Watch for Early Signs of Trouble

Lynne Taetzsch Health Guide
  • One key to successfully managing our bipolar lives is to be alert to early signs of potential problems. That could mean sleeping too much or too little, working longer than normal hours, consuming too much alcohol or caffeine, talking too fast, excessive shopping, arguing with friends and family, and so forth. The trick is to know which behaviors we are susceptible to and to nip them in the bud.

    One sign I get that things are not going well is irritability. Seemingly out of the blue I will be very hard to get along with. Yesterday I was having a conversation with one of my brothers on the phone, and he was driving me crazy with his ideas about what other people should do. I let him know what I thought and he said, “I can see you’re in a negative mood today.”
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    The thing is, this brother is always coming up with ideas about what other people should do, and normally I listen patiently and politely because I don’t want to hurt his feelings. But yesterday it’s not that I simply disagreed with him and expressed it. I actually felt a physical irritation that went beyond a rational response.

    I didn’t get what was happening to me, though, until a couple hours later when I snapped at Adrian and said, “You’re driving me crazy just like my brother did this morning!”

    Adrian walked away hurt, and that’s when I realized I was over the edge. Fortunately, I also knew the cure for me was a walk outside, no matter what the weather. Knowing what was happening also helped me to apologize to Adrian later and to make things right between us.

    Picking up on trouble signs early helps us to avoid major breakdowns either way—too high or too low. Whether we notice them ourselves or get the feedback from family and friends, it’s important to pay attention to these signs and to take whatever action is necessary to keep them from escalating.

    Find more coping tips in The First 48 Hours with Bipolar Disorder.

    Share your coping strategies in the message boards.
Published On: December 05, 2006