BiPolar & Borderline Personality Disorder
BiPolar: Up's & Down's. Manic. Depression. How many times have we heard someone described as bipolar because of unstable behavior? Your illness is not your identity. BiPolar has a encouraging bell-curve when the right medication is found. You are not alone.
B.P.D. is becoming more known. It's often confused with BiPolar but like J. will attest, you can be diagnosed with both. "BPD", many times, shows its self in unstable relationships and also has rapid cycling with dramatic up's & downs.
Bipolar Disorder (Information from NIMH.NIH.GOV)
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.
There are four basic types of bipolar disorder; all of them involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, and energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very sad, “down,” or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes). Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes.
Bipolar I Disorder— defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Usually, depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least 2 weeks. Episodes of depression with mixed features (having depression and manic symptoms at the same time) are also possible.
Bipolar II Disorder— defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not the full-blown manic episodes described above.
Cyclothymic Disorder (also called cyclothymia)— defined by numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms as well numerous periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least 2 years (1 year in children and adolescents). However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode.
Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders— defined by bipolar disorder symptoms that do not match the three categories listed above.
Signs and Symptoms
People with bipolar disorder experience periods of unusually intense emotion, changes in sleep patterns and activity levels, and unusual behaviors. These distinct periods are called “mood episodes.” Mood episodes are drastically different from the moods and behaviors that are typical for the person. Extreme changes in energy, activity, and sleep go along with mood episodes.
People having a manic episode may:
People having a depressive episode may:
Feel very “up,” “high,” or elated
Have a lot of energy
Have increased activity levels
Feel “jumpy” or “wired”
Have trouble sleeping
Become more active than usual
Talk really fast about a lot of different things
Be agitated, irritable, or “touchy”
Feel like their thoughts are going very fast
Think they can do a lot of things at once
Do risky things, like spend a lot of money or have reckless sex
Feel very sad, down, empty, or hopeless
Have very little energy
Have decreased activity levels
Have trouble sleeping, they may sleep too little or too much
Feel like they can’t enjoy anything
Feel worried and empty
Have trouble concentrating
Forget things a lot
Eat too much or too little
Feel tired or “slowed down”
Think about death or suicide
Sometimes a mood episode includes symptoms of both manic and depressive symptoms. This is called an episode with mixed features. People experiencing an episode with mixed features may feel very sad, empty, or hopeless, while at the same time feeling extremely energized.
Bipolar disorder can be present even when mood swings are less extreme. For example, some people with bipolar disorder experience hypomania, a less severe form of mania. During a hypomanic episode, an individual may feel very good, be highly productive, and function well. The person may not feel that anything is wrong, but family and friends may recognize the mood swings and/or changes in activity levels as possible bipolar disorder. Without proper treatment, people with hypomania may develop severe mania or depression.
Proper diagnosis and treatment help people with bipolar disorder lead healthy and productive lives. Talking with a doctor or other licensed mental health professional is the first step for anyone who thinks he or she may have bipolar disorder. The doctor can complete a physical exam to rule out other conditions. If the problems are not caused by other illnesses, the doctor may conduct a mental health evaluation or provide a referral to a trained mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, who is experienced in diagnosing and treating bipolar disorder.
Note for Health Care Providers: People with bipolar disorder are more likely to seek help when they are depressed than when experiencing mania or hypomania. Therefore, a careful medical history is needed to ensure that bipolar disorder is not mistakenly diagnosed as major depression. Unlike people with bipolar disorder, people who have depression only (also called unipolar depression) do not experience mania. They may, however, experience some manic symptoms at the same time, which is also known as major depressive disorder with mixed features.
Bipolar Disorder and Other Illnesses
Some bipolar disorder symptoms are similar to other illnesses, which can make it hard for a doctor to make a diagnosis. In addition, many people have bipolar disorder along with another illness such as anxiety disorder, substance abuse, or an eating disorder. People with bipolar disorder are also at higher risk for thyroid disease, migraine headaches, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other physical illnesses.
Psychosis: Sometimes, a person with severe episodes of mania or depression also has psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions. The psychotic symptoms tend to match the person’s extreme mood. For example:
Someone having psychotic symptoms during a manic episode may believe she is famous, has a lot of money, or has special powers.
Someone having psychotic symptoms during a depressive episode may believe he is ruined and penniless, or that he has committed a crime.
As a result, people with bipolar disorder who also have psychotic symptoms are sometimes misdiagnosed with schizophrenia.
Anxiety and ADHD: Anxiety disorders and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often diagnosed among people with bipolar disorder.
Substance Abuse: People with bipolar disorder may also misuse alcohol or drugs, have relationship problems, or perform poorly in school or at work. Family, friends and people experiencing symptoms may not recognize these problems as signs of a major mental illness such as bipolar disorder.
Scientists are studying the possible causes of bipolar disorder. Most agree that there is no single cause. Instead, it is likely that many factors contribute to the illness or increase risk.
Brain Structure and Functioning: Some studies show how the brains of people with bipolar disorder may differ from the brains of healthy people or people with other mental disorders. Learning more about these differences, along with new information from genetic studies, helps scientists better understand bipolar disorder and predict which types of treatment will work most effectively.
Genetics: Some research suggests that people with certain genes are more likely to develop bipolar disorder than others. But genes are not the only risk factor for bipolar disorder. Studies of identical twins have shown that even if one twin develops bipolar disorder, the other twin does not always develop the disorder, despite the fact that identical twins share all of the same genes.
Family History: Bipolar disorder tends to run in families. Children with a parent or sibling who has bipolar disorder are much more likely to develop the illness, compared with children who do not have a family history of the disorder. However, it is important to note that most people with a family history of bipolar disorder will not develop the illness.
Treatments and Therapies
Treatment helps many people—even those with the most severe forms of bipolar disorder—gain better control of their mood swings and other bipolar symptoms. An effective treatment plan usually includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy”). Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness. Episodes of mania and depression typically come back over time. Between episodes, many people with bipolar disorder are free of mood changes, but some people may have lingering symptoms. Long-term, continuous treatment helps to control these symptoms.
