutrients, What I Wish I’d Known

    Am I a Liar?

    This morning my social media feed was filled with bipolar content creators saying things like:

    “If someone tells you they healed their bipolar they are a liar,”

    or

    “You can’t cure bipolar disorder and anyone who says you can is dangerous.”

    I was so sad when I saw these videos because I remember believing this once, too! But it isn’t true! 

    I was diagnosed and treated for bipolar for over a decade with traditional treatment (psychiatric drugs) and I got progressively worse until I was hospitalized multiple times and made several attempts on my life. I became convinced that the best I could expect out of life was learning how to suffer well with my bipolar.

    Mercifully I discovered a research-based, integrated treatment plan that helped me heal and I don’t experience any symptoms anymore—ever.

    So why do people believe bipolar is chronic and incurable so strongly that they call me a liar for saying you can heal? What provides their “evidence”?

    What is the evidence?

    A Paradox

    We have been told a story about bipolar disorder for decades that has convinced most people that you have a chemical imbalance in your brain. You’re told that similar to diabetics who need insulin, you need psychotropic drugs to treat your “chemical imbalance.”

    That is simply NOT TRUE. The “chemical imbalance” theory of bipolar was disproved decades ago. Even worse, it was discovered that the drugs used to “treat” bipolar create a chemical imbalance in the brain!

    If you try to discontinue drug use, you experience terrible withdrawal symptoms and frequently the bipolar symptoms become dramatically worse! The withdrawals and worsening symptoms are then blamed on your “disorder” and you are convinced that you really do need medication to survive.

    Bipolar symptoms are not a chemical imbalance, and they aren’t even a “disorder”. They are your brain’s way of asking for help! Instead of trying to “shut up” the symptoms with drugs you need to figure out what it is trying to say so you can help it heal!

    The Truth

    The truth is there is a rapidly growing mountain of research that is actually identifying the root causes of bipolar symptoms. This research also prescribes effective treatments that resolve the symptoms at the source, which leads to healing!

    YES! You can heal bipolar disorder if you use a research-based, integrated treatment plan that addresses the source of your symptoms enabling you to heal and recover!

    To learn more, check out the three-part series The Mindset Shift to Heal Bipolar:

    WARNING: If you decide to switch from medication to micronutrients DO NOT go off of medication “cold turkey”, or stopping all at once. Medication alters your brain chemistry and withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous, even life-threatening. DO work closely with someone specifically trained in cross-titration—either Truehope customer support or a trusted psychiatrist who has been specifically trained in cross-titration—to safely withdraw from the drugs and transition to the micronutrients that will help heal your brain.

    To Medicate or Not to Medicate, That is the Bipolar Question

    When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was told that I had a chemical imbalance that required medication to treat. The doctor’s explanation seemed to make sense to me at the time. I definitely knew something was wrong with me—I had been living on an emotional rollercoaster for over two years and I needed help.

    For the following decade I proactively went to every psychiatric appointment and took every medication my doctors prescribed but became progressively worse. My nightmare culminated in a massive breakdown in 2008 when I was hospitalized three times in a two-month period, received electroconvulsive (shock) therapy which triggered psychosis–and was put on medications that triggered three suicide attempts.

    Medication wasn’t helping me; it was making things worse.

    When I read social media posts that insist medication is necessary to treat bipolar–comparing bipolar medication to insulin for diabetics–I think back to my experience with medication and know it is not true. 

    Yes, the symptoms of bipolar are frightening, and we all want solutions. The reality is, bipolar is not a chemical imbalance and it cannot be cured with drugs. In fact, drugs often make the condition worse, as my experience bears out.

    The truth is that bipolar symptoms are just that, symptoms—an indication that the mind and body are in distress. Over the past thirty years there has been a rapidly growing body of research indicating the underlying causes of bipolar symptoms and providing effective treatments that resolve the symptoms

    Medications do not treat the cause of the bipolar symptoms. They attempt to mitigate the symptoms by messing with the brain chemistry and if used long-term could do serious damage to both the brain and body, which is why 83% of people treated with medication for bipolar will become severely impaired and will die on average 8-12 years earlier than the rest of the population.

    If medication isn’t the best long-term treatment for bipolar symptoms, what is?

