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The Bipolar Experience (Book Review)

 
Hi, friends!
 
Have you read The Bipolar Experience: Your Dreams Are Bigger than Bipolar Disorder by LeeAnn Jefferies and Eva Marie Everson?
 

 
As a person who struggles with bipolar disorder, I was naturally drawn to LeeAnn Jefferies’ story. The fact that she was a top model for more than 16 years added to my intrigue.
 
I felt like I was sitting on a wicker chair on a wrap-around porch listening to LeeAnn tell her story, her Southern accent and flare on display between our sips of sweet tea. I appreciated her authenticity.
 

 
I know what it’s like to be afraid of my own mind.
 
 
Oh, I hated it, I hated it! But I learned to live within the hell of it. Because that’s what it was. Hell. With all the good going on in my life–with all the God at work–I had come to a sure truth: I knew exactly where the devil’s playground resided. And it was with me all the time. Right there, in my mind.
 
 
Most of us can only live each day as it comes. But those with bipolar disorder will either live those days bouncing off the clouds or clawing our way through the mud.
 

 
I’m thankful I’m neither in the clouds or the mud these days.
 
The Bipolar Experience is a good resource for family and friends of those with bipolar disorder. Eva and LeeAnn sprinkle facts about the illness throughout the book, but they approach it in the context of her story, not as a medical encyclopedia.
 
I could relate to LeeAnn’s goal-oriented side of bipolar disorder. It’s a little known fact that a bipolar person tends to fixate on a goal–however big or small–until they achieve it. Many times, a person with bipolar disorder is viewed as extremely productive. I could see that in LeeAnn’s story–and in mine.
 
As much as I wanted to read The Bipolar Experience in one sitting, I struggled to read non-stop because I swing more to the depressive side of bipolar. I needed to take some breaks from reading it when I found myself swinging low. I would caution those who struggle with mental illness to be aware of that possibility prior to reading it. Awareness is key. 🙂
 
The story hops back and forth through key events in LeeAnn’s life, which as, LeeAnn herself admits, is a glimpse into the life and mind of a person with bipolar.
 

 
There are times in the telling of this story when I worry that I cannot keep the reader on track. Then again, this is a book about the bipolar experience, so why should I be able to do that? After all, my life has been up and down, down and up. Around a left-turn corner. Around a right-turn corner.
 

 
I can understand the rationale for that approach. However, as a person with bipolar disorder, I found it difficult to follow her journey. People who struggle with the illness are often obsessed with things being in a specific order–to the point of OCD. (LeeAnn mentioned her struggles with OCD too.) In order to create a linear progression of her life, I had to, as a classic sign of a bipolar person, go back and highlight the year in each chapter to understand what happened first, next, and so on. Nonetheless, the non-linear approach is a good representation of a bipolar mind for those who don’t face it firsthand.
 
I know family and friends of bipolars will appreciate the chapters by her husband and daughter. They were honest, heartfelt, and demonstrated the power of a strong support system. The importance of a good doctor is a continuous thread in the book.
 
Overall, I recommend The Bipolar Experience by LeeAnn Jefferies and Eva Marie Everson to family and friends of those struggling with the nauseating see-saw of this illness. For those who face this struggle, The Bipolar Experience is a reminder that God can use our circumstances (including illnesses) for good, but only if we let Him. LeeAnn is a great example of that. I am. You can be too.
 
 
***
 
 
Come alongside… Do you know someone with bipolar disorder or another mental illness? How can you support them? Do you see signs of mental illness in yourself? What can you do to get help? If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, how are you managing your life? Comment in the box below where it says, “Leave a Reply.” Remember, you can comment anonymously.
 
 

Lessons Learned in the Strawberry Field

 
Hi, friends!
 
Recently, my family and I went strawberry picking for my 42nd birthday. That’s right. 42. 😮
 
I wasn’t feeling well that day. Chronic illness has a way of surprising you, regardless of special occasions. Nonetheless, off we went.
 

 
Maybe it was the realization I was a year older. Or the fact that my back and knees aren’t what they used to be. But strawberry picking got me thinking about life. Here are some of my observations.
 
Sometimes, we don’t get what we want when we want it.
 

Sometimes, we try to rush things and see who “arrives” first.
 
“Okay, I’m done.” (They were back within five minutes!)
 

 
But picking strawberries, like life, isn’t about rushing. It’s about enjoying the experience, taking our time, and admiring the beauty around us.
 

 
We might not be as far “ahead” in life as we’d like.
 

 
But life is sweeter when we treasure how far we’ve come.
 

