Posts Written ByMerryl Hammond

How to Implement a Routine for Stability

In a previous post, I talked about WHY daily routines are so crucial to maintain mental stability. To recap quickly, it’s because routines help to regulate our circadian rhythms, and they also reduce our stress by removing some of the chaos and unpredictability of our day-to-day lives. So now let’s talk about HOW you can implement a routine in your life. Just as diabetics must comply with dietary restrictions as well as take insulin, so those of us with bipolar must take responsibility to learn about how the disorder affects us personally, and to build a healthy lifestyle that will…

The Benefits of Smiling: Why you should find one (or 100) reason(s) to smile every day!

Humans are a naturally smiley species. We appear to begin smiling even while we’re still in the womb. There are so many emotional and health benefits to smiling – keep reading to learn all about them – but what does that mean for those of us in depression? Do we miss out on those benefits altogether? The answer: not if we don’t want to! Smile therapy If you’re not feeling your best today, here’s a trick that I’ve used in the past when I was in depression: practise 5 minutes of “smile therapy.” You can do this either by forcing a smile…

Use a Routine to Recover from Bipolar

In my previous post, I explain how my type-A personality contributed to the development of my bipolar disorder, and – ironically – to my recovery from mental illness as well. It was thanks to my ambitious, highly-organized, perfectionist personality that I was able to analyze my symptoms and triggers, and establish a routine that would cultivate mental stability relatively early on. Our mental stability truly does need to be cared for; be nurtured. It is so fragile. Those of us who have experienced mental breakdown, or who love someone who has, know this well. The best way to nurture your mental health…

Did My Personality Type Cause My Bipolar?

One of my several bookcases of binders I used to pride myself on my total type-A personality. Over-achiever, control freak, wannabe wonder-woman who took on way too much – at work, at home, as a volunteer, and in social settings. My level of obsessive organization was unrivalled: I have over 60 binders for every possible project, labelled and stored neatly in my office. Needless to say, confronting chaos and embracing change is not one of my fortés. So when I developed bipolar disorder, I got completely derailed. It was my type-A personality (combined with menopause) that caused my bipolar In…

“Most productive week of my life”: A Self-Guided, At-Home Writer’s Retreat

A version of this article first appeared on the Nonfiction Authors Association’s blog on May 23 2019. Beyond my budget! Problem: As a member of various writers’ groups, I often receive notices about writers’ retreats, usually in exotic (and expensive!) locations. These retreats generally last between three and five days, many offer “yoga for all levels,” (they clearly haven’t seen me lately!), and all feature erudite experts who will lead participants in writing exercises to unblock our repressed creativity, and so on. There’s also plenty of free time to relax, explore, and enjoy local cuisine. Sounds dreamy! But by the time…

Happy Social Media Day!

Today is Social Media Day – a day to mark and celebrate the global impact that social media has had on the lives of all of us. What an incredible tool it has proven to be for all of us! Social media has hugely impacted the way we communicate: we’re able to instantly share photos with friends, stay up-to-date about the lives of our family members across the world, reconnect with long-lost classmates, receive up-to-the-second news, and share our thoughts with millions of people in the blink of an eye. It enables us to create and find communities of like-minded…

6 Tips to Write a Mesmerizing Memoir

This post originally appeared on the Nonfiction Authors Association’s blog on March 4 2019. We all have a story buried somewhere within the years of our tumultuous lives. Each story contains a lesson to share, a perspective to enlighten, or an anecdote to entertain. I encourage everyone to pull that story out from the corners of your memories and onto the page, so that others can learn from it. Reflecting on the process of writing Mad Like Me, I came up with these tips for you to write your own memoir. I am also running a free interactive workshop about…

Go to the Mental Health Gym Every Day!

The concept of a “mental health gym” I’m a big believer in going to the “brain gym”: taking steps to actively (and proactively) maintain my mental health. Mental fitness is vital for all of us, wherever we may fall on the mental health/mental illness continuum. We exercise or go to the gym every day (or we try to, at least!) to keep our bodies fit, but what do we do for our minds? We need to give just as much attention to our mental health as our physical health. There are many types of physical exercises that we can do…

Let’s celebrate Mental Health Week! But…

It’s Mental Health Week here in Canada! This year’s theme, chosen by the sponsor, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), is “#GetLoud about what mental health really is.” I am so pleased that my country marks this occasion and sees the worthiness in promoting this cause. I am passionate about breaking the stigma against mental illness and to do that, we all need to #GetLoud about our experiences. Count me in! But as I began to research the origins of Mental Health Week both in Canada and abroad, I noticed some immense gaps in the international level of involvement when…

Do your moods change with the seasons?

Seasonal change is a trigger When I was first diagnosed with bipolar, my psychiatrist warned that sleep deprivation, together with stress and a heavy workload in my case, is a major trigger for (hypo)mania. Several months later, when Spring blossomed, I discovered that seasonal change had a huge effect on my sleep patterns now that I had bipolar. I now consider seasonal change to be a major trigger for (hypo)mania in itself. Journal extracts during my first manic episode Here’s a brief extract from my journal during the first Spring after my diagnosis: Did good work till nearly 3:30 a.m., then…