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I was going to write down what I meant by BipolarBrave, but I’ve come to a place where I’m questioning that. I was going to say it’s brave to talk about it, and brave to have gone through bipolar disorder episodes. That’s the initial thoughts I’ve had. And then there’s the alternate to consider. And I went there.

I’m certain that “perfect love casts out fear.” But I’m also certain that I feel like this fear is encroaching upon me again. The thought of being symptom-free and thriving with bipolar disorder is a reality to me now, and it’s clear as the day is long. But then when day turns to night, what will I say then? Symptoms may return and ravage my mind. So how can I call this brave?

I don’t consider it all that brave to talk about bipolar disorder. I take blogging and talking about this for granted. However, I can describe my particular relationship to bipolar disorder as characteristic of that poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, There Was a Little Girl:

There was a little girl,
            Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
            When she was good,
            She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

How horrid this severe brain-based disorder can be. I seem to have forgotten that I’m no better than the next bipolar person. What a lie I’m living if I can’t identify with others. I’m not ashamed that I have found the right dosage of medication and have God to thank for it, but I am ashamed that I have been believing for a while now that I am “healed” and practically cured of it, all because I don’t have symptoms or side effects.

Who am I kidding? I can’t overcome this. I’ve been thinking I’m so “brave” to have a blog that revolves around my so-called life with bipolar disorder. But if I am bipolar, one day the symptoms will return. I pray that I can function that day, and gather the courage to reckon with all the symptoms I had at one time laughed in the face of. Where will I go when paranoia strikes? What will I do if I’m overcome with mania…or worse yet, psychosis?

I’m not better than bipolar.

I’m simply going to have to be braver. 

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Today my interview on Revealing Voices Podcast goes live:

Here on episode 4, we welcome Katie R. Dale. Katie shares her unique blend of passion for recovery and humor over episodes in her past. She reveals joys and frustrations, and still comes to affirm the value of both faith and mental healthcare.
Katie addresses such questions as:
Who were your early faith inspirations?
What experiences do you have in psychiatric hospitals?
What is your view of pregnancy and mental health?
Why did you entitle your blog Bipolar Brave?
Katie currently serves as a caseworker at a behavioral non-profit to assist and facilitate change and growth in those with mental illness. As a former behavioral inpatient and proud bipolar, she has a unique first-hand perspective on the mental healthcare system and the symptoms of mental illness.

Click here for the interview!

As a continuation of the answer to “What does healing mean to you?” I added the following thoughts:

Healing is definitely the hand of God on my mind – I consider that I’m healed as it pertains to the elimination of symptoms and side effects. I take medication daily and believe that’s the course God has set me on for a personal healing of bipolar disorder. I don’t have the symptoms – praise God. However, I want to be clear that I recognize I’ll always have bipolar disorder this side of heaven, tempered and treated by medication. I don’t think I’m healed, as in, cured. That is a different thing altogether. To be cured would be like a deliverance of it, but that’s not possible. People aren’t usually cured miraculously of most disorders or illnesses. That’s just not a typical healing. But God has graciously given me the exact dosage of medication I need to function and thrive in life, and for that I know He sustains me, upholds me, and maintains my sound mind. To me, that is healing.

I’d encourage you to take some time to listen to the podcast. Tony and Eric are fantastic interviewers and it was truly a delight to be their guest on the show. Thank you Tony and Eric!

Have a brave and beautiful day!

Katie R. Dale

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Wanted to share my guest post on Pastor Brad Hoef’s blog.

Pastor Brad Hoefs

by Katie Dale

One Sunday when I was 16, I wore a hat to church, resolute in my misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 11:6: “For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.”

Bipolar disorder had ravaged my young mind, and I clutched at another misinterpretation of Scripture: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). In the middle of the 500-person service I cried out during the pastor’s prayer: “Father, forgive me. I’m sorry.”

My parents held me tightly, quite embarrassed in the moment and apprehensive, not knowing what I’d say or do next. I remember speaking to the pastor afterward. Maybe I had asked my parents if I could apologize to him…

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Check it out! I was published on Psycom.net recently and the name is of my article is

What I Wish I Knew Before Admitting Myself to a Psychiatric Ward
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Talk Bipolar To Me – Part 3: Engaging Those With Mental Illness

Someone’s Cornbread Ain’t Done In The Middle

I get a chuckle out of this meme:

I guess there’s a difference between someone’s cornbread being half-baked and it being over-baked. Over-baked is what I’d equate to having psychosis.

