Daily Archives: February 6, 2015

Rapid Cycling


Back in 2005, when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was also diagnosed with having “rapid cycling” bipolar. Since finding my med cocktail that really appears to be working, I don’t cycle near as often as I used to. Rapid cycling means cycling between moods (depression, mania, hypomania, or mixed) at least four times in a year. Rapid cycling can come and go during the course of the illness. So that means, even though I’m relatively stable right now, I could at any point begin to cycle again. Another criteria for rapid cycling is that the bipolar episodes must be separated by a period of two months of recovery, or be followed by an episode of the opposite polarity.

When cycling is even more frequent, moods shifting during weeks or days, it is known as ultra-rapid cycling. And when mood shifts occur less than 24 hours apart it is called ultra-radian cycling. Rapid mood swings are exhausting and can make you feel completely out of control. As your energy level and mood shifts, you can experience severe irritability, anger, impulsivity, frustration, and emotional difficulties – on top of the regular symptoms associated with the mood episode.

10-20% of people with bipolar disorder also suffer from rapid cycling. And rapid cycling appears to be more prevalent in women than men. Because of the frequent shifts, the symptoms are more difficult to control. Treatment is important and reduces the risk of serious depression and suicide. Treatment usually includes a mood stabilizer such as lithium. Caution needs to be taken when using anti-depressants. They can sometimes trigger rapid cycling. When cycling, it is important to try to stabilize your sleep habits, avoid non-prescribed drugs and alcohol, and adhere carefully to your doctor’s treatment plan. It is helpful to keep a record of which medications have worked or not worked. All this can help reduce the impact that rapid cycling has on you.

                                                            (Sources: WebMD, Mood Disorders Association of Ontario)

What can trigger mania?

triggers of maniaBelow is a list of triggers than can cause a manic episode.  It is important to be aware of your triggers.  Knowing what your triggers are will help you avoid them as much as you can.


Not enough sleep


Failed Relationships

Use of alcohol or drugs


Changes in seasons


Loss of a job

Loss of loved one

Disruption in routine

Lack of exercise

Change in diet




Changes in medication

Schedule Change

Lack of schedule

Major Events






Money troubles


No, that is not a typo. I have decided there are terms to describe mental health issues the DSM has left out.
Panxiety: noun
pronunciating: pang-zi-ety
definition: when anxiety and paranoia combine to bring on crippling panic attacks that hinder normal life.

So this is the part where I confess to a bizarre little thing I do which will no doubt make me look like a lunachick and it’s not so much that I have any faith in the whole subject…From time to time I get bored and “play”.
Okay, horoscopes. I read mine today and it said, “Technology is not your friend today. There may be issues involving your money and computers that could complicate matters.”

Yeah, considering everything is done digitally anymore…It’s not a far fetched thing to fear. And I have had issues of this nature before where a computer glitch prevented me getting money or threw off my math so I had less money than I’d thought.
We are at the mercy of computers and they all have glitches from time to time. Not without validity to fear such a snafu.

It made me uneasy but I went on about my morning.
Then I got my bank balance alert. And I knew I’d spent about twenty bucks yesterday, yet it is saying my balance is the same as it was the day prior.
So I took a pause and reminded a lot of places have you sign the slip because they ring debit up as credit thus it doesn’t automatically deduct from your balance until they turn in all their receipts for the day.
Okay, makes sense.
I tried to let it go.
I really did.
But it was making me nuts.
So I made a quick jaunt into the dish to a smaller store down the street. I needed eggs anyway, figured…This way I can find out if I can at least still access my money.
Tick tock….
And it went through fine.


Panxiety. It is a thing.
Kind of like tripolar is a thing. If you think about cyclothymia, we orbit around stable, manic, and depressed. Three poles, basically. Tripolar.
There needs to be a proper term for the deer in the headlights thing, too, where you get so scared you become psychologically paralyzed. I am coming up empty on a witty term for it right now.

I feel like a moron.
All this because of a horoscope, which are notoriously wrong and for entertainment purposes only. But when you have anxiety and are faced with the paranoia of something entirely feasible happening…
It turns into a monster eating its own tail.
Anxiety and paranoia are monsters.

