Bipolar Depression: A Day in the Life

Monday morning. The alarm jars me awake. It’s 6:45—my regular time—but it feels like that time I woke up at 2:30 AM to catch an early morning flight. I groan, hit snooze on the alarm, and pull the covers over my head. So those two days over the weekend sleeping eleven hours a night weren’t a fluke: I’m really depressed again.

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How to Save a Life

Suicide. It’s a difficult topic, and most people will go out of their way to avoid talking about it. All of us know it’s a terrible thing, but most people have no idea how to help beyond posting the suicide prevention lifeline number on social media once a year. And yet, it’s a very public problem. According to the Center of Disease Control, in 2013, over 494,000 people were treated for emergency self-inflicted injuries and 41,000 people succeeded in killing themselves. It’s a very serious and widespread problem, and knowing how to talk about it can go a long way in preventing it.

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On Gratitude and Depression

With the recent celebrity suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, mental health is on the minds of many of us, which means that many of us are looking for solutions to the problems of depression and suicide. One solution that pops up a lot is that gratitude can effectively combat depression and prevent suicide. I’ve heard this in multiple places, and the link between gratitude and depression is brought up frequently. I don’t think this is wholly wrong; however, I also don’t think it’s wholly right. That gratitude cures depression only tells part of the truth, and that gap can be dangerous for some in the depths of depression.

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Can We Stop Blaming Mental Illness?

If you ask the average gun owner what to do about the gun problem in America, it’s not a gun problem—it’s a mental illness problem. Motivation for white right-wing terrorist attacks has been pinned on mental illness. On the other side of the political fence, mental illness is becoming the rallying cry for people denouncing President Trump’s erratic behavior in office and at press conferences. It seems everyone is bringing up mental illness whenever someone exhibits abnormal or harmful behavior.

Now, I’m not trying to talk about gun problems, or problems with right-wing politics, or problems with our president. I’m actually trying to talk about the mental health problem. Mental illness is used so often as an explanation that we frequently forget that it hasn’t been fully explored as a question. There’s a stigma surrounding it. People are scared of it. And I think that that stigma and fear stem largely from the failure to distinguish between mental illness and untreated mental illness.

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I’m Only Happy When it Rains

Lately, after everyone has gone to bed and it’s just me and my cat Franny, I’ve been putting on soundtracks of thunderstorms and playing them in the background while reading online. It’s amazing how calming it is for me. I’ve always loved gray rainy days—I just never knew that I would like fake gray rainy days almost as much. But it got me thinking about why I love rain clouds and thunderstorms so much. It’s hard for me to put a finger on and definitively answer, but the best I can figure, it has to do with my depression.

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Songs that Got Me Through College

College was an emotionally turbulent time for me. It might be for others too, but it was especially turbulent for me—it’s when my bipolar disorder started to fully manifest and get really bad, although it was also a time of incredible self discovery and growth. I didn’t actually get help for my disorder until near the end of my college career, so that left me with some pretty tough moments to get through.

College was, for me, a time when music changed from entertainment or a recreational activity to a deeply emotional experience. Most of the drive and passion I have as a musician today can be traced back to the emotional help I received from music in what was probably the toughest time of my life. Here are five songs that were incredibly meaningful, even life-changing for me in college. These are songs that shaped who I am and continue to resonate with me even thirteen years after I’ve graduated.

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What It’s Like Being a Bipolar Professional

My hands were shaking uncontrollably as I paced down the hallway, praying to God that nobody would see me. I was actually on a loop: five floors, two stairwells, and I had made six complete laps so far. My thoughts raced, my attention being dragged around to everything within eyesight. I knew I was incapable of a comprehensible conversation at that point. And if someone asked me a question with any substance, my cover would be completely blown, and I had no idea what the consequences would be. I was having a full-blown manic attack in the middle of a work day. I’d sent a panicked text to my wife to bring me a Xanax, indicating that it was an emergency. (I couldn’t drive.) I didn’t know how long it had been, but it felt like an eternity. This is the reality I live with, as someone living with bipolar disorder working a professional job.

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