 
We might have to look hard to find the good.
 

 
And what we think looks good to us, upon further inspection, isn’t good after all.
 

 
But life is good when we can delight in the little things.
 

 
And what’s meant for us will be ready just when we need it.
 

 

 

 
In the end, life is about enjoying the time we have with our loved ones.
 

 
And sharing our blessings with others.
 

 
 
 

“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12, NLT)
 
“Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!” (Psalm 90:12, MSG)
 

***
 
Come alongside… Do you like fruit-picking season? What’s your favorite fruit to pick? What do you enjoy about picking fruit? Gardening? Harvesting? What has it taught you about life? Comment in the box below where it says, “Leave a Reply.” Remember, you can comment anonymously.
 
 

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Help! I’m Stressed and It’s Snowballing!

 
Hi, friends!
 
StressedSnowballTitlerev
I’ve read a lot of articles lately about being overwhelmed and handling stress. Have I needed them! 😉
 
I wanted to share some of these with you and hope they help you too:
 
 

Work Stress

This is a biggie, whether you work in or out of the home. Deadlines are stressful, aren’t they? Blogger Barb Raveling gives us “7 Ways to Stop Being Overwhelmed.” She teaches us ways to renew our mind and has several Bible studies on it.
 
 
 

Financial stress

If you’re low on money, you’ll want to check out Bill and Pam Farrel’s article at Just Between Us: “His and Her Financial Needs.” They list some great ideas for couples with different financial priorities.
 
 
 

Relational Stress

It’s difficult to know what to do when your loved one is stressed. Eric and April Motl have written an exceptional article over at Crosswalk: “Helping Your Spouse Through Seasons of Stress.”
 
 
 

Stress Specific to Women

Life coach and speaker Elisa Pulliam gives women “10 Stress-Management Tips” from a Biblical and practical perspective. Caution: She suggests “unplugging.”
 
 
 

Parenting Stress

I’m a newbie parent, so I know about parenting stress. 🙂 If you’re having issues with your kiddos and are beating yourself up over things you shouldn’t have said, head over to Stress-Free Kids. This is an older article, but still very useful. In it, Jill Hope shares “Four Strategies to Lessen Tension and Live More Peacefully.” Just a side note: One of these strategies involves asking for your kids’ forgiveness. I’ve had to do that a lot lately. 🙁
 
 
 

College Stress

When I think back to college, my heart races. So many stressors and the pressure to perform. ULifeline offers “Helpful tips on how to manage everyday stress” as a college student.
 
 
 

Stress Related to Life Changes

Life is about change. But sometimes–many times, change stresses us out–even when it’s a good life change like buying a house. I re-read my 2012 post about “Coping with Change” and it has helped me to regain my focus and to balance the different emotions that accompany any life change.
 
 
 

Is it More Than Stress?

When stress lingers and we don’t address it, we can dip into anxiety and depression. Huffington Post has a great article on “The Difference Between Stress and Anxiety.” Hint: One is caused by internal factors and the other external. Which one might you be experiencing?
 
 
 
I hope these resources help you cope with the many ways stress can impact your life. Bookmark them, re-read them, and share them with your family and friends. You can’t avoid stress, but you can manage it. Remember, stress in one area of your life can snowball into other areas.
 
 
AddressStressrev
 
 
 
Come alongside… Are you stressed? What is causing you stress? Has it dipped into depression and anxiety? What can you do to address it? Who can you call? What one thing can you change? Share with us in the comments section below. Remember, you can comment anonymously.
 
 
 

Tell Me About Your Day

 
Hi, friends!
 
When my husband and I were dating, we started a tradition of telling each other our favorite and least favorite things of the day. We learned a lot about each other, and it helped us to stay connected, especially when he was working hundreds of miles away.
 
 
This proved better for us than just asking “How are you doing?” because, as most people, we would answer, “Fine.” By asking each other about our favorite and least favorite parts of the day, we deepened our relationship. Our answers revealed so much more than a simple one-word answer ever could:
 
 

  • Interests
  • Concerns
  • Sense of humor
  • Feelings
  • Values

 
 
It could have been easy to forget about it when he returned from working halfway across the country. Instead, we kept it going. Now that we’ve adopted our children, we’ve involved them as well. They love it and look forward to talking about their day–whether it’s after church, after school, after a family outing, during dinner, at the end of the day.
 
 
As Valentine’s Day approaches, I wanted to share this idea with you in the form of my very first printable: “Tell Me About Your Day.” I hope you will print it and use it with your significant other, with your family, and even with your friends. I would suggest even laminating it. I know it will help to deepen relationships with those around you. It has helped me to be consistent in learning about the people I love.
 
