Inside the Bipolar Mind of Natasha Tracy
If you're wondering what it's like living with bipolar disorder, or a serious mental illness, here is one of the most illuminating lines on the subject that I've come across:
"It explores the difference between a sick brain and a mind left trying to cope with it."
I've often pondered the subject of what it's like inside your mind, living with bipolar disorder or some other serious mental illness. You know your brain is sick, but due to the limits of present day science and what your sick mind is doing to you, there's only so much that you can do to fix it. So you're left to live with whatever it delivers that moment, that day. It's not a pretty image.
Glamorizing Bipolar Disorder
If you've been around the web, I'm sure you've seen pages about celebrities with bipolar disorder. We have our own list of bipolar celebrities. Maybe this is an attempt to minimize or normalize bipolar disorder; or make it cool. "Look, everyone has it!"
Natasha, our guest on this week's HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show, doesn't make living with bipolar disorder seem very exciting or glamorous. In fact, her first two posts, Bipolar as Love Thief and Being Bipolar and Alone Isn’t Poetic or Romantic paints a troubling existence.Does it make it any easier to face the ravages of mania and depression on a daily basis? I'm guessing not.
"Sick would still be sick. Nothing gets you better except getting better. Being better.
In bipolar disorder, this is being “in remission”. You never get to be not bipolar. You get remission from illness. For a while you’re “better”. You remit. Until you don’t."
"And I don’t."
Join us Wednesday, June 9, at 3p CT, 4 EST for the live show and a look inside the bipolar mind of Natasha Tracy. As always, you can ask our guest your personal questions. After June 15, 2010, you can watch our interview with Natasha Tracy on Inside the Bipolar Mind of Natasha Tracy.
Feelings About Bipolar Disorder
by Natasha Tracy
I discovered I was bipolar like all good nerds do – by doing research on the internet. It was December 1998 and the only evidence of the discovery was a ream of paper full of facts on bipolar disorder, and an empty tissue box.
From that very moment, I knew it was “bad” to be bipolar. I knew this because I had read that there was no cure, and it was a lifetime ailment. I knew this because I knew I would be on medication for the rest of my life. I knew this because every site proclaimed “with treatment people with bipolar disorder can lead normal, healthy lives”. This is only ever written because it is in question. It is only ever written because many of us don’t.
And from that very moment, I started feeling bad about having bipolar disorder. I felt bad I had allowed myself to get it. I felt bad that I couldn’t think my way out of it. I felt bad that no matter what I did, bipolar disorder was still there.
In short, I thought all the things that day that people still preconceive today; and it is these thoughts and their implications that make it frightening to publicly be bipolar. It is the idea that I have done something wrong to get it, and that I am bad because of it. It is the idea that I could change if I wanted to, but that I just don’t want it enough. It is the idea that I’m crazy, unpredictable, untrustworthy, and likely to go off my meds and run wild at any moment.
And I know that being publicly bipolar is career suicide. I know that if you have two candidates in front of you, you never pick the one with a mental illness. I know that even getting into a relationship is hard because people are afraid of what I might do to them. I know that many people don’t approve of, or like me, just because I have this disorder and because it is treated with medication they deem to be “poison”. I know that in the eyes of some, I will always be crazy, and that will always be unacceptable.
Share Your Experiences on the Bipolar Mind
What is it really like living with bipolar disorder? Glamorous or not? Leave your comments below.
Amanda_HP (2010, June 7). Inside the Bipolar Mind of Natasha Tracy, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, January 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/tvshowblog/2010/06/inside-the-bipolar-mind-of-natasha-tracy
How to ask for help is a task itself. My family and i live with a beautiful woman 41 yrs of age. married 24 yrs in March. The more time goes by the worse it gets. we are all feeling it and there is no answers> We are drounding cause we all love her and we dont know how to handle this illness. She refuses to get help. one time she did. and it seems like all these things that people talk about symtoms of bipolar. are so similar. and now is what we wish for, constant prayer, what to do. It is tearing us as a family apart not to mention, each one of us individually. Some days are worse than others. I thought to blame myself, looked for answers. went to get help for myself. self help tapes. helpalso. but its not the answer. Family cant help, most of them on her side and freinds can see this.. be blunt tell me,, I will listen. our 13, 11, and 7 year old daughters are at risk now and going to suffer. Ill just quit talking, why would any one want to listen,I think i know the answer, It devistates
I have bipolar 1. I'm 45 was diagnosed at 21, prior to that was diagnosed with Epilepsy at the age of 18. I feel that it is good to have family support when you aren't well. By the sound of it Debbie, your son is understanding. Which is excellent. Many people i find just don't understand how very, very dangerous bipolar can be. Being Manic or depressed has the same hazards to your health. One manic episode I had I was nearly killed by a car I ran into. Also have had 2 suicide attempts. So yes, it is not fun to have bipolar. Have you worked out your triggers Debbie? It really helps. Also I've trained myself to respond to any change I feel is happening to my mood, then I contact my community nurse. So I may need Resperidone for mania and Zoloft for depression.
Take care From David
Seeing as you asked, I wanted to share a couple of thoughts with you.
