Bipolar Triggers

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There are external stimuli that trigger my bipolar symptoms. Strict schedules, time constraints, too much time out of the house, and extended family gatherings all wreak havoc on my mood stability. My anxiety sky rockets and, if left too high for too long, it triggers a major depressive episode.

Seasonal changes affect my moods as well. Each spring, without fail, as the grass turns green and tree buds bloom, so does my hypomania.  It lasts for about four to six weeks, fading out as the end of the school year approaches, which brings me to another trigger: change.

Each summer when my young children start summer break and each fall when they return to school, a mood shift occurs. Summer is unpredictable. It could be a return to stable from the hypomania of spring.  It could be a dip into depression.  In the fall, it is always a fall into depression. 

I’ve learned to manage my triggers by avoiding them whenever possible or at least by limiting them when appropriate. I say no to, not all but, most volunteer work. I limit my social commitments.  I get extra rest when pushed beyond what is comfortable for me.

I have to protect my mood at all costs. Does it always work?  No. Some things in life are just unavoidable. I have to cook and clean and run my kids places and show up for some commitments.  Sometimes these things all fall on the same week or day, and that’s when things get scary. That’s when I close my eyes and hope for the best while using the skills I learned in DBT (Dialectic Behavioral Therapy) as best I can. 

If my mood doesn’t bounce back after my external world settles down, that’s when I talk to my doctor about a medication change.  It happens a lot, and that’s Ok.  I have to stay on top of this bipolar thing. It’s a matter of life and death.

What are your triggers?  How do you deal with them?

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13 thoughts on “Bipolar Triggers

  1. For me it’s when I have a lot to do that the sirens start blaring. I have no magic number on what “a lot to do” means. Some weeks when I have only three obligations I get freaked out. Other times it may be just one thing a day. Always in a state of flux.

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  2. When I become frantic, especially from the stress of not being as good a parent as I hope to be. When money is tight and the bills become due and I have to figure out some way to make ends meet. When the pressure sets in and I have to be creative, and be creative now. Deadlines. Failure. Big wins. All of these are my triggers. How do I deal with it? I try to stay in the present to the best of my ability. I try to really look at the things around me and enjoy the presence of the people I love. Sometimes that works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

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  3. For me it is sleep. If I’m not sleeping right, I’m not feeling right. Also, levels of anxiety are a good indicator of my mood. My medication has been mostly stable which is good. I still struggle all the time with hypomanic like activity of getting stuck on something for hours and not being able to quit until it’s done, regardless of how well medicated and managed I am.

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    • Sleep is a big trigger for me too. Too little of it can cause a depression or mean the start of hypomania. So confusing sometimes. Thanks for sharing your triggers. It’s always interesting to hear other people’s experiences.

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  4. Triggers is an interesting topic. I don’t believe I’ve fully identified mine. I know that resentment of past transgressions or not feeling heard can trigger a depression. I think that seasonal changes are also part of it. I’m always very proud of the mothers that have this illness as I, myself could never raise children as I get easily stressed. My mother was a single mother with bipolar and raised two children on her own. It’s incredible how resilient some people are. Hats off to you.

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    • thanks for the compliment. I was a mom before I was diagnosed with depression or bipolar. I believe my symptoms began post partum, ironically. Identifying triggers is a great way to manage the disorder. Keeping a mood journal can help with that. Hope you are well. πŸ™‚

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