Anything could trigger an episode for me, especially when I make things up in my mind. I remember when someone would say something to me, and it would be a rollercoaster ride of emotions. This is even true when the other person didn’t have bad intentions, but just expressed what they had on their mind. I guess it’s true when people say your mind can play tricks on you.
When I kept things inside, I would play the conversation over again, coming up with different scenarios, some of which would drive me absolutely crazy. Years after, I learned the solution to this problem was very simple. I should have communicated my thoughts more actively because that way, I would get the true intentions behind what the other person was really saying. Over the last 16 years, I have actively made it my mission to find constructive ways to cope with bipolar through lifestyle changes, i.e., exercise, meditation, communication, dieting, and even motivational coaching.
One of my missions was to find out how communicating my thoughts helped me cope with bipolar, and how it altered my mood. In general, I wanted to find out was there a link between how well you communicate your thoughts, and the onset of a bipolar cycle. Here’s what I learned.
First, I did some research, and learned the connection between these two lay deep within what NOT communicating does to your mind. It’s hard to simply link “communication” to bipolar, but if you understand what NOT communicating your feelings does to your mind, you’ll have an easier time finding constructive ways to deal with your mood swings going forward. For example, here’s something from The Organization for Bipolar Affective Disorder (obad.ca)
“Studies have confirmed that stress can precipitate manic and depressive episodes. The biochemical imbalance makes individuals more vulnerable to emotional and physical stressors: such as lack of sleep, excessive stimulation, marital tensions and conflicts; or upsetting and traumatic life experiences. During times of stress, the brain chemistry lacks the mechanisms to function properly, triggering the onset or recurrence of an unwanted episode. Despite this reaction, the stress in and of itself is not the cause of the disorder.”
Stress alone is NOT what will cause episodes, but stress and the chemical imbalance bipolar sufferers have can trigger more vulnerability to certain situations. I thought about this for a while, and noticed when I would be upset about my verbal communication with someone, it would stress me out. As a matter of fact, it would continue to stress me out until 1 of 2 things happened – I forgot about the conversation, or finally communicated my feelings, but by this point, I would have suffered an episode.
I’ve had 16 years to re-evaluate my life and noticed my inability to communicate my feelings played a crucial role in triggering episodes many times. I’ve always had many friends and consider myself to be a social person, but many disagreements did happen and my inability to NOT express my feelings caused emotional stress.
I noticed a majority of times that when this would happen, a few days later, I would have a full-brown depression episode. What’s even more transparent is that NOT communicating my feelings stemmed directly from my bipolar diagnosis. I had made up my mind I was wrong a majority of the time simply because I was bipolar, and those who knew I was bipolar would just think I’m tripping out (slang for not being reasonable). It’s safe to say this was a tough time for me, emotionally and mentally.
Since 2006, I’ve taken a proactive step to transform my life. I enrolled in self-coaching classes, and made it a habit to read regularly. This was something I’ve never enjoyed growing up, but transformation is something we all must be comfortable with considering we have bipolar to cope with…right? I’ve also been lucky to know a few people who have been involved with Landmark, and was invited to a few coaching sessions where they based transformation on your ability to communicate all aspects of your life.
I can’t say this more clearly: Improving my communication has transformed my life because I don’t keep negative thoughts bottled inside my mind. If someone says something and it bothers me, I’ll communicate by asking them what they meant or how it bothers me. Throughout my blog, I’ll reiterate the importance of communication because personally, my triggers have always been the mental stress associated with negative thoughts, either directly or indirectly caused by me.
I want to re-iterate 2 sentences from the passage I’ve pasted above:
“The biochemical imbalance makes individuals more vulnerable to emotional and physical stressors: such as lack of sleep, excessive stimulation, marital tensions and conflicts; or upsetting and traumatic life experiences. During times of stress, the brain chemistry lacks the mechanisms to function properly, triggering the onset or recurrence of an unwanted episode.”
It doesn’t take a genius to understand how stressful conflicts can trigger an episode, but if you can reduce the amount of stress from a conflict, it’s safe to say you can decrease the seriousness of your episode or eliminate it altogether. I’m also talking from my own personal experience, and how communicating my feelings has helped me stabilize the onset of episodes in my life.
It’s difficult to transform the way you deal with situations, especially if you’ve relied on yourself to define your thought process. However, if what you’re doing RIGHT NOW has made no progress in your life, then you have nothing to lose, but more to gain by changing your communication skills.
Over the course of several months, I’ll NOT only re-iterate the importance of communication, but provide you with examples you can apply in your own life. These examples were some I learned, and continue to learn, from books and other coaching sessions. I’m also going to ask all of you to do one thing, and that’s to provide support in the comment box below. If you remember my very first post, I mentioned how this blog will be a place to share ideas and experiences so that we can all help transform each other.
I want to conclude this post with the following:
“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” Yehuda Berg
Improve your communications skills to help others, and find support from those you trust. When you have a circle of supportive people, then communication can be used to reduce stress in your life, and ultimately heal your emotions. This alone will be the first step in fighting bipolar disorder.