The Racecar is in Red

Mania Alert! (Don’t worry, it’s “hypo”). Hypo is not a typo. (See what I did there?)

It’s shifting time again, as it seems I’ve started a bit of “hypo-manic” stage. It’s the “less-dangerous” version of full-blown mania in Bipolar Disorder and usually pretty manageable.

If you follow my Facebook page, you’ll know that I’ve been on fire these last few months, doing everything from teaching writing in Vietnam, to blasting through Chicago to see international rugby, to reporting on visiting Japan, to traipsing around the Bornean jungle looking for Orangutans with Crazy Cora.

But lately, it’s been a little too much fire.

People have been asking me lately what Bipolar Disorder is like. I explain the mood swings. And then recently I’ve been saying how great I felt (even though I have Bipolar Disorder) and that I’ve been super-productive and am just doing so many different things even on very little sleep. And then…and then…it hits me. This is hypo-mania, it’s happening now.

So, hi, Bipolar Hypo-Mania! You know, I’m just feeling so amazing and getting so many things done, it’s hard to be critical of the state. But it’s just a little too much. My husband notices that in normal discussions, just shooting the shit, “The racecar is in red and there’s no slowing it down!”

Time to buckle up and downshift, but just today I’m trying to figure out how to do that. I just have so many ideas! Maybe it’s time to sit down and start writing my fiction book that I go the idea for the last time I had a manic episode. (Damn, it was brilliant! See, that hubris is classic Bipolar.)

Anyways, what to do? People always ask what to do in these situations.

-Well, I emailed my doctor for one.

I always go for medical treatment in these situations! Someone this week sent me a blog post about people giving medicated people a hard time. I spent 7 minutes yelling in the mirror about what I would say to those people who try to shame people for taking medications to battle mental illness. (Basically, fuck off. But I have soooo many excellent words to say it with…there’s that symptom again.)

-I talked to my husband about devising some strategies for managing the behaviours at home before it causes problems.

We haven’t figured anything out yet, but being on a team in a relationship if really important when you have mental health problems. Good thing it’s only one of us!

-I want to start up so more meditation this week.

Meditation does not trump medication. Ever. But it’s a helpful tool and feels pretty good to give myself permission to just sit. Also, observing my thoughts helps me see the mood patterns. Chiefly, the goal is not to be UP all the time, but rather in the middle.

-I have this plan to buy a statue of Guan Yin, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, whose figure was in the title of book by a bipolar Singaporean lady I met at a book signing.

In my head, I’m ready to negotiate with the store that sells the statue. You see, I’ve been eyeing this statue for about two years and every time I go to check on the price, they give me a different price. But I’ve got the cash stashed in my wallet and it’s been there for a few weeks. It’s time.

-I ordered some kind of brainwave headband that shows you what your brain state is whilst you’re meditating.

I’ve been looking at these brainwave devices also for several years. This one isn’t too expensive but one brand, which is approved by the FDA for depression and insomnia, is several hundred dollars! The one I bought just measures brainwave activity but the expensive one actually changes it. Maybe down the road I can try that one…

-And I’m writing this blog again after a long break.

It’s funny, I don’t always feel compelled to blog when things are normal. Truly, it is way more interesting to blog when the “racecar is in red.” (And do you know I can type more than 120 words a minute, especially in the racecar? Fucking brilliant. And there’s that classic Bipolar grandiosity again…)

I’ve just told my husband that I’m doing some writing and he’ll probably say to stop immediately, LOL! But it seems like the right thing to do now. Aside from that, I’ll stick to my manic schedule, which includes a charity event for writing, walking thousands of steps in my two ongoing Fitbit challenges ( just won one last week, thank you very much), doing a radio show interview, planning yoga and mediation and shopping for the week, and getting ready to go to Bintan island for a long Chinese New Year weekend.

Go go go, Speed Racer!

–Rise from the ashes, never give up. Haven’t said that in awhile.

~Andrea, The Bipolar Phoenix



The stairs broke (I suck at resilience)


This is what it’s like having bipolar disorder and falling down the stairs….True story: The stairs collapsed underneath me.


I was feeling pretty good today, unlike past weeks where I had hip bursitis or a rib out of place that the osteopath must put back in. Mentally, I’ve been stable. Check. So, naturally, with both hemispheres of mental and physical in good shape, I went out for a walk, heading over to East Coast Park outside my condo.


But I didn’t get very far.