Psychological novacaine, ffs. Let me remain functional but for the love of fuck, quiet this metastasizing anxiety that has taken over my entire mind.
Of course, the doctors will just want to do the oversedation thing because we all know how effective it is for aiding in anxiety. You can’t be anxious when battling to stay conscious and upright.
I find it hard to fathom they can use three d printers to create guns and human organs but can’t find some sort of anti anxiety drug that quiets the mind without turning you into a drooling lethargic lump.
The xanax is great for warding off the panic attacks, for the most part.
And when the old school docs had me on the high dose, it was great for the generalized anxiety.
The current regime and its low dose insistence…is why I am where I am right now.
I don’t really want a new drug.
I want the same drug at a higher dose that actually fixes my problem.
But the current shrink would rather add another anti anxiety drug as needed than tweak a dose on a drug that does work somewhat.
Because 8 pills a day isn’t enough, let’s toss in some more.
I just want to not feel like my brain is a runaway roller coaster veering off the tracks.

Fortunately…In about six weeks when the season changes, I will probably go manic and have a whole new problem set to deal with.


Is Tom Sullivan right? Is bipolar disorder a fad? Are there people on disability who shouldn’t be?

deldis3Tom Sullivan, a Fox news contributor, stated that he thinks that bipolar disorder ” is the latest fad” and that “we all have good days and we all have bad and I don’t consider that an illness. And I don’t consider it a disability.” Story

He added that bipolar disorder is “something made up by the mental health business just to be able to give people prescriptions and keep them coming in, and keeping you — paying them money.”

deldis2I agree that many of the people who are on disability shouldn’t be entitled to benefits. I also strongly believe that pharmaceutical companies are preying on people with mental illnesses and many people are over medicated.  Many doctors get kick backs by prescribing their medications.

I actually also believe that bipolar disorder has become somewhat of a fad and that people are being diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a catch all for people who are struggling in any way.  I also think that some celebrities announce they have a mental illness for publicity reasons.

By misdiagnosing people as having bipolar disorder when they are depressed occasionally or might have slight mood swings, hurts the people who truly do have bipolar disorder  and should be getting disability benefits.  It bothers me when someone tells me that they have bipolar disorder when they have never have had a manic episode and/ or been hospitalized. Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness yet so many people who say they have bipolar disorder are not seriously ill.

Although I think Tom Sullivan was wrong in clumping everyone with mental illnesses as scam artists and part of the latest fad, I do understand why he would come to this conclusion.  There are many people out there who are told by their doctors or have diagnosed themselves with bipolar disorder who simply do not have it.  They may struggle with depression or have slight mood swings, but they do not have bipolar disorder.

There are mild forms of bipolar disorder like Cyclothymia  and Bipolar II Disorder.  I don’t think that these should qualify people  to get on disability easily.

People with bipolar disorder do not get hospitalized for mania because they want to.  They don’t deal with the mistreatment of patients at psychiatric facilities to get on a disability.  They do not choose to have a mental illness that is so debilitating.  They don’t take medications that have serious side effects because they want to either.  I doubt anyone with a  serious mental illness would ever wish their illness on anyone.  I would think that most do not want to be on disability either.

Bipolar disorder has become the latest fad in many ways. However, Tom Sullivan needs to learn more about serious mental illnesses along with many people in the media. By doing so, they could help people rather than contributing to the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness. They could educate people where to get help and let them know it is okay to seek help.

To learn more about bipolar disorder go the National Institute of Mental Health

Advanced Class

And if this poem isn’t a perfect example of rapid-cycling mixed-state bipolar, I’ll eat my hat:  “Temporary Insanity”

I’m picking up the pieces of

my shattered personality.

The mirror is the image of

a fractured, broken mind.

THe fabric of reality

is ripped to hell and gone. I sit

alone with eyes squeezed shut; I know

I’m simply going crazy.

I don’t know who I am, you see

a crisis of identity.

I’m rhyming, though; how can this be?

I scream out loud, “No more!”

I can’t control the words I say

Much less control my manic life

I think I’ve really lost it now;

I want to find a knife!

20 Days of Valentines—Day 10

Strange Love

Click the image for more peculiarities.

