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Hi everyone! I’m Emma, a CREST.BD trainee and PhD Candidate. I’ve been collaborating with CREST.BD for almost 4 years now. Much of this time has been spent helping with understanding peoples’ experiences of the Bipolar Wellness Centre (our online portal sharing evidence-based strategies for living well with bipolar disorder) – I interviewed people who had used the Bipolar Wellness Centre about what it was like to participate, what changes they might have made to their self-management routines, and what impact this had on their quality of life.

Recently, a paper based on those interviews was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. It focused on what it was like for users of the Bipolar Wellness Centre to hear about, and possibly try, self-management strategies for bipolar disorder. By self-management, we mean the skills or strategies people use to cope with a chronic illness. This can include managing symptoms, but it is also important to look at things that help people improve their quality of life (aspects of life that are important to all people, like relationships and leisure, but also things that might be particularly important to people with bipolar disorder like identity and spirituality). The CREST.BD Bipolar Wellness Centre is designed with this broad definition of self-management in mind.

So why is it important to ask people what it’s like to be involved in a self-management intervention? Well, self-management might have both positive and negative impacts. Think of anything you do to look after your health on a daily basis – while it might be good for your health, chances are there are some days when it really frustrating and burdensome to do. It can also impact your life in unexpected ways – for example, my dietician has told me to cut out certain food groups, and that is making spending time with friends really hard because I can’t eat out! So, it’s really important to hear from people with bipolar disorder themselves about what self-management might involve, in order for healthcare providers,  peers and support persons to understand what they might be experiencing and better offer help and encouragement along the way. This knowledge also gives us the opportunity to refine the website itself.

In reviewing the interviews with people who had used the Bipolar Wellness Centre, I identified four important experiences.

One of the most common experiences people reported was finding self-management empowering. The possibility of taking control of the symptoms of bipolar disorder and making positive changes to quality of life was truly powerful and hope-inspiring. In particular, it helped people get a sense of independence – they were ‘taking back the reins’ from doctors and medication by playing an active role in self-management.

Secondly, many people described taking ownership of self-managing their bipolar disorder after participating. While doctors might be responsible for medication, participants felt the strategies described in the Bipolar Wellness Centre were their responsibility. This was often associated with that feeling of empowerment – a sense that “now I know that I can do something, I feel like I should do something”.

However, it’s important to note that not all people who used the website felt empowered by it. For some people, the strategies described didn’t seem like enough to control the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Understandably, hearing something like “be kind to yourself” when looking for practical ways to prevent depression or mania might be disappointing, or seem overly simplistic. This is really important feedback – it reminds us clinicians to check in with where people are at in terms of their recovery journey, and tailor the self-management support we offer to what people find most important at that moment in time.

Unfortunately, I heard from a lot of people that self-management, particularly strategies that might be helpful for other important areas of life like relationships, identity and self-esteem, wasn’t something that got enough – if any – attention in clinical settings. Not knowing where to get help with self-management or feeling like their treatment team was only interested in medication management left some people feeling understandably frustrated. On a positive note, a few people had really supportive relationships with their healthcare providers who talked about self-management, and they felt like a member of a team that was working together to deal with bipolar disorder.

What impacts do we hope this study will have?

Firstly, we hope that this publication will help clinicians and support persons understand how important self-management can be in bipolar disorder. In particular, our study shows that self-management that addresses a person’s quality of life (not just symptoms) is particularly empowering and hopeful. These experiences are important for recovery, so self-management should be supported wherever possible.

Secondly, we hope to draw attention to the fact that self-management (despite being an evidence-supported method of staying well with bipolar disorder) isn’t commonly spoken about in clinical practice. We hope that this study will remind healthcare workers of the positive impacts a conversation about self-management can have, and also draw their attention to other strategies that might help improve quality of life.

Finally, the experiences people had with the Bipolar Wellness Centre emphasize how important it is to have a hopeful tone – people can and do live well with bipolar disorder, and making this message front and centre of any intervention is critical. Drawing attention to how one can live well with bipolar disorder has always been one of CREST.BD’s aims, and this study reinforces how important this hopeful perspective is.

Thank you to everyone who shared their experiences with me during this research project. I have been very humbled by being granted the responsibility of communicating people’s experiences, and it is not one I take lightly. In my previous Bipolar Blog I spoke about conducting these interviews and the impact it had for me personally (as a researcher, a clinician, and in recognition of a shared human experience). I want to again emphasize that I am very grateful to have been invited to share in your stories. Thank you.

The post Taking back the reins – the experience of self-management in bipolar disorder appeared first on CREST.BD.

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In our second blog of 2018, we’re casting our eyes back to some of the highlights of the 2017 movie year for you.

Where to watch our top movies of 2017:
You can purchase these movies online, or in store if you can find them. Other options include renting them for immediate online viewing through platforms such as Google Play or Amazon Prime. One of the movies in particular (The Glass Castle) has complimentary viewing access through logging on to www.kanopystreaming.com using your public library or university membership.

How to comfortably watch a movie that touches on mental health:
What do I mean? Well as many of us know, preoccupation with mental health can be overwhelming at times. If you yourself, or a loved one struggles with mental health then be especially mindful of any bodily reactions to the film you’re watching. For example if you are feeling over-stimulated, practice some breathing exercises, or take a break and go get a snack! And just like choosing whether to watch the evening news, protect yourself. You can choose not to if it’s not a good time.