    Micronutrition

    The research of Dr. Bonnie Kaplan and Dr. Julia Rucklidge connects micronutrient deficiencies to symptoms of mental illness, including bipolar. In their book The Better Brain they explain::

    “Our brains demand a disproportionately large amount of the nutrients we consume…most Americans don’t know that the brain metabolism responsible for the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine is dependent on an ample supply of micronutrients.”

    I discovered this for myself when I found a micronutrient treatment for bipolar disorder called EMPowerPlus from a company aptly named Truehope. Studies confirm it is three times more effective in treating bipolar symptoms than psychotropic drugs. Why is this so? Because while medications are attempting to treat the symptoms, the micronutrients are addressing one of the primary causes of the symptoms—micronutrient insufficiency.

    It is important to note that not all supplements are the same. In fact, in their book Drs. Kaplan and Rucklidge indicate that there are only two micronutrient treatments that have been proven effective at treating bipolar and other mental illnesses. EMPowerPlus has had 35 independent clinical trials done across the United States and Canada proving its efficacy.

    When I went through the process of cross-titration (titrating off of the medications and onto EMPowerPlus) I experienced some pretty nasty withdrawal symptoms—exhaustion, confusion, depression. Then one day, several months into the process I woke up one morning and felt like I was fully awake for the first time in over a decade. Over the following years my brain continued to heal as I worked with Truehope’s customer support to optimize my micronutrient intake. 

    I have been off of medications for over thirteen years and my brain feels healthier and more balanced than ever before!

    WARNING: If you decide to switch from medication to micronutrients DO NOT go off of medication “cold turkey” or stopping all at once. Medication alters your brain chemistry and withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous, even life-threatening. DO work closely with someone specifically trained in cross-titration—either Truehope customer support or a trusted psychiatrist who has been specifically trained in cross-titration—to safely withdraw from the drugs and transition to the micronutrients that will help heal your brain.

    Unhealed Trauma

    Another underlying cause of bipolar symptoms is unhealed trauma which can lead to emotional dysregulation, unhealthy thought and behavior patterns and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, as Dr. Bessell van der Kolk noted in his book The Body Keeps the Score, diagnosing someone with a mental illness like bipolar disorder doesn’t “begin to meaningfully describe who these patients are and what they suffer from.”

    Trauma should be treated through effective therapies like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Rapid Resolution Therapy (RRT), Internal Family Systems (IFS), among others. This enables you to 

    • heal the deep emotional wounding caused by trauma, 
    • re-regulate your emotions, and
    • learn to interact with the world in a healthy way—eliminating this as a source of bipolar symptoms.

    Mindfulness Meditation

    Mindfulness meditation—ironically referred to often as an “alternative treatment”—has been around for thousands of years. Over the past fifty years, however, it has become the subject of rigorous research and study. A treatment that has grown out of this research is mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). In their book Mindfulness: An Eight-week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World Dr. Mark Williams and Dr. Danny Penman share that MBCT is:

    “…at least as effective as antidepressants, and has none of their downside. In fact, it is so effective that it’s now one of the preferred treatments recommended by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.”

    Mindfulness addresses two of the sources of bipolar symptoms: antidepressants and negative, intrusive thoughts. 

    Antidepressants are a leading cause of bipolar symptoms; nearly forty percent of people put on antidepressants will develop manic symptoms. In addition, sixty percent of people with bipolar disorder were initially diagnosed and treated for depression. 

    When I was struggling with bipolar symptoms my emotions were heavy and my mind was trying to make sense of it by going through the “files of my mind” looking for a reason to explain the darkness. This resulted in a barrage of negative, intrusive thoughts that made my mind a horrible place to be. I developed coping mechanisms to try and escape my mind, which caused anxiety because I couldn’t handle my life.

    Mindfulness meditation taught me how to stay present in my mind and body. It helped me learn how to sit with uncomfortable emotions and experience them without judgment. That skill halted the spiral and helped me become friends with my mind again.

    To Medicate or Not to Medicate

    When you are making the decision whether to treat your bipolar symptoms with medication ask yourself, what is your goal? Do you want to put a band aid on the symptoms and try to learn to cope with them or do you want to heal and live a healthy, balanced, productive life?

    Bipolar is not a “disorder”—a disease that you will live with for the rest of your life. It is a group of symptoms that are indications that your brain and body are in distress. You can learn to listen to what your brain is trying to tell you and give it what it needs to heal by using a research-based, integrated treatment plan that addresses the underlying causes of your symptoms.

