Sometimes too much stimulation can trigger and episode and by that I mean either a manic of depressive episode. Too much of anything for a person with Bipolar 1 can send you into hiding (depression) or manic where everything seems unmanageable. I remember one particular episode I had when I moved into a house that had this country kitchen and dining room with blue floral and striped wallpaper. It was too much visual stimulation or mind clutter so every time that I was in the room it made me sick. I had to tear it all off and paint instead.

I can not handle visual clutter of any kind. I am not a neat freak just don’t have a lot of unnecessary “stuff.” I don’t collect anything like I use to. As I get older it seems to get worse so I make sure my house is comfortable for me. And besides who wants to dust all those little figurines and collectables. Not me. There was a time when my house was filled with memories and too much wall clutter. My dad used to say it was like visiting a museum. That was many years ago. I think I’m doing my kids a favor too so when I pass they won’t have a bunch of my junk to go through. I have a craft room where I display some of the things my kids made when they were little and have two huge plastic tubs of memorabilia that I saved. One for each of my children. (Adults now). I also have a huge tub full of photos that I am eventually going to scan to some sort of device. I haven’t gotten that far.

Getting to know your personal triggers helps with bipolar disorder to prevent relapse and stop symptoms from getting worse. Common triggers you may experience include:

  • Stressful negative or positive life events (e.g. the birth of a baby, a promotion, losing a job, ending a relationship or moving house).1
  • Disruption to sleep patterns (e.g. due to jet lag or social events). Decreases in the time the person sleeps can contribute to hypomanic or manic symptoms, and increases in sleep or bedrest may be followed by depressive symptoms.2
  • Disruption to routine. A regular structure (e.g. regular going to bed and waking up times, regular activities and social contact) can help to maintain the bodies sleep patterns and usual energy levels. 3
  • Too much stimulation from external sources (e.g. clutter, traffic, noise, light, crowds, work deadlines or social activities)
  • Too much stimulation from within the person (e.g. overstimulation from lots of activity and excitement when the person tries to achieve challenging goals or having stimulating substances like caffeine (e.g. in coffee or cola) or nicotine (e.g. in cigarettes or nicotine patches).
  • Abusing alcohol or street drugs can cause the person to have ongoing bipolar symptoms, more frequent relapses and hospitalizations.

Over stimulation of any sort is never good for someone with Bipolar disorder, especially Bipolar 1. I generally refer to Bipolar 1 because that is what I am most familiar with, I live it. One day at a time. Something as simple as shopping I can no longer tolerate. Too many people, too many choices, too much traffic and basically too much of anything. I have learned to simplify my life by cutting out anything that I feel is unnecessary and that allows me to fully enjoy the things that I do have and want in my life. It changes constantly and I have learned to adjust and enjoy life on my terms. I am grateful that I have so many people who love me and that I love back.