Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Dr. Val’s Interview of Me on Revolution Health

I’m so used to being the interviewer for my series “How Do You Move Beyond Blue?” that I thought it might be a refreshing change to let someone grill me.
I had the honor of being interviewed by Dr. Val Jones, the chief medical director of Revolution Health earlier this week. Dr. Val writes her own blog, “Dr. Val and the Voice of Reason,” an excellent review of health headlines with a little of her personality thrown in between. She has agreed to be interviewed by me for this blog. But first, here is her interview of me, which you can find on her blog by clicking here.
You can listen to the entire interview by going to the podcast (which you can get to by clicking here).
Therese Borchard is a vibrant author, editor, and mother of two. She has a critically aclaimed blog called “Beyond Blue” at, which is devoted to supporting people who are living with bipolar disorder. Therese’s writing is engaging and humorous, as she normalizes the experience of mental illness through her own lens of motherhood. Revolution Health salutes Therese for her compassion, and I hope you enjoy getting to know her through this interview:
Dr. Val: Tell me about the circumstances surrounding your diagnosis of bipolar disorder. What was it like when you received the diagnosis for the first time?
Therese: I’ve struggled with depression most of my life, though college was when I first started taking medication and came to terms with the diagnosis of major depression. However, I had a much harder time when I realized that what I had was actually bipolar disorder. This was really difficult for me because my aunt was the only person I knew with bipolar and she took her own life when I was 16. So I had a lot of resistance to that diagnosis.
In fact, I ended up seeing 7 different psychiatrists, went through 2 hospital stays, and tried a total of 23 different medications.
Dr. Val: What’s the story behind the 7 psychiatrists? Were you not connecting with them?
Therese: I strongly advise people with bipolar or anyone struggling with depression to find the right doctor. For me it was going to Johns Hopkins, an academic center that has the best research and an outstanding team of doctors. My bipolar symptoms were not clear cut or “textbook” so it took a team of specialists to really help me find the best treatment path.


