Everyone gets irritated at times especially if they are hungry or tired. People with bipolar disorder are often more sensitive to fluctuations in their internal and external environment and can become more agitated, anxious, sad, or angry than the situation would warrant for those without bipolar disorder. Examples of these fluctuations include:
Being cold or hot
Other people’s emotions or moods
Tactile input such as touch by clothing or other people
Some ideas to help combat these triggers
Eat at regular intervals and always carry snacks and water with you when you leave the house.
Talk to others, journal or exercise when angry or if you are in a 12-step program work the steps on it.
Make contact with people in real life on a regular basis.
Go to bed and get up around the same time everyday.
Dress in layers and always keep a jacket or coat in the car. You never know when a restaurant or store will be extra cold. Keep a cold wet cloth in a small cooler during hot weather to place on your forehead or the back of your neck.
Always carry pain reliever with you when you leave the house.
Use ear plugs that cut down on the decibel level of the environmental noise.
Wear a hat or sun glasses to shade the light.
Practice setting boundaries and blocking out other people’s emotions.
Remove yourself from situations where other people’s emotions and behaviors cause you distress.
Cut the tags out of clothing.
Wear comfortable clothing like loose shirts and elastic waist pants.
Remove yourself from noxious orders or keep a cloth with you that has a scent you like on it to bring to your nose when you can’t get away from a smell.
What are some of your triggers and how do you deal with them?
I became a mom almost 21 years ago. I was not yet diagnosed with mental illness. About six months into motherhood when postpartum depression had a strong hold on me, I went to my doctor for help and she put me on an antidepressant. About six years later, after the birth of my second child, I was diagnosed with bipolar type 2 disorder. It is at this point that I think my anxiety developed into something that I could not handle without professional help or medication because I began to have panic attacks along with generalized anxiety and eventually severe social anxiety.
Play dates were difficult at best and attending sporting events were and still are extremely stressful and anxiety producing (hint: wearing earbuds playing calming music helps a lot!) Having children who are growing up with their own anxiety and depression issues only increases the stress of motherhood exponentially for a mom with anxiety. On the up side, having an anxiety disorder has better equipped me to completely empathize with my children and help them in ways I would not be able to if I hadn’t already learned skills to deal with my own anxiety. Some of these skills include the following:
Setting healthy boundaries by saying no to things when I feel I am reaching my threshold for responsibilities and daily activities.
Asking for help with daily responsibilities from my partner, family, and friends.
Taking time for self care activities like reading a chapter of a book, journaling, taking a bubble bath, listening to calming music, watching an episode of a series I enjoy, petting my dog or cat, taking a nap, sitting in the sun for a few minutes, doing my nails, getting my hair done, meditating, or doing some stretches or simple yoga exercises.
Not being hard on myself when I can’t do things I wish I could.
Accepting my limitations.
Praying for the strength to do as much as possible without making myself sick.
Being thankful for all I can do and for all I have instead of focusing on the negative aspects of having an anxiety disorder.
Being a mom with anxiety has its challenges, but with an awareness of and honoring what your limitations are and following the suggestions above, you can thrive as a mom and a person with anxiety.