Author Archives: Michelle Clark Bipolar Bandit

I have a Mental Illness, but I am not a Mistake

mr rogersI watched “Won’t you be my Neighbor” about Mr. Rogers last night.  One message he put across to kids via a puppet is that they are not a mistake.  Although, he did not bring up mental illness, I see how that could be relevant.

I AM NOT A MISTAKE! Please remember that if you are struggling with depression or another mental illness. God made you the way he did for a reason. You will be happier when you figure out why and deal with the positives of your life.  You can also use your illness to help others by reaching out to those you know who are struggling, telling them that you can relate, being honest about your own illness, and could prevent a suicide if you think of it.

Suicide hotline:

International hotline:

The Frustrations of a Mental Health Advocate

saveNo one would say that they don’t care about the mentally ill, I don’t think.  However, it has been proven over and over again that many don’t care at all.  I am not going to go through the proof because those of us who are advocates know the hardships those with mental illness goes through and the lack of education and strong stigma still attached to it.

The Congress, the President, the news outlets, our friends, family members, and even our fellow church members  would never tell it to our faces that they don’t care about us, but they don’t. It is not their fault as education is key.

Write to your Congressman today and use my  previous blog to get our points across. Let’s create #suicideprevention as trending today.

CHALLENGE TODAY: Please help me by Retweeting. liking, sharing my message on @Bipolar_Bandit on Twitter or FB Bipolar Bandit Message: Start talking about suicide and mental illness ALL THE TIME! #suicide #suicideprevention #mentalillness #mentalhealthadvocacy #fotus#potus






Start talking about suicide and mental illness ALL THE TIME!

vectorThe news recently revolved around suicides of famous people and when a celebrity comes out or there is a mass shooting, some light is shed on mental illness.

However, the important talk about a national epidemic fades quickly and this is a tragedy.

It is upon each individual to know the signs of mental illness and suicide, what to do if they see them, and to get over the stigma of mental illness.

Please, if you know someone right now who you think might be suicidal or suffering from depression or another mental illness, do not hesitate to ask them if everything is okay. YOU COULD SAVE A LIFE!

If you don’t know where to go, please google “Bipolar Bandit” where you will find my blog, FB page, Twitter page and Pinterest. I also run FB group called Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses that has over 25,000 people worldwide that discuss topics facing the world today regarding mental health. I also have a FB page called Mental Health Advocates United that posts encouraging memes and information about the various illnesses.

The first step in fixing the epidemic is for everyone to get educated. Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255



Mania or Depression: Will I stay in the light this time?

lightMy life has been a roller coaster since I was 13.   There have been times when medications have worked and I have been stable, but these don’t last very long.  Now, the problem is I think I might be medication resistant.

I mainly suffer from depression and can’t do much about it because anti-depressants can trigger mania.  I seem to be cycling more into mania now in the past few years more than ever. Some people like mania, but I don’t.  Yes- the hypo-mania is good because I have the energy to do things that I have not been able to motivate myself into doing when I am depressed.   However, then the mania comes and has ended relationships, cost me a lot of money, and I have done things I regret. One thing I do is over commit myself and then disappoint people when I get depressed and can’t even get out of bed.

Currently, I am hypo-manic and fear I will be manic. I have a new doctor and a new medication regimen so I am hoping that I won’t get manic.  However, my fear, is that I will plummet into depression.  Yet again, however, I am on a “medication” that helps with depression and I am praying that this will help.  This med is not covered by insurance and is called Deplin which you need a prescription for and is basically folic acid.

So, will I stay in the light this time?  I am excited as I have actually applied for a few jobs. (I have been on disability for 11 years.  I have worked for my dad and mainly focus on my mental health advocacy pages.)  I also have finally found a church that I plan to join.  I also have a trip planned to go see relatives.

Now, if I can just stay “happy”.  I have started associating hypomania with happiness.  Unfortunately, it is almost  sad that since I don’t want to be manic, I don’t want to be happy.  I would much rather be depressed than manic.

My last depression I was in that I came out of about a week ago, was the worst in a long time.  I was suicidal and so hopeless.  I just sat and watched television and did not even get online to work on mental health advocacy stuff or check in on FB or Twitter. I literally watched tv and ate.   Now, of course, I have gained 15 pounds and that causes depression in itself.

