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Our Community Friends

Victoria is based on being an impressive and wonderful community.  Part of that community is the contribution of local mental health based non-profit organizations that work harmoniously for the greater good.  Here at the Bipolar Disorder Society of BC (BDSBC), we run the Bipolar Babe programs and reach out to a significant number of youth on the island, mainly in Victoria.   We present to youth in schools and host two peer support groups for ages 15-25 and women 25+ who have a mental health condition.  We work tirelessly to make this world an understanding, empathetic and accepting place for those that have a mental illness.  Check out our promotional video: http://www.bipolarbabe.com/movies/bipolar-babe-promo-video

For years I have been the Bipolar Babe and I have worked with some pretty amazing organizations.  Have you ever heard of the Umbrella Society?  This non-profit is headed by Gordon Harper, a dear friend who leads a team in helping people navigate through the process of becoming substance-use free.  Gordon works long hours every day to ensure that the most amount of people receive the help that they need.  He befriends individuals and acts as a mentor to numerous young people and he does this selflessly.  I am proud that Gordon is on the BDSBC board and he wears both hats making a huge impact in our Victoria community.  Find Umbrella here: http://www.umbrellasociety.ca/web  Twitter: @UmbrellaSociety

Then there is the BC Schizoprenia Society (BCSS) who is led by the amazing Executive Director, Hazel Meredith.  From the small amount of time that I have spent with Hazel, the more I respect her and the work that her team performs.  They have an office on Kings Road and host an array of services on site and advertise on their bulletin board.  Check it out!  The group is mostly known for their Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) and providing peer support and training mentors.  If you are looking to volunteer, BCSS often has plenty of opportunities and always share a welcoming smile.  Their most noteworthy support group is for friends and family with a mental illness.  Visit their webpage here: http://bcssvictoria.ca

Bruce Saunders from Movie Monday is a pioneer in film as it relates to mental wellness.    Bruce hosts mental health based movies by donation at the Eric Martin Theatre by Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital.  Bruce lives very well with bipolar disorder and has been a huge support to BDSBC.  You may find Bruce’s Movie Monday Facebook page at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Movie-Monday/187391494630186?fref=ts   Bruce is also a peer support group facilitator for the Mood Disorders Association of BC (MDABC) and he and Ken host a support group each  twice a month.  You may find out more about the impactful MDABC here: http://www.mdabc.net

Non-profits knit the wellness of community together and in a brave alliance we forge ahead for the greater good.  Thank you for supporting your local non-profit organizations and remember we are here for you!

Bipolar Youth Action Project

We all say how important youth are, how vital their participation is, and see value in their contribution.  In light of this, the Bipolar Disorder Society of BCs (BDSBC) – Bipolar Babe project (www.bipolarbabe.com) recognizes that we all need to be paying more attention to younger generations affected by bipolar disorder. 

The research team at CREST.BD (crestbd.ca) and BDSBC have joined forces to develop a grant proposal called the BIPOLAR YOUTH ACTION PROJECT submitted to the Vancouver Foundation.  The project will engage youth who live with bipolar in order to develop research skills and study alongside their peers.

What does this mean?  We plan to first launch a pilot project for the grant and we have invited six bright youth with bipolar disorder to participate in a 1.5 hour session to brainstorm ideas on how they and others can stay well while living with bipolar disorder. 

They may pose questions such as:

 – what techniques do you use to stay well with BD?

– do you think any of these techniques are particularly useful for people in your age range?

– do youth face particular problems in terms of staying well with BD compared to adults?

– what's the best way to share information about how to stay well with BD with other youth with BD?

As someone who has struggled with bipolar, I realize how important such a project is.  I have experienced serious bouts of psychosis, mania and depression and my hope in life is not to have others suffer as I have. We all need to find ways to stay well, especially our youth that live with bipolar disorder.    

There are additional benefits to creating a youth based project such as the Bipolar Youth Action Project: not only do youth gain the opportunity to become researchers themselves, but relationships will be formed and peer support circles created along the way, up and down Vancouver Island.  The youth, while brainstorming answers regarding wellness from their own research, will also be working in a supportive and motivating environment.

The space that CREST BD and BDSBC are planning to create will allow youth to express their research findings and have them apply their knowledge through multiple avenues, according to their needs and the needs of their peers.  The goal for our two organizations is to create a unique and valuable experience and encourage the wellness of youth living with bipolar disorder. 

