I’ve never understood the whole “identify your triggers” when it comes to bipolar disorder. If it were merely triggers causing the disorder, I’d never choose to take meds. I’m not opposed to hard work and learning to change my behaviors that are detrimental. When my bipolar swings, it’s like being under the influence of a drug. You can try to talk yourself out of how you feel, but it sort of has a mind of its own and your will means fuck all.
BUT when it comes to specific anxiety triggers for panic disorder…That I can identify now. NOISE. I get overwhelmed by too much outer stimuli. My brain can’t process fast enough, which is one of the reasons I can’t even play X Box (et al) games. The graphics are too much, too much color, too much noises, too much fast action, too much to process too fast. I can’t handle it.
Life is a real time video game. Proven by this morning. A ten minute trip into the dish nearly did me in. It was all the rushing traffic and being in a lane with some jackass facing me trying to short cut into another place thus blocking me from going where I needed to go. My kid in the back, yapping, yelling STEER, STOP, WATCH OUT. It was sensory overload and that made the anxiety and panic kick in.
Much like returning home and her filling every moment with constant babble. It sets me off. My ears literally cringe, like when you have an ear infection and get that shooting, cringing response to the sound sensitivity and pain. It’s not exclusive to my daughter. It’s EVERYTHING. I can’t even play my music loud because it sets me off and I LOVE my heavy metal. Bright colors freak me out. Things that go too fast, like traffic, factories, busy checkouts, beep beep beep of gas pumps, McDonald’s during lunch time when everyone is shouting out orders. It’s just too much for me. I try to handle it best I can, but sometimes..MOST times…It tips the scale and pushes me over the edge. I become irate, irritable, I snap, I raise my voices, I cover my ears and breathe rapidly and I get angry because IS IT TOO MUCH TO FUCKING ASK TO LIVE LIFE AT A PACE I CAN FUCKING HANDLE?
I’m not asking the world to change to accommodate me. But I see nothing wrong with wanting a life outside that madness so I’m not being triggered constantly. Yesterday was the perfect day from an anxiety angle. My kid was quiet, subdued, loving. No one called or knocked (thank you, rainy days.) Little noise outside. I had. 25 mg Xanax for the entire day and I wasn’t freaking out. I also didn’t have to venture into the dish, and that’s a huge trigger.
How I handle the anxiety triggers is also influenced my mood cycle. If manic, I can handle more noise and people, it barely puts a dent in the manic armor. When depressed, every tiny thing sets me off. When stable, I can stand so much but I do have a tipping point and no amount of psychobabble coping mechanisms help.
Perhaps one of the more bizarre things is that seldom do I relish absolute silence. I need something. TV show, sounds of thunderstorms, a fan. It just has to be at a tolerable volume and I am very picky on what shows help me sleep. I know it’s abnormal to find crime shows about murder comforting to fall asleep to but even that hinges on the voices of the people involved. I could fall asleep to Forensic Files or City Confidential any time. Narrators have very soothing voices. Now something like Deadly Women…That’s a mood thing. There are some nights I just can’t handle it. Some nights, I find falling asleep to Unsolved Mysteries very calming. Or documentaries on hauntings. I am aware how fucked up that is, but very rarely do I have nightmares. Unlike when I read a Hollywood Reporter email right before bed and dream of being on the set with the cast members. I don’t know why I am the way I am. There was a time when I used to marvel how my parents dozed off with the TV on because I needed absolute quiet.
I realize now, having identified my major trigger as far as anxiety goes, which alters my mood negatively, I just need to try to control how much noise and activity I am exposed to when not in a good place. I understand I can only do so much, life is noisy, especially with a child. But I feel better now that I realize…I’m not a bad parent, my kid is not the devil child. I’m just super sensitive to noise and as long as I can keep that tolerable, I don’t channel satan. It’s not so bad at home.
In the dish of petri, though, it’s near impossible to harness. Life has its own speed and doesn’t slow down for anyone. Which means limiting dish exposure time when I am not in a good place. I don’t see it as avoidance any more than I view avoiding spicy food to skip agonizing stomach issues as avoidance. IF IT HARMS YOU, DON’T DO IT. That’s smart. Why the mental health professionals spend so much time telling you it’s not is beyond me. It’s not like I fail to live life or my kid goes hungry because I fail to get to the store. But if controlling my exposure to the trigger makes my life less stressful and my moods less venomous…
Sounds like a win to me.