Who’s Pulling the Trigger?

“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.
Red Flags:
  • 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
When those red flags emerge, triggers should be avoided as best as possible. Offer extra support to relieve some of the stress.  Ask what you can do to ease the symptoms.  Don’t judge.  Please provide some reassurance.  Those are uncertain and rocky times for me.  And most of all, don’t treat me like a burden.
Remember, I don’t do these things on purpose.  I can only control so much of it.  I didn’t ask for this disorder and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.  I was born this way, and it’s something I have to live with.  I really do try as hard as I can to remain stable, and perform all of my duties and fulfill all of my responsibilities.  I do love you, and I’ve never told you anything to the contrary.  I’ve made mistakes, and I’m willing to own up to them.
Please, stand together with me.

10 thoughts on “Who’s Pulling the Trigger?

  1. Just my two, but I think at least some of this needs to be communicated to a specific person as well. Toward the end it read more like a direct plea than a blog post.

    Best of luck on this one.

    • it is a plea in a way. It’s a plea to be open-minded and have a willingness to work with me. When we do talk about things related to BP, it turns ugly really fast. He has a tendency to dig his heels in. So, when he has a limited perspective, then we’re stuck clashing.

      For instance, I try to explain to him that these mood episodes may or may not happen for any reason. And there are things that we both can do to ease the pain and destruction of an episode. There are triggers when I’m having an episode that send me reeling. But he claims that it’s BS, and I’m just trying to get off the hook for acting like a jerk or being irresponsible.

      Then, he accuses me of blaming him for these episodes, because I made the suggestion that he stepped on a trigger. It’s not just him! He has watched many people step on my triggers before. He’s witnessed me in tears because someone made a remark I took badly. He’s watched me tear into people because I was already irritated before we had a negative exchanged.

      He doesn’t understand the nature of the beast. I’ve let him read personal journal entries describing these episodes in detail. His response? “Self-indulgent, pity party, BS.”

      I reminded him very politely that I was very accepting, respecting, and supportive of him when he suffered greatly from what was originally diagnosed as Panic Disorder. It did take it’s effect, but I knew what it was like to be stricken with something painful. His response? “Well, I didn’t bleeping cut myself.” Sure, but I held him while he cried drunkenly in my lap two weeks before our son was born when he went on a bender. He cried, “Do you still love me?” I petted his head and rubbed his back reassuringly purring that I’d always love him. Even in the worst havoc it caused, i stood closely beside him to firmly grip his hand. And I was always prepared to catch him instead of pulling the rug out from under him.

      I would like to think that I don’t see that level of reciprocation because he truly doesn’t understand. If I could get him to listen with an open heart and an open mind for one second, this is what I would have to say to him.

      • Sorry it took me a few days to get to this one. We have so much to talk about, my dear. I won’t go into my experiences here, but we really do need to have a good conversation.

    • I’d file this under what I like to call, “Words You’ll Never Read”. It’ll likely never be read, nor will it be spoken. If I were to print it and approach him with it, then it would be a well thought out attack on him.

      Maybe I’d follow up with other versions for my blogging friends and the rest of my family.

      For you guys, it would be a lot different. More like:

      * Sometimes, I need a gentle nudge, a hint drop, or a suggestion. If you suspect something and don’t feel like I’m being completely honest, speak up.

      (Although I try to be as honest here as I can be without revealing too much.)

      Red Flag: I don’t post in more than three days.

      Red Flag: I don’t comment on anything in more than a week.

      Red Flag: I start to sound incoherent.

      Yeah, maybe I’ll draft up something like that. And something for Canvas too about triggers. Did we cover that yet?

      • Per Canvas, Always did write a very general post on triggers, but I would hardly say it’s been covered. That’s one of the things that I think is great about the project, she writes some, you write some, we can all write on the same basic topic, but since we have different perspectives and experiences and voices, it’s essentially impossible to repeat things or exhaust the subject.

        Go. Do. Write.

  2. Pingback: Processing Emotions with Repression | A Canvas Of The Minds

  3. Pingback: On Mental Health : Triggers | A Clown On Fire

    • This was actually inspired by another blog. I was reading a domant blog, written by the spouse of someone with bipolar disorder. They wrote out noted triggers for their spouse. And I thought, “If I could write something to give to my husband, a rough outline of things to look for, and behaviors to avoid triggering something, I would write this.”.

      And these things still stand. I don’t think he’s ever read it. But, I do think he has mostly learned how to avoid triggers. He has gotten better at defusing things. I suppose he just had to learn it on his own. Men, go figure.

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