Dr. Val: What have you found to be most helpful (therapeutically) to keep you feeling balanced and in control?
Therese: My three staples are diet, exercise, and sleep, because I think that with any illness you just have to make those a priority. Obviously, finding the right doctor and the right medication is important too. Another key component to my recovery was connecting with a greater mission – I see that as my blog. Reaching out to others gives back to me every day. When I read a biography of Abraham Lincoln (he struggled with major depression, but didn’t have meds back then) I was struck by the fact that he focused on the emancipation of slaves as a positive way to get through his depression.
Obviously, a good therapeutic relationship with your doctor is important, as well as finding the right medications for you when/if needed.
I’ve found Dr. David Burns’ book, “Ten Days To Self Esteem” to be really helpful. It’s a work book that you can use as a journal. He asks you to list all your distorted thoughts, how they’re distorted and then how you can think differently. For example, we sometimes engage in mind-guessing, like “Oh he hates what I just said…” when the person isn’t thinking that at all. This book is really good for people with mood disorders.
I also regularly engage in prayer, and as a Catholic it’s really important to me and my healing.
Dr. Val: What advice do you have for people living with bipolar disorder?
Therese: You have to surround yourself with people who understand your illness because it’s so easy to be hard on yourself and adopt an attitude of “I should be able to get over this problem” and then feel deflated when it doesn’t magically disappear. It is so much easier when you have friends around to remind you that bipolar disorder is an illness like arthritis or diabetes – that it can be disabling and it’s not your fault.
Bottom line: Work as hard as you can on your diet and exercise, use light therapy as needed to help elevate your mood, and educate yourself as best you can about your illness.
Dr. Val: You mention diet as an important factor. Do you follow a special diet or do you just mean ‘healthy eating’ in general?
Therese: Mostly I’m talking about a healthy diet with lots of fiber, fruits and veggies, lean protein and whole grains. Caffeine and sugar are dangerous and alcohol can really mess up psych meds. Everything nowadays seems to have high fructose corn syrup in it. I try to stay away from highly processed foods and white flour.
Dr. Val: Do you believe that there is a stigma associated with bipolar disorder? How can that be reduced/removed?
Therese: The stigma does exist. I read a recent article about celebrities basically saying that antidepressants sap your personality, creativity, and sex drive. They make it sound as if people with bipolar disorder are doomed to live a dull and mediocre life. Other articles, like those about Britney Spears, are so negative. They make you think, “Oh God, this woman is never going to be normal.” The media really does bipolar disorder a disservice. Why not say that 70-80% of people with bipolar recover completely and do beautifully? They live very fruitful and productive lives. I have a hard time with how the media presents mental illness in general.
I also find that when I tell people that I have a therapist appointment their eyes sort of bug out. But it shouldn’t be shameful, it’s no different than going to a doctor’s appointment. We have to continue to work on tolerance and acceptance for mental illness.
Dr. Val: What role can online communities play in the management of daily life with bipolar?
Therese: Online groups have proven to be beneficial to those suffering from depression. Sharing your story is therapeutic in itself. Also the anonymity offered by online groups can make sharing stories and struggles more comfortable. For people who live in remote areas or who don’t have access to transportation, online groups offer the best way to connect with others.
Dr. Val: How do your coping mechanisms change when you’re struggling with mania versus depression?
Therese: Some of them are the same, like getting good sleep, eating healthy foods and exercising. I have two little kids so I watch the movie “Cars” a lot with them. And I like what one of the characters says in response to a question about steering around curves. He says, “in order to go left, you need to turn right, and in order to go right, you need to turn left.” I always remember this when I’m manic or depressed because it’s counter-intuitive.
When you’re depressed, the last thing you want to do is to get yourself involved in life, and get up and get moving – but that’s exactly what you need to do. When you’re manic it’s so easy to say, “This is so great, I’m on a roll, let’s go all night!” It’s hard to shut down your computer and say, “No, I’ve worked enough, now it’s time for bed.” But that’s what you need to do.
Dr. Val: Is there any bipolar-related information or service that you’ve always wished you could get from the Internet but doesn’t exist yet?
Therese: I wish there were an type directory online where you could find therapists, doctors, partial stay hospital programs, and support groups in your zip code, and read reviews from others about them. A one stop resource center would be great!
Dr. Val: You work at Beliefnet – tell me a little bit about what the spiritual side of the bipolar journey. How has spirituality played a role in your healing?
Therese: I grew up as a very religious kid and my OCD made itself manifest at a young age. I remember that when I was in fourth grade I wrote a book for my mom and her prayer group friends about how to get to heaven. I look back and laugh at that now because it probably listed things like looking at the sacred heart and praying the rosary 15 times.
But on a more serious note, when I was deeply depressed and feeling suicidal the thing that kept me from taking my life was the thread of hope that God was there. If I didn’t have that I don’t think I’d be here. I often asked God for signs of His presence during that horrible times, and believe it or not, I always received them.
*Full Interview Available Via Audio Podcast*
To read more Beyond Blue, go to, and to get to Group Beyond Blue, a support group at Beliefnet Community, click here.

  • Tamara

    Thank you, I was really feeling discouraged b4 I read this interview… Now.. I don’t feel so bad.. I was feeling bad because I wasn’t hadn’t connected with this therapist that I saw, recently.. and was feeling guilty that it was me..just not liking what they where saying.. Thanks agian..

  • pamela ruth munro

    Was feeling as if I were spinning around a center – but in a muzzy way – Meds + allergy meds, I think. But I also lose my bearings spiritually at those times. Then today, because I asked for it, all sorts of spiritual input came – including you & your interview. We thank you. (My interviews have been about pennypinching, but that’s another story!)
    Hope you continue to be well
    all best
    pam munro

  • Richard Allen Hultin

    Hi Theresa,
    I appreciate your matter-of-fact manner of revealing your struggles and
    victories with BP. I am in a NAMI Connections support group, where most of the members have Bi-polar, also. I merely have chronic depression, but I relate to almost everything in your interview, above. I especially agree with your practice of healthy diet, exercise, and regular sleep. I am a committed Christian, as well, and find daily prayer, Bible reading, and meditation my strongest ties to God’s healing love.
    Thanks for your dedication to your blog and passion to remove stigma
    from mental health issues.

  • Calling All Angels

    Hi Rich,
    “I merely have chronic depression.” Bless your compassionate heart!! :-)

  • Sandra

    Hello Theresa;
    My name is Sandra and I have been bi-polar since I was 34 years old..I am now 66…What a trip..I was married at 19 to an alcholic, divorced him after 17 years.. He was Catholic..Got married in the Catholic Church..We had a daughter after 6 years..(she had colic the first year of her life) I thought I’d go crazy.. My husband just worked and drank, so I had to divorce him…But he stayed together…:(
    He passed away 4 years ago..Now I’m lost..I met a man 7 miles from me ..I have NO CAR…He is sick in the hospital..My husband left ALL our money to my daughter…I guess thats OK..
    When am I to be happy?

