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What you need to know about relapse in bipolar disorder

david-marcu-unsplash-1700x115_20180913-042550_1 Bipolar affects more people than you think.

Bipolar disorder causes people to experience intense mood swings – from manic highs to depressive lows. Not everyone experiences bipolar the same way, however, it is estimated that at least 75 per cent of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder will relapse, even when following a treatment plan. 

In bipolar disorder, a relapse is defined as the return of depression or a manic or hypomanic episode after a period of wellness. Sometimes it is possible to predict a relapse; often it is not. For many, the onset of a relapse seems to come out of the blue.

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Standing on the outside looking in

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I've just received an email from a former colleague, telling me what she said in a referee statement. 

'I talked about the value you add to a team through creative thinking and said you are that rare person who combines exceptional creativity with solid administration skills. I told them they'd be very lucky to have you'

By the time I've finished reading, I'm sobbing.

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Five things people get wrong about anxiety and depression

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Around three million Australians are affected by anxiety or depression.

It's a mental illness that should be familiar to many. It may be a parent, sibling, spouse or friend, but someone you know will have experienced anxiety or depression at some stage in their life.

Yet, despite the prevalence and improved understanding, people living with anxiety or depression often experience stigma and misunderstanding. A laugh. A snide comment. A generalisation. No matter the malice, stigma hurts and can stop people from seeking help.

To help break down the stigma we asked five SANE Peer Ambassadors to list what people get wrong, and what they wished people knew about anxiety and depression.

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‘Giving Voice’ to mental illness and trauma

1_20180828-061059_1 'Endless Darkness' by Emma McEvoy, 2012
'Giving Voice' is a new exhibition of creative works from the Cunningham Dax Collection that showcases the art of people living with mental illness. The Cunningham Dax Collection is the only collection of its type and size in the Southern Hemisphere and consists of more than 16,000 artworks created by people with lived experience of mental illness ...
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I knew I needed help when . . .

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How do people know when something's not right and they should seek psychological help?

Are there common warning signs that suggest oncoming symptoms of mental illness?

The answer is yes, but sadly the signs aren't always obvious to the person experiencing them. Many people say it's easier to recognise the symptoms in hindsight.

To help you identify the warning signs, we asked ten SANE Peer Ambassadors to share how they knew they needed help.

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Feeling excluded from a loved one’s recovery journey

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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Experiencing a sense of helplessness can be a common experience for people supporting a loved one with a mental illness. It's natural to be alarmed by what's happening to your loved one and concerned about your capacity to support them.

This sense of helplessness can be exacerbated if you feel excluded from your loved one's recovery journey or unable to connect with them. Mental illness – no matter how severe or mild – can play havoc with a person's thinking, feelings and behaviour. It can cause distress and difficulty in functioning, and lead people to distance or detach themselves from their support network.

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How my mental illness really went

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Assumptions often govern our understanding of the world and those around us. We guess what it's like to be rich and famous, or the impact of travelling a long, rocky road due to disability or misfortune.

Many people start their journey living with a mental illness with little practical knowledge of the long-term effect their symptoms may have. They may not understand the battles they'll need to fight just to leave the house, visit family, go to work, or attend treatment.

To understand how the reality of mental illness and how it differs from first impressions, we asked nine SANE Peer Ambassadors to share their experiences.

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You Can't Ask That

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SANE Peer Ambassadors Sandy and Hannah share what it was like star in the schizophrenia episode of ABC TV's You Can't Ask That.

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What would you tell your younger self?

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Wouldn't it be nice to turn back the clock, travel back in time and give some frank advice to your younger self?

We asked 11 SANE Peer Ambassadors what they'd tell their younger self to help them through their mental health journey. They said...

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DID and sleep (or lack of it)

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I always thought that after a few nights lying awake, sleep would eventually come. It would be the only option left. I thought staying awake repeatedly would mean the body and mind would crave sleep.

But it doesn't work like that. Something chronic insomniacs know all too well.

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