The New Bipolar Planet Bookstore

January 15, 2014

Change Your Brain, Change Your Life An Unquiet Mind Manic: A Memoir The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide Bipolar Disorder Your Drug May Be Your Problem Touched with Fire The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide The Bipolar Workbook Page 2 Page3 Shopping Cart The New Bipolar Planet Bookstore Page3 Image Map

Bad Alice

September 23, 2007

Any day that starts with an email from someone named “Bad Alice” simply has to be a great day!

Bad Alice is the acoustic duo formed by Suzy Johnston (author of The Naked Bird Watcher – the positive account of developing and learning to manage a serious psychiatric disorder that included depression, psychosis and self-harm)

Leslie interjects: The other half of the duo is Lindsay Robertson. So far as I can tell, she is horribly normal except when she gets a hold of a box of crayons.

The CD by Bad Alice is now available.

Titled ‘Walk in my Shoes’ it is a further positive and reflective message on mental illness, self-harm and the issues that face the young of today.

The CD is available on the Bad Alice website where individual tracks can also be downloaded.

The hope is that the music will help people to feel less isolated and offer reassurance that they can get through this. It is also meant to raise further awareness, understanding and – hey – people might even like the songs!


Bad Alice

Excellent CD. It’s only number two in my 6-disc changer, but Bad Alice would have to play tuned chain saws to get ahead of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters – classic Jazz Fusion c. 1972.

I hope to get to Scotland on my next trip to Liverpool. If luck is with me, Bad Alice will have a gig when I’m there.

Suzy’s mum Jean is a great mum, I’m told, and a very cool lady. She even wrote her own book, To Walk on Eggshells, about her experiences helping her daughter navigate the dire straits of the mental health system in the UK. Family involvement is a big positive in handling bipolar disorder effectively.

The CD costs £6.50 postpaid in the UK. Not sure about the rest of the world, but it’s also available as mp3s. Buy it with PayPal and download it on the spot.


TFTD: Don't Feed the Negative

July 2, 2007

By way of BeliefNet:

[The] defilements are like a cat. If you feed it, it will keep coming around. Stop feeding it, and eventually it will not bother to come around anymore.

-Ajahn Chah, “Still Forest Pool”
From “365 Buddha: Daily Meditations,” edited by Jeff Schmidt. Reprinted by arrangement with Tarcher/Putnam, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.

TFTD: The Cause of Suffering

March 12, 2007

All the faults of our mind – our selfishness, ignorance, anger, attachment, guilt, and other disturbing thoughts – are temporary, not permanent and everlasting. And since the cause of our suffering – our disturbing thoughts and obscurations – is temporary, our suffering is also temporary.

-Lama Zopa Rinpoche, “Ultimate Healing”

From Daily Wisdom: 365 Buddhist Inspirations,” edited by Josh Bartok.

NAMI and My Sense of Self

February 5, 2007

Anosognosia (impaired awareness of illness): A major problem for individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

As the years go by, I am less and less impressed with NAMI. I think their agenda is to improve the family’s comfort at the expense of the patient’s autonomy. They teach the rather disturbing idea that a large percentage of mentally ill people have no self-awareness, no insight into ourselves. Like the lower animals. Anosognosia, they call it.

The article I’ve linked to above has some glaring logical errors and has terrible ramifications for the mentally ill. I’ll list some of them.

  1. The article lumps bipolars together with schizophrenics as if we are all one big, happy family. We aren’t. Bipolar disorderis cyclic, often with long periods of remission in between episodes. This is not the case with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is associated with unremitting cognitive deficits. In either case, there is no “awareness of illness” modifier to the DSM-IV codes. Frankly, it is my opinion that the majority of non-mentally ill folks are wandering around with the same lack of self-consciousness. Why are we pathologizing it?
  2. The article doesn’t examine in detail the cognitive effects of certain medications. Most notably, the [tag]antipsychotics[/tag] have been shown to reduce the [tag]IQ[/tag] by an average of about 10 points. In basing the sweeping generalization that we aren’t self-aware upon those individuals whose short-term memory is ravaged by their [tag]medications[/tag], the article makes a case for putting more individuals on the same meds. This will skew future research in this direction as more and more psychiatric patients are required to take meds that may cause [tag]anosognosia[/tag].
  3. There is considerable evidence that medications may not be necessary during remission in bipolar disorder type II – see [tag]Dr. Fieve[/tag]’s recent book, “Bipolar II: Enhance Your Highs, Boost Your [tag]Creativity[/tag], and Escape the Cycles of Recurrent Depression.” If I state that I don’t need meds when I’m in remission, that is a treatment decision, not the symptom of a [tag]cognitive deficit[/tag].
  4. The milder forms of bipolar disorder occur far more that the severe forms. That is, most bipolars never experience psychosis. I suspect that there is a missing qualifier throughout the article – a description of what population exactly they mean. That is, do the authors include the milder forms of bipolar in their 40% statistic, or is the article strictly based on their experience with the sickest of the sick, the ones who wound up in-patient? If this is so, then the authors are [tag]stigmatizing[/tag] most of the bipolar population based on a very biased sample. I suspect that the sample of bipolars in the article are folks who have never been educated as to the symptoms of their illness. Education alone makes a big difference in our ability to manage the illness.
  5. The horrible possibility that we aren’t aware of our symptoms is devastating to the self-esteem of even the most intelligent and self-aware mentally ill person. Am I acting out? Should I speak up or will my words betray my condition? I feel good today – maybe that’s just a mania talking? I disagree what what X is saying – am I delusional?
  6. This article opens the mentally ill to victimization by society and especially by the medical profession. The word “Anosognosia” gives society the pretense of a valid reason to marginalize the mentally ill, to victimize, to force-medicate, to control us. It enables our families, friends and employers to shrug off our ideas and opinions for no other reason than that we have been diagnosed and they haven’t. Why exactly is it that a heart patient is allowed to request that further treatment be withheld, yet a mentally ill person can be hospitalized against his will? Are we monsters?