Different types of medications can help control symptoms of bipolar disorder. An individual may need to try several different medications before finding ones that work best.
Medications generally used to treat bipolar disorder include:
Anyone taking a medication should:
Talk with a doctor or a pharmacist to understand the risks and benefits of the medication
Report any concerns about side effects to a doctor right away. The doctor may need to change the dose or try a different medication.
Avoid stopping a medication without talking to a doctor first. Suddenly stopping a medication may lead to “rebound” or worsening of bipolar disorder symptoms. Other uncomfortable or potentially dangerous withdrawal effects are also possible.
Report serious side effects to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch or by phone at 1-800-332-1088. Clients and doctors may send reports.
When done in combination with medication, psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy”) can be an effective treatment for bipolar disorder. It can provide support, education, and guidance to people with bipolar disorder and their families. Some psychotherapy treatments used to treat bipolar disorder include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
Visit the NIMH Psychotherapies webpage to learn about the various types of psychotherapies.
Other Treatment Options
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): ECT can provide relief for people with severe bipolar disorder who have not been able to recover with other treatments. Sometimes ECT is used for bipolar symptoms when other medical conditions, including pregnancy, make taking medications too risky. ECT may cause some short-term side effects, including confusion, disorientation, and memory loss. People with bipolar disorder should discuss possible benefits and risks of ECT with a qualified health professional.
Sleep Medications: People with bipolar disorder who have trouble sleeping usually find that treatment is helpful. However, if sleeplessness does not improve, a doctor may suggest a change in medications. If the problem continues, the doctor may prescribe sedatives or other sleep medications.
Supplements: Not much research has been conducted on herbal or natural supplements and how they may affect bipolar disorder.
It is important for a doctor to know about all prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and supplements a client is taking. Certain medications and supplements taken together may cause unwanted or dangerous effects.
Keeping a Life Chart: Even with proper treatment, mood changes can occur. Treatment is more effective when a client and doctor work closely together and talk openly about concerns and choices. Keeping a life chart that records daily mood symptoms, treatments, sleep patterns, and life events can help clients and doctors track and treat bipolar disorder most effectively.
Borderline Personality Disorder
(Information from NIMH.NIH.GOV)
Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships. People with borderline personality disorder may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days.
Signs and Symptoms
People with borderline personality disorder may experience mood swings and display uncertainty about how they see themselves and their role in the world. As a result, their interests and values can change quickly.
People with borderline personality disorder also tend to view things in extremes, such as all good or all bad. Their opinions of other people can also change quickly. An individual who is seen as a friend one day may be considered an enemy or traitor the next. These shifting feelings can lead to intense and unstable relationships.
Other signs or symptoms may include:
Efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment, such as rapidly initiating intimate (physical or emotional) relationships or cutting off communication with someone in anticipation of being abandoned
A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self
Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating. Please note: If these behaviors occur primarily during a period of elevated mood or energy, they may be signs of a mood disorder—not borderline personality disorder
Self-harming behavior, such as cutting
Recurring thoughts of suicidal behaviors or threats
Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
Chronic feelings of emptiness
Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
Difficulty trusting, which is sometimes accompanied by irrational fear of other people’s intentions
Feelings of dissociation, such as feeling cut off from oneself, seeing oneself from outside one’s body, or feelings of unreality
Not everyone with borderline personality disorder experiences every symptom. Some individuals experience only a few symptoms, while others have many. Symptoms can be triggered by seemingly ordinary events. For example, people with borderline personality disorder may become angry and distressed over minor separations from people to whom they feel close, such as traveling on business trips. The severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last will vary depending on the individual and their illness.
The cause of borderline personality disorder is not yet clear, but research suggests that genetics, brain structure and function, and environmental, cultural, and social factors play a role, or may increase the risk for developing borderline personality disorder.
Family History. People who have a close family member, such as a parent or sibling with the disorder may be at higher risk of developing borderline personality disorder.
Brain Factors. Studies show that people with borderline personality disorder can have structural and functional changes in the brain especially in the areas that control impulses and emotional regulation. But is it not clear whether these changes are risk factors for the disorder, or caused by the disorder.
Environmental, Cultural, and Social Factors. Many people with borderline personality disorder report experiencing traumatic life events, such as abuse, abandonment, or adversity during childhood. Others may have been exposed to unstable, invalidating relationships, and hostile conflicts.
Although these factors may increase a person’s risk, it does not mean that the person will develop borderline personality disorder. Likewise, there may be people without these risk factors who will develop borderline personality disorder in their lifetime.
Treatments and Therapies
Borderline personality disorder has historically been viewed as difficult to treat. But, with newer, evidence-based treatment, many people with the disorder experience fewer or less severe symptoms, and an improved quality of life. It is important that people with borderline personality disorder receive evidence-based, specialized treatment from an appropriately trained provider. Other types of treatment, or treatment provided by a doctor or therapist who is not appropriately trained, may not benefit the person.
Many factors affect the length of time it takes for symptoms to improve once treatment begins, so it is important for people with borderline personality disorder and their loved ones to be patient and to receive appropriate support during treatment.
Tests and Diagnosis
A licensed mental health professional—such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker—experienced in diagnosing and treating mental disorders can diagnose borderline personality disorder by:
Completing a thorough interview, including a discussion about symptoms
Performing a careful and thorough medical exam, which can help rule out other possible causes of symptoms
Asking about family medical histories, including any history of mental illness
Borderline personality disorder often occurs with other mental illnesses. Co-occurring disorders can make it harder to diagnose and treat borderline personality disorder, especially if symptoms of other illnesses overlap with the symptoms of borderline personality disorder. For example, a person with borderline personality disorder may be more likely to also experience symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, or eating disorders.
