Why are people with bipolar so resistant to change?

Why are people with bipolar so resistant to change?


I don’t think change is easy for anyone, but I know it is especially difficult to work through for me.

Little changes aren’t so bad; painting a room, buying a new car, etc. Sometimes I even enjoy these changes.

But the big changes; moving, starting a new job, having a baby, changing churches … I loathe changes of this sort. And obviously the changes aren’t bad. Having a baby, getting a new job and moving are usually exciting times. However, each one of these alterations to my daily life throws me out of my comfort zone and into the land of anxiety!

There are three main reasons I despise changes …

* Interruption to my routine – Routines are almost necessary for those of us with bipolar. Without routines things get forgotten, tasks go undone and freak out sessions creep in.

* Disruption to my comfort zone – I like comfort. Not just the fluffy pillow and fuzzy blanket kind of comfort. But the every day, I know what to expect out of my day and it should go just about the same as yesterday and I am comfortable with and/or have grown comfortable with this lifestyle, location, career, ect. When you take that comfort away, chaos ensues and I’ve got to adjust to everything all over again. I’m so not a fan of adjusting.

* What ifs – What if I don’t like this change? What if something bad happens? What if what if what if? It’s a vicious circle and when a change takes place, there is no way for me to ignore the what ifs. And then of course I need to analyze every single outcome of that what if. Who has time for that! I know I don’t.

These three things can hold me back from some wonderful things, just because I can’t stand the thought of all the stress the changes will bring on. It’s funny because my husband even pointed out that he believes the whole reason I love being Catholic is because of the routine and comfort. I know what is going to happen at each service and there are no what ifs about it. I have to admit, he’s got a point.

Now does this mean that I am absolutely not going to make any large life changes? No way. You can’t avoid all of life’s little alterations. They are going to happen whether we want them to or not. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to like it!

So if you are suggesting a change, small or large, to a loved one who has bipolar, keep in mind that there is a lot more to dealing with that change than for those without bipolar. Is the change you are suggesting worth putting your loved one through all the anxiety? If so, take the time to explain how that change will benefit the person, talk them through the what ifs and try to show them how that change will fit into their routine. They still may be resistant, but not as much as if you just threw the change in there face without giving them time to prepare and adjust.

I also know that with PDog, change can be massive and trigger episodes. BUT if we prewarn him and prepare him for the change, things go over much smoother than they would have if we’d just surprised him with the changes. (Believe me, it’s happened before!)

I hope this helped you understand how changes effect those with bipolar. Please do not hesitate to question further if you need to!

2 thoughts on “Why are people with bipolar so resistant to change?

  1. Over the years, I have figured out that I can handle change if I expect it. If I think I have a schedule figured out or something planned, basically “set in stone,” then change will really mess me up. My coping mechanism is to remind my self to expect a little chaos in all things. If I am organizing an event, I get my mind prepared for possible problems and changes well in advance of the event. The only time I have bad panic attacks due to changes is when I let things be too concrete in my mind. All of this has been so hard to explain to other people!

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