So, I am going to refus to be bleak and end this blog with “I am going to stay in the light” this time.  I have been going for walks, pretty sure I will be getting a job, am eating better, and have promised myself I will get on the computer for at least an hour even if I  do get depressed.

It is so hard to get out of depression when you don’t do anything about it. I have written blogs about what to do if you are depressed, but yet I don’t follow my own advice.  I get the feeling where I don’t deserve to be happy and dig myself deeper into the depths of depression.

So, if you know me on FB, keep me accountable.  I refuse to get depressed again. I have plans for my life and dreams that you can’t imagine. I just need to stay stable.

Michelle Lande Clark (My Facebook name)








Guest Post by Nicole Allen: Living with Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

bp guest post 2Living with Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

As a kid, he was creative, energetic, and outgoing. As a teen, he got introduced to alcohol and cocaine. As an adult, he moved to Los Angeles to begin work as a writer. Out West, he struggled with his work, binged on cocaine, became addicted to painkillers, and ended up getting convicted for driving under the influence twice.

Not until his early thirties did Jeffrey get diagnosed with bipolar disorder. By that time, he had detoxed but was still using pain medications regularly. At the time of his interview in 2012 with “Health,” at the age of 32, Jeffrey was struggling with the use if Oxycontin for back pain and considering programs to help him stay clean. He was not taking medications for bipolar disorder because, as he put it, “bipolar medications don’t work for me.”

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2016, over eight million adults were dealing with a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder. Individuals, like Jeffrey, who are dealing with both of these disorders are said to have a “dual diagnosis.” Research has shown that between 30% and 50% of individuals having bipolar disorder will develop an addiction in their lifetime.

What is bipolar disorder? Why are so many individuals with bipolar disorder at risk for developing an addiction? And what can you do if you or someone you know has a dual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and addiction? Let us address these questions in turn below.

Bipolar Disorder: A Definition

Bipolar disorder is a serious, chronic condition. Individuals having bipolar disorder switch back and forth between two very different moods or two different poles, as it were.

One of these poles is manic. When an individual is manic, they may have a great deal of energy, feel invincible, feel extremely irritable, and/or engage in impulsive or reckless activities such as shopping sprees or promiscuous sex. As Jeffrey described his manic episodes, “I felt like a god. But then I would black out and not know where I was when I woke up, or whether I’d spent the night with a stranger.”

The opposite pole is depressed. When an individual is depressed, they may have any number of symptoms including fatigue, loss of appetite, feelings of guilt, inability to concentrate, and thoughts of suicide. As Jeffrey described his depressive episodes, “I was depressed about my job [. . .] I started to ignore my friends and relatives.”

The cause of bipolar disorder remains unknown. However, multiple studies suggest that the disease has a strong genetic component. Researchers are working to figure out what genes interact to predispose individuals to developing bipolar disorder.

Diagnosis of bipolar disorder is often made by a psychiatrist. The diagnosis is based–among other things–on a person’s history of symptoms, severity of symptoms, and timing of symptoms. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment can be pursued. Some methods may include medications, therapy, and/or dietary and lifestyle changes.

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

The National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions–published in 2006–found that addiction occurred more frequently for individuals having bipolar disorder than with “any other mood or anxiety disorder.” Why is this so?

Cause and Effect: Use of an addictive substance may trigger symptoms of bipolar disorder. Conversely, having bipolar disorder may itself be a risk factor for developing a drug addiction.

Self-medication: Individuals with bipolar disorder may use drugs to ease the pain felt during manic or depressive episodes. As Quello and others have observed, “The substances may initially minimize or moderate the mood symptoms, but withdrawal and chronic abuse typically exacerbate mood degradation, leading to increasing abuse and ultimately dependence.”

Overlap: Some researchers argue that the areas of the brain in charge of “impulsivity, motivation, and the feeling of reward” get hijacked in both bipolar disorder and addiction. Hijacking of these areas of the brain thus may lead to both disorders happening at the same time.

Genetics: Some genes may predispose individuals to both mental illness and addiction. As Quello and others have pointed out, “families with substance abusers are more likely than those without to also have members with mood disorders, and vice versa.”