    What choice will you make?

    The Mindset Shift to Heal Bipolar Part Three: The Steps to Heal Your Symptoms

    Continued from Mindset Shift to Heal Bipolar Part Two: What is Bipolar, Anyway?

    NOTE: This post DOES NOT contain affiliate links. All links are provided for the convenience of the reader.

    One of the misconceptions created by the “bipolar disorder” diagnosis is that everyone is suffering from the same illness. The reality is there are underlying causes that vary from person to person. 

    Clearly, the treatment model being used does not treat the cause of bipolar but attempts to mitigate the symptoms. Additionally, as mentioned in part one of this series, the medication used to “treat” bipolar is causing a chemical imbalance in the brain that compounds the problem.

    In order to heal bipolar, the underlying causes need to be assessed and treated using an integrated, research-based approach that helps the brain and body heal.

    Step One: Mood Cycle Survival Guide

    The first step in this process is to proactively manage the symptoms of bipolar using a Mood Cycle Survival Guide (MCSG). Over the first decade of living with bipolar symptoms, each time I experienced a mood swing—mania or depression—I felt helpless, like a victim getting yanked onto a rollercoaster and holding on for dear life until the ride was over. Those mood swings were often devastating to me and those I loved.

    I finally learned, however, that it was possible to take back control with simple tools found in a MCSG. This helped l minimize the impact of the mood swings, on me and my family, and shorten their duration.

    This is an essential first step because healing takes time; and having an MCSG in place at the beginning of the process will help you manage your symptoms more effectively and keep you moving towards healing.

    Step Two: Specialized Micronutrients

    The second step is to provide the brain the nutrients necessary to function in a healthy, balanced way. Our brains demand significantly higher levels of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) than the rest of our body. In The Better Brain, Drs. Bonnie Kaplan and Julia Rucklidge explain:

    “…brain metabolism responsible for the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine is dependent on an ample supply of micronutrients…We now know that there are many people with underlying risk factors, often genetic, that may make them more vulnerable to emotional distress when their diet is poor.”

    Drs. Kaplan and Rucklidge also share that in recent decades eating whole food diets is not always sufficient because:

    • the soil has become so depleted in nutrients, and 
    • there are people who have a genetic need for higher nutrient levels to support healthy brain function. 

    That combination has contributed to a dramatic increase in the number of people suffering from mental illnesses like bipolar. 

    EMPowerPlus is a micronutrient treatment proven through numerous independent studies to be three times more effective than any medication on the market because it actually addresses common underlying causes of the bipolar symptoms.

    Switching from medication to micronutrients requires a process called cross-titration where you very gradually reduce the psychotropic drugs and simultaneously increase the micronutrients. This process should be carefully supported by Truehope’s customer support. They have developed a cross-titration protocol to guide people in recognizing and managing drug withdrawals and optimizing the micronutrients for you personally.

    WARNING: Do not ever attempt to stop taking psychotropic medications cold turkey (stopping suddenly). This can be VERY DANGEROUS, even life threatening, due to effects of drug withdrawals. 

    Step Three: Therapy

    Many people who develop bipolar symptoms are suffering from emotional dysregulation caused by unhealed trauma, unhealthy thought and behavior patterns and unhealthy boundaries. The difficulty that many people have, however, is that they don’t understand how to use therapy effectively to process and heal trauma.

    In the post Six Tips for Getting the Most Out of Therapy I share how to utilize therapy as a healing modality—not just for coping.

    • Find a good therapist: Therapy is a tool, and the therapist is a facilitator. You need to find someone that you feel safe working with and opening up to. It is also important to find someone proactive and well trained that is going to help you heal, not just cope.
    • Give your therapist something to work with: Therapists aren’t mind readers; they only have the information you provide. You can become more self-aware through utilizing the MCSG, mood tracking apps and journaling. Then share what you learn with your therapist to get to the root of triggers and symptoms in order to heal and recover.
    • Use therapy proactively, not just reactively: Only going to therapy when you are in a serious crisis as a sort of triage isn’t helpful if you stop when the crisis is past. Use therapy in a proactive manner that will help you uncover the underlying causes of symptoms to heal and prevent future issues.
    • Focus on healing, not blaming: If the focus in therapy is on a person or people who harmed you rather than the resultant emotional and mental injury it can be disempowering and prevent progress and healing. Instead, a focus on healing and setting healthy boundaries will empower you to recover.
    • You get out of therapy what you put into it: Do your homework! It is as simple as that. If you want to change, you have to make changes. Set goals with your therapist, use a therapy notebook and follow through on implementing changes in thought and behavior between sessions in order to progress towards healing.
    • Therapy takes time: Be patient. It takes time to uncover and heal emotional and mental injuries. It may not be comfortable, but the end result is absolutely worth the effort, no matter how long it takes.