If you’re having a tough time with someone in that state – whether bipolar with psychotic features or schizophrenic, here are some tips to engage with them.

Rare as the occasion might be, if you find you are around someone in psychosis, you will typically find them with a varying array of symptoms. The most common symptoms of psychosis manifest as delusional thinking (thoughts of grandeur), auditory or visual hallucinations (voices, shadows, or seeing things that aren’t there), and paranoia (someone or the government is out to get me). These are often accompanied by varying signs of lack of motivation, apathy, reduced communication, social withdrawal, and/or the inability to experience pleasure.

Depending on how well you know the person, you may be well aware of their struggle in this state of mind, or it may be something you’ve never understood. I want to help you better understand what they may be dealing with from the perspective of someone who has experienced bipolar with psychotic features.

When psychotic breaks happen, this can be damaging to the brain, and ultimately there should be professional medical intervention. The quicker you pick up on their symptoms and address them properly, the sooner they can be alleviated, and that will make a difference in their mental health and wellbeing.

The following tips are general guidelines to observe when interacting with someone in a psychotic state of mind.

Talking To A Person In Psychosis

Honestly, this was my last post in this 3-part series because it’s probably the hardest to address. I have been in manic psychosis and remember what it felt like, and why I believed what I believed. That said, these tips are based on my own personal experience, and what I would have liked someone to do had I been able to express it to them in psychosis.

  • Listen. I’d like to point out that there is a pattern in these tips for talking to those dealing with mania, depression and now psychosis. When I was in their shoes, I wanted someone to listen to the ideas I was saying and give me legitimate affirmation and validation; I would have trusted that person more. It was incredibly obvious to the sane, normal person that I had lost it. What I wish those sane people would have known was that the way you dismiss my beliefs also has an effect on me. You lose my trust when you dismiss what I’m hearing, seeing or thinking as simply gibberish or non-sequitur. I can’t stress this enough: there is logic in psychosis, and compelling reasons why we believe the things we believe in our psychosis. The brain is misfiring, perhaps, but in our sick minds it all makes sense and is not random. Confused? Just trust me — I know what I’m seeing, thinking and hearing, even if you can’t.
  • Validate. So you want to keep a person’s trust? Don’t give them lip service – they’ll see through that. Don’t judge them, they don’t need to be told “That’s not really there.” Instead, acknowledge what they’re saying.       And then…
  • Ask. You cannot read their mind, and cannot possibly know what they’re experiencing unless you ask them. If they are close enough to you, see if they’d be comfortable and trust you enough to share more.
  • Know. If they are experiencing voices, be aware that the voices heard in psychosis are usually negative, condemning and attacking (why that is, is for another post). Know that it’s hard enough to endure the voices, let alone tell you what they’re saying and communicate the feelings they have because of them. If you’re familiar with voices or hallucinations, they may be telling the person to hurt themselves or others as well, and this may be something the person recognizes and won’t follow through on because they disagree and have a strong internal sense of right and wrong, or they may try to follow through because they’re lacking self-control. If you know they are having these intense symptoms, it is probably a good time to…
  • Involve a professional. Of course you’re likely not a trained or licensed professional prepared to deal with a person in psychosis on the level that’s required to de-escalate intense symptoms and reactions. So please, if they’re exhibiting a lack of control and cannot differentiate between reality and what’s in their mind, call a professional. Either their psychotherapist, psychiatrist, or a hotline listed below.

Crisis Text Line – crisistextline.org – text CONNECT to 741741
Text trained counselors anything that’s on your mind, 24/7, confidential, nationwide

National Hopeline Network (800) SUICIDE (784-2433)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-TALK (8255) Veterans Crisis Line – Select Option 1

National Youth Crisis Hotline (800) 442-HOPE (4673)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline (800) 950-6264

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This tool and multipurpose document that contains resources for preparation in case of a mental health emergency includes:

-Emergency contacts (professional and personal)
-Hotlines, websites and apps to go to for mood management and more mental health resources
-Medication and mental health history form
-Triggers and pro-actions for situations
-Safety plan in case of a mental health emergency

It’s all in the updated version of my and Karl Shallowhorn’s ebook, a 10 page printable PDF file that you can download in seconds. Sign up on my Facebook page to get your copy!

