Julie A. Fast

Adversity: Diagnosed with ultra rapid cycling bipolar disorder II in 1995

Advocacy: Became a bestselling author and mental health advocate

“A2A stresses that those with an illness can be strong advocates even while dealing with adversity. We do not have to be symptom free to make a difference in this world!”

Julie A. Fast was diagnosed with ultra rapid cycling Bipolar Disorder II in 1995 at age 31. Like most people who are first diagnosed, Julie tried to manage the illness strictly with medications. (There were very few management books on the market in 1995.) By 1998 and 22 medications later, Julie was 60 pounds overweight and desperate. She asked her doctor, “What help is there for me?” He said he didn’t know of anything. Julie found a helpful medication in 2005 that helped with many of her symptoms, but life was still difficult due to the constant mood swings. From 2008 until 2011 her mood swings increased daily. Julie had unsuccessful ECT in 2010 and increased her medication dose with no success.

Fortunately, Julie finally found medications that worked. She says, “My treatment plan kept me going (and still does) and the new medications saved my life. My mood swings were filled with helplessness and terror. I’m surprised, but thankful that I’m better.” It’s not innate to know how to manage bipolar disorder. Education, medications and a very solid social and family oriented management plan are ideal, but everyone needs help creating a plan that succeeds. Julie’s work exists to help those with bipolar disorder create this plan and find stable lives. She also knows the importance of educating and supporting family members, partners, teachers and health care professionals who are on the outside of this illness looking in. Julie is the author of several popular books, including Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner and Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder: A Four Step Plan to Help You and Your Loved Ones Manage the Illness and Create Lasting Stability.

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