Triggers and signs… As a person with Bipolar they are always there. Whether I’m going up or down, something triggers the episode and there are always signs that it’s coming. I’ve just had to learn to pay attention.
I can’t always identify what triggers an episode. Sometimes it’s something with work, good or bad. Sometimes it has to do with relationships. A major life event such as the death of a loved one or the breakup of a marriage almost guarantees an event. Even something as simple as a change in season. And other times there doesn’t seem to be any reason at all. A change in Medication is what jump started my current episode. I started a new job after a lengthy unemployment and found that the mood stabilizer and anti-psychotic that had been working for quite a while was leaving me too sedated to focus at work. We tried another one, but it was more sedating than before. In the meantime, my mood was getting more and more elevated, and I’m struggling to get it back under control.
The signs are easier for me to pick up, especially with a pending manic episode. The first thing to change is my anger. Things that normally don’t bother me begin to become annoying. Then they make me mad. If uncontrolled it can turn into a manic rage. By the time that happens it’s usually too late and I’m already in a full blown mania. Another sign is my talking. I start talking more and more and then move into inappropriate topics, overwhelming conversations then overriding others. Ultimately my thoughts and words are coming so fast I can’t even get them out, and I’ll stutter. And as I’ve described in a previous post, first it’s the songs in my head… then conversations… then repetitive thoughts. The higher I get the more prevalent and disruptive they become.
My signs of depression are usually picked up on by others. As I start the descent there is a withdrawal from friends. Then a loss of interest in things I normally enjoy. There’s an element of anger in there too. I don’t always see this happening until I’ve crossed the point of no return. The only thing I try to do is believe my friends when they tell me they think I’m in trouble.
Knowing my triggers and reading the signs can’t always keep an episode from happening. And it’s easy to miss the early warnings until it’s too late. But the more I know about what starts a mood swing, and the more I know the signs and can pay attention to them, the more likely I can seek help and address the problem before it gets to be out of control. If nothing else, it helps my heath care providers know what’s going on and what needs to be treated.
It’s my goal to learn to manage this illness as best I can. It’s a lifelong learning process, and I know that sometimes I’ll be successful, and other times it will slip out of my control. It’s the nature of the beast.
I encourage you to learn as much as you can about your triggers and signs. Triggers can usually be avoided, and signs can prompt getting help. Or if you are a friend or loved one of someone with bipolar, learn to recognize the behaviors that a mood swing is coming.
Understanding is the first step to managing. If you listen carefully, you’ll begin to understand. I know I have.