from Huffington Post…
No one ever hears a friend say “I have a doctor’s appointment” and immediately thinks that they must be rich or weak or crazy. It’s generally the right and less stubborn thing to see a professional when our body is injured or feels “atypical.”
But if someone wants to see a therapist for their mental health, people aren’t as uncritical.
I talk very openly about the fact that I see a therapist. While my friends and family are mostly supportive, they, along with the general population, still ask questions or make comments that remind me that going to therapy is not as normalized or as acceptableas I had hoped.
I know my loved ones mean well, and I consider myself lucky; but there’s still that millisecond between saying the variation of words “I see a therapist” and the polite (albeit usually misinformed) reply where the stigma lives. All the immediate thoughts and questions translate to a slight change in demeanor and discomfort reflected in their eyes. more
Clinical studies of Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT) show that it is a very effective treatment for bipolar disorder type I and type II. As a Toronto-based psychotherapist and coach, I have developed many of the same techniques as Ellen Frank, the originator of the IPSR Therapy. It has to do with modelling effective behaviour and habits in my clients, including good diet, exercise, impulse control, sleep, balance and moderation in life habits. The following is an excerpt from a brochure from Ellen Frank. Please excuse the clinical language….
IPSRT is an empirically-supported individual psychotherapy for the treatment of adults with bipolar disorder. This innovative approach to the management of bipolar disorder was developed by Ellen Frank and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh and has now been shown to be efficacious in preventing relapse of mania and depression and in treating acute episodes of bipolar depression when used in combination with pharmacotherapy. Open studies suggest that it has utility as a monotherapy for adults with bipolar II disorder and for adolescents with bipolar I or II illness. IPSRT combines a behavioral approach to increasing the regularity of daily routines (social rhythms) with an interpersonal approach to coping with the stresses of the bipolar illness itself, as well as with common interpersonal stressors and social role problems. This approach has now been expanded to include group models for inpatient, intensive outpatient (day-hospital) and standard outpatient treatment.
In my experience as a therapist who helps people with bipolar disorder stabilize themselves, one of the challenges has to do with getting them to be more in tune with their circadian rhythms. This is the body’s internal chemical clock whose impulses regulate the our sleep and waking cycles, our appetites and our moods. Most of us stay tuned to our clock, especially if we have a regular schedule, and have good habits around diet, exercise and imbibe with moderation. When we get out of sync, it’s usually not by much and we seem to adjust accordingly. People who have bipolar seem to be more out of touch with their circadian rhythm and when they do, it’s much harder for them to adjust. In this light, mania can be seen as a complete breakdown of the regulation of our internal clock, or at least ignoring the signals. This is why it’s extremely important for people with bipolar disorder to keep to a schedule and to listen more closely to signals our clocks send us.
There is a very good, concise article about this at Psych Central by John Grohol.
Robin Flanigan wrote a very good piece in BP Canada in which she discusses how people suffering from bipolar disorder can adapt and have the power to decide where to set your goalposts for a fulfilling future. She quotes me based on an interview we did last year. Here is an except from the article:
It took a long time for Gretchen B. to come to terms with having a chronic mental illness. But lately, the 41-year-old from Illinois has been looking beyond her bipolar. With the skills and support to manage her symptoms, she’s ready to make the most of her life and her abilities.
“There’s an end point to ‘I survived the day,’” she says, referring to her post-diagnosis bunker mentality. “Now I’m more focused on what I can do to thrive.
“I’m not necessarily letting go of my struggle with bipolar disorder, but I am learning to thrive inside of it.… I feel more optimistic than I have in a long time.”
In other words, Gretchen has embraced her “new normal.” The phrase describes a foundational shift that creates a new baseline moving forward—which is what happens when bipolar symptoms turn our expectations upside down. Basic milestones like getting a degree, keeping a job, sustaining a relationship, and buying a home can begin to feel out of reach.
A bipolar diagnosis doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to your hopes and dreams. Mental health experts agree that with patience, commitment, and a plan for setting realistic goals, you can still map out a deeply satisfying existence.
And sometimes, the difficult process of re-evaluation can yield new and more meaningful aims.
Read the full excert here: http://www.bphope.com/Item.aspx/1124/redefining-your-own-future
To read more you will have to subscribe to the magazine…
I submit most of my writing and articles on Huffington Post where I’ve been writing for the past year. They are on a variety of topics. Have a look at a sample of the most recent posts:
Entries by Bradley Foster
(4) Comments | Posted November 26, 2013 | 9:26 PM
Well, once we had an easy ride and always felt the same
Time was on our side and I had everything to gain
Let it be like yesterday
Please let me have happy days
Won’t you tell me
(2) Comments | Posted September 24, 2013 | 12:31 PM
Experts are divided on why we sleep, but the consequences of not getting enough are well-known. Sleep deprivation is an effective torture technique. It’s used by cults to break new recruits. It can decrease your life span and it is increasingly being linked to a contributing factor in
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And therein lies the root of much of our stress. When we accept that there are few things we…