MENTAL HEALTH

‘You’re worth it’: Provo couple sheds light on living with bipolar disorder

Mar 30, 2024, 9:37 AM | Updated: 5:31 pm

March 30 is World Bipolar Day, a chance to raise awareness of a mental illness that affects nearly six million Americans and has the highest suicide rate of any disorder.
Emma Benson explains how to recognize the signs, and the tools one Utah family uses to navigate the disorder.

PROVO – Christian and Annalaura Solomon have been married for nearly 15 years and are proud parents to their nine-year-old son.

“We have a beautiful life,” Christian said.

But it hasn’t always been easy. “There are good days and bad days,” he said.

12 years ago, Annalaura’s mother passed away. That unexpected family death triggered Christian’s first bipolar episode.

“Swings are often triggered by life events,” Annalaura said. “Having a deadline can be a trigger. Having a baby, having someone get married, the death of a loved one.”

Christian started having uncontrollable highs and lows.

“It was substance abuse, I lost jobs, got kicked out of school. It was just really hard,” he said. “I’ve survived eight suicide attempts. You think your loved ones are better off without you.”

Dr. Paul Carlson, as associate professor of psychiatry at Huntsman Mental Health Institute, said bipolar disorder is a very serious condition. Up to 20% of people with bipolar disorder will die by suicide.

“Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that has dramatic effects on a person’s mood, their energy, and their thought processes,” Carlson, who has a family history of bipolar disorder, said.

The intense mood swings can range from depression to mania. Manic episodes are typically the opposite of depression – having a euphoric, elated mood with excess energy.

“Typically, with depression, their energy may be low, low motivation. It can include intense feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness,” Carlson said. “With mania, people can be much more impulsive, they may have much more reckless behavior than they would normally.”

Unlike just feeling “moody,” Dr. Carlson said bipolar disorder is charactered by more discrete episodes, which can last days, weeks, or months.

“Bipolar is like, your foot’s on the pedal in your car on the gas, and you’re going 90 miles an hour and the cops are behind you and you want to stop, but you can’t figure out how to take your foot off the gas,” Christian said.

Through trial and error, Christian and Annalaura have found ways to help them manage his bipolar disorder, including medication and electroconvulsive therapy, and implementing behavior and lifestyle changes.

“You cut out the triggers that you’re able to cut out and then you have more bandwidth for the triggers that you really can’t avoid,” Annalaura said. “We don’t go watch the newest, coolest action movie because that kind of hyperstimulation can be a trigger for Chris.”

They’ve found that creating a safe space to express feelings is crucial.

“In our family, there’s no such thing as using the word, ‘fine,'” Christian said.

“When you live in this kind of environment and when your actual survival depends on open communication, you are forced to be authentic all the time,” Annalaura said.

Though life hasn’t turned out the way they planned, the couple has learned to make adjustments, all while figuring out what works for them.

“The shoe that fits me is not going to fit you,” Christian said. “It’s trial and error. That gets tiring and it gets disheartening, and you want to give up. But don’t give up, because your shoe is out there. You’re going to find it.”

Christian hasn’t given up – he found his will to live.

“Find a person that you love and decide to fight for them. Fight for them that day, the next day, a week, a month, a year. Fight,” he said. “And then somewhere down the line, you’re going to wake up and realize you’re fighting for yourself and you’re worth it.”

RESOURCES:

If you or someone you know is struggling with bipolar disorder, help is available.

Huntsman Mental Health Institute, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and National Institute of Mental Health all have resources.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, you can call or text the 988 lifeline.

KSL 5 TV Live

Mental Health

Paris Hilton is pictured at a news conference....

Tran Nguyễn, Associated Press

Paris Hilton backs California bill to bring more transparency to youth treatment facilities

Hotel heiress and media personality Paris Hilton is backing California legislation that aims to bring more transparency to discipline used at facilities for troubled teens.

8 days ago

Students in the Cache Valley want to discuss sextortion and suicide...

Mike Anderson

Cache Valley tackles suicide and sextortion with students

The North Park Police Chief is hoping to get through to teens and their parents on two important topics: suicide and sextortion.

12 days ago

Walking is one way to exercise and manage stress....

Emma Benson

Get moving: How to manage stress with exercise 

If not managed well, stress can cause serious health problems. So, how can you exercise to manage stress?

12 days ago

Rebecca Page has worked hard to get her children on a regular sleep routine....

Ken Fall and Emma Benson

How to keep your kids on a regular sleep routine to reduce stress

Experts emphasize that sleep is therapy, both physically and emotionally, which is why it's important to keep you and your kids on a regular sleep routine.

12 days ago

Alyssa McBride is the mother of three children. After her youngest son, Jack, was born, she started...

Aley Davis

Teaching children to regulate emotions early is essential to future success, experts say 

Teaching kids how to regulate emotions early is essential to future success.

12 days ago

Lehi seventh grader took this gun to his middle school...

Lindsay Aerts

Lehi school resource officer, middle schooler prevented Utah student’s planned suicide

The Alpine School district said a seventh grader who brought a gun to his Lehi middle school last November, planned to take his own life. A school resource officer and a fellow student stepped in.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

‘You’re worth it’: Provo couple sheds light on living with bipolar disorder