For all its talk about stigma busters, NAMI has shown with this single document exactly what they are all about. I am not an animal. Mental illness is not a crime. And NAMI is not advocating for us.

UPDATE 4/15/2007:
[tag]Sylvia Caras[/tag] of [tag]People Who[/tag] accepted this post for inclusion on her own site. Stop over to People Who and check out the tremendous amount of excellent mental health advocacy information she offers.

Shifting Ground

October 9, 2006

I’ve just finishing reading a fascinating book called “Shifting Ground.”

The author, Ruth McVeigh, documents the joy and the heartbreak of being married to an undiagnosed, unmedicated bipolar for 22 years.

The 22 years weren’t all bad. Ruth truly loved – and probably still loves – Derry despite the turmoil. Their life together was a whirlwind of adventure as they traveled to Guyana for Derry’s job as a forester, or to Ireland on vactions. They always managed to find wonderful places to live – Ruth describes the breathtaking views out the window so well, you’ll feel that you’ve been there.

But the beauty was often overshadowed by Derry’s bipolar episodes. Ruth tells of the irratic behavior and careless decisions that estranged first her children from a previous marriage and then Derry’s own children. Knock wood, none of their children have inherited the illness.

The book is fascinating to me for a number of reasons, including the fact that the author founded a popular Canadian folk festival. She even got to meet Phil Ochs, a famous folk musician who happened to be bipolar! The list of musicians she mentions meeting at various points in the book is a veritable who’s who in folk music.

All-in-all, “Shifting Ground” was an excellent look into the lives and relationships in a family affected by one member’s bipolar disorder. I recommend that every spouse of a bipolar read this book. You’ll see your family there, and hopefully avoid some of the mistakes Ruth and Derry made. I hope that any bipolar who reads the book “gets” the cautionary tale contained in it; namely, that bipolar disorder is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. If we misbehave, if we are abusive or irresponsible, the people who love us *will* be driven away.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.

Update 10/11:
Finally got my act together on Pendulum Resources and posted my first book review there.

If I Only Had a Brain

May 1, 2006

You’re out of the woods,
You’re out of the dark,
You’re out of the night.
Step into the sun, Step into the light.

Keep straight ahead for the most glorious place
On the Face of the Earth or the sky.
Hold onto your breath, Hold onto your heart, Hold onto your hope.
March up to the gate and bid it open…………….open.

From The Wizard of Oz,
Optimistic Voices,
lyrics by EH Harburg and music by Harold Arlen

Check it out: Dr. Charles K. Bunch PhD, the author of “Soft Bipolar : Vivid Thoughts, Mood Shifts and Swings, Depression, and Anxiety of the Mild Mood Disorders Affecting Millions of Americans” has put out a new book about cinematherapy, how to use the metaphors in popular cinema as a vehicle for healing.

And what more powerful movie than The Wizard of Oz? Admit it, you saw it every year for the first ten years of your life and can recite it from memory. You undoubtedly have at one time or another used the characters in the movies as metaphor. Never mind the man behind the curtain! Well, Dr. Bunch’s new book, The Wizard of Oz: The Symbolic Quest to Find Your Inner Heroes, Face Your Worst Enemy, and Attain Wholeness, will help you use the archetypes present in any movie to understand yourself and the world around you.

I ordered it from Amazon as soon as I heard about it. I’m sure it will be excellent.