On the journey of self discovery and healing, I have paid much attention to knowing exactly what my triggers are. It has been an arduous task. I have had to keep a diary of my ups and downs and what has taken place just before the highs and lows and meltdowns. I must confess that this has been a somewhat loose and sporadic account, but has nonetheless provided enough insight for me to begin identifying the various triggers. It has also empowered me; as I am now forewarned and forearmed.
These are my triggers (I must add though that the occurrence of these triggers isn’t consistent, they usually follow intensified levels of generalised irritability) ;-
Loud Noise. Very loud noise or lots of different noises grate and dig into my head.They throw me off-balance. They make me feel crazy. They first make me feel irritated, then agitated and then I begin to feel out of control. I’m not sure whether it’s the pitch, the tone, the volume or the frequency, but eventually everything blends into one giant, clattering cacophony. I can no longer distinguish between different words or voices, this leaves me feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. I have now learned to flee the situation, irrespective of the immediate consequence. If I don’t, I crash and burn.
There are actually noisy situations which I enjoy and then there are those jangling, scratching frenzies which just creep up on me out of the blue ….
I also do occasionally experience the inverse where certain mute tones or whispers hit a spot in my brain that’s make me down right angry, for no logical reason whatsoever.
Lack of Sleep. The familiar saying: “You snooze, you lose” does not apply to me. My body and its chemicals require regular and consistent amounts of quality sleep. If my body gets tired, so does my brain, then my emotions and then my frame of mind. The trouble is that I am not a fan of sleeping. I don’t like to miss out on things. I am a control freak. Things need to be done (to certain standards) and I struggle to sleep. I battle to switch my racing thoughts off. This is not helpful. Thankfully, my psychiatrist has modified my meds and I am now enjoying ….. sleep.
Sadness. I have had to give up watching sad or moving movies or listening to any kind of emotive music. If that sadness takes hold of me an seeps into my soul I cry for days and days and days.
Confined spaces. Confined spaces can have one of two effects on me; fear or frustration. Either way I panic. Fear takes me down. Frustration revs me up. (Shoppers who ram shopping carts into me, send me over the edge)!
Fast talking. Racing speech and even racier thoughts are a sign to me that things are not up to speed, but way above speed. When I hear myself talking faster and faster and more excitedly, I know that I should look for ways (both naturally and medically) to calm myself down.
Mixed emotions. This is my final trigger; a big red flag. Crying that turns to laughter. Laughter that turns to crying. Hysterical laughter. Inconsolable tears. No obvious reason.
The other stuff. There are a whole bunch of other smaller things that cumulatively set off a trigger reaction; caffeine, too much sugar, lack of exercise, stress, disappointment (in myself), relationship strains, financial strains, time constraints, outside interference and feeling isolated or alone. On their on these don’t really affect me that much, but when a few of these speed bumps appear together in my road, they do become triggers to triggers.
And then there is kindness. Perhaps because I have always felt different and isolated and ashamed of my behaviour, I have also developed a feeling of being unworthy. I don’t feel that I deserve kindness. Kindness overwhelms me with emotion. Kindness often leaves me feeling: “If only they knew who I really was, they would see that I don’t deserve kindness.”
Despite all these triggers and emotions and bipolar things, I am slowly learning that ‘I have bipolar’, I am not ‘bipolar’. Just like a new career or work environment, at first it’s tricky and overwhelming to find your way around. You mess up, but you get over it. You keep at it. Then, one day, you are pleasantly surprised when you realise that you know the ins and outs and you are starting to feel confident and capable.