    Step Four: Mindfulness Meditation

    Bipolar symptoms can cause you to feel like you can’t trust your own mind. There is often a disconnect that can result from the emotional overwhelm and coping mechanisms developed as a result. Mindfulness meditation will put you back in the driver’s seat of your mind and help you become friends with your brain again.

    One of the best programs for understanding and practicing mindfulness meditation is Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). This therapy is recognized in the United Kingdom as being more effective than antidepressants for treating depression. The book Mindfulness: An Eight-week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman teaches MBCT in a very simple, easy to use format. 

    MBCT facilitates:

    • a deeper level of self-awareness making therapy more effective, and
    • your ability to stay present thus overcoming many of the causes of anxiety, and depressive symptoms.

    Step Five: Yoga

    The mental distress that causes bipolar symptoms has a profound impact on the body. Yoga takes the benefits of mindfulness and incorporates them into the body. Yoga has proven to be a powerful healing modality for mental illness and trauma. It can facilitate reintegration of the mind and body and heal the mental and emotional dysregulation that was caused by trauma.

    Step Six: Exercise

    Perhaps the most well-known of the steps is the positive impact of simple, consistent exercise on healing mental health. It is important to keep the exercise:

    • Simple,
    • Easy, 
    • Accessible, and
    • Focused on supporting your mental health, not damaging it.

    Check out the post The Benefits of Exercise to learn more.

    Step Seven: Living Mindfully

    Recovery from bipolar symptoms is a process that takes time and is not linear. Understanding what the recovery process looks like will help you be more intentional and persistent. 

    Recovery Cycle

    Recognize that when you experience symptoms you have not failed, it is an opportunity to learn. The recovery from bipolar symptoms is similar to the addiction recovery cycle. Each time you “relapse” or experience symptoms is an opportunity to learn something new—identify a trigger, better understand your micronutrition needs, establish healthy boundaries, etc.

    Over time your self-awareness and knowledge will grow, your recovery will progress, and you will experience longer periods without symptoms and begin to live a healthy, balanced, productive life.

    If you are ready to begin healing your bipolar disorder, check out the Upsiders’ Tribe where we support people through the steps to heal. 2024 is the Year of Healing—are you ready to heal?

    DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional, and I am not offering medical advice. I am sharing what I have learned about healing bipolar through my personal experience and research.

    Click here for Mindset Shift to Heal Bipolar Part One: Three Bipolar Myths

    The Mindset Shift to Heal Bipolar Part Two: What is Bipolar, Anyway?

    Continued from The Mindset Shift to Heal Bipolar Part One: Three Bipolar Myths

    When the bipolar diagnosis was first created it was done in hopes of finding a “magic bullet” treatment to cure what was thought to be a disorder. Since psychiatrists were unable to identify the underlying cause of the symptoms people presented, they developed a diagnosis based solely on symptoms. Over time, as people did not fit into the categories they created, the diagnostic parameters were expanded.

    The reason bipolar has become chronic and incurable is the treatment model. Instead of investigating the underlying causes of symptoms, psychiatrists prescribe psychotropic medications that “muck up” normal brain function which compounds the problem.

    Misdiagnosed?

    When I share with people that I have healed my bipolar I am told that I must have been misdiagnosed. So, I ask you to consider this question: What constitutes an accurate diagnosis?

    From the time of my initial diagnosis I met all of the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder 2—I cycled between periods of severe depression and hypomanic episodes. I was treated by at least seven separate psychiatrists due to moves and hospitalizations. Each doctor affirmed my diagnosis. When I experienced my first psychotic episode, my diagnosis was changed to bipolar 1. 