Seek and Stick with Treatment
NIMH-funded studies show that people with borderline personality disorder who don’t receive adequate treatment are:
More likely to develop other chronic medical or mental illnesses
Less likely to make healthy lifestyle choices
Borderline personality disorder is also associated with a significantly higher rate of self-harm and suicidal behavior than the general public.
People with borderline personality disorder who are thinking of harming themselves or attempting suicide need help right away.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to everyone. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889. All calls are free and confidential. Contact social media outlets directly if you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates or dial 911 in an emergency. Read more on NIMH’s Suicide Prevention health topic page.
The treatments described on this page are just some of the options that may be available to a person with borderline personality disorder.
Psychotherapy is the first-line treatment for people with borderline personality disorder. A therapist can provide one-on-one treatment between the therapist and patient, or treatment in a group setting. Therapist-led group sessions may help teach people with borderline personality disorder how to interact with others and how to effectively express themselves.
It is important that people in therapy get along with, and trust their therapist. The very nature of borderline personality disorder can make it difficult for people with the disorder to maintain a comfortable and trusting bond with their therapist.
Two examples of psychotherapies used to treat borderline personality disorder include:
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): This type of therapy was developed for individuals with borderline personality disorder. DBT uses concepts of mindfulness and acceptance or being aware of and attentive to the current situation and emotional state. DBT also teaches skills that can help:
Control intense emotions
Reduce self-destructive behaviors
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This type of therapy can help people with borderline personality disorder identify and change core beliefs and behaviors that underlie inaccurate perceptions of themselves and others, and problems interacting with others. CBT may help reduce a range of mood and anxiety symptoms and reduce the number of suicidal or self-harming behaviors.
Read more on NIMH’s Psychotherapies health topic page.
Because the benefits are unclear, medications are not typically used as the primary treatment for borderline personality disorder. However, in some cases, a psychiatrist may recommend medications to treat specific symptoms such as:
other co-occurring mental disorders
Treatment with medications may require care from more than one medical professional.
Certain medications can cause different side effects in different people. Talk to your doctor about what to expect from a particular medication. Read more in NIMH’s Mental Health Medicationshealth topic.
Other Elements of Care
Some people with borderline personality disorder experience severe symptoms and need intensive, often inpatient, care. Others may use some outpatient treatments but never need hospitalization or emergency care.
Therapy for Caregivers and Family Members
Families and caregivers of people with borderline personality disorder may also benefit from therapy. Having a relative or loved one with the disorder can be stressful, and family members or caregivers may unintentionally act in ways that can worsen their loved one’s symptoms.
Some borderline personality disorder therapies include family members, caregivers, or loved ones in treatment sessions. This type of therapy helps by:
Allowing the relative or loved one develop skills to better understand and support a person with borderline personality disorder
Focusing on the needs of family members to help them understand the obstacles and strategies for caring for someone with borderline personality disorder. Although more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of family therapy in borderline personality disorder, studies on other mental disorders suggest that including family members can help in a person's treatment.
J's STORY: PART 1
Karen: Hello, welcome to the C50 podcast. J, Becca Fella and I all know that mental health is important and those sitting around this table are either diagnosed with a mental illness or support someone who is. If you're anything like us, you may be listening to this while you drive. Work, clean or you could be doing many other things. We would encourage you to visit www.c50hope.com. Where you can follow up with our podcast and get more help.
J: We have worked hard to build C50 into a ministry that can reach those affected by someone, struggle with mental health and a deeper illness. We believe that relationship with Christ is key in finding hope. However, we're not professionals. Think on our words, process them, but never consider us more important than a doctor or therapist you may be working with. We would love to recommend professionals that value all your needs including medication and therapy. And we'll also point to Jesus Christ as the center of your life and the way for healing and taking you from hurt to hope.
Karen: There are a lot of people that give to C50 that make this all possible. We have people praying, maybe they give financially, people that donate time or space.
J: And as an example, we found a home for the C50 podcast generously donated for us at McQueen builders. In the South Hills of Pittsburgh PA. Let's call this McQueen Studios. And this is where we pick up today.
Karen: Hey, welcome to the C50 podcast. We are super excited to be here today. This is our first podcast. Thanks so much for joining us and listening in. So joining me here today, we have J who is the executive director of C50.
J: Yes. I don`t know how I feel about that title. But it sounds more important than maybe what I do.
Karen: So along with J, we have Becca who is J's wife.
Becca: That`s me.
Karen: And then we have Bella, who's my daughter.
Karen: So J, start us off and let our listeners know what we're going to be talking about today.
J: Well, the C50 podcast, this is our first podcast. And I'm excited because I'll get to what we're going to talk about today in a second. But if this is really cool because we're sitting in an awesome room at McQueen Builders. And Jeff at McQueen Builders is an incredible guy and he values what we're doing. And so he wanted it off of this stuff. And so we got a studio that I'm calling McQueen Studios. We've got our own room and we've got a big window over here and it's snowing outside. We've got our coffee. And so we are excited that this is our first podcast. And we're trying to do this right and we've been recording for a while and figuring out all the details. But we want this podcast to be a podcast that helps people that are struggling with their mental health.
In sort of in a general way because we all have mental health that we need to deal with. And we also want it to be impactful for those that have a diagnosis or they're kind of in a process of finding out about a mental illness that they have. So we want this podcast to be helpful. And just remember any time when you're listening to this or after, if you can do it, go to C50 hope.com. C50 hope and that's just the letter C five zero h o p e c50 hope.com. And check out more of our podcast, what we're all about, what we're doing and you can get involved with us there.
Karen: So today it's all about J. We're going to here.
J: That`s exactly the things that.
Becca: Sounds familiar.
J: That's like the exact opposite of what I need.
Karen: Mental health recovery.
J: That's part of my recovery that does not say that.
Karen: So today we're going to be talking with J. And J is going to be sharing his story, kind of where he came from. Where he's at now and where he's going.
J: Well, the cool thing about this is that we have Becca. I have Becca right in front of me across the table. And Becca can attest to just about the thing that I say because back and I go back all the way to when. Like I knew her when she was nine.
