Who are toxic people, and how do you keep them out of your life? Toxic people are different for everyone. Psychology Today states, “the hallmark of being in a toxic relationship is about feeling bad after being around the other person.”
Do you have someone in your life you think is toxic? They may well not be toxic to someone else, but the key is knowing what is toxic for you. A toxin is a poisonous substance. So who in your life do you need to keep at a distance? Who makes you feel upset, tired or down. Who brings out poor behaviour in you? These people are probably toxic for you. It can be difficult to determine who is toxic. There’s no big red warning sign on toxic people. You have to figure it out yourself.
Probably the biggest character trait that comes to mind when you think of toxic people is negativity. Negative thinking and negative talking are damaging to your own psyche. People like that can suck your energy and bring you down. You need to be careful when being around negative people. Negativity is contagious. You can absorb it like a sponge. And worst of all, negativity creates stress. Stress is one of the most detrimental triggers for those with bipolar disorder.
Though negative people are perhaps the most well-known toxic people, other character traits to be careful of include people who are overly controlling or are demanding. These types of people can also wreak havoc on your daily life. Other toxic people are those who are jealous, liars or gossipers. These people can continue to cause harm. You should keep these people at arm’s length.
Avoid drama in your life. Drama is over-the-top behaviour and reactions to situations. The overly dramatic person is an attention-seeker who often causes problems where none exists. As a person with bipolar disorder, you have enough challenges in your life without adding to them. Reduce regular contact with the dramatic person in your life. Too much drama can increase your anxiety and, therefore, make it difficult to be relaxed.
Judgmental people are negative thinkers. They can put you down and bring you down. These people will judge you and your disease. And they judge others. That can be equally distressful. Maybe they just don’t understand, or don’t want to understand. Bullies are toxic people too. Bullies create a hateful environment for everyone.
Toxic people can be manipulative and unsupportive. They make you feel uncomfortable. Toxic people tend to be self-centred. Recognize that this is all about them. Not you. Surround yourself with people that make you feel good. Choose like-minded people who understand you. When negativity rears its ugly head, don’t let it make a home in your head.
“Hope does not deny the present darkness, but it reminds us that dawn is coming” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Hope is an important aspect of everyone’s life, but even more so for those of us stricken with bipolar disorder. Buried under a mountain of covers, blinds drawn to hide the light, perhaps it’s difficult to see the ray of hope through the eyes of depression. Depression robs us of so many things but hope and our connection to the world are paramount.
So how do you have hope when the world seems to be falling apart around you? When all you can manage is a trip to the bathroom? When you feel lost and frail with nothing to believe in? How do you feel hope then?
Hope is a choice. It empowers you. It gives you a reason to go on—even when you think one doesn’t exist. There’s the hope that comes from inside and then there’s the hope that comes from others. Others can instill the sense of hope in you. They can give you hopeful words and remind you of what is good in your life. But the work of hope needs to come from within.
It’s crucial to focus on the positive. I don’t mean for that to sound like a cliché. I mean it literally. Find something positive, anything. For me, it was the hope to lose weight. It was the hope to spend more time with my family. Hope can make all the difference when the road to recovery seems so long.
Having bipolar disorder is like a psychological trauma. It produces emotional scars. Hope is the key emotion to rehabilitation from this disease. Find that spec of light and follow it. Where will it lead you? There’s hope in that. Seek help for your affliction. There’s hope in that. Hope is the power of possibility. Believe in yourself. There’s definitely hope in that.
It’s morning. It’s a nice morning. The sun is even shining. I have my mug of Earl Grey tea in hand and I scroll through my Facebook feed on my phone. Something I do pretty much every morning. I stare out the window and my mind begins to wander. It doesn’t go to happy places. It doesn’t enjoy the sunshine as it beams through the window. Nor does it take pleasure in the beautiful blossoms on my neighbour’s tree. Instead, it begins to torment itself.
My mind doesn’t deal well with quiet time. What should be peaceful, turns into its own plague. The worrying begins. My heart starts to race. Before I even finish my tea, I have already created several horrific situations that could arise in my life. My breathing quickens. Mostly, I worry about my children. I worry about what they’re doing. I worry about what they might do. And I worry about every little thing that could go wrong in between. If they are in a vehicle, I stress over will they be in an accident.
I brood about future events—things that may not happen for years. My son wants to be a police officer. That gives me pride, yet great anxiety. And my daughter—well, she’s only 15—15 going on 21 and every little thing that goes on there. She has an allergy to nuts, so that is a constant presence. Their lives unfold in my brain and the anxiety continues to rise. My neck tenses. Sometimes it gets so bad I can feel the pressure behind my eyes—the pressure of my tears trying to escape.
The apprehension doesn’t stop at the kitchen table. Being in a vehicle can be unbearable. It’s not a matter of whether or not I trust the driver. It’s more just a matter of the potential for what could happen. For years I was at the mercy of others to drive me places because being the driver was even more than I could stand. The level of my anxiety left me unsafe to drive.
