Useful Mental Health Resources

I will add more resources as I come across useful things, so keep coming back.

Online resources:

Other noteworthy blogs:

Online support groups:

Support group meetings:

Western Cape, South Africa

Details about groups in other provinces, South Africa

Books

Once you start looking, you’ll find that there are SO MANY books on bipolar disorder out there, it is really hard to know which ones are the best without recommendations. And since they are so expensive, it’s hard to choose which ones to buy. Since so much info is available online, I have limited my purchases, but can definitely recommend the books listed below.

An Unquiet Mind: Memoirs of mood and madness

by Kay Redfield Jamison

I read this book when I was just diagnosed and it opened up a new world for me. Here was someone who very accurately described exactly what I had been feeling but couldn’t put into words.

Here’s what Amazon has to say:

“Dr. Jamison is one of the foremost authorities on manic-depressive (bipolar) illness; she has also experienced it firsthand. For even while she was pursuing her career in academic medicine, Jamison found herself succumbing to the same exhilarating highs and catastrophic depressions that afflicted many of her patients, as her disorder launched her into ruinous spending sprees, episodes of violence, and an attempted suicide. Here Jamison examines bipolar illness from the dual perspectives of the healer and the healed, revealing both its terrors and the cruel allure that at times prompted her to resist taking medication. An Unquiet Mind is a memoir of enormous candor, vividness, and wisdom—a deeply powerful book that has both transformed and saved lives.”

A Memoir of Love and Madness: Living with bipolar disorder

by Rahla Xenopoulos

I found Rahla’s writing utterly inspiring. A memoir like Kay’s, Rahla’s story is very different from hers. She has a great sense of humour, but it does not dilute the seriousness of the topic. She writes beautifully about her interesting life and again, most importantly, is easy to relate to. She doesn’t go into the more technical aspects but beautifully explains the disorder as she sees it.

Description on Amazon:

“In 1992, Rahla Xenopoulos was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Despite the devastating diagnosis, she sought education on her affliction. Although she found an abundance of literature on various mental illnesses, none of it seemed applicable to her. This situation inspired her to write a book chronicling her ongoing efforts to come to terms with a disease that is, in effect, a life sentence. The book recounts her upbringing in an eccentric, loving Jewish family, her struggle with bulimia, anorexia and self-mutilation, her attempts at suicide, finding true love and, finally, the ‘crazy, utterly unpredictable experience of giving birth to triplets’. This is neither a self-help book nor a medical guide. Reading this book will not cure anyone; bipolar disorder is a chronic illness. But it did help Rahla – as it will countless others – ‘to understand the rhythm in the cacophony of this condition'”

Bipolar disorder for dummies

by Candida Fink and Joe Kraynak

Although I haven’t actually read this book, I’ve pages through it and it covers the basics well. I would recommend it for someone who’s just been diagnosed, and specifically for anyone who has bipolar’s support group. The ‘for dummies’ series is usually a pretty good one.

Description on Amazon:

“When you or a loved one is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it can be a time of fear and worry. Bipolar Disorder For Dummies, 3rd Edition is a reassuring guide that sorts out the differences between bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder; explains the biology behind the illness; and covers the latest medications, therapies, and self-help techniques to ease and eliminate symptoms, function in times of crisis, and plan ahead for manic or depressive episodes.

This latest edition includes coverage of the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition) classifications and specifiers for bipolar disorder, updated content on genetics, biochemistry, and imaging studies relevant to bipolar; expanded coverage on how to handle the high costs of treatment; guidance for supporting a loved one (who may not want help); and expert insight into medications and treatment options, including electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and deep brain stimulation (DBS); along with new coverage on special populations (differences in diagnosing and treating bipolar disorder in women, seniors, expectant moms, ethnic populations, and other groups).

Bipolar disorder, which has also been called manic-depression, is a brain disorder that causes unusual mood swings and shifting energy levels. The symptoms of bipolar disorder can, if not understood and properly treated, disrupt relationships, families, and careers. The good news is that bipolar disorder responds very well to the right medication, therapy, and self-help strategies and skills. When bipolar disorder makes you feel as though you’re losing control, reach for Bipolar Disorder For Dummies–the book that puts you back in the driver’s seat.

  • Recognize the warning signs of mania and depression
  • Tell the difference between bipolar I, bipolar II, and related conditions
  • Discover which medications are best for treating both poles of bipolar disorder–depression and mania–and for treating related conditions, including anxiety
  • Find practical strategies for dealing with medication side effects
  • Develop communication, problem-solving, and conflict-management skills for preventing and dealing with the interpersonal conflict that often accompanies bipolar disorder
  • Find out what you can do to help a loved one with bipolar disorder

Bipolar Disorder For Dummies, 3rd Edition offers straightforward, reassuring information about bipolar disorder to help you or your loved one conquer the illness.”

The Wellness Workbook for Bipolar Disorder

by Louisa Grandin Sylvia and Andrew A Nierenberg

I’m not normally into self-help, but I’ve realised that just being medicated is not enough, and that leading a health lifestyle contributes to my mental well-being. Nevermind the fact that not having to worry too much about my body failing me, makes it easier to cope when my mind does fail me. It focuses on weight gain, but addresses how to maintain a healthy lifestyle when sick generally. I have found this book very practical and easy to read. What I most like about it is that it doesn’t just tell you what you need to do to stay healthy and expects you to do it all the time. It takes into account that sometimes you can’t even get out of bed, nevermind exercise. But it gives you tips on how to get through that by doing the bare minimum. It takes into account that you’re not gaining weight because you are an unhealthy slob, but because your medication genuinely has an effect on your metabolism. The authors, even though they don’t struggle with bipolar, have the attitude of ‘I may not fully understand, but I try my best and I get it’. I like that.

Description on Amazon:

“Studies show there is a clear link between bipolar disorder and obesity-related illnesses. In this workbook, a leading Harvard Medical School researcher and bipolar expert presents a step-by-step, evidence-based behavioral lifestyle program to help people with bipolar disorder live healthy lives, regulate moods, and lose weight.

If you have bipolar disorder, you already know about the emotional ups and downs that can accompany this disorder. But you may not know that people with bipolar disorder are far more likely to die from obesity-related illnesses as a result of poor nutrition and poor lifestyle choices.

For the first time ever, this comprehensive workbook offers the proven-effective, Harvard-researched diet and lifestyle program made popular in the best-selling book Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy, to help you manage your moods, lose weight, and thrive.

When you are experiencing a manic or depressive episode, making healthy lifestyle choices is probably the last thing on your mind. That’s why The Wellness Workbook for Bipolar Disorder offers guidance to help you implement healthy changes into your daily life—one step at a time.”

 

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