Breaking Bipolar

Breaking Bipolar

Word for the day: burble (noun)

If you’re like me, you may think a burble is a term used to describe that cute little sound babies make, or maybe a new kind or mouthwash. But according to blogger Natasha Tracy, one of Sharecare’s top 10 online influencers in the area of depression, a burble is a low-pressure pocket of air that exists behind any kind of structure. A former skydiver, Tracy knows about burbles firsthand: “If you fly into a burble behind trees, you’ll crash to the ground because of the tumultuous air,” she explains.

That unstable, about-to-crash state is what Tracy covers in her blog, Bipolar Burble. An award-winning writer, mental health advocate and self-described “professional crazy person,” Tracy was diagnosed at age 21 with ultra rapid cycling bipolar type 2, a condition that can be especially difficult to treat.

“I sat alone in my apartment and cried for days,” says Tracy, recalling her diagnosis. “The thought of being tied to pharmaceuticals for the rest of my life was more than I could bear.”

That was 12 years ago. These days, Tracy copes with what she calls “periods of wellness and unwellness.” And she pours herself into her blog, writing mainly about mental health, bipolar disorder, depression and treatment-resistant depression. She shared with us some of her tips for those who are newly diagnosed and for their loved ones:

  • Study up. Knowledge does two things, says Tracy. It helps you move forward with your diagnosis and treatment, and it helps dispel fear. That second part’s important, she says, because “getting rid of fear gets rid of stigma.”
  • Be smart online.  “Unfortunately for every piece of high-quality info, there is low-quality information,” Tracy says. She adds that while online communities can be a great form of support, they can also be misleading and confusing. “With this illness you can’t believe, say, your neighbor over someone with a medical degree,” Tracy says. Question what you read and check sources.
  • Find a time and place where you can be yourself. “The stress of pretending is very real and stressful, and it will make you feel worse,” Tracy warns. Make time to be your genuine self. If the time doesn’t come naturally, Tracy says, “Dig it out and create it."

Three more things you should know about Natasha Tracy:

On hair color: “Normal is boring. I think blending in and being like everyone else is overrated. …. I’m not about societal conventions.”

On hanging up her parachute: After 150 jumps, Tracy no longer sky dives. “I had my time and it was really wonderful,” she says. Though she was “terrified out of my soul” the first time, Tracy now recommends that everyone try it.

On calling herself crazy: “I am colored and shaped by being crazy, and I use the term crazy.”

Medically reviewed in February 2020.

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