Monthly Archives: January 2015
Manage your triggers…cut your symptoms
By Julie Fast
When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 31, I was completely unaware of the triggers that caused my mood swings. I blindly walked into situations and never thought, “Gee! This might make me sick!”
It’s amazing to me that no one at the time taught me about triggers and how they could significantly increase bipolar disorder symptoms. Certainly if they had, I would have found my stability much sooner. Other than medications, trigger recognition + avoidance is now my number one management tool. What is a trigger? I’d define it as anything outside of the illness that causes mood swings. In my experience, triggers are not the result of bipolar disorder mood swings—they are the cause.
When I get manic, I may stay up all night drinking and singing karaoke—my behavior is therefore a direct result of the illness. I used to get caught up in this—for days, I’d think, “Oh no! I’m manic!” My option here was to prevent the mania that caused the behavior.
A trigger is different. Here’s an example of how an outside trigger can cause significant mood swings. A few years ago, I began a friendship with a brilliant woman who shared my career of writing books. We began a joint project, but she became aggressive and very dismissive of my work. I’d never been around a verbally abusive person, so I talked to her about it and she apologized. Then she did it in public; she actually slammed her fist on the table she was so angry. I left and began crying in my car; within an hour I went into a downswing and had suicidal thoughts. I finally left the relationship for good. By removing myself from the situation, the mood swings completely went away. Her loss!
It took me way too long to recognize my two main triggers: dating and too much work. It’s like being allergic to sunlight and water as far as I’m concerned— what’s life if you can’t find a read more
NOVEMBER 15, 2011, 7:56 PM
You wake up. You can’t get out of bed. Your mother calls you to get up and take a shower. Bad move. Walls are closing in. You’re curled up in a ball as the water stings your skin. Sharp mental pain gnaws at your mind. And then it’s time to get dressed. Why? “I’m not going anywhere.” It’s terrifying out there. Anxiety pumps through your veins in anticipation. “How the hell am I going to work today,” you say. But you do. You keep a low profile. You cry behind closed doors. You call your psychiatrist. And then it’s lunch time. Yummy. So what are you in the mood for when your moods have mind poisoning? Hmmm, Lithium or something else from the psychopharmacological goodie basket. But meds take time to work. So you lose hope. You hit bottom. Again. You want to stop—but you can’t. Sorry, but you don’t work like that. Suddenly, while you’re sitting in a coffee shop sipping a self-pity latte, you get a burst of energy. Time to party. Go readmore
Seasonal Affective Disorder
SAD is distinguished from typical depression. Symptom onset occurs in late autumn and ends in early spring with the majority of symptoms in the winter months. Sometimes referred to as the “winter blues” (a more mild form of SAD), it can be exacerbated by cloud cover or perpetually grey skies.
We all have a biological (internal body) clock. This is called a circadian rhythm, which controls your sleep/wake cycles. Light helps our bodies know when to be awake. For some folks their biological clocks respond differently in the winter when the sun goes down early and rises late.
Serotonin and melatonin hormones are natural components of our biological clocks, which aid in the wake sleep cycle. A lack of sunlight can cause some people to have an imbalance of hormones and symptoms of winter blues.
Sunlight stimulates the production of serotonin and adrenalin, chemicals that cause us to be active, alert, and awake. Light is a primary trigger that tells your body when to start its sleep cycle.
When it is dark outside, our bodies produce melatonin. Melatonin is a sleep related hormone that tells our internal clock it is night time, causing the lethargy that is necessary to sleep or to hibernate.
Due to longer periods of darkness in some regions of the country our melatonin increases. At the same time, when there is less daylight our serotonin levels decrease which can lead to symptoms of depression.
Two factors are said to determine if a person develops SAD, distance from the equator, and genetics. Some folks are predisposed to depression and some may be more vulnerable depending on where they live. Prevalence rates suggest inhabitants of Florida are less likely to experience SAD as compared to those living in the north.
Symptoms may include:
- Sadness or irritability
- Increased sleep duration, without the feeling of being refreshed
- Difficulty waking or being alert, may take naps in the afternoon
- Feeling apathetic, don’t care, low motivation
- Increased appetite, especially carbohydrates and possible weight gain
“We try so hard to hide everything we’re really feeling from those who probably need to know our true feelings the most. People try to bottle up their emotions, as if it’s somehow wrong to have natural reactions to life.”
~Colleen Hoover, Maybe Someday~
Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood. Most people listen, with no intent of understanding, but with the intent to reply. Demanding to be understood is a way of saying “YOU open your mind for me”. Wanting to understand the other person is a way of saying “I’ll open my mind for YOU”. The two are so different in meaning and tone that it’s hard to do both at the same time. Therefore we generally focus on one or the other. Most people want only to be understood, but it’s impossible for others to understand them unless the person first understands themselves.
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