A new approach to rethinking bipolar

It is almost 21 years since I was last a patient on a psychiatric ward. It is nearly 10 years since I took any prescription medication. Bipolar is fading into my history. My illness/disorder has left me with a strong interest in how people get well and stay well and that is what I have been researching and writing about since getting really well myself. I want to share what I have learned so far and what I learn – every day.

I am going to change the way I use this blog. Instead of limiting what I share to things related directly to bipolar, I will be sharing a wider range of information about getting well and staying well.

I feel okay about this as all illnesses/disorders are linked. If we can get our bodies healthier then it becomes easier to get our brains and minds healthier.

Please look-in regularly and let me know if you like this new approach to rethinking bipolar.

Bipolar Driving Analogy #Wootton

Yesterday, in ‘Psychology Today’, my good friend, Tom Wootton posted a useful short article called, “Bipolar Treatment Is More Than Just Tools To Lower Intensity

Here are a few words from it; “I see too many people who have never learned yet convince themselves that they know how to drive. When their mania gets stronger than they can handle they don’t even have the good sense to put on the brakes. And then, when someone else puts on the brakes for them, they go back to imagining that they know how to drive. Their repeated failure to actually learn the necessary steps is just reinforcing the false notion among everyone around them that it cannot be done.

In the work I have been doing I have found car and driving analogies to be really useful. It fits with the picture millions of people have of recovery, or even everything about life being a journey.

Most people reading this will have passed a driving test after many hours of instruction from a tutor with a great deal of experience. How many of us have done such intensive training for managing our moods and our long-term well-being?

Rethinking Bipolar Disorder at Beyond Meds – Monica Cassani

It seems I am not the only one encouraging the rethinking of bipolar disorder…



Governments creating mood disorder? #bipolar

The UK government’s bedroom tax does not directly affect me. Indirectly it does, as many of the people I support are struggling financially and this tax on people who receive housing benefit is already hurting them and some are becoming suicidal.


A man I know who was ‘down on his luck’ (a victim of the mental illness system) ran out of places he could stay and applied to the local council for a one bedroom place. They did not have anywhere with just one bedroom. They had a two bedroom place he could afford through housing benefit. He settled in and got his moods under control. He could be described as in-recovery. Now things are taking a turn for the worse. The new tax, THE BEDROOM TAX, means that he will lose some of his housing benefit due to having an extra room. I suggested he brick up the room he does not use, or knock the two rooms into one. His tenancy does not allow him to do anything like. He is desperate as he will not be able to pay the rent and there are no one bedroom places for him or thousands of others in the same situation.

Bedroom Tax: It sounds like a joke. What has it got to do with Rethinking Bipolar? I just wanted to give this as an example of the stressors ordinary poor folk are under that the rich psychiatrists are not going to understand. They see disorder as a chemical thing. Yes, chemistry is important, but somewhere safe to live comes first.

Here is a link to the best article I have seen on bedroom tax if you are looking for a way of surviving it, or if you are wealthier (have good contacts) it gives idea for making money from the new tax. Yes, another tax that can benefit those who are already well off. Article: http://speye.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/bedroom-tax-and-lodgers-a-good-idea-yes-from-october/


Bipolar Recovery Bite-size – Mood Mapping #moodmapping

Two years ago I was writing ‘Bipolar Recovery Bite-size’.  This was to explain how I and others had come to understand what had happened to us and so recovered from the diagnosis. The reason for ‘bite-size’ was that emotional disturbances can make it difficult to read long articles – The challenge became one of sharing this important information in small chunks/bites.

I have started updating all the bipolar recovery bites and over the next few weeks hope to share the new versions here at Rethinking Bipolar

1.What are emotions made of?

Fourteen years ago as a patient on an acute psychiatric ward I was told I had an emotional disorder that would need to be treated with medication for the rest of my life. I was given a label, “Manic depressive”. There was no explanation of emotions, what was causing the disorder or what I could do other than take tablets.

I wonder how different the next few years of my life would have been if the psychiatrist had been able to explain to me something about emotions.

Perhaps he thought I was too ill to understand or perhaps he did not know how to explain?

We all have an idea what emotions are and yet we all seem to explain emotions in different ways. Emotions mean different things to different people.

 Before reading bite 2 , “Emotions Are Made Of…”, how would you describe emotion? 

A diagnosis is not a cause

Chronic fatigue syndrome is ‘major’ cause of school absence: research

There is something very wrong with this headline from this morning’s  The Telegraph, that has gone on to be reported in much the same way on TV and radio news.

This type of headline where a diagnosis is given as a cause simply promotes illness, the need to see doctors/psychiatrists and the use of medication.

Yes, diagnoses do cause problems for people. If you are diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder you may find the stigma associated with the diagnosis is longer lasting than any distress you have had before.

This is not what this type of headline is about. These articles typically say about under-diagnosis. This one says, “Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) may be ten times more common than previously thought and be one of the major reasons children are absent from school“. [Have you noticed how often mental disorders  ‘may be ten times more common’?]

I want to point out that CFS is not the cause or even the reason for the behavioural problems. Something else is causing the children to be at risk of diagnosis. The article is about children who have not been diagnosed. Clearly these children are tired and there could be many reasons for that other than a diagnosable syndrome. There is something going on in their environment that is causing this behaviour and that is what needs to be addressed.

Readers need to ask where these ideas of diagnosis = cause come from. Is this type of headline ever from truly independent researchers who have nothing at all to gain from the diagnosis? Can we be sure that there has been no influence from people whose jobs depend in some way on increasing diagnosis?

How is this linked to ‘Rethinking Bipolar’? The claims with bipolar are going further. It has been said that 1% of the population have been diagnosed since the bipolar diagnosis was created in 1980 and amazingly it is now claimed that up to 20% of the population are now experiencing bipolar symptoms. There is nothing like saying that huge numbers are experiencing something to make it more acceptable and helping it to spread!

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