Finding Solutions

The two major ways for treating bipolar disorder and addiction are with medications and/or therapy:

Medications: More research remains to be done to figure out what medications work best at treating both bipolar disorder and addiction. Medications that have been used for years to treat bipolar disorder will not necessarily address concomitant drug addiction. In one study, the combination of valproate and lithium–both medications used to treat the manic episodes of bipolar disorder–helped decrease alcohol consumption in patients dealing with bipolar disorder and alcoholism. In another study, quetiapine–a medicine often used to treat bipolar disorder–lessened “alcohol consumption and craving” in those with dual diagnoses of bipolar disorder and alcoholism. It should be noted, however, that each individual responds differently to certain medications. For this reason, individuals and their healthcare providers must work together to figure out which medication or group of medications is most effective at treating the individual’s bipolar symptoms and addiction.

Therapy: You may pursue cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps individuals manage their symptoms and cope with stressors that can exacerbate their symptoms. Or you may consider attending AA or NA classes. Or you may decide on integrated therapy, which provides education, close follow-up with treatment providers, aggressive pharmacotherapy, and much more to individuals in a way that works best for them.

The wife of a man battling bipolar disorder and addiction made the following comments on a SAMHSA blog: “People can get better, but it’s not easy and some don’t because the science isn’t good enough yet. The struggle deserves to be honored.” The solutions that healthcare providers offer individuals do not always work, at first. As Jeffrey explained above, the medicines he tried for bipolar disorder just did not seem to work for him. Nonetheless, whatever dual diagnosis treatment you choose, do not lose hope. These are tough diseases to deal with and–though there might not be any easy answers–if you work with your healthcare providers as a team, you might find the right answers for you.

Bipolar Disorder: Feeling Hopeless? Don’t give up!

Having bipolar disorder can feel like you are in a deep hole and can’t get out when you are depressed and suicide enters your mind.   When you are manic, it can feel like you are on the top of the world and don’t want to leave it.  However, sometimes, when you are manic and have been riding the roller coaster over and over, it is tempting to jump off the ledge too.

People think that mania is a great thing. What they don’t realize is that when you are manic you do things that you regret and can hurt people you love. You learn to not like the mania because of these reasons and because you know you will come crashing down and the higher you go, the lower you get afterwards.

Medicine is the answer for many and there are other treatments too.  For me, I am starting to recognize that medications are not working any more and it is so frustrating. I seem to cycle into mania about every three months. I have tried pretty much every medication out there and am under care of a psychiatrist I like, but just can’t seem to get on a level that is stable.

It can feel hopeless and at this point I am writing this, I am entering another manic phase and yet am in tears because I just can’t handle this anymore.

Usually, when I write my blog, I try to be educational and upbeat and try to “teach” something and write with purpose so that others can learn from what I have to say.

While starting this, I was wondering how I would put a positive spin on it.  I guess I am writing to let people know that reality of this disease.  I hope that my openness helps someone.  I started this with the title of “Don’t give up” because I wanted to make sure I ended up on a positive note.

So….Please don’t give up.  The poem below is one my dad gave me when I was 13 during my first depression after my first and only attempt at suicide.  I hope it helps someone.  Right now, suicide is in the news and is happening at an alarming rate.  Unfortunately, it was talked about a lot after the deaths of two famous people by suicide and now it has faded into the shadows again. I hope that if you were thinking of killing yourself today, that you will listen to this and get help.  Suicide Hotline       International Suicide Numbers 

don't quit







Assessment for Bipolar Disorder

delasseBipolar Disorder Assessment should be done by a professional. Here are some things they should look for and discuss at an assessment:

If you are the person experiencing mood changes, a friend or family member may mention it to you or you might come to the conclusion on your own.  Your inquiry oftentimes starts with looking at information on the internet.

This is where the assessing begins.  People then usually go to their primary care doctor.  If they think they meet the criteria for bipolar disorder, they will refer them to a psychiatrist or some place/person that can better diagnose them.

The assessment usually starts with surveys or questionnaires. However, it should be more thorough and in depth.  It should cover the person’s life including their current circumstances, their triggers, the way they view the problem, coping strategies, and where they will get support.  An evaluation can result in other diagnoses before the correct one is found and can take 5 years to figure out.