    On the website for the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) it states that the exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown. However, it is not true that the root cause of symptoms is still unknown. The following are three of the most common causes of bipolar symptoms.

    Micronutrient Insuficiency

    During the 1990s, Dr. Bonnie Kaplan was doing research into the connection between micronutrient deficiency and the symptoms of mental illness. She tested a specialized micronutrient treatment formula from a nonprofit in Canada called Truehope and found that the bipolar patients in the study showed significant improvement on the treatment.

    Dr. Kaplan and a colleague Dr. Julia Rucklidge continued to do research in the field and wrote The Better Brain outlining their findings:

    Our brains demand a disproportionately large amount of nutrients we consume. . .Most Americans don’t know that the brain metabolism responsible for the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine is dependent on an ample supply of micronutrients. . .We now know that there are many people with underlying risk factors, often genetic, that may make them more vulnerable to emotional distress when their diet is poor. Improve and fix their nutritional needs, and many of them can and will get better. —Dr. Bonnie Kaplan and Dr. Julia Rucklidge

    The founding of Truehope itself was in direct response to one founder’s desperate search for an effective treatment for two of his children who were suffering from bipolar and medication was failing them. You can read more about this extraordinary discovery here.

    As our diets in our society have become poorer and soils more depleted of nutrients, the number of people being diagnosed with mental illness, including bipolar disorder, has skyrocketed. 

    Trauma

    One of the great tragedies of the label bipolar “disorder” for people who have a history of trauma is that it makes them feel helpless to heal. The idea that you have a disease that must be treated with medication makes you feel like there is something wrong with you that can only be fixed by drugs.

    Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score, talks about how severe trauma, especially in childhood, causes emotional dysregulation and adaptation as the brain tries to protect you to help you survive. The symptoms are indications that the brain and body are in distress. Instead of masking the symptoms with medications, you need to identify the cause to facilitate healing:

    Many psychiatrists today work in assembly-line offices where they see patients they hardly know for fifteen minutes and then dole out pills to relieve pain, anxiety, or depression. Their message seems to be ‘Leave it to us to fix you; just be compliant and take these drugs and come back in three months’. . .Our increasing use of drugs to treat these conditions doesn’t address the real issues: What are these patients trying to cope with?  —Bessel van der Kolk

    Antidepressants

    Strangely, use of antidepressants is now known to be a common cause of bipolar symptoms. Someone goes to a psychiatrist because they are struggling with depressive symptoms and they are put on antidepressants. After being put on antidepressants, they develop manic symptoms. The doctor then tells the person they were misdiagnosed and actually have bipolar disorder. Sadly, doctors do not realize or acknowledge that psychotropic drugs are what caused the manic symptoms.

    In his book Anatomy of an Epidemic investigative journalist Robert Whitaker identifies research showing that nearly forty percent of people put on antidepressants will develop manic symptoms. In addition, sixty percent of people with bipolar disorder were initially diagnosed and treated for depression. None of these people started out with a chemical imbalance, however when they are placed on psychotropic medications the drugs cause a chemical imbalance in the brain.

    In a 1993 practice guide to depression, the APA confessed that ‘all antidepressant treatments, including ECT [electroconvulsive therapy], may provoke manic or hypomanic episodes.” —Robert Whitaker

    WARNING: Do not ever attempt to stop taking psychotropic medications cold turkey (stopping suddenly). This can be VERY DANGEROUS, even life threatening, due to effects of drug withdrawals. 

    Physical versus Mental Illness

    I frequently see people online suggesting that bipolar is a real, physical illness, just like diabetes. However, we don’t treat them the same. If you went to the doctor with symptoms of diabetes, he or she would not automatically assume you have it and then start you on insulin—that would be dangerous and irresponsible! The physician would run tests to identify the underlying cause of the symptoms before prescribing a treatment.

    The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) diagnosis of bipolar disorder is describing symptoms, not the cause.

    It is possible to uncover what gave rise to symptoms of mania and depression. Then by following a research-based treatment plan that addresses the source of symptoms it is possible to heal!

    Continue to Mindset Shift to Heal Bipolar Part Three: The Steps to Heal Your Disorder

    Can You Heal Bipolar Disorder?

    Can you heal bipolar disorder? I remember asking that question when I was first diagnosed back in 1998. I struggled with accepting my diagnosis because there was no tangible evidence of my disorder. No blood tests or brain scans, just a lot of ambiguous, hard to define symptoms that felt like character flaws and moral failings to me. 