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To see this post in my first video blog, visit my YouTube channel.

There was a time in my life when I wanted to soar on the wings of eagles and claim healing in Jesus’ name.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 16, and I wanted to be healed by the blood, touched by the hand of God – with the divine intervention of a miracle. I yearned to be miraculously back to normal – no medication needed.

The faith within me was strong. After being committed to the juvenile psych ward for 3 weeks, the doctor prescribed me antidepressants and antipsychotics, I started an out-patient therapy program, and began my journey back to health. I was claiming Isaiah 53:5 out loud, over myself, over and over. “By His stripes I am healed.”

When I prayed, I confessed my sins, I believed with all my heart and confessed aloud “Father, heal me.”Healing finally came, eight years later. In the form of the hospital doors sealing shut behind me.

Healing finally came.

It was three months in and out of the psych unit,

It was trial and error on my medications,

It was numerous days and nights of unanswered prayers,

It was admission into chaos and confusion,

It was fasting from food and no appetite,

It was shock and ambush to my psyche,

It was making momentary and daily mistakes,

It was the test of my faith in the ultimate crucible,

It was the sifting of my soul,

It was my mind playing tricks on me,

It was coming to reality that medication was the answer,

It was facing the ugliness and monster of my mental illness,

It was admitting that I needed help through medicine and therapy.

I was healed, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t a deliverance from bipolar. It was the healing touch of God who said His grace was sufficient. The healing was a journey. Today, I live and lead a full life. I attribute it to the grace of God in answered prayer through medication and therapy. I don’t deal with side effects of medication or symptoms of the disorder, but I don’t consider myself delivered from bipolar.

No, not until this body and mind pass away with the order of life and death, will I be out of the realm of bipolar. I will be how I ought to be – fully alive in a new body and mind – resurrected unto eternal life in Jesus Christ.

Now I search for others who are struggling in their mental illness and desire to comfort and share hope with them. The hope that Jesus promises to all who believe – that come one day, we who belong to the Father will see the face of Jesus and the person of God in a new heaven and earth. It will be a new creation manifested in Jesus’ return and the Almighty God of Heaven and Earth who created all things and through Him all things exist.

And we won’t have mental illnesses or brain-based conditions that makes us sick, that require medications to treat. It will be then that I am delivered from bipolar disorder. For now, it’s subdued and managed, but deliverance isn’t the expectation…yet.

Bravely,

Katie

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On Monday, March 13th I’ll be re-releasing the newest version of GAMEPLAN for free to all of my blog followers. Subscribe to my newsletter to get your copy.

GAMEPLAN is a mental health resource guide that includes:

  • Healthcare providers entries
  • Family and friend crisis contact entries
  • Important hotlines, apps and websites for mental health reference
  • Personal info entries for keeping track of your condition and medication
  • NEW: Safety plan in the event of a crisis

The PDF version is printable in 8.5″ x 11″ format and you can slip it in a folder or binder easily.

If you or someone you loved don’t have a GAMEPLAN, what would you do? Do you know the numbers to call, with the support contacts all in one place? Do you have a brief history of mental health episodes and your medications all together? With GAMEPLAN, you can have the resources you need in one spot.

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What Goes Up Must Come Down

If you’re familiar with bipolar disorder, or major depressive disorder for that matter, being down in clinical depression has a deceptive effect on its subjects. With an imbalance of the brain’s chemistry, clinical depression is a state of mind where feelings seem to trump reason. Unfortunately, this can sound very much like a common caricature of the perceived spoiled millennial: the young kid that cries and feels bad because they didn’t get enough likes on their selfie, or whatever the deluded excuse for their feelings being hurt because of someone’s marginal opinion of them.

This may be an unpopular thing to say, but let me be clear – clinical depression is NOT the same thing as an overly-sensitive ego. And that isn’t really understood by the majority of people these days. It’s a sad day when we’re no longer shocked at the status quo to so easily claim mental illness when they simply haven’t matured enough to become well-adjusted adults. I think it may hurt someone to say it, but that’s reality today. However, I do believe those with clinical depression do need a way to properly approach and deal with their emotions and see that there is a way to endure and come through this state of mind.

Which is why I’m writing this post.

So here are a few suggestions on how to talk to your loved one during an episode of depression.

