Unexpected Changes
by Storm

Unexpected changes.  Not surprises, but unexpected changes.  Iím not sure about all bipolar people, but I guess I like structure and routine. It helps me to maintain control over my disorder if I stick to some sort of scheduled lifestyle. So when some one throws me a curve, say like, inviting a group or couple over for dinner at the last minute without asking me first, well, it sets of an incredible panic episode mixed with some mania. My mind absolutely goes haywire and blank at the same time. I cannot think straight; I cannot think or focus at all. It is as though all my neurons begin to fire all at once at rapid speed and my thought processes start backfiring and jump-starting simultaneously.


Donít misunderstand. I love surprises, but surprises are completely different than unexpected changes. One is good and the other is bad, at least for me. I usually settle down and am able to function and make my way through the unscheduled event. Even so, there are many times that I simply have to beg off because I cannot get my panic under control enough to force myself to put on my ďfaceĒ to attend whatever it is that Iíve been forced to go to.


Forced isnít exactly the proper word, um, coerced? No, that isnít it either. Manipulated? Nope. Hmmm. Pressured? Perhaps. Anyway, I think you get the idea. If I donít go I will look like the bad guy or the snob. If I do go, there is a chance Iíll look like the bad guy or a snob because Iíll be freaking out mentally and will probably either isolate because I know I will probably not make any sense when I talk or worse than that, Iíll make a fool of myself because Iíll go manic if I start socializing and talk my fool head off to each person in the room until they all start trying to avoid me.


I tend to keep my bipolar world on the Q-T.  I am a private individual and I enjoy my solitude and privacy. Part of this has to do with my childhood and my upbringing and a lot has to do with the disorder. Not knowing for certain when Iíll cycle or go into a deep episode either way, I enjoy being ensconced in the safety of my own world. I know it is supposed to be good to get out and socialize with my own species and I do make the effort but I can only take so much before I feel my change of cycle coming on and it usually involves irritability so I try not to make my social visits too long.


The ironic thing is, even though I am in a sense a loner and like being alone to do my work, I am a people person. I do enjoy talking and meeting new people. Itís always been extremely easy for me to strike up a conversation with anyone about anything. But there always comes that time when I feel a rapid cycle change coming on and I know I must retreat to the safety of home.


Even at home when unexpected changes occur and people ďpop inĒ, if it sets off a panic or manic episode, Iíve learned to beg off and go to my office and shut the door. I have so much work to do that everyone understands my need to ďgo to workĒ, thus they are not offended. Plus, a few know about my disorder and they understand my need to be alone.


I have gotten married, moved to a new state and have an entire new ďStepĒ family now. Talk about unexpected changes! They occur on a daily basis it seems. Iíve had to go back on my second mood stabilizer because the stress of all the new changes have resulted in extreme rapid cycling even more rapid than usual. The bipolar monster seems to have calmed down somewhat and I have learned to put my foot down when I feel pressured to do something that I know will set off the alarm button in my bipolar brain. I just say no. It works for me. 




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