Multitasking. How well are you at managing three or more tasks at once? Can you have several screens open on the computer at the same time?

I'm often in the middle of several things at once. While writing/editing, I may have a couple of chat windows open on Facebook, as well as be playing a poker game, adding another post to this blog, or reading the daily news on CNN. Seldom do I get confused.

Yet there are times I'll be writing/editing and become so absorbed with the work that I forget all other screens. Am I rude? In a way, yes. On the other hand, when the creativity flows, I let it go. As an author, I would be foolish to stop when the writing is going well.

Multitasking has many supporters, just as it has numerous people against it. Does bipolar make any difference in whether one can multitask or not? Maybe I'll Google that the next time I'm busy. 


The sounds of nature . . . and semis traveling along the highway . . . keep me company. My brain continues to work even though I tried to slow it down. Each time I put something away, the calmness settles in a little bit more.

I look around. Stand. Walk a few feet. Sit back at the desk. And a minute later, repeat each step. Not once. Or twice. But a dozen times. There's nothing left to put away. Nothing more to clean. The OCD made sure of that earlier.

What keeps my brain from shutting down to rest? When will my body become so tired I drift into sleep? It's not the sound of the semis, although they are annoying. It's not my brain, even though it could use a good cleaning,

Why am I awake then? I don't need to be. I want to sleep. The bed is open.  It's 5 AM. Sleep is not friends with bipolar.

Speak up

When someone mentions bipolar, there is often a negative stigma attached. Yet the disorder shouldn't be considered any worse than a heart or kidney condition. Each has a distinguished set of symptoms to manage. Yet with the right combination of medication, therapy, and counseling, bipolar isn't any different than any other medical issue. They all need professionals to help us, time to learn triggers, and a conscious effort to keep them under control.

But how we react when someone mentions our disorder is an important part as well. I find it difficult to understand why people are embarrassed to talk about their symptoms. We did not ask for this any more than someone asked for cancer or diabetes. Yet people discuss the problems with those medical issues with strangers even.

The disorder doesn't define who we are. The symptoms are not our characteristics or traits. The disorder is a condition we cannot change. But we can change how others perceive it by talking freely about how we feel or how the symptoms affects us.

Speak up. Share with others. You never know who might be struggling in silence.

Let it go

So you had a rough day. You had a low. Or as some people prefer to say, you crashed. But you made it through, regardless how you did it. That's the positive side.

The negative is not moving on afterward. The low is over. It doesn't exist anymore. You conquered the symptoms. Yet the constant references give it more power than it deserves.

I understand the low. I know what it's like to have that crash. I also know you haven't fully beaten it until you stop adding pieces of it into every conversation. Let it go. Just . . . let it go.

Bipolar as a Blessing?

I'm lucky. Sure, I have the medical diagnosis called bipolar disorder. Granted, I have rough days, mood swings, and sleepless nights. I learned to fight, though, and discovered what triggered some of the problems. Each challenge I faced because of my bipolar has given me an added dose of compassion, understanding, and patience.

You might think that's the lucky part. It isn't.

My disorder gives me the strength to guide others who are still looking for ways to fight. And I've mentioned how I pay it forward in past posts.
The people I met on this journey . . . they're why I'm lucky. Each one is a blessing in my life.


For more on how others "Pay it Forward", check the latest issue of The Write Place at the Write Time, including my submission using my pen name JaeLynn Topper, at the following link:

Our Fight

The fight against bipolar is one we cannot accomplish alone. Yet, we cannot rely on others to do our fighting for us.

If that sounds confusing, then maybe I can make it a bit clearer.

Anyone with bipolar benefits from a support system. That can be family, close friends, or someone they know online. Each way has positives . . . and negatives.

Family may want to help. They may believe they're helping. But if they don't understand bipolar and the layered levels of the disorder's symptoms, they might not be much help. The same goes for friends, in person or online.

Often the best people to help someone struggling through one of the highs or lows of bipolar are those who have gone through the very same things. They can relate in ways others cannot.

If you don't have bipolar but still want to help someone you love, then do your research. Study the disorder. Find reputable websites with factual and proven information. Learn what triggers a mood change in your loved one. Find ways to keep those triggers away. Most importantly, never stop learning. But know that the true fight comes from your loved one. He/she is the one who has to push the darkness down and climb out of the pit. Just be standing at the top, ready to give them a hug . . . and your full support.

Fear (a poem)

Jumbled thoughts
They scream for attention
A piece here, there
Unsure what they say

A scramble for the front
They fight amongst each other
Confusion paves the way

Not able to hear
The words garbled
Panic takes over

Fear won

revised 5/20/14

Winning (a poem)

How do you stop them
turn off your brain
not let them win
or be allowed to remain

How do you change thoughts
in the middle of it all
maybe hearing a friend
even through a phone call

Can you lose them
throw them away
make your life better
day after day

Knowing what to do
then strong enough to do it
so when the crash is over
you know you have won


These words might not mean anything to some readers. I don't remember my frame of mind when I wrote them, though, so I can't talk about that day. But I can speak for now. Mood swings don't just effect the person with the disorder. They extend to family, friends, others who see them each day. If you are at the bottom and just live day to day, then maybe you aren't fighting. 

