It is possible to have bipolar disorder and live a good life

Tom Wootton, a principle investigator of the Bipolar IN Order study discussed below, asked me to share about it and how people with bipolar disorder may participate in a full online course (a savings of $399.95) that will teach them how to thrive. Tom is also the founder of Bipolar Advantage. His website states: "There are many people talking about learning to thrive in spite of having bipolar disorder. For the most part they are talking about functioning during periods of remission and hoping that the periods of mania and depression won't destroy their lives when they return. Many others are choosing to pretend that they are in a permanent remission and are unprepared for the real possibility that mania and depression will happen again. If we are to truly thrive we have to accept that we will have periods of mania and depression and find a way to thrive during them instead of only thriving during remission. Bipolar IN Order is the only program designed specifically for that purpose. … [Read more...]

Stanley Family Foundation donates $650 million to psychiatric research

A donation of $650,000 for psychiatric research is so important to those with mental illness and their families and friends that I had to share this complete article from yesterday's "New York Times." My son Paul was struck with his first manic break when he was a senior in college in New York at age 21. He believed that people were poisoning his food, drinks, and cigarettes and were lurking in doorways out to get him and his girlfriend. He also became freaked by the constant sirens going off in the city. He was prescribed lithium during his first hospital stay, but he didn't stay on it consistently - he felt it interfered with his creative abilities (he was a jazz musician) - and unfortunately that was his downfall. After seven years of alternating manic and depressive behavior and many hospitalizations, he killed himself. You can read his story in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His S … [Read more...]

Presenting Laura Dennis, author of Adopted Reality

With raw honesty and thoughtful reflection, Laura Dennis crafts a stunning psychological thriller in her true-life memoir, Adopted Reality. She weaves in three major life events adoption, reunion with her birth mother, and a bipolar episode following the 9/11 terror attacks where her beloved Uncle Tom died in the Twin Towers and she believes she was responsible for his death, writes reviewer Kathy Pooler. And most amazing is that it took Dennis only six months to write and publish her thriller of a story. I was especially interested in Dennis' writing about her manic episode because it rang true of what I remember about my son's bipolar disorder. My questions have mostly to do with that aspect of Dennis' story rather than her adoption and reconnection with her birth mother. I'm so glad that Laura Dennis accepted my invitation to join me for a Q&A here on Choices. Madeline: I am so impressed with the way you have managed your manic and depressive states and with the clarity … [Read more...]

Some history

Paul had his first mental break in March of 1993 while he was in his senior year at the New School in NYC. After an unsuccessful attempt to get him home and hospitalized, we went to New York to get him in treatment there. We encountered a huge snow storm almost as soon as we got there, but that storm was small compared to what Paul's breakdown meant to him and our family. Blizzard in B It is mid March, 1993, and a bitter blizzard blows in. Some predict the century's biggest. Flakes of snow swirl in gusts to the sidewalk. Cold slaps our cheeks pushes through our clothes as we cling to each other, walk through the cavern at the feet of New York's skyscrapers. The sirens set our teeth chattering as impatient cabbies honk, inch their way up the streets. Yet, we trudge forward uncertain of what we will discover when we arrive. A more foreboding blizzard, perhaps, blows through our boy's broken brain. … [Read more...]

I knew nothing

I thought I understood what was going on in Paul's head during his manic breaks. But, really I knew nothing -- and neither did his doctors. The more I read about this terrible mental disease, the more I realize how little is really known about it -- even now. Even so, I tried to describe it in this poem. Mania Intoxicated, euphoric. exhilarated, with visions of power without bounds, Paul is like Superman. He climbs, he circles, he races, floats above reality. Then he sees demons lurking in alleyways, imaginary Mafiosi poisoning his drinks and cigarettes and the world's water supply. He is left to wander, pace, click, re-click door latches as he goes in and out. He babbles unintelligibly, imperceptibly. The voices he hears echo like violins ever louder, faster, discordant until a cacophony of drumbeats and a tintinnabulation of scraping symbols pound his brain. There is no escape, no way out. He looks for an exit where only one exists. (For a more … [Read more...]