And now I say hello to holiday anxiety. It’s true- I declared myself invincible this year and thought I wouldn’t experience any mood triggers or stress. I must really entertain myself because apparently my brain had other ideas. It started four days ago. A simple disagreement with my wife triggered flying high irritability as well as crying spells and road rage. My cycling has been pretty active this whole week. It was slightly unexpected since I have been functioning fine on my newest combo of meds. Now take my agitation and mix it with my extreme boredom…enter the busy mind. The busy mind has been known to be a pre-cursor to my mania. Okay before we go any further, let me explain my work situation. I work in an empty office all day long. I work by myself in that empty office all day long. I’m pretty much left to my own devices and due to the seasonal nature of this particular industry, I have nothing constructive to do. Ok now take that information and imagine that I’ve been driving myself crazy, all day long, these last few days. Finally on Wednesday night I attended my support group and talked about these triggers occurring. I could tell what everyone was thinking as I described my irritability and aggressive feelings, and as I explained my agitation and crying spells, a few people expressed their concern with manic triggers. While I didn’t go into full-blown mania or anything that night, I began feeling a new trigger yesterday. This time it was directly regarding Christmas and not being as fit, financially, as we have been in previous years. The holiday hustle-bustle has never been something I’m good at. Now, I don’t mind things happening fast but when life as we know it becomes about shopping, and the retail journey is more pandemonium than peace, I (as well as many other Bipolars) start to ride the wave of the environmental stimuli. The busy affect of the holidays manifests the busy affect of my brain.
So what do I do about the triggers and cycling?
Well, it has been difficult, I must admit. However, I practice deep breathing exercises religiously. Slooowly inhale, hold for a second, then slooowly exhale. I do this about 5 times. Deep breathing is one of my favorite instantaneous diffusers. The only problem is if I don’t immediately think to go into breathing mode, but I’m noticing this gets easier with practice. Yoga is another excellent tool I use to calm down. A simple sun sequence provides fluid transitions between poses that provide physical stretching and balance, as well as a meditative quality that allows you to expand your mind, easing it to calmness and clarity. These things don’t necessarily take away the mood swings or the irritability, but any amount of relief makes a world of difference, even if it is temporary.
So, overall, I’m a little bit of a hot mess right now. But I’ll be okay. I’m taking my medication and looking for ways to relieve my boredom. Next thing is to just keep on truckin’ it through the holiday season, while reminding myself I don’t have to be invincible.