Coming Out Again: Why More Queer Folks with Mental Illnesses Need to Speak Out

[The illustration features a door. On one side, a group of queer people are whispering amongst themselves; on the other side of the door, a masculine queer person stands with their arms folded, visibly distressed, excluded from the conversation happening on the other side.]

Illustration by Jessica Krcmarik

[The illustration features a door. On one side, a group of queer people are whispering amongst themselves; on the other side of the door, a masculine queer person stands with their arms folded, visibly distressed, excluded from the conversation happening on the other side.]

Many of us in the LGBTQIA+ community know all too well what it’s like to be queer with a mental illness.

I know this because when I tell you that I have a mental illness, more than half of you say, “Me too.” We have these conversations on the regular – whispers at Pride, a confession in our support groups, anonymously in our forums, or if we’re feeling brave, it’s an off-hand comment when a friend is struggling.

But too often, these conversations are happening behind closed doors, and the folks who need us most are often left on the other side.

The stigma of being a person with a mental illness is enormous enough on its own, but to be queer at the same time is daunting.

But without visibility, too many people in our community are left convinced that they are alone as they occupy an intersection that too few are willing to openly claim.

So many folks in our community have struggled with their mental health, and yet the only time it’s considered appropriate to open this “can of worms” is when someone in our community commits suicide. Suddenly, we collectively nod and, feeling brave, we admit, “I’ve been there.”

We talk about suicide, but we often neglect to discuss mental health more generally. We neglect to talk about the pain and instead we talk about the consequences.

Every other day, there’s an email in my inbox from someone in our community who says, “You’re transgender and bipolar? I thought I was the only one.”

The idea that anyone in our community would be convinced that they are alone in this struggle is indicative of a bigger issue. This tells me that conversations about mental health and mental illness in the queer community aren’t accessible enough for everyone.

And ultimately, if we continue to have these conversations in private – afraid to admit that we are here, queer, AND neuroatypical – we uphold the isolation, the fear, and the stigma that convinces so many queer people that they must suffer alone.

Where are the conversations about depression? Where are the conversations about anxiety? Where are the conversations about queers with OCD, queers with bipolar disorder, queers with borderline personality disorder, that are actually written by queer people?

And are these conversations accessible? Or are they hidden away on the top shelf, just out of reach?

Instead of telling queer youth that it gets better, why aren’t we having more open and honest conversations about what it means to struggle with your mental health as queer? What it means to be queer and hospitalized? What it takes to survive when you are marginalized at this complicated intersection where the stigma and the pain are so compounded?

It’s not always safe to reveal a diagnosis, and it’s scary enough to come out once. But if you can, I’m asking you to come out twice. I’m asking you to leave the closet once and for all. I want to issue a challenge to my community – to those of you who come to me and say, “yes, me too” – to emphatically remind others like you that they, too, are not the only ones.

Because straight and cis people aren’t the only ones who grapple with mental illnesses – in fact, these disorders disproportionately impact our community, and fuel the tragic losses we incur as more and more of us take our own lives.

Inevitably, if we only have these conversations under pseudonyms, behind avatars, or in the comfort of our own homes, we cannot advocate for ourselves, and we cannot reach the people in our community who desperately need our stories, our words, and our voices.

I know I am not the only genderqueer person who has a mental illness – but so long as we live in a world where people are actually convinced that I am the only one, or worse, do not know that I and others exist, LGBTQIA+ people will continue taking their own lives under the impression that people like them don’t have a future, people like them don’t matter, or people like them aren’t meant to exist.

I am asking you to be visible, because visibility is everything when you are in the depths of these illnesses, unable to imagine a future that has you in it.

Visibility is everything when the pill bottle is in your hand, and all you can see is the pain you’ve silently endured day after day. I can tell you (and maybe you remember, too, because maybe you’ve been there) that a bottle of pills is nothing in comparison to the years of pain that break you down, pain that you are convinced that no one understands.

I understand. So, so many queer folks understand. And there are people in our community, right now, who need to know that we exist.

We still live in a world where queer people with mental health struggles are largely invisible and isolated. But that is within our power to change, if we choose to extend our hand and reach out to them, and if we make ourselves known.

