Bipolar disorder

Team of Advisors member Laura takes over the PatientsLikeMe Instagram for World Mental Health Day

In honor of World Mental Health Day, we asked PatientsLikeMe member Laura (thisdiva99) to take over our Instagram feed for the day. Laura is a professional opera singer, Massachusetts native, a member of the PatientslikeMe Team of Advisors, and is living with bipolar disorder. She gave us a glimpse into a day in her life, Check out the images and captions below to see what she shared. Hello my Instagram compatriots! Laura here. Some people start the day with hearty oatmeals, or eggs fortified with kale. I start my day with a champion #bipolar breakfast of vitamin supplements and mood stabilizers… then I can eat my own breakfast 30 minutes after. For me, supplements are super important to incorporate with my meds. Talk to your doc about it to see if they could work for you!   AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA With my trusty steed Corolla, I conquer the day’s doctor’s appointments. On a good day, I can keep my ride in the driveway; on other days I travel to multiple towns/cities to see psychiatrists, therapists, endocrinologists, and the like. I also incorporate a yoga class or visit to the gym as I can. For me, treating the body as a whole is the key …

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5 tips for practicing self-care when your chronic illness is trying to take over

As a woman with bipolar disorder I and PTSD, I can pretty safely say that no two days are the same. There are days when the world is sunshine and roses; life is grand! Then there are days when the inside of my brain is trying to run the show without me, and it’s leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. There are floundering relationships, self-harm incidents, and half-hatched big plans laying strewn about, and I stand in the middle of it all, trying very hard not to let the illness win. When I can really stand back and take stock of things, I find that self-care is paramount to my feeling better, or simply not getting worse. The following are some of my “go-to” self-care strategies. 1. Coloring. I know, I know. You’re already rolling your eyes at the screen, wondering what the heck I’m even talking about. But coloring has turned out to be a Zen activity in my life. My manias are not euphoric, but angry and aggressive, and I have found the act of coloring to bring me down in the moment. It’s also extremely helpful with my anxiety and PTSD symptoms. We’re lucky that …

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Meet Christopher – “PTSD is not just soldiers whining and complaining about struggles in life”

Say hello to Christopher (ChrisBC), a father, musician and Purple Heart recipient living with PTSD and bipolar disorder. We recently caught up with him to hear about how PTSD affected his marriage and how his diagnosis pushed him get the help he needed and connect with his feelings. Keep reading to learn how he copes with stigma and the one thing he wishes people understood about PTSD. Can you tell us a little about yourself? What are you passionate about?   I was born in Seattle WA, and my family moved to Alaska where I grew up. I joined the Army when I was 19 years old and went to my first assignment at Fort Polk, Louisiana. I spent the next 22 years in the Army. During my time in the Army, I was stationed in seven different locations including Germany. I had five different deployments of varying lengths with three combat, and two peacekeeping. I received a Purple Heart as well as many others in my platoon during my Iraq tour for being wounded under enemy fire. I retired in 2014 and have one daughter who is 11 years old. I am passionate about music and I play the electric bass guitar …

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Meet Lindsay from the PatientsLikeMe Team of Advisors

  Meet Lindsay (Shyandspicy), a member of the PatientsLikeMe 2016-2017 Team of Advisors living with bipolar II, fibromyalgia and diabetes. We recently caught up with Lindsay to learn how she finds purpose in her relationships with her family, her faith and helping others.  Keep reading to get to know her story and how she tackles the obstacles of living with her conditions through research, self-advocacy and connecting with others. What gives you the greatest joy and puts a smile on your face? There used to be not much that could give me joy or even make me smile. Now I can say one of my biggest joys in life is bringing pride to God and my family and other supportive loved ones. I have put them through a lot of strife and knowing that they recognize my hard work and attempts at trying to correct the past and become a better version of me brings joy. Along with that, I get a smile on my face when I spend time with my son, who is 13 and my little sister, who is 30 years younger than me. Experiencing life again through their eyes has a whole new meaning! What has …

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Patients at work: Member Nancy on being her own boss

We recently launched a blog series about patients who’ve started (or are gearing up to launch) their own businesses, sparking a discussion around how to manage your health without giving up on your career goals. Say hello to Nancy (@spicerna), who sat down with us to discuss how she finds a balance between living with bipolar I and expressing her creative side through her art. Nancy chatted with us about the kinds of projects she likes to work on, and why it’s important for her to be her own boss: “I need a job where I am the boss every day. There is an unpredictable nature about the illness…not a day that goes by to where I am not making judgment calls to maintain my health.” Can you tell us a little about yourself and your diagnosis experience? I have struggled with symptoms of Bipolar I, since I can remember. I really noticed the ups and downs in the teen years. And at age 16, I had my first psychotic break, (1 out of 5 breaks in my life.) I have always been an overachiever and had big dreams and goals for the future but the combination of everything that …

