“What if I wanted to fight?
Beg for the rest of my life
What would you do?
You say you wanted more
What are you waiting for?
I’m not running from you (from you)
Come break me down
Bury me, bury me
I am finished with you
Look in my eyes
You’re killing me, killing me
All I wanted was you“
“The Kill”- 30 Seconds to Mars
While trying to find some helpful websites on supporting a spouse with bipolar disorder, I came upon Living with a BiPolar Spouse.There was an article about triggers in it. I thought it was helpful, but only so much. There were a few things in there that I didn’t agree with. So, in order to attempt to be constructive, I thought that I’d create my own list of how to handle me.
A part of having bipolar disorder is dealing with mood shifts for sometimes no reason at all. However, there are triggers and red flags I would suggest for my husband to look for.
- I do not take criticism well. It may be best to offer suggestion instead of pointing out all of the things I didn’t do, or the things I did incorrectly.
- Tough love creates an opposite effect for me. I will not straighten out and fly right. There is no such thing with bipolar disorder. Tough love does not create a supportive environment. It makes me scared, alienated, and breeds resentment. Try to build a supportive environment, forgive me, and ask what you can do to help.
- Often, I will respond to nasty comments with nasty behavior. A negative environment is toxic for everyone involved and is especially harmful for me.
- Name calling is never acceptable. It is degrading and will absolutely send me spiralling.
- An event may take place at work, with our son, or something else that could trigger an episode. The best thing you can do is offer encouragement, and remind me of my mantras. Learn my mantras. And learn how to use them appropriately.
- Do not point out that I am having an episode. Do not rationalize it away. My feelings cannot and will not be validated by someone else. Instead, try asking if I’m feeling OK, or if there is something going on with me.
- Be willing to listen when I need to talk. Shutting down emotionally and shutting me out is a trigger.
- Be respectful and mindful of me. It is a trigger for me to be disrespected and devalued.
- Take me seriously when I’m telling you something that concerns my disorder. If I’m warning you to stop because I will go over the edge, I’m not making idle threats. It triggers something in me.
- Changes in biological functions. Sleeping patterns, eating patterns, etc.
- Irritability. I am always irritable before the onset of an episode.
- Isolation. If I prefer to be alone, then there is something wrong.
- When I use certain phrases. “Leave me alone.” “Don’t start.” “I can’t handle this.” “I give up.” Most of the time, though, I’ll come out and say it. I’m depressed. I think I’m hypomanic. And my favorite, I don’t know what the hell is wrong with me.
- Lack of sleep without missing it.
- Highly reactive state
- Anger or open hostility
- Choosing to sleep elsewhere or at the foot of the bed
- Wrapping in a blanket, especially when the weather is hot
- Speaking less
- Speaking more
- Compulsive behaviors that are atypical, such as a preoccupation with cleaning, organizing, or writing
- Not taking my meds or not taking them on time
- Any changes in medication
- Any personality changes
- Cutting, obviously
- Negative comments
- Sudden disinterest in activities that I was once engulfed in