Patrick Kennedy on Bipolar Disorder and Addiction: ‘Stress is a Trigger’

Patrick Kennedy is one of the world’s most eloquent advocates for healthy choices concerning treatment of mental health, specifically bipolar disorder and addiction. He spoke recently with BP magazine about his life today and how keeps himself in balance.

Among his insights he shared with the magazine is his commitment to put limits on his schedule, considering his struggles in the past and that he has three kids under 7. “I’m mindful of when I’ve overextended myself and I need to rein in my schedule and double down on leaning on my peer support group.”He emphasizes the need to nurture healthy relationships and be of service to others. He recounts a piece of advice his father gave him when he was young and feeling down about himself. “My dad took me aside and suggested that I go around to all the aunts and cousins and friends and ask what I could get them to drink. They all smiled at me and thanked me, and I immediately felt better.”

Stress is still a challenge in his life. He knows he has to manage it or it will lead to negative outcomes. “Stress triggers initially the mania of wanting to do everything and not being happy unless I get all these tasks completed. That then triggers the depression, which makes me feel as if I should just give up doing anything.”

He leans on his 12-step program to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, among many variables he keeps in his life.

“Peer support, mindfulness, spirituality, and the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy. Excercise is also a key component to my maintaining balance,” he says.

He shares an update on One Mind, his initiative to promote research into brain-based disorders. “We’re working to develop standard protocols and processes so we can maximize the science being done across a multitude of academic and health centers. We’re also developing a process whereby research accrues to the benefit of many brain illnesses. For example, what we are learning about post-traumatic stress disorder will be beneficial to people with anxiety disorders, with other mood disorders, because the mechanisms that guide PTSD symptoms are common to a whole host of diagnoses. We all share the same brain.”

Adam Wahlberg

Founder of Think Piece Publishing