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Bipolar Author Shares Insights for Mental Health Awareness Month

Bipolar Author Shares Insights for Mental Health Awareness Month
 

Author Jason W. Park, PhD (memoir Bliss + Blues = Bipolar) has been in recovery from Bipolar Disorder for five years. He says, "There is no cure for Bipolar, but recovery is possible" For Mental Health Awareness Month (May), he shares a 5-pillar strategy for maintaining or gaining Bipolar recovery that he wishes his younger self had known. Park's book is a cautionary tale recounting the 20 years of ups and downs between his own diagnosis and recovery.

Los Angeles, CA | May 1, 2021 – According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five Americans experience mental illness historically, and in COVID times even more have been confronted with depression and anxiety. During Mental Health Awareness Month, they are spreading the word that those afflicted are not alone and that resources and support are available for getting better. Jason W. Park, PhD, author of the memoir Bliss + Blues = Bipolar, wants to help spread NAMI's message of "You Are Not Alone" when it comes to Bipolar Disorder. His mission is to share the lessons he's learned in his own hard-earned recovery from the illness.

"Properly diagnosed, properly medicated, in therapy, people with Bipolar Disorder like me can recover and blend back into society," says Jason. "But we have to take care of ourselves and get the help needed"

Bipolar Disorder was formerly known as Manic Depression, and it impacts an estimated 5.7 million adults in the U.S., according to National Institute of Mental Health. The World Health Organization says Bipolar Disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability on Earth.

Achieving recovery from Bipolar Disorder isn't a walk in the park. Jason himself wasn't able to find answers for his mood disorder for 20 years after he was diagnosed. Today he is offering a 5-pillared strategy for others with Bipolar Disorder for maintaining or achieving recovery.

Pilar 1 – Therapy: There are many different schools of thought in psychology (cognitive/behavioral, humanistic-existential, Freudian, biological, etc.), and Jason has found that very few therapists use only one. He recommends finding a therapist with a multi-pronged approach. "Someone with an eclectic approach like that is more likely to hit the target, with more ammunition aimed at the same thing, which is mental health," he points out. He also advises going to a therapist with a Rogerian "client-oriented" approach, someone who offers empathy and unconditional positive regard. Jason sees such a psychotherapist once a week.

"It took me a while to find productive therapy," shares Jason, "so give yourself time. Look for a new therapist if the current work isn't helping. Referrals from others with Bipolar are very helpful"

Pilar 2 – Medication: A reluctance to taking psychotropic medications can hold Bipolar individuals back from progress in their recovery. This was true for Jason with disastrous consequences. Now he reasons, "Look, if you had diabetes, wouldn't you take insulin? If you had a thyroid imbalance, wouldn't you want to take medication for that? Why should it be any different with a mental illness like Bipolar?"

And just like you'd want a top surgeon for an important operation, Jason advises finding a psychiatrist with above average knowledge of the available medications and their effective use. His psychiatrist blends psychoanalysis with medication management, and sees Jason every two weeks for 45 minutes.

Pilar 3 – Work:  Jason believes many Bipolar individuals need work that is more than a job to make money, instead a passion. Developing that can take resourcefulness. "Boredom kills. Find something you love to do, and find some way to get paid to do it," he advises. "With time, you'll get better and better at it"

Jason refused to give up and is now working as a writer, which he sees as his calling.

Pillar 4 – Support Groups: Jason suggests three groups in particular for people with bipolar – the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), the Stability Network (TSN), and the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI). DBSA runs daily support meetings via Zoom; you can search for a local one at www.dbsalliance.org. TSN and NAMI both offer training in public speaking to spread more informed views on mental health. NAMI also runs a national HelpLine, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Eastern at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).

"Sometimes what Bipolar people need most is some form of socialization," says Jason. "Zoom support meetings run by DBSA can be really helpful in keeping yourself on track"

Pillar 5 – Hobbies: Jason finds that hobbies can give life meaning and purpose that you can't get out of other things. It could be as different as spectator sports, stamp collecting, and playing music. "The beauty of a hobby is that you're just doing it for your own enjoyment," he says. "There's no ulterior motive" Eventually you might connect with others who share the same hobby.

Beyond his 5 pillars, Jason sees a difficulty in mental health recovery with Bipolar Disorder. That is, the individual has to come to the realization themselves that they need help. "Someone might deny this and defensively say, 'I'm fine. I don't need any more help,'" notes Jason. "But you clearly can see that the problem is they don't have enough help"

Warning signs that you might need treatment for Bipolar include: (1) excessive highs and lows in mood, (2) having altercations with authorities, (3) arguing with family members, and (4) a recent assessment from a mental health professional who advised medication.

"Recovery begins with the motivation to get better," Jason says. "You've got to have that first. Then you can begin to work with your treatment team, repair your family relationships, and reach out to the community" He adds that if you've already recovered from Bipolar, keep doing what it takes to stay well.

Since 1949, May has been the month when Mental Health Awareness Month or Mental Health Month has been observed in the United States. It was founded by Mental Health America, earlier known as the National Association for Mental Health. If you think you have a mental health issue such as Bipolar Disorder, you can take one of their online Mental Health Test Screenings at https://screening.mhanational.org/screening-tools/ and receive additional resources.

Jason W. Park's candid memoir Bliss + Blues = Bipolar is available on Amazon in paperback ($14.99) and ebook ($3.99). In addition to his recovery story, Jason also provides valuable resources for sufferers and those who love them in the back of the book. "Dr. Park shares what his life has been like living with bipolar disorder. He offers insights, candidness and a true life journey. Important read not only for those who have bipolar, but also those people who support them," writes one reviewer.

 

Link to Bliss+ Blues = Bipolar's book page on Amazon

Click here.

Further info on Bipolar Disorder from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

Click here.

Background on Mental Health Awareness Month from NAMI

Click here.

Search tool for a local DBSA Support Group

Click here.

Online Mental Health Test Screenings from Mental Health America

Click here.

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Name: Jason W. Park
Dateline: Van Nuys, CA United States
Direct Phone: 310-488-4570
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