It’s a significant win for everyone and thank you to the wonderful youth who have agreed to participate in our pilot project component of the project this August 2013, you are making bipolar youth history!

www.bipolarbabe.com and www.crestbd.ca

No matter how trite…”Go With the Flow”

As I present to kids in classrooms about bipolar disorder and my personal story, I clamp my fingers together and form a type of grasp that displays, if I ever were to fall I would be caught.  In my wellness plan I have created wholeness in every area of my life down to the amount of water that I drink every day.  We often know the rules: eat well, exercise, and form to the perfect image of health.  Realistically, I cannot keep up and I am sure you find it difficult to do so as well.  It is so vital to ‘try’ and conform to your own sense of well-being, creating a personal foundation that works for you.  I have found that simple details such as going to bed at the same time every night is so vital and even things such as having a positive love relationship is key.  Having a supportive partner has not only helped me flourish as a person, but it often feels that my mental health has been bathed in a pool of passion filled with positivity and love. 

People ask me, “How do you stay well?”  I believe that my helpful crutch has been to maintain a solid attitude, not just positive, but an approach that emphasizes wellness, openness and most of all the ability to ‘go with the flow’.  No matter how trite, the ability to roll with the waves can spell your fate from a place of wellness or faltering with illness in a deep sea of hopelessness.  I don’t expect anything.  I don’t anticipate that I will be healthy tomorrow and I have learned to let go of the fear.  I used to be torn with the facade that I had a terminal illness; every crack in my knees spelt arthritis and certain headaches were surely leading to a brain amorism.  Am I afraid?  Sometimes, it is unnerving, not knowing what turn my illness will take, especially when it is out of my hands, but really that is what life is about.  It is unpredictable and we can never anticipate anything at the next instance.  We must as I said, ‘go with the flow’…

 

BDSBC's Annual General Meeting

The Bipolar Disorder Society of BC had their 2nd annual general meeting on Monday, June 25th, 2012.  People often ask what a general meeting is; well, it is a requirement of the province to keep our charitable status and more importantly it is a cause for celebration.  Can you believe that the society has been around for 2 years already?  It is amazing the leaps and bounds that it has crossed to date and all of the funding that we have garnered.  We have huge expectations put on us for the Fall and at times I get a little nervous as things are growing at such a fast pace.  I feel that at times I am expected to get all the classroom presentations lined up and I fear expressing my doubt and worry over such things.  I'm am sure things will work out but it is daunting. I am often thought to have it all together and we are now expected to deliver results.  We have a mental health tree (A tree handout for youth that will direct them to where they need to go for help) to produce and a video to tape that will train presenters across the province.  Excited?  Yes.  Nervous?  Just a tad.  I love that I can be frank on this BLOG and tell you how I 'really' feel.  

We also just started a new bipolar babes' women's group.  We already have 11 participants!  The demand is huge and seems to be growing.  Soon enough I will be able to start a waiting list and eventually begin a new group.  We have applied to the Victoria Foundation for funding as this is only a pilot project.  I have no doubt that it will be successful.

Things are hopping on the babe front and we have you to really say thank you to.  We appreciate your love and support and hope that we can continue to rely on you in the future.  We thank you for all your likes on our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Bipolar-BABE-Bipolar-Disorder-Society-of-BC-wwwbipolarbabecom/168880573172522 and your participation on our facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/90862654894/

Much love and hugs!  Babe  XO

       

Forgiveness

I have learned a lesson this week.  Sometimes in life you just have to forgive.   Due to circumstances in my life, I truly understand something that I never did before.  I have been betrayed many times as many of us have been, but I admit that I have also done the same to others.   My friend told me that we all make terrible mistakes at times and the simplest line rang true for me yesterday ‘we are all human’.  The most difficult part is doing the forgiving and truly being able to rise above the hurt and the pain.  I had a recent experience where I was deeply hurt by someone that I love and it made me realize that I need to let go of certain things and understand that the humanity in all of us needs to rise above the mistakes.  Anger and disdain can eat at your soul and there is no worth in allowing such pain to ache and harm you.  For if one is able to forgive, then they can live freely, not held down by the thorns of pain and regret.  It is ironic how at times the hurt can bring you closer to that person and you appreciate them in a new light, knowing that like you, they are only human too. 🙂 Andrea XO

Stigma Stomp Day

Wow!  What can I say but magnificent!  Friday was Stigma Stomp Day created by Team Eventus-Leadership Victoria partnered with Bipolar Babe.  It was amazing to see 300 people wearing stomp-babe t-shirts united together for one cause.  I was pleased to give a small speech but even more delighted to introduce Jenny and Cara  to the stage!  Their stories warmed and touched my heart.

