1. Too much caffeine.
Ah yes, coffee, tea, Mountain Dew, energy drinks and super dark chocolate. They all sure either taste good or give you so called 'energy.' The facts are that they don't give real energy- they pump you up for a while and then either lead to the shakes or a crash. They then cause sleep problems. If you have more than one regular coffee a day, simply ask yourself if it affects your sleep. If it doesn't, then have it! If, like me, only one iced coffee literally keeps me up all night, then you have to think if it's worth it. I write about this a lot as I love coffee. I stick to decaf now - well, as much as possible!
2. Stay in relationships that are argumentative.
There is nothing worse for bipolar disorder than fighting. When I used to allow fights to happen in my family, I would have an immediate suicidal thought such as, "I just want to die." In order to stop the thoughts and the pain that comes with them, I stopped arguing. This meant that certain people had to go. It also meant that my contact with some family members had to change. Yes, it was me or them. I chose me. I'm the one who gets sick and has to live with the psychosis and the depression. Interestingly, many people understand this and know that I have to leave contentious situations no matter what. That helps.
3. Let irritation take over.
Bipolar disorder can lead to a lot of irritation and anger. This can even lead to violence. I wasn't having a very smooth day yesterday. I could feel that I was irritated and that I needed to just calm down and make sure I didn't take it out on anyone. Yes, I did have a coffee! That is going to stop! A man pulled out in front of me on a busy road and literally drove across two lanes to get to a side street. I honked my horn and thought 'my god, what a stupid driver.' Then he flipped me off. I was already irritated enough and this sent me a bit over the edge. I actually had the thought that I needed to chase him down and show him he can't flip me off when he is the one who is stupid! It's hard to explain to others that this feeling is different than just normal anger. When it's bipolar disorder related, if feels like a need. As though it would be the right thing to do. Reasoning leaves and it's all emotion. I've learned to fight this and you can too. Because I was already aware that I was irritated for no reason, I kept myself from chasing down the car. I then realized that I needed to change direction in my own day and see what was really going on. I did and the irritation left by the afternoon.
4. Travel without planning for bipolar disorder mood swings.
I'm currently writing a book on bipolar disorder and travel. In fact, you may have read about my last trip in a past newsletter. Traveling is a microcosm of bipolar disorder triggers. Time changes affect sleep that can then cause mood swings. You may be stuck with people you don't really want to be around. You may have to go places that are too over stimulating. Or maybe, if you're a family member or friend, the person with bipolar disorder ruins your travel! No matter what, just as you have travel plans with plane tickets, hotels and all of the other things that come with travel, you have to have a bipolar plan as well. I will get the book done in time for the holidays! We all need it.
5. Get trapped in the bipolar conversation.
This one is for family members. All of my books talk about what I call the bipolar conversation. This is when you think you're talking to the person you care about, where in reality, you're simply talking to the illness. My books Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder and Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder have chapters dedicated to preventing the bipolar conversation. If you try to talk normally to a depressed person for example, you will be frustrated. When you say, "But your life is fine! Why are you so upset?" they can't answer that question. They will say, "You don't understand. My life has no purpose. I can't find a reason to keep on living like this!" If you keep trying to reason with them, the bipolar conversation starts and no one wins. There are a lot of tips in the above books to stop the conversation once and for all- on both sides!
I hope these are helpful. You probably know this information- but knowledge is one thing, practice is another. We all get caught unaware by triggers and we all think, "Oh, I can do this. It will be fine!" and we are blindsided by a mood swing once again. Managing this illness never ends. We can get a lot better at it, but we have to be vigilant all of the time! Not fair, but true. And if you care about someone with bipolar disorder, read all that you can and take care of yourself first. Then you'll have the skill and the energy to help the other person.
Julie A. Fast best selling author of Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder is a critically acclaimed six-time author, award winning bipolar disorder advise columnist, national speaker, and sought after expert in the fields of bipolar disorder and depression. Julie's work specializes in helping real people manage all aspects of their daily lives and despite the complications that bipolar disorder creates. Learn how to how to personalize a plan to help yourself or a loved one find and create stability that ensures the quality of life that we all deserve,
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