Karen: That's crazy.
Becca: I know.
J: So Becca had this traumatizing event in her life. Her dad passed away. And I still remember at the funeral, I remember Becca at age nine. And so we were best friends growing up. And it was just incredible. We just spent a lot of time together and then we got married. And so like Becca has just been a part of my life for 30 years.
Karen: That`s an amazing story. I mean, how many people have known each other since they were the age of nine? And they ended up getting married and started together. That's awesome.
Becca: We literally grew up dumps from each other.
Karen: That is so cool.
J: So Becca is going to jump in at any point and kind of help me out if I forget some things. But we, I grew up in Seagoville. Becca grew up in Seagoville and I'm just going to go from my perspective. Anything that I say is not exactly maybe what Becca would agree with. Because I got my own perspective on things. Like the way that I grew up, the influences on me were a little bit different. Everyone has their own story. And so this is from my perspective, but I grew up in this small town out in the middle of nowhere in Ohio, in the fields. You couldn't get fast food unless you drove 15 minutes.
Karen: No Donald's for you.
J: No McDonald’s for me. But we lived out in the middle of nowhere. But there was a large Christian university there that maybe some of our listeners know. Cedarville university in a great place. And that's where my parents worked and they actually, they still work there. And the town had this weird dynamic because it was lot of like farmers. Because it was out in the middle of the fields. But then it had a lot of professors and professors, kids that really valued education. So it made for this weird dynamic. And really specifically for me, I never felt like I fit in with the culture of Cedarville. Because I was like, I'm not this farmer sort of like outdoorsy guy. And I wasn't really into Jesus Christ as I grew up. Now I know I've got to back up and say that I found Jesus at the age of five and I got baptized. I truly believe that that's when I found Jesus. But taking that relationship to the next level and owning my faith was difficult for me in the environment that I grew up in.
Karen: Okay. So you didn't really, so if I understand you correctly. So you obviously were believers since the age of five. But you didn't really have a relationship if you will, or have Jesus as an integral part of your life as you're growing up. Through your adult or your teen years. Got It.
J: So it just kind of got worse and worse. And then as I got into junior high, I got messed up in a ton of wrong things. And just really was the furthest I've been away from the Lord ever in my life. Just because I didn't take that step where I was like owning my faith. I asked Christ into my heart and did a salvation prayer and talk to Jesus, but I just never took it to the next level.
Becca: And then I remember your sophomore year, I think it was Easter.
J: Yes Easter.
Becca: When you went forward with a couple of people in church. I remember you saying you go forward.
J: So in my sophomore year, at the end of my sophomore year really. I watched this program in our church about Easter and Jesus Christ coming back from the dead. And just felt like, man, I got to and I am a part of this. And ever since then I was excited about Jesus. Now I didn't have all my priorities right. I compartmentalize my life at times. I think I lived two lives, but Jesus Christ was always a part of me ever since that Sophomore Year of school. And what's really cool is when the Holy Spirit's inside you, when he comes into you at salvation, he is going to be a part of your life.
Karen: Let's pause for a second and take a look and see what the Bible has to say about this issue.
Announcer: When you hear about salvation and think about salvation, you think mostly about Jesus Christ and there's no argument there. The fact is there's another person involved and that's the Holy Spirit. And yes, he's a person, not an it. He's a part of the trinity. He is a person. And one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to make us holy, to make us more like Christ. How does he do that? Let's take a quick look at four ways. And as you listen to my story and what happens after this, you can know. That I can attest to God's work in my life. First John 16:8 says, the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. Mental illness is not a sin. Sure. A person with mental illness, sins like everybody else. And in my case, I'll be honest and say that I didn't have many boundaries that kept me from sin.
Mental illness is not a sin. But as you seek health and redemption, you must listen to the soft call of the spirit speaking to your life and what may be a sin. He convicts us. Second, he gives us new life. Titus 3:5 says this, not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. So he gives us new life. No matter what we've done, no matter what we've come from, no matter what we had to endure, he gives us new life. Thirdly, he's indwelling. He sets us apart on the inside. Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the spirit of God dwells in you? That's the first Corinthians 3:16. in a fallen world, our bodies may struggle with imbalanced chemicals and maybe a tweets reality, but these bodies can glorify his name. Because we are set apart on the inside being indwelled by the Holy Spirit.
Fourth, do something great. You're valuable. The Holy Spirit gives you power to serve Christ. It says in Acts 1:8 you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to me. No matter what you've done, you are valuable to Jesus Christ. Being a witness to his power and your story of redemption is powerful. Your story of process of getting to Jesus and walking more like Jesus and getting to Jesus is powerful and valuable. Finally, the process of rescue, the process of redemption, the process of taking you from hurt to hope is through the Holy Spirit. Conviction leads us to Jesus Christ. A new life is a new start. God is with you on the inside and you can be used by God.
Karen: Now back to our show. So let's get a little more in depth into your story and I just want to ask you where you started to see some signs of mental illness.
J: So in my town, in the family that I grew up in. It`s really interesting because I have a couple family members have mental illness. And they were diagnosed long before I was. But like some other stories that I hear out there, my family just really didn't engage with that. They didn't know what to do. It's not that they were, anti-mental illness or they had something about it. I really think there was a stigma about it. They were just sort of ignorant in a way that's like we've never dealt with this before. Like does our kid really have a mental illness? And I think that they just didn't know what to do. And so we never really pursued anything. I can point back to, there's two things I'm diagnosed with is one is bipolar, bipolar 3.
This is just rapid cycling between highs and lows. And then diagnosed with borderline, which is very similar to bipolar. And then take note of this, if you're listening, that bipolar and borderline can go together sometimes, but they're often mistreated. Borderline looks like bipolar and bipolar looks like borderline. So there's a movement where people say you're probably don't have both. It's very rare that you have both, but it can get confusing. So I have bipolar 3. And so I've seen doctors for bipolar 3 and borderline. I'm one of those people that have both. And I didn't notice bipolar until 2007.