You are experiencing a very common problem among the mentally ill - the people around us. It's extremely hard for you to deal with your illness, but it really is hard for them too. They likely have a very hard time identifying with you, and what you go through. The thing about a brain illness is that most of us have never had one - so we have no comparison. Everyone knows what a cold, or the flu is, but they just don't in any way compare to a mental illness.
I don't think you're feeling sorry for yourself, you're trying to ferret out an unfortunate situation. I would recommend family counseling. Try getting a professional involved. Information can pass from your family to you, and from you to your family, more easily if it comes from an outside source. See someone who is familiar with the challenges of mental illness and family life.
But understand this - you cannot get people to understand who don't want to. You can't get people on your side who don't want to, or just can't, be there. This is a painful but important truth. If you feel like you have a base of support with your son, then you can start there, and try to work together to come up with a strategy of better management. Or better yet, you, a therapist, and he can come up with one together.
I know how frustrating it is to go on and on the bipolar (un)merry-go-round. If you want it to change, you have to change something. And families are really tough because we all become very entrenched in our positions and sometimes the littlest things can set us off. We have so much history, it's hard.
So pick something to change. Read a book on CBT. Read it with your son. Get family counseling. Get counseling for yourself. Go to a support group. Just try to change something. If others see you changing, they might be more willing to too.
Just a thought. Good luck.
I'm 48 and got diagnosed when I was 36. It is not easy or in any way glamorous having bipolar disorder. I have noticed that my family gets so exasperated every time I am experiencing obvious bipolar symptoms.
On the mania side, there is the spending, racing thoughts, difficulty staying organized and on track, and the forgetfulness. On the other end of the pole, there is the anxiety, depression, negative self-talk, mood swings, snapping at family members, and sometimes feelings of hopelessness.
It has been made obvious to me that my parents will never comprehend that this is a lifetime health issue I have and continue taking my meds as prescribed every day. I stopped offering information on what and how much I am taking several years ago, because family comment that "you take too much medicine - I don't see how you function every day on all of that". I am level most of the time, but when a "flare up", I guess you could call it, happens they all talk about it back and forth amongst themselves instead of commenting to me about any early warning signs of an episode building. I have asked them all for help with this and they say I don't respond well to their comments.
I think it is more the way they approach me that angers/upsets me. My daughter tells me I create too much drama and my mother thinks I can just think it away if I would "just try" hard enough. My bad episodes usually last only 3-4 days, so what I do most of the time now is just avoid family and keep to myself until I am better.
My son is very supportive and never seems judgmental or rude to me in any way. He is the oldest of my two children (28) and has actually researched bipolar disorder. I don't know if my daughter has ever read any of the information on bipolar that there is out there. She is my youngest - 25 years old. I get the feeling that she and my parents are just hoping that soon it will go away and be over forever.
I know how they feel. I have had symptoms beginning at about age 19 or 20 and got properly diagnosed when I was 33 years old. It is no fun AT ALL to be the one that has to live with bipolar up close and personal. I wonder sometimes if I am truly feeling sorry for myself or I need to find more support from outside the family? Thoughts? Thank you very much.
Hi. My name is Jaygi. I am 37 yrs old and a mother of 6, and I have ultra radian bi-polar. This is not your regular bi-polar. My cycles happen on a weekly, sometimes daily. I was finally diagnosed with it 3 years ago.
I tried to get help for my mental illness from the time I was 18. My friends (at that time) and family always called me psycho or crazy! A doctor finally took me seriously when I honestly told her that if I did not get help, I was going to violently hurt some one.
I have to go to state mental health facilities, where budget cuts are severe. Plus my doctor doesn't care. He does not care if my medicine works, he doesn't care if my anxiety, depression, aggression, any of it is out of control! I also have another problem. My body acclimates to medicine very quickly and it just stops working.
This is now June. I HAD an appointment May 18th, but the doctor had it rescheduled to June 29th. The last time I saw him was in Nov. 2009. I told him my meds, all of them except my sleeping medication, were not working any more, but my doctor told me that he was not going to change my meds or increase them. His reasoning was because I have already been on too many other meds! I told him I would not take a med that doesn't work! So he said, "Fine, whatever." Now at the end of May, my refills ran out for the sleeping med. I called the nurse like I was supposed to and the doctor won't refill it until I come in as a walk-in to see him. He is only there 2 days a week, and it is very hard for me to get there. But they did not bother to tell me this till 9 days after I called them! I have not slept more than 1-2 hours a night since May 29th! This does not help. Oh one other thing to tell you about the medication that did not work, when I stopped taking them I asked my family if they noticed a change in my moods and behavior every other day for 5 months. They told me that there is no difference since before Halloween 2009! Plus, since I stopped taking the meds that did not work, I have lost 40 lbs.!!
I suffer on a daily basis! This is not glamorous. It is not fun. It sucks. One good thing is now I am in a great relationship with a man who is very understanding. Don't get me wrong, we have had our ups and downs, but he is so very understanding. I don't have any of my old "friends" any more and I don't talk to my family (brother, sister, mom, cousins, any of them). I am okay with that because they were never supportive EVER!
My hope is that one day they will develop medications specifically for Bi-polar and maybe the side effects will be minimal! I could go on and on, but I think for now I will stop. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.