We had family come from quite a distance to spend 8 days vacationing with us. It was a wonderful time to reconnect and to learn a bit more of the family history.
It is amazing to me what people call enjoyment or fun. We got up at 6 AM everyday, had breakfast by 7 AM and then hit the road for a theme park. We returned at some time between 12:30 AM and 1:00 AM and didn’t get to sleep until 1:30 or 2:00 AM. Then, again, we were up by 6:00 AM and so on for 6 days. They left yesterday.
I love them dearly, but for me this was torture not fun. By the last day I was ready to crack. I did stay back at a central location and sent them on their way to enjoy a ride or attraction occasionally but I froze outside and the people, lights and noise still played havoc with my senses.
They’ve gone home now and one day later and I still feel like the room is making a slow spin under me sometimes.
Everyone knows I have bipolar disorder. This visiting family unit has another member with bipolar. One family member is in the medical field. Everyone trusted I would manage and deal with it. I had a very hard time managing and barely dealt with it. One or two more days and I would have cracked. It was brutal.
Although they all say they understand how important routine and sleep, etc. are to someone bipolar, I don’t believe they have a clue. And I don’t blame them. And I still love them dearly. They just can’t fully grasp all the facets to bipolar disorder and how it affects each individual differently. No one can grasp it unless they have lived it.
WE ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO CAN CARE FOR AND PROTECT OURSELVES:
1) Sleep is critical to anyone with a mood disorder; go to bed the same time and arise the same time daily.
2) Patterns or schedules are very important. It helps a person stay oriented in his day and stay on task. I keep a calendar with a little weekly task schedule attached near me all day long just in case I have a memory lapse or the meds are playing with my head. If I need to check the calendar and it’s been misplaced I get upset until I find it again. That 10 or 15 minutes of upset is potential fuel for a mood swing. Mood swings must be prevented at all costs.
3) Noise is a trigger! Avoid triggering a mood swing!
4) Flickering, strobing, fast playing lights play with the senses and can trigger a mood swing!
5) Fighting crowds, throngs of people to arrive at a destination is very stressful. Again, this has the potential to set off a mood swing.
How then did I avoid a major mood swing? A week before our relatives came, my psychiatrist changed two of my medications because they had been ineffective. Had he not done that, I’m sure I would have had a major mood swing and would have had to be brought home. I think we’re getting close to a nearly perfect mix because I stayed within a safe range and I feel better than with the old meds.
I plan to be much more careful about how I approach our summer activities this year. I hope you do to.