As I walked past the kiddy pool I said hello to an upstairs nanny and glanced over at an outdoor yoga class on the pool deck. As I walked down the wooden deck stairs to head over to the back gate the stair fucking broke. Pieces of it whipped underneath me and I went crashing down the god damn stairs, landing full-on on my right knee. I jarred my hip and my sensitive rib cage. But I jumped up right away to ascertain how hurt I was. I was OK initially. But I was pissssssed off.


I grabbed part of the broken stair as the yoga teacher came over to see why I “fell”. I promptly told her the stair broke under me and showed her the piece. She held her hand out as if to take it from me and I was like, “Hey, I’m taking this over to the management office now, not giving it to you!” Yeah, I was that mad that I snapped at the yoga teacher.


After taking obligatory photos of the broken steps, I marched, limped, stomped over to the condo management office. They were stunned as I breezed in demanding an injury report and immediate action. They had no idea what I was asking for. It took two tries but finally got them to view the stairs and fill out the report. I had to keep making them edit the paper saying it was NOT me slipping! It was the fucking stair that broke underneath me!


Nuances, you say. But, ah, legal shit. Legalese—it was not my fault, it was negligence on the condo management side. And watch out for the bipolar over-analyzing, awfuling and catastrophizing because that’s all going on in my head already, too.


The rational bottom line, however, is that the condo management did not keep the stairs safe, which is crazy since tons of people must traverse that walkway daily. An old person or toddler would have ended up really hurt. This 47-year-old battle axe is still pretty sore and my knee looks like shit. But I can walk and I’ve yet to head over to the clinic for scans. I just don’t want to deal with it. Because, bipolar.


I emailed back and forth with a lawyer and he, as Singapore does, was clear he felt the building would indeed say I was clumsy and avoid admitting fault. This just made even more pissed off and upset. I have time stamps on emails I sent with photos immediately after the incident, along with an injury report and 6 witnesses. This all makes it harder for the bipolar mind to absorb.


Just in case you didn’t get me, I didn’t fall the down the fucking stairs on my own; the stairs broke!


After ruminating about this for a while, because bipolar minds are great at replaying traumatic events and conflict, I had to attend a nice luncheon at the Hilton on Orchard Road with some nice AWA ladies who are all chairs of the special interest groups for the association. I was invited because I am starting a support group for expat ladies because, well, people need help. It’s called the Listen Ladies, after the Simpson episode where Marge becomes the Listen Lady at the church, helping people solve their problems.


With this, I realized, “Shit, I’m good at helping other people, but I’m shit at being resilient myself.”


I’m really ashamed of this.


Yeah, I’m human.


Yeah, you don’t have to be 100% together yourself to help others.


Yeah, I have a lot of experience.


Yeah, the stairs broke.


Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know.


But it still makes me feel like a failure. I know I gotta get over this because I have a lot of work to do in terms of teaching, mentoring and hosting a variety of people over the next few months. I can’t afford to feel bad about myself. I can’t afford to let bipolar tendencies get to me.


When I get like this and other issues come up, like my sweet little girl acting up or the possibility of dealing with another medical issue not related to me falling down the stairs, I get overwhelmed and I can’t even type on my iPhone. That’s like the bellwether of when I need to take some more meds—I can’t type. I hit the wrong letters and then I get more and more angry about it and frustrated for not being able to communicate fast enough. This is from the woman who types 120+ words a minute on a keyboard, like now.


So that’s what’s up. That’s what I decided was worth a blog post after many months of silence.


Having bipolar disorder makes it really hard to be resilient, BTW. It’s a constant struggle. I get so upset my stomach muscles hurt and only sedatives relieves it. It’s fucking hard.


I know many of you can relate to a bad day. We all have them, yes, I know this. But how do you bounce back? How did you learn that?


I’m always amazed at people who can navigate and overcome a very bad day. My husband is one of them. The guy just amazes me.


I’d love to hear from you, dear reader, how you manage to build up your resilience. Please share! Comment or PM me.


Thanks for reading.



It’s been a long time since I rock and rolled…

Led Zep-shout out that no rock-n-roll is no good.:

The last six months have been pretty useless for me, and I haven’t posted in quite some time. Since Nov. 1 actually when, I guess, I was having a hard time. Sometimes, no news is good news, but sometimes it’s just being lazy! I’ll cop to that one.

So, what’s been going on? Well, whatever set me off in November really screwed me for the last few months of 2017 and first few months of 2018. The main thing was I got off my schedule for self-care and freelance work and basically gained 20 fucking pounds. That suuuuuuucccccckkkkeedd and I am now really struggling with my weight again.

