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Stress Part 4: Seeing it Coming

By John McManamy

Colleen has a nice way of putting it: "My mood dropped like a rock."

CountryGirl has this to say: “I CAN"T stop the coming of the changes, no matter what." 

These comments were posted here at BipolarConnect and on my website. People like you and me. By the time we feel it happen, we know, it is way too late. There is nothing we can do.

It's like a cold coming on. Once that throat starts feeling scratchy, all you can is batten down the hatches. Tomorrow you will be calling in sick. 

A good friend of mine deals with something far more serious than a common cold. She has to contend with psychosis. 911 psychosis. Locked unit psychosis. Five-point restraints psychosis. She literally cannot see it coming. No warning signs. No equivalent of a scratchy throat.

Yet she is working full-time and is about to receive her PhD. Yes, she desperately wishes she could see her psychosis coming, but it turns out she has picked up a far better skill: She can literally see it coming before she sees it coming. 

My friend's secret is that she is hyper-vigilant - extremely mindful  - when it comes to stress. She may have no power over psychosis jumping out of the bushes and showing her who is boss, but she does have a measure of control over what kind of stress she allows in her life.

My friend has figured out that her psychosis doesn't just come out of nowhere, even if it seems that way. Invariably, it comes on the heels of extreme stress. Her brain literally overloads. Something shorts out. Zap! Pow! Psychosis, just like that. So she has organized her life to minimize stress and works to manage the stresses she can't avoid. 

For example, if a meeting at work is going badly she will bolt for the door. Often, her exits are less than gracious. Then again, she is literally fleeing a burning building.

She also doesn't hesitate to "pop a Klonnie" when she starts feeling herself getting wound up. Klonopin is one of the class of anxiety meds known as benzodiazepines. Others include Xanax and Ativan. My friend takes her Klonopin on a PRN - "as needed" - basis. Less anxiety, less stress. 

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