The moods don't magically go away. They don't decide to run along and leave you alone. No, the moods dig in and try to take over. You have to control them, instead of letting them control you. That's not as hard as it sounds, either. Go outside and throw old shoes at the garage. Then laugh at the silliness of what you just did. Feel the weight of that mood lift as you gather those shoes. And wave at the neighbor who's trying to decide what the heck you just did. Or, you could leave them outside and let the neighbor's goat enjoy them for dinner. Now that should lighten your mood. 


How do you change your mood? Can you switch a bad mood into a good one just by willing it to happen? Or do you need to force the change?

I've had my fair share of mood swings. And I'll have more. When I do, I try to discover the trigger and the solution. One is often easier to find than the other. The trigger is emotional, something with a deep meaning that hits me in my heart. That makes the solution an emotional one, then, as well.

Dealing with emotions isn't easy. Add bipolar to the mix and it can be twice as hard. But here's the thing. Releasing those emotions can have such a healing effect. Cry, laugh, yell, or scream. Feel the pain leave your body. Feel the joy enter your soul.

Emotions and mood swings. A great combination. 

On a Mountain (poem)

High on a mountain
perched at the top
wondering how much longer
til all the thoughts stop

Clouds floating by
air pure and clean
trying to figure out
what they all mean

Not a sound
only you up there
if anyone really does care

Close your mind
put the stress away
take some time
savor the day


(written back when I thought everything had to rhyme)



How do you stop them
turn off your brain
not let them in
be allowed to remain

How do you change thoughts
in the middle of it all
maybe hearing a friend
even a short phone call

Can you lose them
throw them all away
or make your life better
day after day

Knowing what to do
strong enough to do it
when the crash is over
get up . . . because you won



Today I looked through a binder with poems I wrote back in 2006 and 2007. Some were decent but most lacked the characteristics of true poetry. In fact, rhyming must have been on sale those years, because the pages had tons of it.

So the next few posts will be some of what I think are the better and more helpful offerings from that binder.

An old poem


You asked me, today
to tell you why
Yet when I did
all I got was a sigh

You wanted to know
if I could say
But when I told you
you looked the other way

You made me explain
what I had in mind
I needed to tell you
even if it was unkind

You needed me
To guide you
and show you the way

So I offered you my hand


Thoughts to ponder

A young man, bleeding to death as we talked online. He had cut his wrist with a rusty blade, hinting at what he had done, giving me enough time to get help. He and his brother trusted me, talked to me. He lived, went on to do good with his life.

A young woman, ready to walk away from her husband and four children for a man she had never met in person, remained with her family, and is getting help. 

A retiree who hated his life. An abusive wife made his days a nightmare, with trips to ER, police calls, and court dates. He now lives his days in utter peace and joy now. 

A new acquaintance from a free poker game site. Struggling to deal with numerous changes in his life as well as a dysfunctional family. His comments hinted at despair and depression.

A close friend, working in Afghanistan, so far away from his family. Injuries that would have crippled others only slowed him down, but the psychological effects will never leave.

Others I talked to for short times, impacting their lives in a small way. Conversations that began in the darkness and ended with a brightly shining light leading them toward the path of healing. Sharing stories from my life, giving examples of how I moved forward, convinced each one of them to seek professional help. They admitted their faults and flaws as they walked the path to healing.
Every single one of these people have affected me in some way. Maybe they aren't aware of it even. But I'm honored they've allowed me into their lives, that they trusted me enough to guide them during times of stress.

As many people claim, we should thank our parents for making us who we are today. I struggle with that concept a bit. Should I thank my parents for the abuse, then? That doesn't sit well with me, even though I understand that the challenges and struggles I endured as a child made me the caring and compassionate person I am. Because of the hurt and anger, I am sensitive to others dealing with that same hurt and anger. 

In the end, whether I agree to thank my parents or not, I wouldn't change my childhood. I'm humbled to have had the chance to impact so many lives.

Weakness and strength

A question came up recently about strength and weakness. If someone is strong enough to counsel others, can they also have moments of weakness where they need help?

I'll give an example.

Lets say I spent time talking to a woman who felt as if she had no reason to go on. Our only link was through the computer, but I gave her my full attention for several hours, four nights in a row. She lost her job and didn't have family in the area, leaving her lost and alone. Facing life without the security she once had seemed impossible.

We talked, or rather, I talked, while she listened. I gave examples from my struggles to show her she wasn't alone. With gentle persuasion, I turned her thinking around.

The next night we talked, I had to force myself to find positive words. Then it occurred to me: what a valuable lesson it would be if I showed her how hard I had to fight. I wasn't any different than anyone else: my moods dropped and I needed encouragement, too.

She listened when I said I was having a bad day. Instead of leaving, she began tossing my words back at me. She listened when I had to vent. And she boosted my spirits until I pulled myself back from the bottom.

Back to that original question then.  
If someone is strong enough to counsel others, can they also have moments of weakness where they need help? 

Without a doubt. Strength doesn't show up and stay forever, just as weakness doesn't remain forever.