Sometimes it feels like we take two steps forward and then one back when it comes to managing our illness. We seem to make progress towards living in the fifth truth of being useful and productive members of society and then our illness steps in and we either take off into mania or fall into depression, rapid cycle or become emotional wrecks causing anything from big ripples to a tidal wave to wash over our lives.
Our bipolar is not going to go away and every now and then it will step up to try and take over our lives again. BP is like our shadow it is always there it just depends on where we stand if our shadow is non-existent or larger than life. The same with our illness, it depends on where we stand mentally and the state of the knowledge we have of ourselves, this determines if our illness will take over our lives or if we can push it back to remain only a non existent shadow that dogs us.
When we have that proper diagnosis and the proper meds that gives us that stable mental platform from which we can start to rebuild our lives as useful and productive people we soon realize we have a lot to learn. The first thing we have to learn is what sets us off, our triggers. This knowledge only comes from experience. Here is where the first truth, the individuality of bipolar comes in. What triggers me may not trigger you and what triggers you may have no effect on me. Lots of things can trigger us and to write a compressive list would look like a multi volume encyclopedia. My experience has been that any external action or event can have triggering effect on anyone. I have a friend who cannot attend concerts because attending a concert sends her into mania, even symphony concerts. Another cannot watch Romance Movies because they cause an instant and deep depression.
As with the criteria that allows diagnosis of our illness, there are some triggers that stand out and we should be aware of:
There are two things that set us up to fail no matter what, I do not consider these triggers and later I explain why:
Alcohol and street drugs are to be avoided at all times. Drinking alcohol or using street drugs is just a sign of selfishness and not wanting to get better. Marijuana is a different story, for some it is a prescribed drug, for others, like myself, it is a deadly poison. Here is the individuality of BP rearing its ugly head again. What may help some may be deadly for others. In my case using weed caused a lot of problems so I do not touch it
Not taking our prescribed medications at all or not taking them as prescribed will guarantee our failure to learn to manage our BP. That is all I need to say on this subject, if you want that stable platform to build on, take your medications and take them as prescribed. Also build that rapport with your PDoc where you can tell them if a med is not doing for you what the PDoc thought it should. Antidepressants can cause the exact opposite effect and send you into mania. I have experienced that result of antidepressants and spoke of it in an earlier blog.
I have had to learn to dance with my illness. I need to know when my illness was being a bad dance partner and trying to take over the lead. To understand this I have had to study myself and my reactions to people, places, things and situations. In this way I can learn how to respond differently to my triggers.
What are triggers? Triggers are the external issues that cause failure in any management system. If we try to manage anything, people or things, there will be issues that come up that cause the management system to fail. That is just a fact. Having managed companies and not for profits, I know from experience you need two types of management systems, a regular management routine and a crisis management system that can deal with the crisis’ that come up. In the next few posts I will talk about learning personal crisis management. Although I had experience in crisis management on external things, I was surprised how hard is was to practice on my self.
Before I go any further I am going to reiterate that our triggers are our triggers and it requires a lot of personal study to find out what those are. There are some triggers that are pretty much universal and those I will cover here, but we must study ourselves in even greater depth than a scientist studies a lab rat to find what really triggers us.
So tune in next week as we continue this discussion. To be continued……..
Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things. Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.
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The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”
I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”
Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.