Change of Lifestyle

I was wondering does Bipolar Disorder make it hard to be around a lot of people or in new places? Do those things trigger different emotions?

I wouldn’t say it makes it hard– it just makes it different.

I think many bipolar people will agree that meeting people and taking on new situations when living with the illness can be daunting. If you’re depressed, you sometimes want to retreat and stick with familiar, comfortable things. Things that seem simple to someone who isn’t depressed– things even as routine talking to the cashier at the grocery store– can be impossible. Socializing with new people gets very low on my priority list when I am dealing with depression. It creates a sense of dread. I think to myself, “if I don’t want to see the people I love, why should I want to see total strangers?”

Sometimes when I’m manic, I will actively seek newness. I have the energy I lack when I’m depressed and the enthusiasm and confidence I need. I may not like a crowd, since I’m impatient and don’t like waiting for my turn to speak, but I might also thrive on the attention of a group. The act of actually meeting a new person or going to a new place is pretty easy and pretty awesome sometimes. But then the “bonus features” kick in.

Bipolar disorder involves a lot more than moods that oscillate. Some bipolar folks also have anxiety and insomnia, sometimes due to medication, sometimes as part of their depression or mania, and sometimes all on its own, independent of mood. I call my anxiety a “bonus feature”.

With stigma being a real issue, I sometimes worry about being “caught” or “outed”. I also worry about keeping up appearances– if the experience was that great, will it always measure up? Can I keep up with other people’s expectations of me, and will they keep up with mine?

I think it’s natural for everyone, bipolar or not, to experience some inhibition when confronted with newness. How I, personally, handle it depends on what my mood is like and what the situation itself is. And, of course, that will change from person to person.

2 thoughts on “Change of Lifestyle

  1. Hi Alison,

    I have developed severe agoraphobia as a result of the bad things that happen when I am manic. People have reacted so negatively to my symptoms (last year I lost my job) that my anxiety level is horrendous and I now have PTSD from working in that office.

    I will go days without leaving my house and I will find any excuse not to go out. I feel that I am safe here and that my family understands my ups and downs, whereas someone I haven’t met might not be as understanding. I think anxiety is common with bipolar disorder because you never know what symptoms might “out” you, as you said.


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