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World Bipolar Day: Sharing stories; shattering stigmas

Celebrating World Bipolar Day Last week, I facilitated an event to celebrate World Bipolar Day in Baie-D’Urfé. A group of people – some of us affected by bipolar in one way or another, and some who simply wanted to learn more – gathered at the library to share personal experiences about the impact of bipolar on our lives. The power of sharing stories What an eye-opening afternoon it was. As one participant emailed afterwards: “I attended because I read your Mad Like Me book and wanted to support you, and I found myself moved by the stories of those who have experienced,…

Happy World Bipolar Day!

Time to get educated March 30 is World Bipolar Day! Do you know someone struggling with bipolar disorder? Ever wondered what it must feel like to experience the wild mood swings of (hypo)mania and depression? Do you know the difference between bipolar Type 1 and Type 2? Now’s a perfect time to educate yourself. All around the world, mental health organizations are marking World Bipolar Day. Prevalence of bipolar Did you know: studies put the lifetime prevalence rate of bipolar in Canada at 2.2%. This means that about 500,000 Canadians experience bipolar at some point in their lives. That’s huge!…

What does International Women’s Day have to do with our mental health?

Chicken-and-egg? Recently, I MC’d a local event to mark International Women’s Day (8 March) in my hometown of Baie-D’Urfé, Quebec. The photo shows many of the 35 women who participated and shared ideas on the theme “A Balanced Life; A Fine Line.” It was great to learn from so many different women, at many different stages of life: from childless, single young women to at-home and working mothers, to mid-life professionals, to retirees contemplating exciting new ventures… As I said in my Instagram post at the time (see below), without true balance between the genders, humanity will never achieve its…

Tips to avoid the “depression demon”

Ouch! In mid-January, I was out walking in extreme wintery weather, and I slipped on some ice – hard! Ouch! To make a long (and very painful) story short, I broke my left ankle and was put on three weeks of bedrest. Then, just as I was starting to walk again, while trying to protect the injured ankle, I put too much strain on my right leg, and tore the meniscus of my right knee. Ouch, ouch! Will this injury precipitate a depression? The first thought that crossed my mind as I lay bed-bound in agony, leg in a splint…

Block Your Bipolar Triggers! (Part 2)

How to analyze your bipolar triggers If you missed Part 1 where I explain what triggers are, you can read it here. I learned the hard way! I now look at my bipolar symptoms as a clue, an early warning sign. I ask: what might have triggered or caused these particular symptoms at this particular time and place? When I looked back at my whole history with bipolar, studying my daily charts and all the notes I had made over many years, I could identify triggers or potential triggers for about 80% of all my bipolar episodes. In the other…

Block Your Bipolar Triggers! (Part 1)

What are bipolar triggers? Triggers can cause full-blown bipolar symptoms. They may be people, events, emotions, circumstances, or places. If you don’t learn about your own unique triggers (that rude co-worker, your judgmental sibling, insomnia, etc.), you might spiral downwards into depression, or upwards into (hypo)mania, and your family and friends will be left to handle the resulting turmoil. But if you do recognize and respond intelligently to your triggers, you can possibly prevent the entire bipolar episode, or at least limit it to some extent. A very common trigger is stress. This may be negative stress like work-related dramas,…