Medical Questions > Mental Health > Bipolar Disorder Forum

Stress As a Scapegoat And Catalysts For Mania

Hi everyone

I am bipolar and when i recovered from a serious bout of mania, the general conclusion seemed to be that stress had caused the mania. Claims that i was working too hard and not relaxing led to insomnia and then led to the symptoms of mania, which, im sure some of you will recognise, can be quite enjoyable!

But I would like to raise two points. The first is regarding the way in which stress is used to explain illness, in particular BD. Long term chronic stress increases the chances of many diseases, colds flus etc, as well as increasing the likelihood of a car accident, lowered self esteem etc. What im tryin to say is - stress is what the docs talk about when they are unsure of the underlying factor.

Like I know there is something about me, in my DNA which means i have BD. This means, to me, that under certain conditions (unknown) i will develop signs of BD. It sounds bad to say that i cant get stressed out or i have to take things easy the rest of my life.What if, hypothetically, i emigrated to a desert island with lots of nice girls and food and i lived here without stress...is there no way in which i could get unwell again?

This leads on to my second point. The idea that a good thing, a happy thing can cause me to get unwell. Both time i have been unwell (manic, psychotic, requiring hospitalisation) i believe the initial step was a good thing in my life. Like a good thing happened to me, which made me excited and this was maintained over a few days, maybe weeks. Then, BD kicks in and i start to feel elated for no real reason. And before you know it, i have delusions etc etc

So now what i have to do, is I have to keep myself in check. lithium will maybe help me do this. But when a really good thing happens, i consciously play it down in my head. Not let myself get carried away.

Id love to hear if any of you have thought about these ideas. I am fortunate in that dont think i have ever suffered the depressed side of BD. But for sure i know that the manic side, while being enjoyable in the early stages but disastrous at the end, can be facilitated by a "happy stress".

Thanks

Charlie
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replied June 25th, 2007
I Know...
Hello Charlie

Yes, I know all abt the curse of "good stress". Smile What I've found over time is that my "radar" for all of this is more and more refined. Sometimes I resent the fact that I can't be as spontaneous as others because I need to be alert to subtle shifts in energy and mood, and that having too good a time can lead to a very bad one. It stinks!
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replied June 25th, 2007
Hi JSG58, thanks very much for replying to my post. I think my subject heading was a bit off-putting!

But im glad you recognise what I mean. That situation you may find yourself in, with a group of people. You are being funny, the centre of attention but not in an irritating way, and you get more and more excited by the fact that people like you or laugh at your jokes.......before you know it you are hopping from foot to foot, almost dancing in front of them, such is the energy inside? Then they look at you as if you are from planet Mars, and you make a mental note to yourself..Calm Down, Dont talk for 5mins.....

I strongly believe that "good stress" is what wiilll likely trigger a manic phase with me. And i mean something as routine as falling in love with someone, like starting a relationship, that early feeling where you are elated...waking up early etc, so similar to the initial stages of mania i think.....

So like yourself, i find myself stopping myself now and then. Bringing myself down to earth. But I dont mind this. I would rather have control than it escalate into something that leads me into hospital. I am sorry that it makes you feel as if you cant be spontaneous, i see what you mean.

But, just imagine for a second what the opposite would be like? To never be excited about something? To never smile from ear to ear at the sound of an excellent song or whatever.

I know which id choose!

Peace,

Charlie
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