  • Dr. Val

    I really enjoyed interviewing you, Therese! I’ve also received lots of comments from people regarding the 7 psychiatrists part – finding the right therapy fit is so important. No shame in going to someone else if the first isn’t helpful. :) Keep up the great work!!!

  • Kevin

    Therese, I don’t know how you do it. Isn’t easy to bare one’s soul. Harder still to pull it off without violins playing and stretching to get in the limelight. Harder still to show your face on video especially when down. Harder still when you get 100 nasty-notes. Harder still to satisfy every reader, respond to each email. Harder still to balance family life with this work.
    One cool thing is you are a truly impressive whackjob–you aren’t just bipolar. You are alcoholic (probably could get you polysubstance abuse status), you’ve OCD, generalized anxiety, panic, dysthymia, probably a few phobias, maybe some sexual dysfunction, possibly features of some personality disorder,maybe computer addiction, and on and on. The only strikes against you: no schizophrenia or antisocial personality.
    Yet, you play mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, writer, advocate,…That list you prepared for the adults listing for adults 15 ways to get to heaven was a sign you’d make it through. A little girl ‘Jesus’ about her Father’s work…damn Jesus didn’t do it till he was 12. Could you be…..
    Lightness aside, keep at it. You are a gift.
    Ah Sandra, sometimes it never seems to end. It seems somebody has confused you with Job or the business about fitting the back to the burden is a cruel idea. I believe it is a cruel idea. I’ve seen too many broken backs and suicides to believe otherwise. It’s people like you I feel closest too and most admire. The people who feel most forgotten and abandoned somehow matter the most to me.
    Maybe we ask Therese to organize a prayer event (better yet, Therese can delegate this one…we don’t want to push her all the way over the edge) with 500 people praying for you on the same day and time, maybe once or twice a week at scheduled times different people get the prayers of a few hundred people. Couldn’t hurt. Isn’t hard to do.
    Silent tears and a standing ovation for all who enter some site created by the ‘how to get to Heaven list’ little girl turned woman:’every step along the way to heaven is heaven, for did He not say:I am the Way?”

  • linda

    Hey theresa, I have a nephew and he pretty much has a shirine to Cars and I have seen it a enough times to know:
    I used the line in the movie: The king tells Lighting mcqueen :get a good crew chief (jesus and others) and you do your part adn let them do theirs….

  • Sue

    you said “But on a more serious note, when I was deeply depressed and feeling suicidal the thing that kept me from taking my life was the thread of hope that God was there. If I didn’t have that I don’t think I’d be here. I often asked God for signs of His presence during that horrible times, and believe it or not, I always received them”
    definately know what that is all about Therese, I have had those moments a few times and I too believe if it wasnt for Gods grace I would not be here…All it takes is a mustard-seed of willingness and hope to open the door so God can get in..I too have always had that faith that God was there, somewhere and he has always made his presence known when I need it.

  • Kimberly

    Who is this Kevin posting on here? What a weird Tom Cruise-esque posting, huh? Anyway, REALLY enjoyed your interview. I’m once again filled with enormous gratitude for what you do on here. I think you’re more inspiring than you will ever know. Keep writing so I can keep reading! :)

  • A Member of the BB Community

    Hi Kimberly,
    Kevin is a kind, caring and funny member of the BB community.
    He truly meant what he said regarding a prayer day for Sandra. He would be one of the first in line to organize it.
    Keep reading and posting and in time you’ll get to know this wonderful, unique community.

  • Jim Johnson

    This is one of the most uneducated pieces of literature I have ever set eyes on.

  • meperdone

    Not every meal is made for us.This meal was made to nourish others.
    It would be a very boring world if everyone liked the same thing.
    It would be like if men and women were the same.
    Si,,Jim, l’amour ef viva la difference. 😉
    Keep reading the next meal may be one that nourishes you.

  • michele

    Hi Therese,
    I stumbled upon this blog from the yahoo article. Thanks for sharing this with us all. I have a brother that is bi-polar and this helped me understand him a bit more. I am Catholic also, I am glad to hear that you put your faith out there to let people know to hang in there.To reach for God, and let him know that it is your free will to choose him and ask for his guidance. He will always give you the grace to overcome, somehow….as long as you ask. Father knows best!!!