Without further ado, here is our personal list of “top mental health movies released in 2017”:

  1. Weirdos
  2. The Glass Castle
  3. The Other Half
  4. Loving Vincent
Weirdos

www.filmswelike.com/films/weirdos

Runtime: 84 minutes
Release date: March 2017
Director: Bruce McDonald
Starring: Dylan Authors, Julia Sarah Stone, Molly Parker, Allan Hawco

IMDB / Rotten Tomatoes
 
 
Canadian film alert! A.k.a. why you might not have heard of this film in the mainstream! The atmosphere this movie brings is quite different, and so is the way that the story-line takes you for an unpredictable ride. Allow me to give you just enough of the skeleton so as to not give the fun away! The film is set in 1976 in the landscape of Nova Scotia, and the main characters are two teenagers who go on an adventurous hitch-hiker’s’ trip with some that has all sorts of interesting surprises.

This film unfolds in the context of family dynamics, and the impact of self-acceptance, discovery, and bipolar disorder on relationships. Friendship is a key context as well, with Julia Stone playing one of the teenage characters who grounds us in stability. Everyone needs someone able to play that role in their life at one time or another!

The film is light in tone, while still remaining true to the realities of mental growth and health. By the time you reach the credits you can’t help but relate to feelings of unfolding self-acceptance. This film gets many important messages across, while still maintaining that attention-holding entertainment factor. Big points to this film for highlighting the fact that we are all a little weird, and when we embrace that we are connected.

Fun Fact: Daniel Maclover won best original screenplay and Actress Molly Parker (who played the character living with bipolar disorder) won Best Supporting Actress at the Canadian Screen Awards for their work on this Film! Bruce MacDonald the director is a longtime collaborator with both, which comes through in the overall synergy of the film. Furthermore, inspiration for the vessel that hitch-hiking plays in this film, came from the director’s experience of life as a youth in the 60’s. Apparently hitch-hiking was quite a casually normal thing back then.

Prevalent Mental Health Themes: teen mental health, bipolar disorder, sexual identity, biopsychology

Trailer:

WEIRDOS Trailer | New Release 2017 - YouTube
The Glass Castle

www.theglasscastle.movie

Runtime: 127 minutes
Release date: August 2017
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Starring: Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts, Sarah Snook, Max Greenfield

IMDB / Rotten Tomatoes

This one is a bit heavier. Although it loosely plays to the theme of Weirdos (above) in that the two main adult characters (mother and father to four children) strive, out of necessity, to be anything but ordinary. However what this unconventionality and freedom-seeking behavior winds up looking like is risky childcare that is far from adequate when it comes to basic needs and welfare.

On the perspective of mental health, note the varied coping mechanisms utilized by the characters – what works, what doesn’t, and from what perspective? And for those of you who have patiently waited for someone to change when they keep claiming they will, this film may provide a distanced perspective.
Or, alternatively, you begin to understand that maybe when someone really wants to change there are more complex barriers going on than meets the eye.

For movie watchers such as myself, who crave a happy ending- this movie does end on an uplifting note. There is much to reflect upon in terms of the chaos and strengths that such troublesome upbringings bring, as well as the role inter-generational effects play.

Fun Fact: This film is based on a memoir written by one of the characters portrayed in the film- Jeanette Walls. The lesson her brother wishes you take away from the story is to listen to your children- don’t let your parenting style to be stagnant to responses, instead allow for flexibility and mutual learning. There are many interviews on this movie if you’d like to hear more from the true story characters themselves.
An extra on the Blu-ray version shows how the real-life father’s poetry was put to music as part of the soundtrack.

Prevalent mental health themes: family violence, child welfare, intergenerational violence, substance abuse disorder, bipolar spectrum

Trigger Warning
: for family violence, alcoholism, molestation

Trailer:

The Glass Castle (2017) Official Trailer “Dream” – Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts - YouTube
The Other Half

facebook.com/TheOtherHalfMovie

Runtime: 103 minutes
Release date: March 2017
Director: Joey Klein
Starring: Tom Cullen, Tatiana Maslany, Diana Bentley

IMDB / Rotten Tomatoes

Another Canadian film! This one revolves around a one-on-one relationship, as opposed to the family contexts. The dark tones of this film are somewhat overwhelming, and we put “Other Half” on this list more for the comparison of accurate media portrayal styles of mental health.

The spotlight of “The Other Half” is on the highs and lows of how mental health struggles can influence romantic relationships, and how the combination can subsequently affect other contextual relationships. Emily lives with bipolar disorder, and falls in love with Nickie who has some mental health barriers of his own.

The tone of the movie becomes all too real once we realize Emily has stopped taking her medication, as a result of the passion and change in her life ignited by meeting Nickie. The movie is heavy and may seem predictable, with a solid potential to leave you with a mood hangover. At the same time, by not rushing this film to force some kind of happy ending, it does it is may be a reality that feel real for some people. Mental illness is often not interesting or exciting. It can be a struggle many face time and time again. Sometimes there is an uplifting resolution to grow from, sometimes not. In the case of “The Other Half”, the resolution is just an ending. Mental illness in this story line is treated with sensitivity and diligence, what more could you ask?

Fun Fact: Canadian actor Tatiana Maslany (who also stars in TV series “Orphan Black”) and Tom Cullen who play the two main characters Emily and Nickie, are also in a relationship in real life! There are many interviews on youtube that inquire further into how this affected their performance and process during the making of the film.

Prevalent Mental Health Themes: bipolar disorder, PTSD, co-dependent relationships, parental involvement

Trigger warning: for co-dependent relationships

Trailer:

THE OTHER HALF Trailer [HD] Mongrel Media - YouTube
Loving Vincent

www.lovingvincent.com

Runtime: 94 minutes
Release date: September 2017
Director: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
Starring: Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Robert Gulaczyk

IMDB / Rotten Tomatoes
   
 

This one takes a certain kind of appreciation, but many of our CREST.BD tribe have loved it. The way this film is made plays with your senses in a different way, being the first fully oil-painted painted film. It explores the mystery that is Vincent van Gogh through an investigative approach, and largely follows the son of a friend of Vincent, one year after his death.

