The day before yesterday I started to get agitated and irritable – excessively. There have been a some minor things that have been occurring over the past week that have contributed to me becoming a little rattled, but nothing seemed extraordinary enough to set off the chain of events such as the one I am currently experiencing. As of yesterday morning I am officially sitting right in the middle of a bipolar disorder mixed episode, or mixed features of a cycle.
Nicole Lyons is a force of nature disguised as a writer, a social activist, a voice for the downtrodden, and a powerful poet with a delicate touch. She lives a good life in beautiful British Columbia with her brilliant daughters and gorgeous husband. In her free time Nicole volunteers as a speaker and event coordinator with a Canadian non-profit that focuses on suicide awareness and prevention.
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This, my friends, is the absolute worst place for me to be right now. But, this isn’t my first rodeo and I’ve called on every last one of my supports, so everything is going to be just fine. Knowing that everything is going to be just fine while still feeling awful is not entirely helpful. Our minds are very powerful things, and while I like to think that I know exactly what is going on with me at all times, bipolar disorder likes to remind me that this isn’t always the case.
Joanna Medina, M.A. wrote this great Psych Central blog on mixed features and it’s right on the money. Right now I’m currently experiencing agitation, irritability, and restlessness with an increase in energy and a decrease in sleep. There is a feeling of loss of control coupled with paranoia and severe irritability; LaRae LaBouff articulated this perfectly in a Psych Central blog two days ago. Here are some of the things that I think may have contributed to this and what my game plan is.
Triggers? What Triggers
Like I said before, there have been a few nagging things going on that I was pretty certain I had under control, turns out even though I know how to handle my triggers, apparently I may have developed a few more. I knew I hadn’t been feeling well, but I got up yesterday and pushed myself to get out and do things that I believed needed to get done immediately, this was a poor choice on my account. Things snowballed and spiraled very quickly, requiring a call to my psychiatrist as well as my GP.
A long chat with one of my dearest friends also put things into perspective. Unfortunately, ‘my time’ to swing is here, and while I know this, it still doesn’t help matters. Hearing the doctors and my friends repeat this to me was soothing. My issue now is accepting that it is what it is, and the only way to get back on the horse is some serious self care.
- Self Care! The doctor’s orders are to take my emergency medications and rest until Monday. I see my psychiatrist on Tuesday morning, and will be in touch with her this evening and again on Monday morning. During the weekend the Wellness Plan comes into place, as do the family supports. The emergency meds are not something I take regularly, they are sitting at the pharmacy for these specific moments. It’s been quite sometime since I’ve needed to take this high of an amount, but that’s okay, it’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes we need that extra help to get us over a hump.
- Sleep. This is the golden ticket for me. I will sleep when I can right now as it is sporadic and not nearly enough to make much a difference. Once I get the edge off a bit then I will be able to rely on other healthy coping techniques that I have used.
- Keep talking. Vocalizing how I’m feeling, even if it’s a little bit senseless. I can say the words out loud and realize that I may be a little bit too wrapped up in my moods and myself.
It Is What It Is
A big part of this cycle has me upset because I know that this is always a possibility. Living as healthy as I can still leaves room for bipolar disorder to jump in and mess things up. I have to acknowledge that this is not my fault, swings will happen. I just have to stay on top of them as best as I can. This involves calling on those who know me best and help me pull through. The mixed features are no fun, none of the cycles are, but the mixed throws my balance off completely, and very quickly. Beating myself up for allowing this to happen is as ridiculous as it sounds, but it’s still a struggle not to do this.
Things To Alleviate Symptoms
- Call your Doctor and explain symptoms. If you are unable then have an advocate do so for you.
- Nip this before you hit non-compliant stage.
- Consider emergency meds that are prescribed by your doctor, ask questions. Have your advocate there. These are meds that you may not need to take on a regular basis.
- Take a hot bath immediately followed by a cold shower.
- Use mindfulness techniques.
- Practice breathing and grounding techniques
- Do not drive.
- Stay away from drugs and alcohol.
- Consider stepping away from social media for a bit.
- Ask for help, this is nothing to be ashamed of.
The silver lining is that I can do this. I’ve done it before. You can do it to. There are some amazing forums here on Psych Central when you can use that extra support. Sometimes it’s one step forward and two steps back, but that does not mean it’s hopeless. Nothing ever is. You will find your balance again, and so will I, right after I rest up and follow my doctor’s orders.