 
Here is a full-color version:
 
TellMeAboutYourDay Printable
 
 
Here is a grayscale version:
 
B&WTellMeAboutYourDay
 
 
What better way to come alongside your loved ones and invite them into your life. 🙂
 
 
Let me know how it goes. I would love to hear how this tool helps you.
Hugs,
Daphne
 
 
 
P.S. — Happy Valentine’s Day. 😀
 
 
 
Come alongside. What was your favorite part of today? What about your least favorite part of the day? Share with us in the comments below.
 
 

Relapse Ain’t Got Nothin’ on My Recovery Group

 
Hi, friends!
 
RelapsenothinrevLet’s talk recovery. More specifically, relapse.
 
We see it over and over again on the news, mainly with celebrities whose relapse into addictions and unhealthy behaviors results in death. Singer Whitney Houston comes to mind. Just this week, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died after being clean more than two decades. He relapsed last year.
 
This isn’t just about celebrities. We see relapse more and more in the lives of those around us—family, friends, acquaintances, even people at church. We might be the ones in relapse.
 

I’ve relapsed.

 
This past year has been incredibly difficult for me: Emotional stress, financial issues, and tense relationships. Like others in recovery, I’ve had a hard time not falling back into old habits when I face triggers. I’ve had some missteps–even skidding back to square one in several areas. I’ll be honest: I wasn’t practicing what I wrote two years ago about preventing and reversing relapse:
 

  • Reflect
  • Expose your triggers and plan your escape strategies
  • Look up and re-learn scripture passages
  • Activate your accountability partners
  • Pray, pray, pray
  • Share your story
  • Evaluate regularly

 
(You can find more detailed explanations about each of these tips in part one and part two from 2012.)
 
One thing has been important for me to step back onto–and stay on–my recovery path:
 
 

I started attending weekly recovery group meetings again.

 
 
Recovery groups aren’t just for people who struggle with drugs or alcohol. Recovery groups are for people who struggle with anger, codependency, food addictions, workaholism, pornography addictions, fear and worry, trust, and so much more. People like me and possibly you.
 
I made a lot of progress when I was attending group, so I didn’t see the need to keep going once I was “better.” Now I remember why it’s important to attend my recovery group regularly. I have people who hold me accountable. They don’t judge me, criticize me, or look at me any differently when I make a bad choice. They listen, understand, and love me no matter what. My recovery group keeps me from relapsing. They are my family.
 
 
Attending weekly also helps me to live consistently, my word for this year.
 
 
I don’t know why I ever stopped attending. 😉
 
 
LastRecoveryGrouprev
 
 
Today, I encourage you: If you’re struggling to stay on your recovery path–or if you’re already on an unhealthy and destructive path, find a recovery group in your area. Celebrate Recovery is a great place to get connected. You’ll meet with others who will walk with you, encourage you, and love you.
 
 

Two people are better than one. They can help each other in everything they do. Suppose someone falls down. Then his friend can help him up. But suppose the man who falls down doesn’t have anyone to help him up. Then feel sorry for him! Or suppose two people lie down together. Then they’ll keep warm. But how can one person keep warm alone? One person could be overpowered. But two people can stand up for themselves. And a rope made out of three cords isn’t easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
 

 
 
Don’t go it alone. Relapse ain’t got nothin’ on recovery groups!*
 
 
Come alongside… Are you staying on track in your recovery? Have you taken steps back? What can you do to get back on the right path? Share with us in the comments below. Remember, you can comment anonymously.
 
 
 
*Note: I don’t mean to minimize addiction by saying it’s easy to recover by solely attending recovery groups. Other resources and treatments might be necessary to address recovery. Recovery groups are just one component to address recovery, relapse, and addictive behaviors.


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Life’s Healing Choices Revised and Updated: Freedom from Your Hurts, Hang-ups, and Habits (Kindle Edition)


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Affiliate Disclosure

Daphne Tarango is a participant in affiliate programs with Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, DaySpring, Church Source, Hazelden, Life is Good, Positive Promotions, BloomThat, CesarsWay, Christian Strong (via Conversant and ShareASale). These advertising services are designed to provide a means for sites like DaphneWrites.com to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to said merchants. Some images and articles may contain links to products on merchant sites. Should you choose to make purchases through those links, please understand that I will receive a small commission. Please do not feel like you need to use these links to make any purchases. The links are only for your convenience. Thank you.

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