I was so impressed with the different skills of Team Eventus.  Sarah B. was always so cheerful and eager for my input; Nicola was strategic and a get things done kinda gal; Michael was funny and brought a certain touch to the activities; Sharlene really showed her leadership skills and was a great chair to the meetings; Michelle was to the point and very professional; and lastly Sarah H. was quite the amazing coach.  They worked so hard to make this happen, I was merely on the sidelines, making recommendations, arrangements or giving advice, but this event was born because of them.  The board at the bipolar disorder society of BC is thankful and ever so grateful for your contribution to us and to the world at large. 

Stigma generally exists in the world due to a lack of understanding and knowledge and Team Eventus and Bipolar Babe really did some amazing sharing on this special day.  Danny the Intern from 107.3 KOOL FM was so touched from stories that he had tears in his eyes and did a group huddle with the youth after their speeches.  I also saw another young man crying after Jenny divulged about her past anorexia and bipolar issues.  I gave him a BIG hug and his tears subsided.  The day was one to remember.

More exciting news…May have 3 more teens2twenties youth to take part in our group.  Two whom I met through the event!  Just a call out to keep the word going that this group exists and we are here to help our teens manage their lives.  It is a place of healing but also of fun! 

Well, it is a BEAUTIFUL day outside and I am getting off my laptop now to enjoy it, you should do the same!  Much Love, Bipolar Babe  

Catherine Zeta-Jones Unknowingly Stirs up Some Stigma Stew

The hype is out and the world is in mental mayhem!

Another Hollywood starlet is diagnosed as having bipolar disorder.  First, Carrie Fisher from my favourite legendary movie saga STAR WARS, then Britney Spears who melted away in front of the Hollywood Paparazzi while having a nervous breakdown…now Catherine Zeta-Jones has come out as having Bipolar II Disorder.

This is all good publicity, right?  Isn't any awareness, good awareness?

No, definitely not.

I have read numerous accounts today that have been sharing their very brief and non-indepth snap shots of what is happening with Zeta-Jones.  Although, there may not appear to be much to report, why not follow up and ask what bipolar disorder really is.  How does it affect the general population?  Who has bipolar disorder and what are we doing about it?

How do we 'stomp out stigma?'  "Stigma?"..they ask… "What is stigma?"

Catherine has been describing her bouts with melancholy, telling The Sunday Times in the U.K. that "I'm lucky. … But that's not to say I don't get down on myself. I try and stay positive, being negative isn't good for my personality. I don't just bring myself down, I bring everyone around me down. It's like a dark cloud, 'Uh oh, here we go', and I have to snap out of it."

I am a little…no, not a little, VERY bewildered, disappointed and worried by Katherine's commentary.  Using phrases such as "being negative isn't good for my personality", "staying positive", and "snapping out of it" raises huge concerns for myself and the bipolar community at large.  Catherine is influential and people will be listening to her and with these words and I think she unknowingly stirred up a large pot of stigma stew for Hollywood and the world at large!  🙂  Why do I say this?  She has not deliberately done anything 'wrong', but people will now probably misconstrue that having bipolar is a personality disorder due to her response.  Katherine also checked into a treatment centre for 5 days and although she bravely did this to ease her mental health, many will conclude that a short stay at a spa is all you need to get back on your feet.

Now 'they' will say "You just need to stop being a negative person, simply pep up, be positive, and 'snap out of it'."

Phew!  My tummy is turning.  So what do you think?  Stigma stew or something else on the menu?

Mother Mother=Stellar

It has been such a roller-coaster these past few days.  I was severely depressed last weekend and had the most unproductive time EVER!  I discovered NETFLIX and it just brought me down as I watched movie after movie.  I tried to BLOG but my mood was too low.  When will my meds stabilize?  I heard a comment the other day when someone was talking about somebody else who has a mental health condition and they said in a condescending manner "That person well you know…forgot to take their meds."  I thought it ironic as that was a common problem for people with a mental health condition.  Stigma is still so apparent, even in the most common statements, which are blind to the view of many. 