    Then one of my doctors compared my diagnosis to having diabetes. He asked me if I would be embarrassed if I was diagnosed with type one diabetes and I told him no because diabetes is a clearly defined and measurable physical problem that causes your body to be unable to regulate your blood sugar. The treatment is to monitor and balance your blood sugar so your body can function in a healthy way. 

    My doctor then told me the same was true for having bipolar. My brain chemistry was unable to regulate itself properly and we needed to find the right medication to help it function in a healthy way.

    At the time this comparison really helped me accept my diagnosis and I believed that I would find the right medication and eventually be able to live well with my bipolar. But it wasn’t true. I didn’t understand that the diagnosis of bipolar is not based on the cause, it is based on the symptoms. The generally accepted treatment doesn’t treat the cause, it treats the symptoms. 

    Treating the symptoms of bipolar doesn’t help people to heal. At best it helps them manage the symptoms a little better, at worst it causes additional damage to the body and mind and creates new problems and diagnoses. So why are alternative treatments that aim to identify and treat the causes of bipolar symptoms considered taboo? 

    Normalizing Suffering

    Something that is especially discouraging in the online “support” communities for bipolar disorder is the insistence that no one discuss any treatment for bipolar other than psychotropic medications. Alternative treatments, no matter how well researched or validated, are off limits and called dangerous. The result is that the groups end up normalizing suffering with bipolar.

    Over half of the posts in these groups are people asking for advice on what to do about the terrible side-effects they are experienceing from their medications–weight gain, insomnia, lost libido, etc. The other half are people talking about the horrible symptoms they are continuing to experience even on medication–excessive spending, hypersexuality, explosive rage, etc. 

    People continuously lament medication related issues like drastic weight gain or “medication hangovers” that make it feel impossible to wake up in the morning. They also talk about not being able to work or maintain healthy relationships and share feelings of fear and despair at the prospect that their life may never get any better. 

    The medication route often doesn’t provide long-term relief for people either. Recently in an online group someone asked how many times people in the group had been hospitalized–the results were staggering! Dozens of people responded with numerous hospitalizations and several had been hospitalized over twenty times! It was so disheartening to see how much everyone was suffering! 

    Another question in an online group was how many mood-swings is it normal to have in a year. The responses were varied, but the people responding found it normal to continue to experience mood swings, even on medications. They have been convinced that this will be normal for them for the rest of their life. Why? 

    If so many people are suffering with continued mood swings, side-effects, poor quality of life and hospitalizations, why is medication continually propped up as the only “effective” treatment for bipolar? Why are alternative treatments that seek to identify and treat the cause of the symptoms considered taboo?

    Healing my Bipolar

    I was diagnosed with bipolar in 1998 and for the first decade after my diagnosis I actively sought treatment with psychotropic medications, but I just got progressively worse. In 2008 I was hospitalized multiple times, experienced my first psychotic episodes, had electroconvulsive therapy done on me causing major memory loss and made multiple suicide attempts. I was actively seeking treatment and nothing was working.

    In 2010 my doctor and I discovered an alternative treatment option that was well researched and had a surprisingly high success rate in helping people manage or eliminate the symptoms of their bipolar. With the help of my doctor and the company’s customer support I was able to titrate off of my medications and onto the micronutrient treatment. 

    My doctor admitted to me during this process that he normally would not have even considered this treatment option. He told me that the only treatment option they were taught in medical school was psychotropic medication and all of the continuing education is funded by the pharmaceutical companies. The only reason he was even willing to consider this alternative treatment was because he could see how hard I was trying with medication and how much I was suffering. He had become as desperate to help me as I was.

    A few months after I started on the new treatment I woke up one morning and felt like I was finally truly awake for the first time in over a decade. It took several years for my brain to fully heal, but during that time I was so much more stable on the micronutrients than I had ever been on medication so I stuck it out. I am so grateful that I did! 

    Over the past 13 years I have gradually learned the other tools necessary to heal my mind, eliminating triggers and finally becoming mentally healthy and balanced for the first time in my adult life. That is why I was so excited to start my blog! I wanted to share what I had learned. I wanted to help people suffering with bipolar to learn how to actually heal and become mentally well.

