Sometimes it seems that no matter what I do or say it’s the wrong thing. I mean well, but I feel at times that I am judged unfairly and feeling that I am just better off being alone most of the time. I like some people but even the ones I love fall short. I talk too loud, I laugh too loud, I say more than I should but none of this is on purpose. I am who I am and I can’t change that. Either accept me and quit criticizing me or just let me be to myself. I thought I had good relationship with some people but I think I am overstating that with a few of them. I can live with myself and I can take care of myself. Asking for help from some people is no longer an option. I had an incident recently, more of a misunderstanding, but the situation turned out poorly and I obviously should have never asked for the favor that I did. Some people are sensitive too and I forget that. Not everything is about me. I am living the best life I can and sometimes my life is pretty good. I am surrounded by good people although my circle is small, it is safe and comfortable.
Threat Sensitivity in Bipolar Disorder. Life stress is a major predictor of the course of bipolar disorder. Few studies have used laboratory paradigms to examine stress reactivity in bipolar disorder, and none have assessed autonomic reactivity to laboratory stressors.
Sensitivity and Bipolar Can Be a Confusing Relationship
Bipolar and Sensitivity
Opening the doors to intense feeling, creativity and understanding leads to a world of overwhelming beauty, but at the same time offers uncontrollable worry, anxiety and emotions.
Whenever I read about sensitivity, people say, “I always felt different.” At risk of being cliché, so did I. It was an indescribable feeling in my stomach. I had a good childhood and can pick out fun and happy memories, but my life seemed to be peppered with worry and concern and I have forever been called ‘a sensitive child.’
My dad used to tell me that all the time. I’m too sensitive. What the hell does that mean anyway. Am I supposed to be a hard ass. I really never knew. I am just being me. I am sensitive quite often and very rarely what some would say “being a bitch” and I am not that at all.
I used to ‘feel’ things so intensely. If anyone said anything upsetting to me I was always deeply hurt and carried the thoughts and feelings around for a long time. I could snap, defend and shout in response to anything I felt was unfair but was always very affected.
I believe there is truth that highly sensitive people absorb life like sponges and find it difficult to drain negativity. Emotional resilience is paramount to staying mentally well and I struggled with this. My inability to cope with a dysfunctional family in my teens, a natural ambitious nature with fear of failure.
I became vulnerable. At the same time I took on other people’s problems, feeling their moods, pain and upset. Genetics was of course a factor but I’ve no doubt my sensitivity to emotions contributed to my inability to cope and ultimately, my diagnosis of bipolar.
One of my triggers for recognising an episode is my level of physical sensitivity. Chemical changes ignite anxiety, which is a little word for such a magnitude of feeling. Most recently I experienced complications with my medication and this fueled a highly sensitive state. My doctor always takes me off my antidepressent when she feels that I am too manic. Then I wind up crying my eyes out over practically nothing.
Anxious and Afraid
It’s like suddenly feeling pulled into a hole where you become in complete tune with your body and aware of your surroundings. You’re in a zone. You’re heart feels like it is pumping out of your chest and a heat rises up your neck and into your face. People are talking but you can no longer process everything they are saying, sounds become too loud and shouting is too much. Bright lights make you squint and sudden movement can make you jump or shout. Spatial awareness can be affected and as people lean in you quickly retreat, curling up to hide until your intense sensitivity has calmed. I have often been fearful of myself in these situations, recognizing quickly that anything around me can be a trigger. I have shouted for silence and for people to stay away, which to the onlooker appears over-dramatic and exaggerated. Logically, it was simple to me. My body was in a highly sensitive, anxious state and attempting to protect itself. Misunderstanding and unhelpful responses only exacerbated my symptoms.
What Helps Manage My Sensitivity?
Life experience has been paramount. I understand it, accept it and have worked out strategies to help me handle it. It’s not always possible because I believe being sensitive is part of my genetic makeup, but my efforts have definitely benefited me in managing bipolar.
- I listen, help and empathize with people’s problems but I can let them go and be mindful of my own mental wellbeing.
- If someone is not compassionate or empathic I see it as their problem and not mine.
- I listen only to those I trust because they know me, support me and understand me.
- If I feel oversensitive and find myself spiralling downwards I try to distract myself or share my thoughts with someone who can rationalize them.
- I use cognitive behavioural techniques (CBT) to stop any negative thoughts cycles.
- I limit stressful situations and things I know trigger upset. I am confident in saying no if I feel at risk.
- I use relaxation if I start to panic. Diaphragmatic breathing is so important to calm the body down.
These strategies make me feel stronger, more empowered and make my decisions feel balanced.