Bipolar Triggers You Should Know About
If you are in a relationship with someone who has told you he’s bipolar, you may have thought it’s no big deal. The person has seemed completely stable since you met him—you’ve seen him go through some ups and downs but nothing out of the ordinary—so you think, “How bad can it be?” Well, you probably met this individual during a stable time, and people with bipolar disorder can sometimes go months without an episode. If your partner’s ups and downs seemed normal, it’s because they were the ups and downs of a person who was stable for that time. But being present for your partner’s first bout of mania, or depression, can be a bit of a shock. It never ceases to be difficult, really. Here are bipolar triggers you should know about if you’re dating someone with bipolar disorder.
Sudden extreme changes in plans
Those with bipolar disorder need things to go as planned. As a part of the manic side of their disorder, when they have plans, they can get ahead of themselves, and picture those plans, thinking of exactly how they’ll go, imagining different scenarios within them and setting up great expectations for themselves. So if you tell your friend, who is all dressed up for a concert, that you lost the tickets and you’ll just be going to dinner instead, this can trigger her.
Being around family
Being around family can be like walking through a trigger minefield for those with bipolar disorder. There is no way to possibly understand the various complex dynamics, and history, that exists there, all of which can trigger an episode in a bipolar individual.
Career disappointment hits everyone hard, but it can hit those with bipolar disorder especially hard. Part of the disorder causes the affected individual to get ahead of himself, and even have delusions of grandeur. By simply applying for a loan to start a business, he may have already been imaging himself on the cover of Forbes. If he doesn’t get that loan, all of those delusions are crushed—not just that loan possibility.
Disputes with friends
Most individuals can mentally multitask—they can be in a fight with one friend, but put that aside while they enjoy time with other people. Social disputes consume a person with bipolar disorder. If the person is in a fight with someone, they can’t be mentally present anywhere else. They fixate on the fight.
Bipolar people need to be in the presence of those who are gentle, good listeners and calm-tempered. They cannot handle the energy of overpowering personalities—like people who need to be the center of attention, are always trying to get people to party, and generally suck the energy out of the room. This type of person makes a bipolar individual retreat and can send them into a depression.
Since those with bipolar disorder can’t handle overpowering personalities, they don’t do well in crowded places. Parties and concerts are like one giant overpowering energy. Bipolar individuals do best in smaller groups or one-on-one settings.
Poor eating habits
Bipolar disorder and eating disorders often go hand in hand. Even if someone with bipolar disorder doesn’t have an eating disorder, they can display disordered eating habits when they’re already in a bad place. If you sense your partner is already on a downswing into a depressive phase, help him get some exercise and eat right.
Upsetting media (movies, shows, news)
The mind of a bipolar person is often imagining worst-case scenarios. They have to fight not to think of the sad things that happen in the world. So watching troubling events in movies, shows, or on the news upsets them more than most people. They have a hard time recovering from this stimuli and their brain tends to take the bad events and make them even worse.
Now that you understand that unexpected changes, crowded places, and poor eating habits are hard on bipolar individuals, you can see how travel is especially trying on someone with this disorder.
A new person (colleague, neighbor etc.)
Bipolar individuals like their routines, and new people—from colleagues to neighbors—can disrupt their routines. Even if the new person doesn’t disrupt their routine, their presence can cause a bipolar person to worry that they might disrupt their routine, and this can be a trigger.
Because a bipolar individual’s brain is already struggling with certain chemical imbalances, he cannot handle the additional imbalances that come from sleep disruption.
Moving can be a big trigger for someone with bipolar disorder. Moving sets off a series of changes in routine—limitless changes that it’s hard for a bipolar person to even possibly calculate. This can send them into a depressive state.
Working in groups
It’s best for bipolar individuals to understand their responsibilities and go carry those out on their own. The delicate dynamic of working in a group—with concerns of overpowering people, being stepped on, or hurting one’s feelings—can be too much for someone with bipolar disorder.
A change in seasons
Seasonal depressive disorder affects even otherwise stable individuals and can be particularly aggressive in those with bipolar disorder.
One reason dating someone with bipolar disorder is difficult is that you feel like you cannot give him constructive criticism. The bipolar brain cannot just look at the isolated incident at hand—it gets carried away, wondering how much else you’re upset about that you aren’t saying, what other times they’ve done this without realizing it and more.