During the evaluation period, the person doing the diagnosis should go over several things including:

  • Do you have any history with mental illness in your family?
  • What makes you think you have bipolar disorder?
  • What is your physical health like?
  •  What are your sources of stress and how do you deal with it?
  • What are your goals?
  •  What are your currently struggling with?
  •  What are your triggers?
  • What are the warning signs?
  • What were all the previous episodes like and what was it like in between the mood changes?
  •  What are you individual strengths?
  •  How do you cope?
  • What are your support networks?

It can be difficult to make a proper diagnosis for several reasons. That is because the experiences are usually misidentified as unipolar or depression first.  The hypomnic mood states are often missed.  That is why when be assessed, it is important that it is very thorough.

It can be difficult to figure out what normal behavior is and therefore hard to determine what hypomania would look like for that person.

Also, other things can present like bipolar disorder, but aren’t.  For example it could be a head injury, trauma, a tumor, diabetes, thyroid problems, among others.  Many times, alcohol or drug abuse masks the bipolar disorder as people will self medicate.  Therefore, it is difficult to determine the underlying cause.

If the assessment is done correctly and the person is diagnosed with bipolar disorder then that is just the beginning of a long road the person and their psychiatrist will endure to figure out ways to help them.

Picture source



Darkness Therapy is a Way to Treat Mania

deldarkI was just reading about some alternative ways to treat bipolar disorder, specifically mania and came across an article that talked about darkness therapy.  I decided to do some research and write a blog about it.

In 1996 there was a  study that was started that eventually proved that  it is helpful to ward off mania if a patient is in darkness from 8pm until 6am.  When they can’t be in complete darkness, amber lenses or control clear lenses were used.  It was proved that darkness is a mood stabilizer. (This study was completed in 2016)

In February of 2005 there was a study done that proved darkness “can be a useful add-on for the treatment of acute mania”.

In researching darkness therapy, a term that you are probably already familiar with kept coming up-biological clock. “The biological clock controls the timing of our body’s daily cycles including our sleep cycles and research has consistently shown is an imbalance in the biological clock in bipolar brains. This is why sleep cycle disturbances are so common in bipolar syndrome.”

The SCN (suprachiasmatic nucleus ) is a part of the that hypothalamus gets signals about how much light there is. It is the main location of the biological clock.   In 2001, a retinal photoreceptor was discovered that is sensitive to blue light.  These receptors connect to the SCN of the hypothalamus, where the biological clock is.

Amber lenses can block blue wavelengths (the most potent portion) creating a form of physiologic darkness. “Because the timing and quantity of light and darkness both affect sleep, evening use of amber lenses to block blue light might affect sleep quality. Mood is also affected by light and sleep; therefore, mood might be affected by blue light blockade.”

Avoiding blue light is simple and has no side effects and  is a free anti-manic treatment. It is something we can incorporate into our daily lives in order to live with bipolar disorder and control mania.

I tried to make this topic as easy as I could. For more in depth information, please read from the following sources.  They include the studies that I mentioned.




Source4 and Source5


Guest Post: How Pets help PTSD Victims and/or the Mentally Ill by Selim

delpetsPets could play the most important role in your mental health recovery. Researchers of the United Kingdom and all over the world say that pets can be the only active element to their owners in their hard times or depressive situations. In some records, the information found that many of pats were seen as the most central social support and valuable part of their owner’s life.

Human sometimes unable to find the peaceful and secure relationship through human ties. This is happening because of the transforming behavior of human nature. The human can feel their needs and can explain their feelings, they can easily move to others for finding happiness and their welfare. But pets are remains devoted to their owner. They love them and can also chair them up on their offensive situations.

Some studies also say that pet lovers feel less lonely than others and they also remain cheerful for their pets. Pets can help human from being lonely and depressed. Records say that pets are found to be very much effective for the PTSD patients. Also, they are seen to play an effective role to recover the mental health of their owner’s.

Here we are talking about the how pet help PTSD victims and the mentally ill victims. This content will also help you to remind the importance of pets in our life and the society.

  • What is PTSD?    