Seriously, it makes me want to cry. Yeah, it’s true, I just posted a new bikini photo on my Instagram account, but that account promotes XL body type so I felt like I had to do it to keep with my goals for inclusion. I also sent it in to the Ashley Graham company, as they were looking for photos of plus-sized women wearing their beautiful suits. [On a side note, if you are over a size 14, you MUST look at the website—these suits are amazing and will make you feel super confident in your body, whatever size you are at.]

But I digress.

Let me instead bitch about shit has not been working out for me. Sorry if it sounds like complaining, but really not sorry. Truthfully, disappointments happens and I have been upset about it. I’m all about being positive but sometimes when shit goes wrong you need to sit with it and it’s OK to be mad or feel bad about it. I just wish I hadn’t lost several months feeling sorry for myself.

December in general was a good month, but lots of partying, which left me overweight and constantly catching up my bipolar management from all the drinking. It was the frequency of it rather than the amount.

Early Jan and Feb sucked because my yoga trainings were canceled due to lack of interest. I really love teaching yoga trainings so this hurt. I think if I could pick one thing that I like to do and feel that I do well, it would be yoga teaching and training.

During that same period, I was asked to model  plus-sized clothes for a major U.S. workout apparel company. This was to be for a marketing campaign for a huge sports retailer in the U.S. We basically had the shoot scheduled and they canceled it. I know the modeling business is fickle and one should not take it personally; it’s a business after all. But for the first time in a long time, I cried. I was so fucking excited and then crushed when it fell apart. Maybe that sounds stupid but I don’t care. I have not been that disappointed in a long time.

In late March, I also had some feedback about how my book proposal was faring with potential publishers. I have an agent and she was honest in telling me that the market right now for my kind of book was tough and a bit of dead end.

Publishers right now are looking for celebrities with bipolar disorder or experts on bipolar, like doctors, researchers etc…That point pisses me off so much because I AM a subject matter expert because I HAVE bipolar! It’s a real Catch 22, as the publishers don’t want to publish an unknown author but it’s hard to become known when publishers won’t support your book.

The prevailing advice HAD been to create a marketing platform, then self-publish. If you have no platform, then attract an agent and publisher. Well, I had the agent but no publisher. I’ve had lots of interest from publishers over the years, but no contract.

I posted on my Facebook today that I am now, begrudgingly, considering self-publishing my book in order to build my own marketing platform. It will take a lot of work in self-promotion on Amazon, Kindle, blogs, social media, podcasts, whatever other outlets I can reach. But it seems that after a few years of waiting for things to happen with my book, maybe it’s time to take some action and make things happen for myself. I certainly gave the traditional publishing route enough time.

I know my book on my life with bipolar disorder could help some people. In the end, that’s what it’s all about. And after pulling myself up from a few shitty months, maybe it’s time to create some momentum. It’s time to rock and roll again.

–Rise from the ashes. Never give up


So I Lost a Couple of Days…

What do I say about a recent bipolar setback? Shiiiiiit…sometimes the words come very easily and sometimes I can’t think of where to even start to write about it.

Triggers. I guess it comes from triggers. Shit happens. Life happens. But with bipolar disorder, environmental triggers (those from outside) can really kick the ass of the internal ones (those inside your brain chemistry). I find that no matter what I do cumulatively–yoga, meditation, essential oils, Reiki, sound healing, etc…–bipolar disorder still can knock me on my ass.

To be fair, the last few weeks have not been chock full of new-age activities. We’ve had a lot of social nights out. I’ve missed a lot of my Kundalini yoga practice and weekly meditations. I haven’t picked up the oils much and barely turned on the salt lamps. Maybe that’s just a few days here and there. Most days I do those things that help me keep  life on track. But like I said, sometimes it doesn’t take much to go off the rails.

I remember waking up at 3 am one night in the last few weeks ready to write about a million things. The thoughts were powerful and the words were flowing. I was sleeping less than 4 hours a night (red flag) and talking loud and fast (just ask Brewerks!)… many ideas and opinions! Ahhh, yes, that’s what we call Hypomania, a milder form of mania characterized by less sleep, talking more and even eating/drinking a lot of sugar. So that happened.

What’s next? Then panic attacks. Then a bit of paranoia. That’s the the mania. Then not getting out of bed for 2 days, or was it 3? That would be the depressive part. That’s the roller coaster of bipolar disorder. That’s reality. That’s life. For me.

But this doesn’t happen to me all the time, I think maybe once or twice a year and only lasting a few days. Those of you who know me or see me regularly may not even notice unless I mention it. But I think it’s worth mentioning just in terms of educating people about how insidious bipolar disorder can be. People may look relatively normal but they may be suffering inside.