The film is a fun watch, in the sense that it is tricky to maneuver. The detective perspective is true to the point that you have to be skeptical of which character’s interpretations of Vincent’s life you can believe, and at what level of value. Intrigued? Go for it! Do be aware however, that this movie is not a standard biography, and is instead more of a technically illustrated investigation. A very vibrant piece!

Did you know? There is no consensus on Vincent van Gogh’s health. His death in 1890 is generally accepted to have been a suicide. However there are a range of competing hypotheses so as to explain his suffering. Examples include; epilepsy, bipolar disorder, sunstroke, acute intermittent porphyria, lead poisoning, and Ménière’s disease.
Remember that you can’t work out a diagnosis of a person, without directly involving said person in the process

Prevalent Mental Health Themes: suicide, mental health & creativity, art therapy, psychosis, psychiatric hospital

Trailer:

Loving Vincent - Official Trailer - YouTube

I’ve watched one, or all of these movies. What now?
Talk about them! There is great power and utility to be found in further developing conversations around mental health using a common medium such as film to catalyze discussion. This can be as simple as discussing them, their good and their bad points, with the people you watched then with. Or if you’d like to engage on a global platform from the comfort of your own electronic screen then feel free to join our informal and private Facebook Group: CREST.BD’s “Bipolar Wellness Community Group”.

Another option if you live in or near Victoria B.C. is to attend a Movie Monday screening. This weekly series has featured a couple of the films in this list, and delved into deep discussion on them. Founder/programmer Bruce Saunders has also written in depth discussion-based reviews for other movies touching on mental health illness in past Bipolar Blog posts, which may be found here, and here if you would like to view them.





The post CREST.BD: Top 4 Mental Health Movies Released in 2017 appeared first on CREST.BD.

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Where to watch our top movies of 2017:
You can purchase these movies online, or in store if you can find them. Other options include renting them for immediate online viewing through platforms such as Google Play or Amazon Prime. One of the movies in particular (The Glass Castle) has complimentary viewing access through logging on to www.kanopystreaming.com using your public library or university membership.

How to comfortably watch a movie that touches on mental health:
What do I mean? Well as many of us know, preoccupation with mental health can be overwhelming at times. If you yourself, or a loved one struggles with mental health then be especially mindful of any bodily reactions to the film you’re watching. For example if you are feeling over-stimulated, practice some breathing exercises, or take a break and go get a snack! Many films put our body into a stress response, and a stress response from mental illness topics can be especially triggering.
And just like choosing whether to watch the evening news, protect yourself. You can choose not to if it’s not a good time.

Without further ado, here is our list of “top mental health movies released in 2017”:

  1. Weirdos
  2. The Glass Castle
  3. The Other Half
  4. Loving Vincent
Weirdos

www.filmswelike.com/films/weirdos

Runtime: 84 minutes
Release date: March 2017
Director: Bruce McDonald
Starring: Dylan Authors, Julia Sarah Stone, Molly Parker, Allan Hawco

IMDB / Rotten Tomatoes
 
 
Canadian film alert! A.k.a. why you might not have heard of this film in the mainstream! The atmosphere this movie brings is quite different, and so is the way that the story-line takes you for an unpredictable ride. Allow me to give you just enough of the skeleton so as to not give the fun away! The film is set in 1976 in the landscape of Nova Scotia, and the main characters are two teenagers who go on an adventurous hitch-hiker’s trip that has all sorts of interesting surprises.

This film unfolds in the context of family dynamics, and the impact of self-acceptance, discovery, and bipolar disorder on relationships. Friendship is a key context as well, with Julia Stone playing one of the teenage characters who grounds us in stability. Everyone needs someone able to play that role in their life at one time or another!

The film is on a light note, while still remaining true to the realities of mental growth and health. By the time you reach the credits you can’t help but relate to feelings of unfolding self-acceptance. This film gets many important messages across, while still maintaining that attention-holding entertainment factor. Big points to this film for highlighting the fact that we are all a little weird, and when we embrace that we are connected.

Fun Fact: Daniel Maclover won best original screenplay and Actress Molly Parker (who played the character living with Bipolar Disorder) won Best Supporting Actress at the Canadian Screen Awards for their work on this Film! Bruce MacDonald the director is a longtime collaborator with both, which really comes through in the overall synergy of the film. Furthermore, inspiration for the vessel that hitch-hiking plays in this film, came from the director’s experience of life as a youth in the 60’s. Apparently hitch-hiking was quite a casually normal thing back then.

Prevalent Mental Health Themes: teen mental health, bipolar disorder, sexual identity, biopsychology

Trailer:

WEIRDOS Trailer | New Release 2017 - YouTube
The Glass Castle

www.theglasscastle.movie

Runtime: 127 minutes
Release date: August 2017
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Starring: Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts, Sarah Snook, Max Greenfield

IMDB / Rotten Tomatoes

This one is a bit heavier. Although it loosely plays to the theme of Weirdos (above) in that the two main adult characters (mother and father to four children) strive, out of necessity, to be anything but ordinary. However what this unconventionality and freedom-seeking behavior winds up looking like is risky childcare that is far from adequate when it comes to basic needs and welfare. Yet on a level of mental care, both parents and particularly the father, attempt teach the kids all sorts of lessons in all sorts of ways that the average person wouldn’t imagine, many of which were far too confusing and complexly expressed for even an adult mind..

On the perspective of mental health, note the varied coping mechanisms utilized by the characters – what works, what doesn’t, and from what perspective? And for those of you who have patiently waited for someone to change when they keep claiming they will, this film may provide a distanced perspective.
Or perhaps considering the other side, you begin to understand that maybe when someone really wants to change there are more complex barriers going on than meets the eye.