I seem to worry about every little thing. My family jokes about it, but really it’s quite distressful. For example, I stress out over technology. If I’m doing something out of the ordinary on my computer or phone, my blood pressure seems to rise. A panic feeling sweeps over me. I just imagine losing everything on my computer or my phone becoming inoperable. I know it seems funny to others, but really it’s not.
The nights are just as bad as the mornings. I lay awake at night with my busy brain. My thoughts running wild, again with the worries of the day and the paranoia for tomorrow. If my children are out late, I can’t sleep until they’re safely home. If they’re sleeping elsewhere, I worry about what they’re doing and are they safe. I worry about the last to come home—will they put the house alarm on properly? Of course they will. They always do. Yet I fret.
This is Generalized Anxiety Disorder. There is no blood test for an anxiety disorder. And an anxiety disorder cannot be cured. Rather it can only be managed. Predominantly, anxiety is managed by medication. It can also be aided through psychotherapy and relaxation.
I have now begun a high-dose regime of anti-anxiety medication. This, along with my on-going psychotherapy and relaxation techniques, has made a huge improvement. My life has changed because of it. My mornings are more relaxing and I fall asleep with greater ease. I even drive about town on my own. Anxiety is not something to be taken lightly. It can be debilitating—stealing from you the right to a peaceful and relaxing existence. Breathe.
Symptoms of Anxiety (provided by WebMD)
Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
Shortness of breath
An inability to be still and calm
Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
Posted in Read Along
This is a weird blog. It’s weird because I’m really writing about something I cannot share. I told you it was weird. I probably won’t be advertising this blog as much as usual for that reason, but if you do come across this blog you’ll notice how different it is from my usual blogs. This blog is mostly about me. For me.
I’ve found over the years, that those of us with bipolar disorder feel things deeper and more strongly than the average person—that’s certainly true for me. It’s harder to deal with things like grief, sadness and anger. I’ve been struggling with sadness and anger for the past year. I thought it would have subsided by now. It hasn’t. Not really. I suppose the fiery edge has been lessened but the underlying feelings have not.
They say it takes time. How much time? And who are “they” anyway? I’m trying to fight my emotions by staying busy and keeping healthy. I’ve just started editing my first fiction novella. It’s called Imagine. It is a romance tale about a woman with bipolar disorder. It’s your typical romance, but it has the added element of bipolar being woven through it. It will likely take a few months to edit and prepare it for publishing. I will be sure to let you know when it is available.
As well, I have joined yoga and line dancing at our local recreation centre. Not only are these two classes great exercise, but they also give me a chance to socialize with others—something I find very difficult. Every time I head out to a class, I feel the anxiety build. But I push through it, and so far it’s been for the better.
And finally, I spend a lot of time during the day with my Mom. We go out for breakfast or lunch and run errands together. It’s fun. We enjoy each other’s company. She’s a good outlet for my feelings—just as good as any therapist I think. I also spend time interacting with friends on Facebook and Twitter—some of which I know personally, others only on-line—either way they are friends. And you can never have too many friends. I also have a couple of real-life friends I actually visit from time to time. My evenings are generally reserved for my family—when everyone is home.
All of these activities help keep my mind off my troubles. They serve as a distraction to my sadness and anger. I wear a mask of sorts. On the outside, I’m doing well. I’m up, dressed, out of the house and interacting with the world. On the inside, I’m suffering. Anniversaries heighten feelings. They have a way of making the wounds so fresh. I sincerely hope that someday this pain will dissipate. I suppose “they” may be right. Perhaps it will only take time. I hope I have enough.
March marks the first anniversary of Real Life with Bipolar Disorder. When I started writing this blog, I never thought for a moment that I’d still be writing it a year later. I’ve covered so many topics—from weight gain to sleep issues, from self-harm to self-medicating—and so much in between. I’ve seen 40 blogs hit this page in the year that has passed. That’s about 39 more than I planned—not a bad first report card.
I don’t know if it’s something to be happy about or not—that is, the fact that there is a need for this blog—the fact that bipolar disorder actually exists. But it does, and there definitely is the need. So many people are searching for information and support. I’m happy to be able to provide that, at least in some way. And I’m happy for all the new people I’ve met along the way. There are so many wonderful bloggers out there. Some new ones, and some that have been doing this a lot longer than me. I learn from other bloggers every day. And for that I’m happy.
And I’m happy for my current health. I’m in a state of recovery or remission—though those terms are controversial in the bipolar world—I certainly am in the best place I’ve been since being diagnosed in 2005. Ten years ago! It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. I’ve been through so much since that time. I’ve been manic, I’ve been depressed, and I’ve even lived through a mixed episode. So, I suppose I should be happy for the state that finds me now. The state that has me up and dressed most days, out of the house doing things, and actually being productive most of the time.
I’m happy for my readers and for all the support and encouragement along the way. I’m always happy to receive your comments, emails, tweets, likes and shares. Please keep them coming, for some days they really keep me going. So, I guess then, it is really full of “happy.” So, Happy Anniversary to me!
PS/ Today is World Bipolar Day—a day to raise awareness and stomp out stigma.