Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pull the trigger

The warm-up at the writing group today was ‘what are 3 things that people might not know about you’. The first two answers popped into my head right away, and I may have already talked about them here (goodness knows I babble about a lot of things). The third thing was a bit raunchy…....

When I was in my early 20s I used to ride a motorcycle. My Suzuki gn400 was the first big thing that I bought (see photo below). I fed a live rat to a big boa constrictor. I was the first woman to go to a Carleton University engineering stag that wasn’t a stripper – the female engineers started joining the party after that :-o

1980_GN400E_450

I have a few things partially written about mental illness, but didn't clue in to yesterday's 'Bell Let's Talk' day until later in the evening, too late to finish one off so I will share today. Ten years ago, when I was first diagnosed, there was very little discussion about mental illness and I felt like a maverick with my openness. It was always my hope that my small contribution to squashing stigma might help someone. Imagine the number of people that find help due to Bell's initiative!

Pull the trigger on a gun and a bullet will speed out looking to do harm. That isn't the only kind of trigger that is destructive - in bipolar circles we call anything that initiates a mood episode a trigger, and while they won't necessarily kill you (in desperate circumstances they can), they do create havoc.

Triggers can include not having a regular sleep schedule with enough sleep hours; not eating meals at regular times; not taking medications as prescribed; not having the right amount of social contact (too much and it triggers into hypo-mania, not enough and depression starts to creep in); having contact with the wrong sorts of people; indulging in unhealthy thinking; the list goes on.

Once I've identified a trigger I can start to manage my illness. I can take control of sleep. I can choose not to be around people that cause discomfort (fyi - I don't know any of those people and was only using as example to others!). Although it often isn't easy, reminding myself to monitor my thoughts greatly increases my mental well-being (see yesterday's link to the 13 things).

Bipolar disorder is an illness that requires constant vigilance to stay well, and part of that is managing triggers. It doesn't mean that I will have no mood swings - I am sometimes ill despite my best efforts - but it does limit the number and usually the severity.

I'm lucky that I have a spouse that is supportive of my efforts so that I've been able to arrange my life for optimum health.

 

A desire to be in charge of our own lives, a need for control, is born in each of us. It is essential to our mental health, and our success, that we take control. ~Robert Foster Bennett