Karen: 2007. How? What age were you at 2007?
J: I can't figure that out. I don't know math.
J: Okay. Becca. She's like, I remember it.
Becca: I remember that date well.
J: Yeah, she does.
Becca: We were married at that point and had a two year old.
Karen: So basically you grew up through your teen years, you notice some early signs. Your parents noticed some early signs, but maybe they thought, hey, this is something he's going to grow out of. Who knows what's going on? And you weren't diagnosed though until you were 28.
J: Well, okay, so two things. Let me just clarify this. My parents noticed some things. And I notice things, but from my therapy, we believe that what was going on in my childhood was borderline. Because borderline and bipolar and we're going to get into these things like have a whole podcast on borderline with a professional.
Karen: Cause I'm sure there's a lot of people out there listening are like, Whoa, what is borderline? What does that even mean? What does that look like?
J: We're going to talk about borderline. We're going to talk about bipolar. We're going to get a professional in here on the phone and talk to them about these things. So we're not going to leave you hanging if you don't know what borderline or what bipolar is. You can look it up on the website for now. We'll get into it later. But my parents noticed some things that were, that I was just different. And I can point back as I learned more about borderline and I work with my therapist. I can point back all the way to first, second, third grade. Or I can point out faults in my life that I'll go into therapy still and go, I cannot get over this one thing that happened to me. And it just has developed into a struggle with, that's called borderline. So it's different than bipolar. Bipolar is chemical.
Karen: So okay. Again, we're going to get more into it. So you're saying by not bipolar, I'm sorry. Borderline is more learned behavior and bipolar is chemical.
J: So just let me just clear it up. Borderline learned behavior, bipolar chemicals in your head.
Karen: Got It. Okay.
J: So the bipolar wasn't diagnosed until 2007. Borderline wasn't diagnosed until 2007. but when I started to engage with mental illness and mental health, I look back and I can see.
Karen: All those signs.
J: All those signs. So when somebody says, just like you said, oh, it's 2007 when you were diagnosed. Yeah. But I showed all the signs. It wasn't just one day.
Karen: It didn`t just kind of showed up.
J: Yeah. It doesn't just show up. So that's when I started to notice when I was young. And really borderline at a very young age.
Karen: So you have siblings, correct?
J: I have three siblings and they are incredible and have been very supportive of me. I have two older sisters. One's in across the world in Thailand. Ones down in Florida. Missionary in Thailand. My sister in Florida that has a good relationship with my brother actually is down that direction too. And he's an incredible guy. And the interesting thing about what you just said was that my siblings have been very supportive. And in their own ways. So I've got my brother that's like just by my side. And he'll go to town with me. Like he's on my side. And my sister Julie, she gives incredible advice to me. She's really smart. And then Karen is just like this loving person. And, and then my parents, his name is Karen. Yeah. Yeah. And then, and then my parents are just incredible too. And so part of the, this whole thing is that I'm so fortunate, like Bella is.
Karen: Your support team is surrounding you.
Karen: That is huge.
J: It is huge. And again, this is our first podcast. And I'm already ready to talk about everything. I just want to start talking about stories and podcasts and all this stuff. Well, we got it. We got to hold ourselves back. But that's what's really cool about Karen. And Becca is that they're a part of that support team. And you cannot do mental health, mental illness without a support team. You can't do it.
Becca: You cannot do it alone. You need Jesus. And you need your support team without a doubt.
J: Absolutely. And we'll talk more about that in upcoming podcast.
Bella: So you're diagnosed in 2007, but we should back up a little bit. We should talk about what college was like for you.
J: And it's cool that you asked that because you're going to college. It's going to be a cool time for you. And we know that there are people out there that are listening to this that are probably that age. Because usually you get diagnosed when you're young after spending about 10 years struggling with an illness undiagnosed. So college for me was a turning point in my life because I was really passionate about Jesus, really passionate about Jesus. But there were a lot of things that didn't reconcile with my passion for Jesus. So I had a love for art and music. And to be honest, I did not fit with Jesus Christ.
Bella: So you felt conflicting.
J: I felt conflicted in a lot of areas because I love Jesus passionately. I wanted to study the Bible and be a youth pastor, which I was for 10 years. I was a youth pastor for one year. But I did that because I thought Jesus wanted me to do that. And it was just sort of this weird dynamic and I think I was okay at it. But college was this the first time that I really started to compartmentalize my life.
Karen: Okay. So this is J the believer and the lover of Christ. And J who maybe wasn't necessarily always living his life looking like a Christian.
J: Okay. It was purposeful hypocrisy. And we could talk a lot about that because I really wanted to love Jesus. That was my desire. But my mind being undiagnosed didn't put things together. I was, I think like, I was immature. I had mental illness going on.
Bella: You had no idea that that was, that you are human. You had an undiagnosed mental illness going on. So you didn't know. You were just confused.
J: Just confused.
Bella: Think about that. I mean, he that says, I love Jesus, I want to follow Jesus, but what is wrong with me? Why am I not, why am I living my life this way?
J: That is one of the biggest questions that we have. It's like why do we sin? Why we do these things? Because I take full ownership of all of the horrible things I've done. Whether it's a result of bipolar and borderline or not. I take taking responsibility. Because I have to do that. I'm the one that made those decisions. And I think that's a good lead in, let me say this first. If you're out there listening to this podcast and you're going, seems like compartments. Where I have Jesus in one my relationships and another maybe your work relationships, your spouse in one, your work life in one. If you start to find, and you can connect with what I'm saying, that's normal. It's not good. But a lot of people start to put things that they don't understand into compartments and live life that way.
Karen: It's a common mental health characteristic.
J: And because for me, it makes things easier. You don't feel as bad. It's easier.
Bella: So kind of like it makes it easier or you don't feel as bad because you're like, okay, you know, I'm at Church now, so I'm church J or I'm at home now, I'm Dad J. Is that what you're saying? Just so people can understand a little bit.
J: Yeah. Yeah. You just kind of, for me, I just went into different modes.
