Triggers

 

Many bipolar folks suffer from a number of triggering factors that often stem from a less-than-grand childhood. Some have experienced both physical and psychological abuse that serves to trigger a mood-swing when something prompts a memory of that abuse. These are issues that need careful working through and may take years in therapy to come to some kind of resolution. For example, a little one who constantly dealt with alcoholic parents and the chaos that brings may be terribly triggered by the use of alcohol by others close to them. That same child may have seen themselves as a caretaker of the alcoholics and thus suffer from issues to do with feeling out-of-control. They may develop obsessive-compulsive thought patterns and behaviours in an attempt to maintain control in their lives. Often eating disorders are another manifestation of the need to feel in control. Triggers for this person are going to go off like bombs when faced with a situation that threatens their control of their lives. Psychological triggers like these are incredibly difficult to deal with and other than a good therapist the best advice one can offer them is to tell them to eliminate the toxic persons in their lives and deal with the issues from their childhood. So, those who've been abused, abandoned, ignored, emotionally deprived as children have a huge additional trigger load that must be worked on so they don't continue to fester and replicate themselves in ever-more destructive ways.

 

Unlike the psychological triggers mentioned above, are those that can be termed as environmental triggers. For example, I am terribly triggered by loud, noisy crowds. They send me right up the wall and can trigger a manic swing pretty quickly if I am in just the wrong kind of mood at the time. Likewise, flashing lights trigger a state of confusion and hypomania sometimes. If I am in a mixed state, then the flashing of light or rapid movement of any object can send me into a total rage where I will strike out if not allowed to flee the situation. Storms serve as another of my triggers and have been known to send me manic. Since I am from Florida originally I had lots of opportunities to stand back and observe how a hurricane affected my mood and each time I would always experience euphoric feelings that often lasted for hours only to crash into mixed states once the stimulus was removed. Some bipolar folks cannot tolerate loud sounds of any sort and find them very distressing. The ability to spot the sources of one's triggers is half the battle to being able to live with this disorder. This means that one needs to avoid the triggering situation or person as much as is humanly possible to do. Sometimes, knowing what a trigger is can work in your best interest. For instance, some bipolar folks are extremely light sensitive and so they suffer from what is known as SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Knowing that an increase in light serves to send one a little bit high can be used to counter a depressive mood by the use of what is known as a SAD light box that one can sit under for a specified time. Many bipolar folks use these SAD light boxes to help modulate mood and it is a good use of something that is (or can be) a trigger of sorts.

 

Probably the most difficult triggers to deal with are those which have to do with how other people impinge on our daily existence. Many of us have young children and all that they can do may serve to trigger a mood change of some sort. For this reason many bipolar parents are constantly riding the wave in terms of trying to cope with their disorder as well as the usual ups and downs of being a parent. If you are a bipolar parent and would like to have a safe place to discuss child-related issues then be sure that you join our BP-Parents list for some great advice and support.

 

Likewise relationships between adult family members can be terribly triggering if there is a lot of turbulent history amongst the main players. Mother/daughter issues, father/son issues and virtually any mix of closely-related persons can be extremely triggering when there are tons of unresolved issues amongst them. Learning to deal with anger and resentment, old hurts and what have is best done with a good therapist, but learning to think clearly so as to see where the trigger arises can't hurt either. Please visit the critical thinking section of this website for some handy tips on how to think cleanly and clearly. You might also read up on two forms of therapy that can be particularly effective in dealing with our many human triggers. The two therapies are: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT). DBT is particularly effective for those bipolars who have also been diagnosed as Borderline Personality Disordered.

 

And finally, perhaps the all time worst trigger is that of work-related stress. Bottom line is that many of us simply don't do well in the workplace because we find office politics and such to be huge triggers for us, yet we almost all down to the person would prefer to be employed doing something useful rather than under using our many talents. Surviving the workplace in one piece is learning about how best to decrease stress and cut off those triggers at the pass before they overwhelm. For some interesting and helpful advice from the FyrenIyce family with regards to getting and staying employed please visit the job advice section of the website.