PTSD stands for the Post-traumatic stress disorder. It is popular as a serious mental condition of human mind. This condition of human mind generally developed by some people after the terrifying, shocking or dangerous event. This shocking or offensive events are known as trauma. When human brain faces trauma attack, it becomes very much difficult to struggle with anxiety, fear, and sadness. You may face difficulties to sleep as the upsetting memories recall. Human mind naturally gets over from the offensive memories in a certain time and feel better after that. But. If anyone has PTSD, his or her brain won’t let him fade away the trauma or the depressive moment. They can last for years and often more than couples of years. It is also possible to get worse for the serious patients because they would not able to forget the pain in their whole lifetime. The effects of PTSD in your daily life can be dangerous. It can naturally harm your work life and also your relationships. It can easily make a troll not only for your mental health but also your physical health.


  • Effects of PTSD

Post-trauma stress disorder can easily stick your brain in a dangerous mood. Even if you are no more in danger of not even facing any of offensive situation, it would hold your mind on the fear and give a high alert. Your body won’t be your controls and continues to give you stress signals. The PTSD syndromes shoot the part of your brain which handles emotions and fear. And this part of the human brain which calls the amygdala is the most active part of the PTSD victims. Over time PTSD can make a dangerous change to your brain. The area of your brain which usually saves memories becomes smaller. And your memory would only force you to save the offensive memories only.


  • How can pets help PTSD victims?

Though there are lots of ways to treat the PTSD victims to recover their mental health, the study says that the pets can be the most effective element for their mental health recovery. Pets can be the significant value for treating those patients who are fighting against serious mental illness. They can easily consider a mainstay more than other marginal sources to treat the patients. Pets can help to build a close and quite stable relationship which are very difficult to found nowadays. Especially for those people who have very limited human contracts and mostly stay at home lonely. Pets are even found to rescue their owners from suicidal attempts which they had taken for their sick mental condition. Pets who have spent a quality time with their owner can read their minds and can observe what will their owner attempting to do next. So they can even rescue them from making wrong decisions.


  • What are the emotional benefits of having a pet?

Pets can bring many of emotional benefits to you. Examples:

  • Help to feel the emotions of love.
  • Pets are best companions.
  • You can even train them to follow your orders. People who take dogs as a pet can enjoy this opportunity the most. They can feel like service member who used to give orders.
  • They can easily reduce stress and make you have fun.
  • Pets can give you reasons to get out of the house for a walk and enjoy the nature. You can enjoy the outdoors and spend some time in nature and can also meet new people.
  • Pets can make you busy sometimes.  Your time will easily pass by taking proper care of them. So that, you won’t feel lonely anymore.


You will definitely feel a mental peace by serving them and taking proper care of your pets. This feeling can even give you a new motive to lead the life in a new way.

You can make many joyful memories with your pet and they might help your brain to fed away from the depressive and sad memories and allow you to forget them easily.


Conclusion: Pets are always bringing happiness to our life. They are innocent, sweet and friendly. Even they are sometimes very much responsible and devoted to their owners. They can support us without having any benefits and can easily make a strong and secure relationship with us. They are not only effective for the mental health of the victims who are facing serious mental illness but also the people who are leading a normal mental condition. They are the way to gather peacefully. We should have them and take care of them.

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Picture Source

Letter to the Editor

delletterTo whom it may concern;

How do I get my ideas in your paper or other outlets? It would be in regards to how the Parkland survivors would be better to spend time on mental health reform that attacking the NRA. It would not be about my opinion about gun control. It just would be about how more time needs to be spent coming up with solutions to the mental health crisis and not just after mass shootings.


It also includes other mass shootings at the hands of the mentally ill.

I have written to politicians, media, famous people via email, social media posts, letters, and phone calls with litttle to no response.
I, along with the other mental health advocates have a lot of things to say that would be valuable to the national dialog and are almost denied a voice.
It is time that we are given a chance.  We are in the trenches just like the Parkland Survivors were in the trenches.
I founded  a FB group called Advocates for People with Mental Illnessses/with over 20,000 people worldwide.  (largest of its kind) I also run a page called Mental Health Advocates United that also helps to join people together by using quotes and educating people about the various mental illnesses.
In addition, I have several other social media sites on Twitter and PInterest.  I also blog under the pseudonym Bipolar Bandit where you will find advocacy work in addition to articles on various mental illnesses.
I am just asking for a voice. Please help me!
Michelle Lande Clark
Mental Health Advocate