For movie watchers such as myself, who crave a happy ending- this movie does end on an uplifting note. There is much to reflect upon in terms of the chaos and strengths that such troublesome upbringings bring, as well as the role inter-generational effects play.

Fun Fact: This film is based on a memoir written by one of the characters portrayed in the film- Jeanette Walls. The lesson her brother wishes you take away from the story is to listen to your children- don’t your parenting style to be stagnant to responses, instead allow for flexibility and dual flow of learning. There are many interviews on this movie if you’d like to hear more from the true story characters themselves.
An extra on the Blu-ray version shows how the real-life father’s poetry was put to music as part of the soundtrack.

Prevalent mental health themes: family violence, child welfare, intergenerational violence, substance abuse disorder, bipolar spectrum

Trigger Warning
: for family violence, alcoholism, molestation

Trailer:

The Glass Castle (2017) Official Trailer “Dream” – Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts - YouTube
The Other Half

facebook.com/TheOtherHalfMovie

Runtime: 103 minutes
Release date: March 2017
Director: Joey Klein
Starring: Tom Cullen, Tatiana Maslany, Diana Bentley

IMDB / Rotten Tomatoes

Another Canadian film! This one more so revolves around a one-on-one relationship, as opposed to the familial trend we have seen with the last two mentioned. The dark tones of this film are somewhat whelming, and we put “Other Half” on this list more for the comparison of accurate media portrayal styles of mental health.

The spotlight of “The Other Half” is on the highs and lows of how mental health struggles can influence romantic relationships, and how the combination can subsequently affect other contextual relationships. Emily lives with bipolar disorder, and falls in love with Nickie who has some mental health barriers of his own.

The tone of the movie becomes all too real once we realize Emily has stopped taking her medication, as a result of the passion and change in her life ignited by meeting Nickie. The movie is heavy and may seem predictable, with a solid potential to leave you with a mood hangover. At the same time, by not rushing this film to force some kind of happy ending, this film paints an unapologetically realistic picture. Mental illness is often not interesting or exciting. It can be a struggle many face time and time again. Sometimes there is an uplifting resolution to grow from, sometimes not. In the case of “The Other Half”, the resolution is just an ending. Mental illness in this story line is treated with sensitivity and diligence, what more could you ask?

Fun Fact: Canadian actor Tatiana Maslany (who also stars in TV series “Orphan Black”) and Tom Cullen who play the two main characters Emily and Nickie, are also in a relationship in real life! There are many interviews on youtube that inquire further into how this affected their performance and process during the making of the film.

Prevalent Mental Health Themes: bipolar disorder, PTSD, co-dependent relationships, parental involvement

Trigger warning: for co-dependent relationships

Trailer:

THE OTHER HALF Trailer [HD] Mongrel Media - YouTube
Loving Vincent

www.lovingvincent.com

Runtime: 94 minutes
Release date: September 2017
Director: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
Starring: Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Robert Gulaczyk

IMDB / Rotten Tomatoes
   
 

This one takes a certain kind of appreciation, but if you’re intrigued at all to begin with, then you are likely to have a shade of the necessary appreciation. Go for it! The way this film is made plays with your senses in a different way, being the first fully oil-painted painted film. It explores the mystery that is Vincent van Gogh through an investigative approach, and largely follows the son of a friend of Vincent, one year after his death.

The film is a fun watch, in the sense that it is tricky to maneuver. The detective perspective is true to the point that you have to be skeptical of which character’s interpretations of Vincent’s life you can believe, and at what level of value. Intrigued? Once again, go for it! Do be aware however, that this movie is not a standard biography, and is instead more of a technically illustrated investigation. A very vibrant piece!

Fun Fact: There is no consensus on Vincent van Gogh’s health. His death in 1890 is generally accepted to have been a suicide. However there are a range of competing hypotheses so as to explain his suffering. Examples include; epilepsy, bipolar disorder, sunstroke, acute intermittent porphyria, lead poisoning, and Ménière’s disease.
Remember that you can’t work out a diagnosis of a person, without directly involving said person in the process

Prevalent Mental Health Themes: suicide, mental health & creativity, art therapy, psychosis, psychiatric hospital

Trailer:

Loving Vincent - Official Trailer - YouTube

I’ve watched one, or all of these movies. What now?
Talk about it! There is great power and utility to be found in further developing conversations around mental health using a common medium such as film to catalyze discussion. This can be as simple as discussing with the person/s who watched it with you. Or if you would like to engage on a global platform from the comfort of your own electronic screen then feel free to join our informal and private Facebook Group: CREST.BD’s “Bipolar Wellness Community Group”. Here you may strike up a conversation about one of these films! At least one of the members has watched all of them.

Another option if you live in or near Victoria B.C. is to attend a Movie Monday screening. This weekly series has featured a couple of the films in this list, and delved into deep discussion on them. Founder/programmer Bruce Saunders has also written in depth discussion-based reviews for other movies touching on mental illness in past Bipolar Blog posts, which may be found here, and here if you would like to view them.





The post CREST.BD: Top 4 Mental Health Movies Released in 2017 appeared first on CREST.BD.

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A few weeks ago, I was faced with a personal crisis. Given its confidential nature, I do not feel comfortable in publicly sharing the specific details of the problem that unfortunately threatened my peace of mind. However, now that the dust has somewhat settled, I feel sufficiently at ease with the current situation to briefly describe the steps I took in my attempt to expediently resolve this problem.

Even though I am currently living well with my bipolar disorder, I have a tendency to easily become stressed even a little panicky when confronted with circumstances, which at first glance appear beyond my control if not unbearable.

First of all, I reread the unexpected and disturbing email that I had just received to make sure that I clearly understood it. Secondly once I had fully grasped the nature of its contents, I took a few deep breaths and immediately shared it with my spouse who was as surprised as I was when she read it.