I went to a rock concert last night with the band name 'MOTHER MOTHER'.  A couple of them are old pals from Quadra Island  so it was amazing to see them.  I ran up to Molly and gave her a big hug, it was amusing because I don't think she remembered who I was, even when I said 'It's Andrea'.  Ryan was magnificent, his devilish look was stellar and he played with such heart.  The girls had such personality and the drummer was hidden but not forgotten.  I have become a junkie, a big time fan and I read their BLOG religiously now and I hope that they will read mine at times.  The rest of the band was so talented and the guitarist pulled off a clarinet!  I am impressed. Except I felt really sick during the concert and I had one of my 'acidy feelings', it was back and I knew it would happen because it seems to happen in  loud exciting situations.  All of a sudden I was super paranoid and being around people felt seriously wrong and considering I was around one hundred people, this was not an ideal place to be feeling this way.  I felt like I was out of my skin and I was overwhelmed.   

My vision was even affected.  I just told myself that everything was going to be okay and that nobody would know what was going on with me.  It is very difficult to do when you are also having personal conversations with people and you have to act like you are feeling 'normal'. My body threw itself into manic mode last night and I MAYBE got 5 hours sleep.  Now here I am writing this BLOG a mile a minute because I am feeling quite high.  I couldn't sleep all day and I had to miss work.  I am rapid cycling and that feels just like a roller-coaster, hopefully I can get off soon and resume my awesome life.  One last thing, although I have been on medication for years I still have the temptation to go off.  As I peer at the medication bottles, tons of them, I tell myself "It would be so wonderful to not have to depend on drugs".  Then I am reminded how lucky I am, that even with the kinks and set backs, I have drugs that will help me manage.  It is all about management and I pray that I can continue to do so.  Andrea XO

Awesome Community

Community is a beautiful thing here in Victoria BC.  Being the Bipolar Disorder Society of BC has been wonderful over the past year despite my health pitfalls.  We have had links with REES, the Umbrella Society: A Resource for Addictions and Mental Health, the Mental Health Task Force and the Nursing Department at the University of Victoria, the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society, the FORCE Society for Kids Mental Health, among many others. The Accent Inn on Cloverdale and Blanschard here in Victoria (http://www.accentinns.com/victoria) is letting us use their Mayfair room to host our monthly meeting for March 2011.  The hotel is well known in Victoria for doing food drives over Christmas with other organizations and donated a hotel package to the Second Annual Bipolar Babe Benefit!  We are grateful for their genuine contribution and the positive part they play in the community especially their community relations manager John Espley.  We hope to partner more with these stars in the future 🙂 I cannot stress how important it is that we all work together on the issues at hand, very valuable and vital issues as we are in the business of helping those that need it most.  It seems a lot of times fears can get in the way such as fearing that one organization is going to get more money than another, that we are competitors.  I feel it is time to dispel such unwarranted thoughts and the focus has to be on serving an amazing population who need our services and we ought to be doing it graciously.  I am so grateful to be part of a community that has supported the Bipolar Babe Program right from the start, even when we were just a wee babe.  Thank you all for believing in us, our gratitude is endless. The Bipolar Disorder Society of BC    🙂

A Glimpse into the Babe World

Hello everyone! Thanks for stopping by the babe site.  There are several developments that are taking place and I thought we should share them with you.  Not sure if you noticed but our babe website has been getting a little stale and we thought it was time to spice it up.  Danielle, an amazing friend and designer/developer and ownerof Polarity Web has committed to finishing our new website around the end of February.  I am so excited and there will be a big blitz to get the word out and we need your help!  Simply e-mail your distribution list and say why you support the babe cause! We also launched our 'Teens2Twenties' group last night and we spent an hour and a half talking about our experiences.  It is not work facilitating the group but feels more like therapy. 

The group totals 10 including me and we have an hour and a half to spend with each other and everyone seemed to agree that this time simply flew by!  Every one of them committed to coming back next week with a book in their hand called 'Facing Bipolar: the Young Adults' Guide to Dealing with bipolar disorder."  It is an excellent resource and I am so grateful for Dr. Federman and Dr. Thomson Jr. How have I been?  OK.  Making it to work is still difficult but I have been doing better lately but making it there in the mornings the majority of the time.  I am going through a medication adjustment and I am fearful that I will start to feel ill at work. 

It is so difficult to explain to people abuot what I am going through and what it means exactly to have a 'reaction' to my medication.  Sometimes it means I just have to leave because I will be experiencing side-effects, and when I have to leave it means right now.  We have a full day workshop coming up with the branch and I hope that I can make it through.  I know that if I push myself too hard then I just get sicker.  I will have to be careful that I just don't push too hard. Much love to all and goodnight for now, Andrea