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Meet Laura from the PatientsLikeMe Team of Advisors

  Say hello to Laura (thisdiva99), another member of your 2016-2017 Team of Advisors. Laura chatted with us about what it’s like to live with bipolar disorder and why she thinks it’s essential to find and connect with others who live with the same condition: “It is of the utmost importance to connect with other Bipolar Warriors. Mental illness can be very isolating.” Laura also shared some details about her background as a professional opera singer. She’s performed all over the world and has even won a Grammy! Get to know Laura and read her advice for others who are living with chronic conditions. What gives you the greatest joy and puts a smile on your face? Hearing the laughter of my husband, my nieces, and my nephews brings me ultimate joy. What has been your greatest obstacle living with your condition, and what societal shifts do you think need to happen so that we’re more compassionate or understanding of these challenges? My greatest obstacle in living with bipolar disorder is having to pretend that I am “OK” all the time. People with mental illness often find that they must hide their symptoms, and live in a quiet kind of …

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PatientsLikeMe Welcomes Next Patient Team of Advisors

  CAMBRIDGE, Mass, November 14, 2016—PatientsLikeMe has named 11 members to its patients-only 2016–2017 Team of Advisors, which this year will focus on elevating the patient voice. Team members will share their stories, participate in community initiatives, and give real world perspectives to our industry and research partners. “Each year, our Team of Advisors has proven an invaluable source of inspiration and support for the PatientsLikeMe community,” said PatientsLikeMe CEO Martin Coulter. “We look forward to learning from this year’s team as we partner to identify how we can change healthcare for the better.” More than 500 PatientsLikeMe members submitted applications for this year’s Team of Advisors. Those selected represent a range of medical and professional backgrounds and ages. They are living with a cross-section of conditions, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), autonomic neuropathy, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), lung cancer, lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease. Members named to the team include: Cris Simon, Gary Rafaloff, Ginny Emerson, Glenda Rouland, Hetlena Johnson, Jacquie Toth, Jim Seaton, John Blackshear, Kimberly Hartmann, Laura Sanscartier and Lindsay Washington. John Blackshear is living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and looks forward to the opportunity to share his story with others, and …

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Patients at work: Member Jenny launches online craft shop on Etsy

  A few weeks ago, we kicked off a new blog series about patients who have started (or are working on launching) their own businesses. We’ll be featuring some enterprising members and learning more about how they manage their health and their career goals at the same time. Today, we’d like introduce Jenny, (jhound), a member of the bipolar community who recently opened an online shop on Etsy called OldSchoolJenny. Jenny designs cards, scrapbooks, printable journal kits and other paper crafts with a vintage flair. When we caught up with her, she shared about her diagnosis experience, her creative process and the health benefits of working with a passion: “Having my Etsy business gives me reason to keep going. It gives me a sense of purpose and it also brings me a lot of joy. “ Can you tell us a little about yourself and your diagnosis experience? I grew up in Southern California in a foster home. I joined the military when I was 23 and met my husband who was also in the Navy in 2002. We lived in San Diego for the first five years of our marriage and moved to Michigan when we both got out of …

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Patients at work: Member Ellen on launching her own clothing line

PatientsLikeMe members often talk about how they’re more than their diagnosis. They’re patients, but they’re also people, with complex lives, families, hobbies and careers. Today, we’re kicking off a series of blogs about that last one — working with a chronic condition. We’ll be featuring some enterprising members who have started (or are working on) launching their own businesses, and learning more about how they manage their health and their career goals at the same time. First up is Ellen (edayan), a member of the bipolar community who designs clothes for curvy women and runs an online dress shop called Tiger Lily. When we caught up with her, she shared about her passion for designing, how living with a mental illness affects her creative process, and her inspiring message to women: “I want women to feel good about who they are right now so they don’t miss out on living a full life … Life is too short for feeling you’re not good enough.”   Tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into designing clothes?   I first started sewing clothes for my daughter when she was a baby. She became quite the tomboy and I …

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Patients as Partners: Cyrena on connecting through social media

Earlier this month, Team of Advisors member Cyrena shared how she relies on many of the Partnership Principles in her interactions with her physicians. Today, she offers some insight into a different type of relationship in our health journeys — the ones we have on social media. In addition to PatientsLikeMe, Cyrena is active on Twitter and Facebook and has used both to connect with other patients who what it’s like to live with bipolar II and lupus. Whether you’re social media-savvy or not, check out how she stays in touch with her virtual community to “exchange advice or just plain empathy” and get involved in patient advocacy.   “It’s all about networking” Many patients live with multiple conditions, but the current nature of illness and treatment forces us to think of our conditions individually. In reality, these conditions interact and influence each other in ways that clinicians may not understand or recognize. Many of these patients end up online and looking for support. I primarily interact with the chronic illness community on Twitter, but to a lesser extent on Facebook as well. I was an intermittent follower, but I became highly active during my hospitalization for my spinal cord …

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