Posts tagged ‘triggers’

Being active — but not too much

I’ve discovered something new about my bipolar and what can trigger episodes. In the past I was able to function at a higher level — I could withstand the last-minute frenzy of deadlines, intense classes and studying, caring for small children all day by myself, jet lag and other hazards of travel, and similar stressors. In a word, I could be more active. I did have episodes back then, but they were much less severe and didn’t seriously impair my daily life. And it took a more intense, sustained period of stress to trigger them.

I did not know I had bipolar disorder until I was 33. Like many others, I have stopped and started my medications along the way. I also did not take seriously the suggestions from my psychiatrist on how to adapt my lifestyle. As a result, my condition has worsened.

In the last 6 years, since the serious episode of ’01-’02, my activity level declined (partly due to medication) to such a degree that sometimes I slept several hours a day. I didn’t have a job or any social contacts where I live, I only had my family and some friends I visited in Dallas. I tried working several times but was not able to maintain it. Each time, I became very stressed and compulsive in my work, developed physical complaints such as pain over my entire body, then rapidly deteriorated emotionally, sometimes requiring hospitalization.

Even my home-based job as a freelance writer led me down that path. Earlier this year I began writing web content, and for awhile everything seemed peachy-keen. What I didn’t realize was that I was already entering a manic phase, which leads inevitably to mixed mania/depression and then deep depression. Once triggered, the cycle usually plays itself out, although some effects can be mitigated with medication and lifestyle. I am just now, in August, finishing the cycle which began in the latter part of January.

Now I know I must walk a very fine line. Too little activity, with its concomitant isolation, is bad for me and will cause depression. Too much activity, with its concomitant stress, is bad for me and will induce mania.

This is when I am very, very glad that God cares about me and will help me along this path. I firmly believe that the spiritual nature of human beings must not be neglected in emotional disorders (or any disorders). I encourage anyone with bipolar disorder to turn to the God of their understanding for assistance. Also, examine your life closely, not to condemn yourself, but to see cause and effect. In this way you will determine your own triggers and, hopefully, ways to avoid them.

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August 23, 2008 at 6:08 am Leave a comment


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