Bella: Got It.
J: Just in a different modes.
Becca: So J and I started dating then in college our junior year, the beginning of my junior year. And I feel like I knew that compartment of J. He loves the Lord. That was the person that I knew.
Bella: But so then there was this whole other side of J that was kind of warranty. Who is this person? What's going on?
Becca: Yes. And I've always struggled with codependency and I didn't realize it at the time. So I just reconcile that in my mind. We dated the beginning of my junior year and then got engaged the beginning of my senior year and then got married Christmas break of my senior.
Karen: So apart from J getting diagnosed in 2007. Did you ever like at some point in college leading up to 2007 did you ever say, okay, there's something going on here. This isn't quite right. Did you ever have those feelings?
Becca: When we were dating I just knew within me that something was going on with his depression and in my fix it mode. I just wanted to make it better. When we would have those low times, I wanted to fix it. I wanted to make it better. And that's where I saw my role. And then after we got married, he would have those times of depression, but I didn't know how to navigate that except for try to fix it and make it better.
Karen: So that's so not to just one little take away from that, but it's so interesting that you say, cause I think a lot of people go to are out there that are the support person you can lose yourself.
Karen: And becoming the support person. And we totally are going to talk about the support team at a different podcast. We're going to dig deeper into that. But that's just an interesting point. Put out there to other people that you have to. It's a fine line being a good support person but also taking care of yourself.
Becca: Yes. And that's all this is going to be for different podcasts. But the Henry cloud quote, I've kept someone happy and lost my way. That wasn't until August of 2016. so we got married in 2003. I didn't really face these things in me until that time.
Karen: So two years ago.
Becca: Two years ago.
Karen: Wow. Okay.
Becca: So we're going back to the beginning of our journey, thinking about when we got married. And then he was diagnosed two years later. But that was my mindset has shifted since then.
J: This story today is kind of about me and Becca is a part of that, of course. But we're going to have Becca do her own story. And talk about codependency at some point on the podcast. And we're also going to share our story as a husband and wife. And so you're going to get to know all of us a little bit better. Bella is going to share her story. You can hear some very raw things. And so let's, I just want to start with in 2007 because that 2007 was one of the worst years of our lives. Well, I don't know. I mean it's kind of hard to say that.
Becca: But its interesting that you say that because the response that I probably should have had in 2008 right, I was still in fixing mode. So I didn't give that response until 10 years later from 2007. and the dysfunction that was happening in 2007 I didn't respond appropriately to that for 10 years. Right.
Bella: So obviously you were diagnosed in 2007.
Bella: When did you start seeing a therapist in 2000?
J: Well, okay. So what happened is I was working at a church in Cincinnati was really cool. Yeah, great place, great people there. But just a lot of things went wonky. It was I believe I was in a manic state. I was struggling with mania and depression. I remember crawling under a table in our basement one time and just crying. I mean it was like I just, I couldn't escape. I just want to be completely away from people. And I remember back at just like on top of me like trying to help me. And so I.
Bella: Just get out of your own head.
J: And so I was struggling with depression, like serious depression. And then I would swing to mania and I'd be like buying motorcycles. And poor Becca, this is new to her too. She just knows that this is whacked out. So I mean, when you as a support team member, when you work with somebody that is can be diagnosed, especially undiagnosed. I can't even imagine how hard it is.
Becca: Well, I was just seeing these swings too. Swings where during depression it was hard for you to get out of bed. I felt like I had to wake you up. On the weekends it was hard for you to leave the house. You were still going to work, but it was bare minimal as far as taking care of yourself physically. At home you would sit on the floor and just stare and not be watching to be not doing anything. Just really stuck in your own head. And that was how depression, your swings of depression would.
Karen: So when that was all going on, is that when you said, okay, we need to back up, we need to go, we need to get this checked out.
J: The story is it’s just so I'm trying to save the details for if we ever want to bring them out later. When maybe we have a closed group, because if it's too much, it's too much right now. We have people in our lives that I don't want to get into all this. And I'll say this. I just don't think it's the right place right now. And if you're struggling with mental illness, it can be hard for people to hear this. And so we've told people that are close to us and they're just, some people are like, okay, we're with you and we understand it. And some people are like, oh my goodness.
Karen: And then you don't hear from them again, right?
Becca: Some of this into the light in the last two years. So we were in a different mode for a long time.
J: But what happened was, is so, so if I could just, you said, well, so you know, you're sitting on the floor like staring and then you just decided to go, no, it wasn't that. My life hit rock bottom. And Becca.
Becca: You brought that to me November 1st, 2007. Becca just thought things were out of control and I knew everything I was doing.
Karen: Okay. All right. And just to ask a quick question cause I think a lot of people out there may be able to relate. And a question that I have for a lot of people out there has as well. Is why didn't you go see a therapist sooner? Like what was holding you back? I think there are so many people out there that know, okay, something's not quite right. I need to go see somebody. But maybe they're afraid to like what were, what were your thoughts about that?
J: So at this church that I was working at in Cincinnati, they gave free counseling to their staff, which is an incredible thing.
Bella: Everybody should do that.
J: Every church should, so this guy that was there at the beginning, I would just blew off. Like I would be at lunches and I'd say, well I can't make it to my therapy appointment at one o'clock. Not a big deal. And when I was in there, I would say it was the compartment of J loves Jesus. I was so I just hope that people can, there's, I know that there's people out there that are listening to this. That if they're honest with themselves, they will admit this when they're in compartmentalized good J or good person mode. They literally do not see their problems. So when I was in.
Karen: Well [29:47 inaudible] never lie.
J: Absolutely. And at least that was for me, but I think that there are people out there that are listening to this that might agree.
Becca: I'm sure. And I think that's one reason why the support person often is the one who was reaching out for help before the person with.
Bella: The actual diagnosis.
Becca: Yes, the actual diagnosis or maybe they're undiagnosed at this point. They can see, I could see the depression, I could hear J speak in youth group. I saw the difference of what was going on.
