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Bipolar Happens

April 21, 2015

Just recently, Jimsecor and I got involved with www.bipolarhappens.com, run by Julie Fast. This is a great site name, as this is just how it happens and how it feels—at least, if the manic-depression is the genetic/hereditary kind. There is no apparent link for comments. In her newsletters, which are, admittedly, necessarily general, there is NO link for comments. But you can get to her via another link.

She sent a newsletter that was most illogical and disorganized and Jimsecor commented on this, giving her alot of supportive and new information along the way. Her answer was horrid, telling him if he’d not unsubscribed, she’d do it for him “now.” He wrote back noting that she was defensive and did not take even supportive criticism well, so, sure, “guillotine me.” Her follow-up was a threat of legal action for bullying (misspelled “billing”) because she wouldn’t tolerate it.

In fact, the newsletter noted sounded very much as if she was having a manic-depressive bad hair day, as nothing fit together.

She is, from her responses, only capable of dealing with things if people agree with her, don’t question her and don’t give her too much information, as in nothing beyond her corralled thought.

Although this appeared to be a decent site, Julie Fast is passing herself off as something she is not—aside from not being so well-informed, not so well-stabilized. Jimsecor is quite familiar with someone’s inability to accept criticism, supportive or otherwise, as he suffered with/through this for years. Partly, this was due to his depression, if he received the criticism at such a time; partly it was due to his abusive childhood. Although he is still sensitive, he does not go overboard or become damning, as Julie Fast has done.

Apparently she does not accept that some manic-depressives are refractory to medication therapy. Apparently she is unaware of studies done involving those who are refractory, studies that began in the 1990s at NIH and have continued on and off since then in the private sector. We found nothing on her site dealing with the genetic/hereditary factor or with the mood swings of the socially challenged and those with personality disorder, people who are called manic-depressive but, in fact, are not. She feels that not responding to 24 different medications is a ton of medication: Jimsecor has multiple pages of meds that don’t work; his psychiatrist and therapist joke that it is large enough for a book. However, in the 1990s, when she was diagnosed, here psychiatrist was right that there were few options outside of medication. ECT being nothing short of barbaric. But there was the NIH study. (Now, there is deep brain stimulation, as a last resort. Here site is not up-to-date.)

She is, she reports, taking Lamictal with good effect. Good for her, we say; it’s not so very stabilizing, it would seem. Jimsecor’s trial of Lamictal sent him into a horrid manic episode, taking him to the ER. After 30 years and the NIH findings not being so stabilizing any more, he is looking toward deep brain stimulation. He’s tired of being tossed around. He has, other than me, no support system, something that Julie Fast does not address for others, yet is vitally important.

She is not supportive or accepting of other manic-depressives; nor is she helpful when she is so dismissive. Her books that she touts so often are extremely expensive, especially for being so short, and self-published or done via Amazon. Within the psychological community and the manic-depressive scientific population, she is a total unknown. Garners not a mention. So, her work is more of a “this is how I deal with things.” She does say, in one way or another, “you should do it this way.” Much of the onus for dealing with manic-depressive behavior is laid on the manic-depressive, which is assuming a great deal, for there is not always consciousness of the episode. As manic-depression is an affective disease, it not only shows up in behavior, it is manifested in thinking; the perception of self and the world is distorted, returning to reality after the episode comes to an end. Some few triggers are external; the genetic ones are not observable beforehand.

Neither the site or Julie Fast are what they present themselves to be. She bills herself: Julie A. Fast is a world leading mental health expert on the topics of bipolar disorder, depression, seasonal affective disorder,personality disorders and mood management. [punctuation errors in original] She has no expertise; to wit:- there is no such thing as an “ultra, ultra rapid cycling bipolar II,” which she claims she suffered through. (There is rapid cycling; it is not bipolar II, it is bipolar I.) And she’s only experienced manic-depression, not any of the other disease entities.

She is not a leading mental health expert. She has no certificates or degrees. Without any credentials, she’s awfully arrogant, bordering on the delusional, in her claim to fame—or at least suffering from a very bad case of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Without any credentials, she might be dangerous.

As Wilde and Shaw and Twain noted, beware the person who has your best interests at heart: the do-gooder.

Jimsecor has a Ph.D. but that does not allow him to call himself a world expert in manic-depression (the degree is in theatre). Nor does he consider his 60 years of suffering through the disease qualification enough to call himself a world expert in manic-depression. He has guest edited, in the past, for psychiatric journals; but this does not make him a world expert. He has published in NAMI and been a KS State representative to NAMI, but this does not qualify him as a world expert. But Julie A. Fast, with nothing of this sort behind her, does bill herself as a world expert.

So, when all said and done, she and her website do not deliver. Her sell is great; her site name is great; but that’s all. A great disappointment. A disappointment Jimsecor and I think ought to be avoided.

Yet another self-help, “I’ve got the answer” site for an affective disease that is not simple or straightforward. Unlike an organic disease process, where symptoms are relatively the same for everyone, manic-depressives show a wide margin of behaviors. The DSM-IV and V don’t even recognize some of the expressions, like manic episodes that are marked solely by a high anxiety, a driven impulse that leaves you exhausted (but happy) at the end. Mixed type episodes end up in the 7th ring of Dante’s Inferno, leaving a littered landscape of destruction (metaphor, here). Not being able to comment and converse obviates any benefits the site might manage.  

If you’re looking for answers or discussion, go elsewhere; if you’re satisfied with snake oil, Julie Fast is for you.

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From → Non-fiction

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