    When I first started my blog at the end of 2020 I was filled with hope and enthusiasm for sharing what I had learned. Imagine my surprise when I joined online support groups for bipolar and discovered that there seemed to be no interest in helping people to actually get well. The groups seemed designed to create a space for everyone to struggle together. These groups perpetuated the idea that the best anyone with bipolar could hope for was suffering well with their disorder.

    Alternative Treatments are Taboo

    I soon discovered in the groups that if you could commiserate with a person on how they were suffering, you were allowed to comment. If you had tips for how to cope with side-effects from medication, you were allowed to comment. If you had recommendations for other medications that might work better, you were allowed to comment. 

    If, however, you suggested that there might be an alternative treatment that would help heal their brain and eliminate symptoms and side-effects, you were censored and kicked out of the group. Even simply answering questions from people asking if anyone managed their disorder without medication would result in being removed from the groups.

    The problem is that for decades–as my doctor admitted to me–we have been told that the only viable treatment option for bipolar is medication. But why? Medications are not actually treating the cause of bipolar, they only treat the symptoms. 

    Treating Only the Symptoms, Not the Cause

    There are risks for not seeking to identify and treat the underlying causes of bipolar symptoms. To use another medical analogy, if you have strep throat but the doctor doesn’t treat the strep just the symptoms–giving you something for your sore throat and something for your fever–you might get some short-term relief but it increases your risk for additional issues. The untreated strep could progress and cause further serious infections and even damage your kidneys or heart.

    Medication can have potential value in the short term to treat the serious symptoms of bipolar like psychosis and suicidality. This is similar to giving a patient with strep ibuprofen to help bring their fever down temporarily to give the antibiotic time to work on the underlying infection. But long-term if a person wants to actually heal, they need to treat the underlying causes of their illness. If you want to live well with bipolar you need to identify and treat the causes of your symptoms. 

    Some of the suggested causes of bipolar disorder symptoms are nutrient deficiencies that cause the chemicals in the brain to be out of balance. Severe, unhealed trauma has been linked to the occurrence of bipolar symptoms in many people. Bipolar symptoms are also perpetuated by unhealthy thought and behavior patterns, unhealthy coping mechanisms like addiction and unhealthy boundaries. 

    Long-term treatment that only addresses the symptoms of bipolar isn’t bringing relief and healing for most people, it is just prolonging and even compounding the suffering. People on medication long-term can also develop serious, permanent issues like tardive dyskinesia (TD), lowered immune system function, and damage to the liver or kidneys.

    Healing Your Bipolar

    It is possible to get to the bottom of what is causing your bipolar symptoms and heal. It will require a lifestyle change for your mind. This is why I created the Map to Wellness, to show you the way to healing.

    Begin first, by learning to successfully manage your mood swings by creating a Mood Cycle Survival Guide. This will help you be proactive in managing your symptoms so you can lessen the impact they have on you and your family and shorten the duration of the mood cycle.

    Second, identify what your brain needs to get healthy and balanced. There are organizations and doctors that are focused on helping people identify exactly what their body and brain need to function in a healthy, balanced way. Using a mood-tracking app will help you in this process to identify symptoms that can indicate specific deficiencies. This process takes some detective work, but it will be worth the effort as your brain begins to heal.

    Third, working with a good, competent therapist is crucial. You need to identify and heal:

    • Trauma,
    • Unhealthy thought and behavior patterns,
    • Damaging coping mechanisms, and
    • Unhealthy boundaries.

    This will take some time, so learn how to utilize therapy proactively and stick with it.

    Fourth, develop a self-care routine that includes:

    • Mindfulness meditation,
    • Yoga,
    • Simple exercise,
    • Healthy, consistent sleep habits, and
    • Simplifying your life to eliminate unnecessary stressors.

    Developing this self-care routine is a process. Learn and apply one tool at a time and you will eventually be able to create a lifestyle that will support you in living mentally and physically well.

    Finally, seek support from others who are on the path to wellness with bipolar. It is important to have support and encouragement as you work on this life-style change for your mind. If you are a mom, or potential mom with bipolar join Bipolar Moms Learning to Live Well.

    You can live a healthy, balanced, productive life with your bipolar disorder. There is hope and there is help! Are you tired of suffering and ready to live well with your bipolar? Get started on the Map to Wellness here!