If you have bipolar mania or depression then you know when an episode is starting if you understand your triggers.
Some triggers that may kick off an episode:
- alcohol and drug use
- sleepless nights
- poor diet, lack of exercise
- changes in weather and seasons
- conflicts with other people, problems in your intimate relationships
- social isolation
- physical injury or illness
- medication side effects
I have experienced episodes preceded by a few of these triggers.
Trigger: Sleepless nights
If I am not sleeping at night, and staying up wide awake this is a sign of mania coming on. I have done this on purpose, where I stayed up all night and the next day I am having pressured speech and racing thoughts. This is why as part of my symptom management, I have to have regular sleep patterns.
Trigger: Seasons changing darkness to light
For me when the seasons change to spring and summer there is more light and I tend to have manic episodes in the beginning of summer. I make sure I am staying on my sleep schedule and not staying up while still light outside.
My Dad’s birthday triggers manic episodes. It happened again this year in August. My Dad has been gone for over 15 years but I still celebrate his birthday. This is usually a high energy and productive day for me. Over the last 3 years on his birthday, I published two music albums and started two blogs.
When I started speaking more rapidly and staying up late, my daughters realized that something was going on. We spoke on the phone and decided that I should go see my doctor and nip this thing in the bud. I hadn’t had a manic episode in 3 years (under medication). At the moment, I was exhibiting high energy and creativity. Both are things I enjoy as it allows me to write and create music. But, I was worried that it would progress and get worse. Worse means I develop psychosis and full-blown mania.
Managing the mania
I showed up at the doctors when they opened. I was hoping to go on standby and wait for someone to cancel. The first patient canceled, and I was able to see my doctor. I told her about the high energy, continuous talking and my concerns. She agreed to up the dosage of my medications.
I went home and had two days off from work. I did some writing which helps to distract my mind. I forced myself to go to bed at my normal hour even though I wasn’t tired.
It took about two weeks before the mild manic episode subsided, but I was thankful it had been mild. Most mania in me (when unmedicated) is severe and lasts for months. This was a blessing. Two weeks.
Knowing yourself and knowing your triggers can help you prepare for mania or depression.
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