  • Mike

    I separated from my wife and had an affair with someone who absolutely fell in love with me until she decided to bring someone else into the picture and cheated on me. She said she was affraid of losing me and she wanted to beat me to the punch before I went back to my wife. Now she wants to come back because she broke it off with the other person, but she keeps getting caught lying, as she did before. Can this person be truly in love with me or is she just out playing games? Please help.

  • melissa

    well, mike… its obvious that youre what some people call, a “fall back on”. meaning, youre there when she has no one else. the whole thing about her wanting to beat you to the punch is a way to turn things around on you. believe me, she is playing games with your heart. what happens when you really fall for her? who will be the next guy she has sex with, just to keep you?

  • Anonymous

    This is wonderful.

  • Marlene Esparon

    Hi Therese,
    I saw this blog from yahoo. Just to advise you that somehow you have to go on a special diet for you to get well. I can introduce you with a health centre that can advise you with natural medecine. you can browse in http://www.hallelujah acres I assure you this health center can help you like they’ve helped me. And you must put your trust in God.
    God bless you.

  • Sandi

    Thank you for sharing yourself with the world…the information you give helps others understand that we are whole people regardless of any type of illness.

  • Mimi

    I am glad I came across your book, A Celebration of Married Life. On Beliefnet, you describe a spike of dopamine and norepinephrine when infatuated. Do you know of research related to this idea? I would love to find out more about such research and pass the info on to my clients. I think this spike may be part of the romance of the wedding day and may contribute to the letdown people feel after the honeymoon. I have a service, Mimi Licht’s Wisely Wed in which I counsel couples about the need to think beyond the wedding day; using the wedding planning process to develop skills which ensure a more fulfilling marriage. Thank you for your insight.

  • Mike

    Thanks for your comments. I did fall for her hard and she broke my heart big time. Although she never admitted to what was happening, she eventually had no choice but to admit because she got caught in a hotel with the guy. Of course she said she was just watching TV with co-workers and the person was not even there. I want to stay away from her, but every time I do, she comes back and I take her. How do I get the inner strength to get away. She is without any doubts playing with my heart. She will go days or weekends withou calling me and then she will call to “check on you and I miss you and I have been thinking about you”. She will not answer my calls at all. It seems the only times she answers or calls me is on her way to work or home from work. HELP PLEASE!!! I NEED SOME REAL HELP!!!

  • Mike

    She has told me how wrong she was and how stupid she was for not waiting for me. She now wants to start a family with me, but she keeps lying. I want to stop this mess and work on my marriage. She is like an addiction that I keep going to even though I know it will eventually kill me. She is not trust-worthy and every time I make love to her, I think about all the things she was doing with someone else. I need help from everyone to get over it.

  • Mike

    This is Mike again. A new development has happened since 1.5 hrs ago when I posted my last comments. The person she “broke off” with to be with me because she wants me to take her back, left her a message tonight on her answering machine. Let me go back to Saturday. I told her that I wanted her to call him and break it up for good. She said “No, I will not call him”. As we got in the car she proceeded to tell me the reason she will not call him is because she had already called him earlier in the day. She told me how she told him to stop bothering her. This morning when I went to visit her around 4:00 AM, I heard a message she was listening from him saying that he wanted to see her today and would come by around 4:30 AM and tap on her window so she can come out and they can leave together. I just left and decided not to confront the situation. Once again she can never and will never be trusted. I may be stupid or something, but why does she keep doing this to me? Why keep playing with my feelings like this?

  • Margaret Balyeat

    Therese: Well done! Once again you put yourself out there and presented yourself as the “poster girl for bipolar recovery”! Anyone reading or hearing this interview who doesn’t come away with a renewed–or NEW!!!– understanding that a diagnosis of bipolar disorder isn’t(or doesn’t have to be) an automatic death sentence–is either deaf, dumb and blind(Or maybe all three!) You are SUCH a blessing to the mental health community, and you just proved it again with this well-articulated interview. I thank God for the blessing that is Therese Borchard daily! BTW, until listening to this interview, I’ve been mispronouncing your surname by stressing the last syllable (the chard”) rather than making it rhyme with orchard! Love, best wishes and all things good to you, my friend!

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