The next time you are wondering if your story could make a difference, remember what I am saying: I thought the same thing. I didn’t know if my words could ever make a difference. But you know what? Five million views later – and countless letters that start with, “I thought it was just me” and “I am so glad I found you” and “you make me believe in something” – have proven, without a shadow of a doubt, that our voices are needed.

Our voices could save someone’s life.

So where do we start? There’s a call for submissions for a great anthology, HEADCASE, of folks who are both queer and neuroatypical; there’s an awesome website, Queer Mental Health, that’s looking for new writers.

Heck, you can just do what I did and start a blog (and let me know so I can go promote the fuck out of it).

Volunteer at your local LGBTQIA+ community centers, volunteer for queer hotlines, or start a support group for folks in your area and get the discussion going. And of course, support the organizations, writers, bloggers, and communities who are keeping these conversations alive.

It can be as simple as saying “me too” when someone in your community talks about their depression instead of just nodding; it can be as simple as saying “I know what that’s like” or “I have that too” or, most importantly, affirming that they are not alone.

It can be as powerful as saying, “I have depression and I need help” to the folks in your community, instead of choosing to keep it to yourself and going it alone. And it can be as beautiful as saying, “How can I help?” when someone else opens up to you.

We are no strangers to struggling. But we, as a community, are also not strangers to supporting one another, advocating for change, and creating a refuge for those who need it most.

And when it comes to our mental health, it’s not enough to have these conversations where only a few people can access them.

We need to make our voices loud enough so that no one doubts that we are here.

Sam Dylan Finch is a queer activist and feminist writer, based in the SF Bay. He is the founder of Let’s Queer Things Up!, his blog and labor of love. With a passion for impacting change through personal narrative, Sam writes about his struggles and triumphs as genderqueer and bipolar with the hopes of teaching others about his identity and community. When he isn’t writing, he’s probably eating takeout and dancing to Taylor Swift.

Connect with SDF: Website ; Facebook ; Twitter ; Tumblr

Editor’s Note: This article is by no means intending to invalidate or ignore the many courageous activists who are, indeed, very open about their mental health struggles and identify as queer. It is meant to inspire more of us to take on this work, and to support others who are doing it.

We’d also like to acknowledge that not everyone is in a position to “come out,” and safety should always be your first priority.

blahpolar diaries 2015-02-06 07:30:16

A couple of years’ thoughts behind every thought here.

I want to discuss Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s Epistle to Neruda with my mother. We’d cheerfully dissect it together and she would tell me lots about the background of those two poets and how that poem came to be. But the bloody woman seems to be taking this whole death thing seriously, so that discussion will never happen.

Isn’t it utterly shitty when people die in the middle of about a thousand conversations you were having with them at the time? Isn’t that the heaviest loss too? All those times (so many times) when you open your mouth or reach for the phone, because something happened and your first, fast, subconscious instinct was to say hey guess what? Grief stabs you right in the heart again and again and again. Then a song gets released or a book is published, that you know they’d have wanted, bought, loved … you can’t enjoy those things yet yourself, not until enough time has passed to make those reminders touching instead of suckerpunching. It’s all too obscene at first.

We don’t call him the grim reaper for nothing.

If anyone is ever foolish enough to ask for my advice about loss and grief, there will be no duck billed platitudes. I’d say weep. Weep as much as you like and don’t ever let anyone tell you to stop. If anyone says get over it, smack them about the head a bit with a fish. I’d tell them that there isn’t a formulaic time frame and that they should just let it run its course, while doing their best to function. I’d say weep more, howl, rail against the universe, let your pain out into the world or it will fester in your heart. Even the uptight Victorians had better rites for grief than we do.

It’s a personal choice only, but I don’t say passed or deceased or late, I say dead. I need the brutality of the truth in my face, otherwise I get lost in trying to make it all lyrical somehow. I’m doing it right now. Dead, gone, lost and a gaping wound to prove it. I’ve lost enough people to know that time does not heal. What it does do, is gradually allow the memories to soften, so that you can put your pain somewhere safe, so that it stops dominating your entire world.


Whatever you or I think about it, perhaps death is the only absolute we have.