Once I had a chance to regain my calm, I decided to quickly contact my lawyer for his advice. This proved to be an extremely positive move since he advised me on how to appropriately respond to the email I had just received.
After emailing my response to the author of the email mentioned earlier, my wife and I felt greatly relieved. Even though I am aware that this may not prove to be the end of an apparently non-ending saga, I am convinced that eventually justice will prevail.
What have I learned from this experience? First of all, controlling my breathing proved to be vital to swiftly regain my composure. Secondly, immediately seeking the support of my wife, my primary confident, permitted me to talk things through rationally and obtain the emotional support I required to take the next steps. Thirdly, contacting my lawyer whose advice proved crucial and reassuring gave me the courage to prepare a reasonable response to the dilemma I was faced currently with.

In conclusion,  I have once again learned the undeniable value of doing one’s best to remain calm when faced with particularly stressful situations and to never hesitate to reach out to loved ones, friends and suitable professionals for support, advice and guidance. Our own mental well-being and peace of mind are definitely worth protecting and nurturing at all costs.

This blog is also available in French: Quoi faire? Quoi faire?

About the author: Raymond Tremblay

Raymond Tremblay as Santa Claus with students from Carleton University.

Raymond lives well with bipolar disorder, and is a member of the Métis Nation of Ontario. He is also a prolific writer, having self-published seventeen collections of poetry, largely on issues of homelessness. Raymond has a strong affinity to social welfare issues. He has had a fruitful career with both municipal and provincial organizations, including the Ontario Ministry of Health, based in Kingston Psychiatric Hospital, where he served for 20 years as, first, Director of Social Work Services, and later, as Coordinator of Community Development.

(Credit: Paul Galipeau)

Featured blog posts by Raymond Tremblay:

In Search of a New Family Physician?

Bipolar Disorder: My Creativity’s Muse

Facing the Unexpected with the Support of Others

And What If?


Learn more about his latest book “Celebrating the True Spirit of Christmas“:

The post What to do? What to do? appeared first on CREST.BD.

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Quelques semaines passées, j’ai dû affronter une crise personnelle assez bouleversante. Compte tenu de sa nature confidentielle, je ne me sens pas à l’aise d’en révéler les détails qui malheureusement menaçaient ma tranquillité d’esprit. Par contre, maintenant que les choses se sont un peu calmées, je me sens suffisamment confortable pour vous partager brièvement les quelques démarches que j’ai prises afin de résoudre mon défi le plus rapidement et efficacement que possible.

Même si présentement je vis bien avec mon trouble bipolaire, quand je suis confronté avec des circonstances, qui à prime abord m’apparaissent au delà de mon contrôle si non insupportable, j’ai tendance de devenir stressé.

Premièrement, j’ai attentivement relu le courriel inattendu et dérangeant (inquiétant) que je venais de recevoir afin de m’assurer que je comprenais parfaitement son contenu. Deuxièmement, une fois que j’avais saisi l’essence de son message, j’ai vite pris quelques profondes respirations pour retrouver mon calme et j’ai immédiatement partagé le courriel avec mon épouse qui fut aussi surprise que moi après l’avoir lu.

Une fois que j’ai suffisamment retrouvé ma sérénité, j’ai aussitôt pris contact avec mon avocat afin de lui demander conseil. Dieu merci, il m’avisa comment répondre de façon appropriée au courriel que je venais de recevoir. Une fois que j’ai fait parvenir ma réponse par courriel à la personne désignée, je me suis senti extrêmement soulagé. Même si je sais que peut-être mon geste ne règlera pas ma situation de façon permanente, je suis convaincu qu’éventuellement la justice préviendra.

Qu’ai-je appris de cette expérience? Évidemment, prendre de profondes respirations m’a beaucoup aidé à retrouver mon calme le plutôt possible. Me confier à ma confidente primaire, mon épouse, m’a permis de trouver l’appui émotionnelle dont j’avais grandement besoin afin de prendre les démarches nécessaires pour résoudre le problème que j’envisageais. L’aide reçue de mon avocat fut indispensable et me donna le courage requis afin que je puisse préparer une bonne réponse au dilemme auquel je faisais face.

Bref, j’ai encore une fois appris la valeur indéniable de faire de son mieux pour maintenir ou retrouver son calme devant des situations particulièrement stressantes et de ne jamais hésiter à demander de l’aide et des  conseils de bien-aimés, d’amis et de professionnels si nécessaire. Notre bien-être et notre tranquillité d’esprit méritent d’être protégés et soutenus à tout  prix.

This blog is also available in English: What to Do? What to Do?

About the author: Raymond Tremblay

Raymond Tremblay as Santa Claus with students from Carleton University.

Raymond lives well with bipolar disorder, and is a member of the Métis Nation of Ontario. He is also a prolific writer, having self-published seventeen collections of poetry, largely on issues of homelessness. Raymond has a strong affinity to social welfare issues. He has had a fruitful career with both municipal and provincial organizations, including the Ontario Ministry of Health, based in Kingston Psychiatric Hospital, where he served for 20 years as, first, Director of Social Work Services, and later, as Coordinator of Community Development.

(Credit: Paul Galipeau)

Featured blog posts by Raymond Tremblay:

À LA RECHERCHE D’UN NOUVEAU MÉDECIN DE FAMILLE?

Bipolar Disorder: My Creativity’s Muse

Affronter les Imprévus avec l’Appui des Autres

And What If? (Et Si Jamais?)


Learn more about his latest book “Celebrating the True Spirit of Christmas“:

The post Quoi faire? Quoi faire? appeared first on CREST.BD.

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This list has been compiled by the CREST.BD team based on user reviews, scientific literature (e.g., recent World Psychiatry meta-analysis), trusted personal contacts, and recommendations made by other sites (e.g., Healthline).