J: She's talking about Cincinnati and this actually I'll t we'll get to it, how it pours into the other churches that I've been at. But at this point I'm living two different lives. There's multi, there's even multiple, I would say there's even multiple compartments. But it's really kind of all came together to I love Jesus and maybe I still love Jesus, but I'm going to do whatever I want. No matter if it hurts people, it hurts me. And so that's what my scores, at this church. So I talked to this guy and I finally got to a low. I finally got to a point where I was like, I think I need this.
I'm going to be honest with this guy. And I started to be honest with some of the things I was doing. And he said one day he said, hey, just like every therapist I told you, I wouldn't tell anybody. I'm not gonna tell anybody, but I'm not going to see you until I'm not going to see you again until your boss, until you tell your boss.
Karen: That's interesting. Setting up boundaries. Why would he do that?
J: So, right. So, okay. So Karen, you're asking that question. That's a really good question because people could look at that and go, well, hold on. That sounds like you're forcing something. It sounds a little sketchy. But the guy who did that.
Karen: The therapists.
J: The therapists that did that, I was upset at first.
Karen: I would have been.
J: But guess what? It was one of the best things that have ever happened to me. Because what it did is it opened my eyes that something big was going on.
Becca: These compartments were crossing. You weren't being brought to light.
Karen: Did you end up telling your boss?
J: So yeah. Becca, great, great point. Because it was like there was, we're in a dark room and he flipped on the light.
Karen: You could see everything.
J: You could just, I just saw everything. I'm like, okay.
Becca: This is not to be accountable to your boss, to me than it brought.
Karen: Not to put this out there at the same time like. Who is he to say go to to your boss? He is your mental health therapist. He's your therapist. Who is he to say, go tell your boss, I can't treat you until you do.
J: That's amazing to me.
J: I think, again, let's go back to that. If we're sitting in this room and we turned the lights off, right. We wouldn't know everything that's in this room. I could probably feel out a couple things, whatever. We'd have to shut the windows if we're in a dark room. All he had to do is flipped the light switch. That's all he had to do and that's what he did. And I realized, I remember the moment that I was in his office and I said to myself, I said, I can't lose Becca. Like this is I think I'm in over my head.
And it was like he flipped a switch. So he just said there's a problem. That's basically what he said. Here's reality. There's a big problem going on. And when he said, it's big enough for me not to step in and help you until you tell. He knew that something had to be done. And what's cool about this guy is he later goes on to be the guy that's most impacted my life. Probably out at anybody I know.
Karen: It sounds like he's pretty much the person that said okay J, like open your eyes, open your eyes when you need to head down this, you need to add in this direction. You need to go here.
Bella: That's so cool.
J: Yeah. And so he just knew that he had to draw some boundaries and go, you got to get help. He wasn't trying to get me to be let go by the church or have me leave the church. That's not, that wasn't his intention. Because I know him afterward, he's the one that later the church said, hey man, I think we need to split ways. Because the way that you're living doesn't really match up with what you’re teachings. So me and the church split ways, but they said, hey, take some counseling for a year with this guy. And they paid for it and they paid for it. And so we were going like two to three times a week. And this guy is so influential in my life. And all he did was he just continued to point out the things that were wrong. In my life to things. I was off on. He made me realize, he brought me to reality. That was his gift. That was his gift was to pointed out and goes, nope, that's wrong. You got to do this again.
Karen: That is so compassionate that he did that.
J: He was a great guy. 2007 was difficult.
Karen: And that's when you were still seeing him for counseling.
J: So 2007 was right in between. I kind of jumped ahead. Yeah, it was right in between that time where I was kind of blown them off. Like I don't have a problem. And then along the line he finally said, you have a problem. And something just snapped in me and I said I can't lose Becca. This is affecting her.
Karen: And that's the thing, just to jump in just for a quick second. Is if you are struggling with mental health or mental illness, it's very difficult to be well. If you don't first communicate and realize it, there is something wrong I've come to terms with, this is not okay. I'm not well. I need to be well. If you live in kind of like in this world where you're like, I'm okay, there's nothing wrong with me. You're never going to be, well. The first road to being well is admitting I'm not quite right. There's something going on here. I need to figure this out.
J: And so one of the things is Becca and her codependency was not really doing that because she's trying to make everything right. So Becca didn't help me realize that I had a palm because she had codependency. And she's just trying to make, trying to make me happy. And she didn't try and make it, she's hurting. My parents weren't jumping in. Because at that point they didn't really know what was going on. And this was new to me. But what this guy did was he just said this is reality. And like you said, you can't admit, you can't get help until you admit that you've got a problem if there's something not right. But sometimes I think a lot of times if you find the right person, they're gonna point it out. And it was difficult to hear for a while.
Karen: It can be scary. It can be very scary.
Becca: Especially when you're in a rock box because a lot of times when people are diagnosed or that are what, how it was with you, it was in that rock bottom situation. And then that same psychologist is the one who diagnosed you as well.
Bella: It's like, yeah, when you're in a rock bottom situation, do you own, you want to hear all right, like you're good. You don't want to hear all right and what's wrong and you almost want to get reassurance. Like, all right, you're good. Like this is just something that you're going to get through. But you hear like, no, this is something, this is the actual issue is something that you need to work on. I know it's hard to hear.
J: That's exactly what happened. And so reality hit. I didn't deal with that well. At one point I had to, I went to the hospital into the psych ward really just to see this. I didn't know at that point I had, I didn't go into the psych ward, but I went to get psychiatric medicine.
Karen: And I guess you were still in Cincinnati at this point?
Becca: This was on November of 2007.
J: And so they got me on a lot of Seroquel, like a ton of Seroquel, and I was just like knocked out. And life just sort of bottomed out. Becca's hurt.
Becca: But I'm not really being honest with people.
J: It was only a few people that knew about what was going on. And so we struggled. You know what? I'm sure that most of the people are listening to this podcast can go, Yep, I get it. But if you are new to this, you have to prepare yourself that this is gonna. This is gonna be hard. You're either in there, have done that or you're out of it a little bit and you found a lot of healing. But if you're new, you got to know that this is going to be, this can be painful at times, very painful. And you got to put in a lot of work.