Talking With A Depressed Bipolar/Major Depressive

The depressed person with bipolar or major depressive disorder is in a state that they generally cannot change and get themselves out of by themselves. The assistance of medication and talk therapy can aid them in rising from rock bottom, but while you help them in their darkest place, keep these tips in mind.

  • Listen. If they’re not sharing, but you know them well, ask them a question and give them time to answer. They may be looking for words to express themselves. It’s a frustrating thing to be depressed and in the dark with thoughts that may constantly berate their self-esteem, with an unending cycle of negative thinking. Give them some time to at least try to express their hurts, fears, perceived losses and feelings.
  • Validate. The definition of validate is, “to demonstrate or support the truth or value of.” Notice that you would acknowledge the value of what the person says they feel, and while they may feel a certain way and it not be the truth of the situation, you still want to acknowledge their feelings and give them credit for voicing them. This is not the same thing as endorsing their feelings as truth, because feelings aren’t always truth, but they are indicators and reflectors of the situation the individual is in. When I was clinically depressed it was an indication that I was hurt, upset, and feeling rejected. While I was not really hurt for a justifiable reason (I took things too personally), or actually rejected (though I perceived I was), I needed someone to listen to how I felt and reassure me that I wasn’t alone and wasn’t completely off center. I needed someone to accept me for who I was, where I was at, and let me know it was okay to feel that way. I may not have felt that way because it was based in truth (my reality was skewed) or because the situation called for me to feel that way (I was sick, remember), but I still needed to feel validated for at least having those feelings.
  • Remind. Once in a while, when these mental disorders sweep us off our logical stance and into the valley of the shadow, we need to be gently reminded that this is a temporary time. My favorite and most encouraging piece of advice I’ve received in this time is “This too shall pass.” Why? Because it will. It did for me and it does for those who are struggling within the depths of despair. My mom would also tell me: “The tough get going when the going gets tough.” I believe that we as humans are all capable of fighting our way to a clearing. If that means consulting a psychiatrist to find the right dosage of antidepressants to calibrate our brain chemistry, and going to talk therapy to reconsider our internal beliefs and worldview, there is a way out. When we’re in the deep dark nights of the soul, we easily forget this. There is a way out.
  • Involve a professional.  There are many hurtful and harmful behaviors that can follow a depressive state of mind. If you are concerned that this may be an issue, offer to call their primary care physician, psychiatrist, or therapist. Encourage them to talk to a professional and if they are considering suicidal ideation and intent, don’t leave them alone, and immediately contact one of the following resources:

Crisis Text Line – crisistextline.org – text CONNECT to 741741
Text trained counselors anything that’s on your mind, 24/7, confidential, nationwide

National Hopeline Network (800) SUICIDE (784-2433)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-TALK (8255) Veterans Crisis Line – Select Option 1

National Youth Crisis Hotline (800) 442-HOPE (4673)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline (800) 950-6264

I hope this helps you navigate the stormy weather of depression in your relationships with those who suffer from bipolar or major depressive disorder.

What has helped you walk someone else through a depressive state? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Attention Former Inpatients:

I’m collecting stories from all over to curate and feature in a book that will highlight the experiences those had while staying inpatient in a psych ward/behavioral unit at a hospital. If you or someone you know has been treated for a mental illness and has stayed for any length of time overnight in a psych ward and would like to share their story of their treatment experience and recovery, please contribute your story of 1500 – 2000 words. Send your submission to katie@bipolarbrave.com or submit through the form field below.

Let’s show the world the raw reality of being committed and our battles for sanity in the healthcare system. Good and bad.

 
For liability and protection, hospital entity names will be changed to protect their status as well as any names of others in your story, including yours if you so choose.

Consider, but don’t be limited to, the following questions when writing your story:
  • How was your stay in the ward significant to your mental health journey?
  • How could the experience be improved?
  • What was the atmosphere and environment of the hospital like? Show and describe the experience.
  • What did it take to get through this time?
  • Who were the key people who changed your perspective and helped you get better?
  • What were things you would have done differently or wanted the hospital to do differently?

If you don’t have any experience in the hospital, but know someone who has, would you mind forwarding this page to them? The deadline for submitting your story is May 1, 2018.

Thank you for your bravery and willingness to share in this way. In return, those who submit their piece will be given a free advance copy of the ebook and free ebook copy of my memoir. 

Power, Love & A Sound Mind,
Katie R. Dale
2 Timothy 1:7

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