The apps on this list are free to download, but please be mindful of potential in-app purchases and add-ons.

Here are five of our favorite anxiety management apps:

  1. Headspace
  2. Mindshift
  3. Self-help for Anxiety Management (SAM)
  4. SuperBetter
  5. IntelliCare Hub
Headspace: Meditation

www.headspace.com

Headspace is arguably the most widely used and reviewed app in this list. This app expects the user to be new to meditation and aims to make the activity easy and accessible by guiding them through simple daily exercises.

Launched in 2010, Headspace was developed by former Tibetan Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe and creative developer Rich Pierson. According to Headspace, over 6 million users in more than 190 countries have downloaded the app.

Headspace allows users to focus on specific life areas that are important, and organizes them into “packs” such as relationships, happiness, work and performance, sport, sleep, and many more.

Through a series of guided “training” sessions and animations, the app aims to equip users with mindfulness techniques that can also act as mental health self-management strategies. Visit www.Headspace.com to learn more, or download the app available for iOS and Android:

  

Mindshift

www.anxietybc.com/resources/mindshift-app

Launched in 2012 through a collaboration between AnxietyBC and BC Children’s Hospital, MindShift is designed to help teens and young adults take charge of anxiety. As the name of the app suggests, the makers aim to help users “shift” how they think about anxiety by encouraging them to take small steps to confront anxiety instead of avoiding it.

Mindshift includes strategies to deal with everyday anxiety, as well as specific tools to tackle common themes related to anxiety such as perfectionism, social anxiety, performance anxiety, panic, and more.

Read an informative review discussing the pros and cons of the app by PsyberGuide, or download the app available for iOS and Android:

  

Self-help for Anxiety Management (SAM)

www.sam-app.org.uk

SAM guides users through numerous research and evidence-informed self-management strategies for anxiety. Put together by a team of psychologists, computer scientists, and student users from the University of the West of England, Bristol, the app has been downloaded by over 500,000 users from over 100 countries since its launch in July 2013.

SAM Anxiety App - YouTube

The app primarily targets users coping with common symptoms associated with mild to moderate anxiety, and allows them to track anxiety levels and visualize these levels through an anxiety profile. SAM also guides and trains users to apply self-management strategies through a collection of mini-games.

SAM also includes a unique feature that allows users to share their experiences and advice through an anonymous “social cloud” community.  This app was featured in Healthline’s Best Anxiety Apps of 2017.

Download the app for iOS and Android:

  

SuperBetter

www.SuperBetter.com

SuperBetter makes taking care of your mental health into a super-hero themed online game, and encourages the user to work towards overcoming anxiety and depression through a series of fun challenges. Award-winning game designer Jane McGonigal came up with the idea of SuperBetter while battling depression and anxiety after a concussion.

New challenges and coping strategies are unlocked as the player levels up, and players can selectively engage in quests based on what is most important to them. In addition to the mobile app, there is also a web version of SuperBetter optimized for desktop browsers.

study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania that found that playing SuperBetter for 30 days “significantly reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety”, and a meta-analysis recently published by World Psychiatry showed that SuperBetter had the largest effect among the 22 mental health apps evaluated.

Download the app for iOS and Android:

  

IntelliCare Hub

intellicare.cbits.northwestern.edu

IntelliCare is a suite of mini-apps that work together to target symptoms of depression and anxiety. The full suite includes the Intellicare Hub app, which contains the 12 mini-apps. The Hub helps users manage their favorite apps, and suggests others based on their personal focus and progress.

The 12 mini-apps in IntelliCare Hub:

Among these mini-apps are Slumber Time – sleep management and monitoring, Social Force – positive social contact, Purple Chill – calming strategies and meditation, and Worry Knot – worry management techniques.

The app was developed by researchers in Northwestern University and their team reported that participants who completed their research study reported a 50 percent decrease in the severity of depressive and anxiety symptoms.

IntelliCare Hub and the 12 mini-apps are available for free on Android and can be downloaded here:

If you would like to recommend an app or online tool, feel free to make your suggestion in the comments box below.

The post CREST.BD: Top 5 Anxiety Apps of 2017 appeared first on CREST.BD.

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Myths, misconceptions and misunderstandings go hand-in-hand with all forms of mental illness; bipolar disorder is no exception to this. One stubborn misconception is that bipolar disorder, a mood disorder characterized by extreme shifts in mood, energy and activity levels, can be effectively treated solely with medications. This isn’t to say that pharmacological interventions aren’t critical; for many people, they represent the bedrock of treatment. They save lives. The importance of pharmacological approaches in treating bipolar disorder is also prioritized by people with the condition themselves. However, just medication management is not usually sufficient for people with this complex condition to flourish, recover and experience full health and quality of life.

As with all chronic health conditions, self-care or ‘self-management’ strategies play a crucial role. At a basic level, self-management in bipolar disorder refers to the routine activities the person undertakes to maintain wellness and stability. While the person with bipolar disorder is in the driver’s seat when it comes to enacting self-management behaviors, it’s often most effective if their friends, family and healthcare providers are also passengers on the journey, like a support crew. Ideally though, they’re in the back seat, enhancing the driver’s autonomy, empowerment and independence.

Research illustrates that most bipolar disorder self-management strategies are akin to the healthy lifestyle behaviors many of us aspire to, regardless of whether we live with a mental health condition or not: balanced diet, regular exercise, sound sleep, and so on. It’s not so much that the nature of the activities is different for people with bipolar disorder. Instead, it’s the cost of not doing them that differs. Take sleep as an example. Most people can manage with a few days disrupted sleep. People with bipolar disorder, however, can be exquisitely sensitive to disruptions in sleep routine – the cost of not prioritizing regular sleep can be high (for example, increased risk of an episode of mania). This represents a mundane reality for many people with bipolar disorder. Going to bed and waking at regular times, avoiding late night stimulation, planning carefully for time zone changes when travelling, monitoring diet, caffeine and alcohol intake so as not to disrupt sleep are often tiresome, but necessary, activities.