Karen: And if you don't stay on top of it and you don't stay on top of constantly moving in the direction of getting well, you can become complacent to that and take steps back. You have to constantly keep your eyes moving forward and realize this is a daily job for you. You need to work on this every single day.
J: Like medication, like you just don't miss medication. And I do sometimes I'm just not thinking about it or whatever, but you have to be intentional about medication and going to your therapy and all that. So I don't want to get off track here a little bit, but it was a lot of work in it. And Becca tried to make everything good. And she didn't deal with her emotions. And if I could just jump ahead a little bit. We just sort of, as much as we could do.
Becca: Well I think the focus was on your recovery too. Or your diagnosis really at that point, going to therapy, weekly therapy with that psychologist. And really that was for a year and a half. You are finding stabilization with medication, trying different medicines, adjusting to side effects. That was when I put myself back in those years that were a process.
Karen: Medication isn't always the answer for everybody. Just to put that out there.
Becca: And sometimes you just need it temporarily. The Seroquel, for example, that was just a temporary type medicine.
Bella: It gets you where you need to be.
Karen: So you can start actually using the things that you've been taught in therapy. Mechanisms or whatever.
J: Absolutely. So while this was going on, I started to grow spiritually and when I grew spiritually, I grew in a different understanding of Jesus Christ. So to me, what I thought about Christianity was up until that point and as a youth pastor was what can I do for Jesus Christ? That's a cool perspective. Because you sounds really good. But in my time of hurt and listen to this and if you're out there, pay attention to this. In my time of hurt, I needed to know what Jesus Christ could do for me. And I know that's like of that. That's kind of like walking a line where like, you know, like a theology. I'm not talking about changing up theology and saying what Jesus can do for me Up until 2007 2008 2009 somewhere in there when I really got to a place of starting to heal a little bit. I thought it was, I needed to do everything for Jesus Christ. I needed to be a youth pastor. I needed to be a missionary. I needed to tell people about Jesus Christ and that's what a good Christian does. And a good Christian can do those things. But I needed to learn for the first time that Jesus loved me.
And I remember a friend of mine, Andrew, who said when I was going through a difficult time, I sang the song, Jesus loves me and it changed my life. And this Andrew guy I think God uses that in my mind. And I started to say that over and over too.
Karen: Jesus loves me.
J: Jesus loves me. Jesus loves me.
Karen: It's amazing when you're in the darkest moments of your life, how you can really lean on him and he gets you through it. And you just have to be an accept who he is in your heart and in your life. And it's amazing where you can go with that.
J: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I remember once I started to say, Jesus loves me and I really believed that you love me when I'm manic.
Karen: Even with everything that I've done, everything that I've been through, everything I put Becca through.
J: I was in like all like if your word says this, that you love me, even in the midst of the struggle I have with mental illness, that's incredible.
Karen: Does that also make you, Jesus loves me, and that just makes you think, you know what? I'm going to be okay. I'm going to be okay. Because Jesus loves me and he's here walking through this with me, I'm going to be okay.
J: But things started to get a little bit better slowly. And hear this, that same guy pointed out something that is great. He said, you don't measure growth in days. You measure in six month periods.
Karen: That's a six month period.
Becca: I remember on the way home from that counseling appointment, you were upset. You said you wouldn't believe what he told me today. He said, I can't just change all of a sudden and expect everything to stick. I really have to implement day by day, moment by moment, and look back over the span of six months to really see.
J: It was incredible because I did not want to hear that. I thought if I go to the thing like, yeah, I'm just, yeah, okay, implement this, this, this, this and this and do those five things. I'm good. Yeah. But, for me that was hard.
And, but now I get it. If you asked me about my life now, it's been almost a year since my last low point and it's taken a year. It takes time. And if you're out there listening and you are in the midst of crisis yourself, and I'll let Becca attest to this. If you are, and Karen, if you are struck, if you're helping somebody that's struggling as a support team member, you got to know it takes time. You got to know it takes time.
Bella: So you're starting to feel a little bit better with your walk with Jesus and everything that's been going on.
J: I had asked people if I could get back into ministry so of my therapists and people around me that knew me and they said, sure. I think it's, I think it's a good idea. And I really wanted it to go with this. I have a new understanding of Jesus Christ.
And I said, I just want to tell people that Jesus loves them. That's it. I just want to tell people that Jesus loves them. So we moved out to Colorado for about nine months. And lived in Evergreen. Oh, so beautiful. And man, the people out there are fantastic. I love those people out there in the church sanctuary. But we just knew that wasn't the right fit for us for a couple of different reasons. And so we're just like, man, you know, we love these people, but we really want to go back east. And so had a good time as a youth pastor out there. And my emo was, Jesus loves you. So we lived in Ohio for a little while and I worked some temporary jobs until I got a job at the Bible Chapel in Pittsburgh.
Karen: So this was like, say 2011, 2012 somewhere in that area when you guys came to Pittsburgh.
J: So coming up on an anniversary. Yeah. So I was only at the Bible Chapel for five years and I'd say about the first three were really good. And then the last two I really I started to struggle with my mental health. And that's where I'm going to stop because I just want to say that's where the second part of my struggle is. But that points us to C50 and where we are today. And so when we do our C50 podcast, you can hear the rest of our story, the rest of my story and how Becca is involved. And we're going to go a little bit deeper in what C50 is all about. What is C50?
Karen: Thanks for listening today. Again, we have tried hard to share truth authentically and we hope that this has been a helpful time in your life. To reach us, donate, share your story, and give us feedback on how we can do a better job reaching people that are struggling. Please go to www.c50hope.com.
Becca: We leave you with this now the Lord is the spirit and where the spirit of the Lord is. There's freedom. Second Corinthians three 17 and remember as Jack Miller said, you're far more loved than you ever dare imagined