The whole ordeal lasts a few days. It sucks for me. It sucks for the people around me. My little girl comes in to give me hugs. My helper steps up her household and childcare duties. My husband gets frustrated but is supportive. We get through it. It’s not unlike bad days non-MI people have. I just have a name for it.

So those are just the facts. Nothing like the grandiose thoughts I get sometimes about it.

I’m doing better today and hopefully going forward for the rest of the week.

Time to ‘rise from the ashes,’ again.

The High-Frequency Houseguest

The universe brings people together for a reason, right? A sound healer I know says, “There are no coincidences.”

So, when a friend from my 2015 Kundalini yoga training in Bali said she was coming to Singapore on a visa run, I jumped at the chance to invite her to stay with me. My husband was going to be out of town for a business trip and I tend to have a bit of bipolar trouble when he is away. I thought it would be helpful for me to be around some magical energy!

It worked out perfectly for my Shakti Sista’ Kirsty to spend a few days with me and I knew that I could share all the holistic practices that I usually end up doing alone. Usually, I go to yoga alone, vegetarian restaurants alone, sound healings alone…anything spiritual or new age, I’m on my own.

This amazing young woman set out on a new journey a few years ago that has led her to the life of a shaman and healer in places like Bali, Cairns, Ibiza and Glastonbury, England. It’s a beautiful free life that fulfills her as she does the good work of the universe. I wish I had had the guts when I was her age to defer my man-crazy choices for healthier life options.

But don’t get all judgy. She’s not a hippy. She gets shit done. She works hard and supports herself. In her previous life, she was a high-end PA for a huge international consulting firm and has mad skills in business, logistics, marketing and more. I felt very lucky to have some advice on how to manage the variety of work efforts I have going at any given time. She knows her shit and rocks the foundation as well as flies high in the clouds. What a balance!

With all this, I was very excited to TALK to her! Turns out she is a damn good listener and I would venture a guess that she could add “listener” to her list of professional healing talents.

Upon her arrival, I hammered with thoughts, feelings, questions, insights, questions and more questions. I told her about how my intuition was working or not working while teaching writing and yoga. I told her about my bipolar disorder and some of the stranger side effects like what I see and hear when I am half-awake/half asleep that I normally would never mention (expect in this blog, ha!). I asked questions about Sirians and Pleiadeans, which are actually alien beings that have visited Earth, particularly places like Kauai. I asked about mental health and holistic medicine. I asked about mental health and shamanism, which basically calls people like me potential healers whose frequencies are just running very high and the illness is not only the difficulty in processing the energy but also of the stringent boxes that society puts us in.

Yep, it may have been a little far out for most non-holistic folks but it was absolutely divine to be able to talk in a two-sided conversation about these things. This leads to my title about high-frequency people. The ones who can process the vibes of life and the universe are the good ones and even the great ones. The ones who can’t are suffering. And that’s OK, there are many different kinds of spiritual, new age people. Lucky, lucky me to have one stay at my house!

Just for the record, here’s a quick guide: High-frequency people rather follow Michelle Obama’s comment, “When they go low, we go high.” It’s literally taking the high road, or doing the least damage in this world. It means understanding your own heart and being compassionate about others. If you think that’s bullshit then you probably need to work on your frequency.

In contrast, low-frequency people complain, harass, criticize, troll, argue…all the bad shit we see on TV and on social media and even in our workplaces and homes. Who makes the shittiest, meanest, most ignorant comments? (some world leaders, my ex, frenemies, neo-Nazis…) And don’t’ worry, I’m not living in a glass house; I have been that person, that annoying shitty person treated people badly and acted shamefully. But I’ve worked on all my bullshit and I’ve changed. With all that, that’s not to say that people of all frequencies don’t feel that way, but it’s how they act on or respond to those feelings and stimuli that makes the difference.

To see who these people are, you might think of someone who you really like such as your Mom who never gives up on you or a trusted colleague who makes you feel good even when work sucks. You might think of a leader like the Dalia Lama (seriously HIGH frequency) or Ryan Seacrest, who seems to do such a nice job talking to all of us on radio and TV. (I never watch Ryan Seacrest for the record, but at least he didn’t get his best friend’s wife pregnant like the low-frequency Simon Cowell.)

For me, my husband operates on a high frequency all the time, even without yoga, meditation or frankincense oil, so I really miss him when he’s gone. I have him to thank for supporting me in this lifestyle, as well as allowing me to live in a part of the world where much of this crazy-cool stuff came from.