Research also demonstrates, however, that effective self-management in bipolar disorder, for many people, goes well beyond just attention to healthy lifestyle behaviors. In a recent study we used community-based research methods to ask people with bipolar disorder and expert treatment providers to assess the importance of diverse self-management strategies for their effectiveness in ‘maintaining balance in mood’ and ‘stopping progression into hypomania or mania’. As expected, core approaches included strategies such as medical management, calming activities, physical activity, planning ahead, intervening early and decreasing use of stimulants. A new finding, however, was that study participants’ also described “maintaining hope” as an important aspect of self-management. This finding invites us to collectively challenge perhaps the most important myth about bipolar disorder of all: that there is little hope for recovery.

Interested in learning more about the self-care strategies we found effective for living well with bipolar disorder? In addition to reading our publications (links provided above) you can view the self—management strategies we found to be most effective via these interactive visualizations produced by CREST.BD deputy director Dr. Steven Barnes:

Maintaining Balance in Mood: http://www.stevenjbarnes.com/sketches/maintainingBalanceV1/

Stopping Progression into Hypomania and Mania: http://www.stevenjbarnes.com/sketches/stoppingProgressionV7/

The post Self-care and Bipolar Disorder: Putting Yourself in the Driver’s Seat appeared first on CREST.BD.

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This is part 2 of a two-part blog series for:
“Are you a clinician working with people affected by bipolar disorder?”
Click here for part 1.

Part of what we’re here to do at CREST.BD is to help healthcare providers to help their patients access evidence-informed resources and treatments. We have produced tools to empower people with bipolar disorder, and their healthcare providers, to assess quality of life in daily life and routine clinical practice.

In this blog we introduce two CREST.BD tools that can support the work you do with your clients with bipolar disorder: the Quality of Life Tool (QoL Tool), and the Bipolar Wellness Centre.

QoL Tool

www.bdqol.com

The QoL Tool is the first condition-specific measure of qualify of life in bipolar disorder; one application of the Tool is as an instrument to help healthcare providers and their clients collaboratively focus on goals for treatment. The online scale gives scores based on the client’s self-reported satisfaction with their quality of life in 14 life areas, including domains such as mood, sleep, independence, self-esteem, money, and work.

The QoL Tool can be useful to enhancing therapy as a case formulation tool. It allows clinicians to set treatment goals based on their patient’s subjective satisfaction with different quality of life areas. By focusing on positive QoL outcomes, an agenda for treatment and self-care can be set which empowers patients to manage and optimize their health and quality of life.

Watch a short video designed for clinicians discussing the use the QoL Tool in therapy:

CREST.BD's Quality of Life Tool: Video for Healthcare Providers - YouTube

Feedback from healthcare providers and patients tells us that, by focusing on domains of life that are important for those with bipolar disorder, we can improve self-efficacy and patient engagement with treatment, thereby coming closer to our goal of helping people with bipolar disorder to achieve optimal health and QoL.

Watch the QoL Tool in action in a clinical session here:

CREST.BD Quality of Life (QoL) Tool - Video 1 - YouTube
CREST.BD Quality of Life (QoL) Tool - Video 2 - YouTube

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or feedback about the QoL Tool.

To learn more about the QoL Tool, please read our healthcare clinician letter.

Bipolar Wellness Centre

www.bdwellness.com

The Bipolar Wellness Centre is designed to augment the work that a patient would do with their clinician, and encourages the person with bipolar disorder to take as much agency and active responsibility around their condition as possible. The site acts as a resource for people with bipolar disorder to self-manage their condition and ultimately improve their quality of life.

Watch our introductory video for healthcare providers here:

CREST.BD's Bipolar Wellness Centre: Video for Healthcare Providers - YouTube

The Bipolar Wellness Centre is structured around the same 14 quality of life areas assessed by the QoL Tool. For each of these life areas information is provided (through both text and audio options) on: 1) Research-informed content that speaks on how to take specific actions to enhance self-management in each life area, and 2) Links to carefully selected online tools such as apps, blogs, articles, and videos.

To learn more about the Bipolar Wellness Centre, please visit our page for healthcare providers here: bdwellness.com/HealthcareProviders

To stay updated on the upcoming CREST.BD tools and resources, follow us @CREST_BD, or LIKE us on Facebook: facebook.com/crestbd

The post Are you a clinician working with people affected by bipolar disorder? (Part 2) appeared first on CREST.BD.

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Part of what we’re here to do at CREST.BD is to help healthcare providers to help their patients access evidence-informed resources and treatments. This month, we’re excited to announce that the much anticipated ORBIT project has launched and we’re now inviting people from around the world who experience bipolar disorder to participate!

So if you’re a clinician working with people with bipolar disorder, what do you need to know about the ORBIT project?

Here’s Prof. Greg Murray’s rationale:

Introduction to ORBIT: Clinician Video - YouTube

The ORBIT project is a randomized controlled trial comparing two brief, online self-management interventions aimed at improving quality of life for people who have experienced 10 or more episodes of bipolar disorder.

These self-management interventions are designed to augment the clinical care you are currently providing for your clients. Some of the key features of the two ORBIT interventions include:

  • 5 weeks active phase, with email support by an online coach
  • Designed to improve quality of life
  • Videos, interactive exercises, charts, interactive forums
  • Participants are paid for assessments
  • Augments (does not replace) usual clinical care
  • The website does not provide emergency assistance or clinical support –  management remains with the individual and their local treating team

The project is funded by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council, and emerges from an international collaboration of researchers, clinicians and consumers. ORBIT is based at Swinburne University in Australia, but involves collaborations with Australian National University, University of British Columbia, University of California, and University of Newcastle.