In closing, I can just say that I am glad Kirsty came to stay with me and Cupcake and Tita Rose. I got a lot of confirmation and a lot of support on ideas and feelings that feel very isolating sometimes, from bipolar disorder to spiritual beliefs. Most importantly, I realized I am not alone. There is always a frequency there and it matters which end you tap into. I choose to go high.

‘Joie de Vivre’ Comes Even Without Mania Sometimes

I feel so lucky today. I feel amazing. Very happy. Joyful.

No, it’s not bipolar mania this time. It’s me teaching yoga. I love it. I got to share my teachings with 15 people for a beginners’ workshop and it was epic.

It’s nice to feel good about your work. Yoga teaching is one of the only ways I’ve felt accomplished and consistently good at what I was doing. And it’s one of the only places I had gotten positive feedback from bosses, co-workers, clients and class participants. Thank god for yoga teaching!

Concurrently, the “joy” that comes with bipolar mania, while it is addictive, is pretty self-destructive in the end: You get this feeling that you are awesome and unstoppable. Can you see where that would be a problem?

Maybe you think you can rule the world. Maybe you think you can fly. Maybe you think you are the most fun of anyone in the room. Usually these things are not true in the real world. But with bipolar mania all that crazy shit feels true.

You may have heard bipolar mania can be productive, and that’s partly true. I definitely felt pretty god damned productive this week when I was writing two articles due Friday. I was damn sure I was kicking ass and super, duper happy when I was done, wanting to skull like 10 beers. (I didn’t! But I wanted to.)

It’s never a good idea to swing too high with moods, no matter how amazing mania may feel. When it happens to me, I have to remember not to drink too much, if at all, and not to go shopping or start texting people or posting on social media because inevitably, it gets overdone and just ends badly.

But today, with a healthy outlet like yoga, I am able to feel the “Joy of Life” without being self-destructive. While yoga is a career of mine, it’s also a tool I use to manage my bipolar disorder. And god damn it, it works!

Well, I just wanted to share with everyone what the difference is between healthy and unhealthy “joy.”

Namaste, everyone. Namaste.

Sinead is Suffering. What Would You Do?

A lot of people have seen the Sinead O’Connor video on Facebook, Twitter and other social and news media. (here’s one: and another:

She is suffering immensely and did a 12-minute video on how fucked everything in her life is. She feels stigmatized. (She allegedly lost custody of her youngest kid because of her mental health. Probably a bad move for her illness. P.S.—Hey assholes, don’t discriminate against mentally ill people.)

So, what do you do? I hope someone who knows Sinead will rescue her. My friends from my rugby team saved me in 2002. I’m glad they took the time, made the effort, cared enough to do something. I am lucky and I lived through that terrible time. (Thanks, North Shore WRFC. Always grateful for you.)

What do you do if you see a friend, colleague or family member suffering like this? Here are some ideas:

In Singapore (where I live), reach out to Samaritans or have the person in question call them. They are trained to help and are the only outreach available in Singapore. Available 24/7. Call 1-800-221-4444. They will help.

In America, the suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255. The website also has excellent resources for everyone involved. They also have a chat service:

In any country, you can also take that person to the emergency room. Yes, they have to agree to go. Yes, I know how hard this is. Please try.

However, if they are trying to hurt themselves or anyone else (less likely) then you can get the police involved and that is an involuntary admission. Sorry, it sounds not very nice but it’s better than watching someone ruin their lives or kill themselves.

I personally worked with and trained Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officers in the Chicago Police Department through my work with NAMI of Greater Chicago. They care. There are other CITs in other U.S. towns and cities so just ask for a CIT officer when you call 911. They are trained to understand and help in these situations.

BTW, in Singapore, if you need an ambulance call 995. If you need the police call 999. In the U.S. both dispatches are through 911.

Ok, that’s emergencies.

Regular-time stuff: Check in on people. Send a text, a message on Facebook or CALL them. Maybe consider going to their house. Not everyone responds but it’s a gesture of caring. If you need to escalate from there (police, doctors, etc..) because they refuse to respond, do not be afraid to do so. Police can do a wellness check at their address and I believe FaceBook also helps with this if you think someone is in trouble. It could make all the difference.

Sometimes though, people just need to know you care. Even a hug with no words could help. And don’t just talk. Listen. Listen to how they feel. Maybe talk, maybe don’t. Listening is a great help.

The bottom line is that people need people. And people matter. All people matter, even mentally ill ones. Please don’t turn your back on someone with a mental illness.

Sinead is reaching out for help and support. I sincerely hope she gets it. I wish I could talk to her but I’m a world away and who knows how to reach her, but I would if I could. She’s a spiritual woman so I hope God blesses her and keeps her safe.