Inclusion and exclusion criteria include:

  • Diagnosis of bipolar disorder
  • Self-report of 10 or more lifetime episodes
  • Ready access to the internet
  • Under the care of a nominated medical practitioner
  • Not in an episode, actively suicidal or showing psychotic symptoms at baseline
  • Participants can be withdrawn from the study if their involvement might compromise care

Watch this video to learn more about ORBIT’s online self-management inventions:

About the ORBIT Research Program - YouTube

To stay updated on all things ORBIT, follow us @CREST_BD, or LIKE us on Facebook: facebook.com/crestbd

For more information about the project please visit:

www.orbitonline.org This is part 1 of a two-part blog series for:
“Are you a clinician working with people affected by bipolar disorder?” Watch out for part 2 of this series on November 29, 2017!

The post Are you a clinician working with people affected by bipolar disorder? appeared first on CREST.BD.

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Let’s talk Psychosis, Cognition and Bipolar Disorder.

Ok, first the basics: what is psychosis exactly? It can be a symptom of a mental health condition (e.g., Bipolar disorder), or an entire disorder of its own (e.g., a ‘primary’ psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia). To further complicate things, psychosis can also be induced when things like sleep deprivation, alcohol abuse, or even brain infections and strokes come into the picture. [1]

Now that we understand where it can originate, what can psychosis look like? Psychosis affects the mind in ways that may disrupt  the five senses (e.g., hearing) as well as thoughts and emotions. During psychosis there is some loss of contact with reality—it can be difficult to tell what is real and what is not. There is great variety in this experience. Some people experience hallucinations, meaning they see or hear something others do not, or delusions which involve  holding false beliefs (most common, feelings of paranoia). In the case of Bipolar disorder, delusions are the more commonly experienced symptom of psychosis. Have you had a manic episode? Maybe you can relate to  an experience called  ‘delusions of grandeur’ where there is a false belief of being  “rich and famous” or being chosen for a special purpose. Or maybe in a state of depression you’ve believed that you did something terrible, which is completely fictitious, like have been the reason Trump was elected.

Another  common symptom of psychosis  might include streamlined speech that  is not comprehensible to others, or behavior that is unintentionally and wildly inappropriate for the situation.

Some people who experience an episode of psychosis, and get treatment early on, never experience another episode. Others learn to manage it and to make their way through life, psychosis included.

So that’s our focus—symptom management.

Of course, not everyone responds to treatments in the same way.  Some people who experience psychosis need only medication, while some need medication and therapy. If you have Bipolar disorder, you are familiar with this reality. So for those of you who experience , or have loved ones who experience, symptoms of psychosis that do not 100% respond to medication, THERE ARE OPTIONS. In fact, there is help available-from a friend!

He (Dr. Mahesh Menon) has something exciting to share about this field of effort:

“My colleagues and I have developed a psychotherapeutic approach specifically designed to target persistent delusions that we call Metacognitive* Training (MCT). MCT is group-based intervention that targets a number of the specific thinking patterns that underlie delusions, such as paranoia. It has been shown to be effective in reducing delusional severity in individuals with schizophrenia. “

If you aren’t pumped yet,  maybe it will help to understand that almost all studies focused on MCT or other psychotherapy specific to psychosis have been focused on people with a schizophrenia spectrum diagnosis. But other people experience psychosis—some of you out there with Bipolar disorder and delusions during your mood episodes for example! So there is good reason to take a look at how people with Bipolar disorder-psychosis respond to a psychotherapy such as MCT.

But wait, there is more! Many people who experience psychosis also find that they struggle with aspects of cognition such as memory, attention, or planning. For these difficulties, there is a specialised treatment known as Cognitive Remediation Training (CRT). This training involves the use of  ‘brain games’ and strategies for daily life to improve in these areas of cognition.

Cognitive struggles can appear during an experience of psychosis, during a psychosis-free mood episode, or can continue to persist even when you are not experiencing symptoms.[3] We all have something to work on in relation to cognition, whether we have Bipolar disorder or not. If you notice that your challenges are impairing your ability to do what you have to, or want to do, we do recommend you seek out resources (like CRT if it is a good fit for you) to discover how to best address your cognitive barriers.

For more information on the Bipolar & Cognition relationship, or how to take independent action to address our cognition, check out the dedicated page on our Bipolar Wellness Centre!

Lastly, but arguably most importantly, the Cognitive Neuroscience of Schizophrenia (CNOS) Lab is currently running a study on Bipolar disorder, Psychosis, & Cognition – and would LOVE your help if you feel this is relevant to you. So if you think you have experienced psychosis in the context of Bipolar disorder (currently, or within the last 6 months), and are interested in engaging in Metacognitive Training OR Cognitive Remediation Training, please refer to our brochure below and do let us know!

You can do this most efficiently by emailing Julia at cnos.lab@ubc.ca 

Parting Note: We hope you feel more supported now, with another option in your pocket. As always we thank you for your partnership in our interdependent approach to improving the Quality of Life of those living with Bipolar disorder today and tomorrow! We 100% could not do it without you.

*Metacognition can be explained as “thinking about one’s own thinking” and involves the ability to select appropriate responses. It also includes the way we look at and consider information, and how we deal with cognitive limitations”[4]

[1] “RAISE Questions and Answers.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/raise/raise-questions-and-answers.shtml#1.

[2] Fletcher, Jenna. “Bipolar Psychosis: Symptoms, Treatment, and Outlook.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314450.php.

[3] http://www.bdwellness.com/Quality-of-Life-Areas/Cognition

[4]University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf.  https://clinical-neuropsychology.de/metacognitive_training-psychosis.html

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