Month: December 2019

weird” triggers

When you live with a mental illness, sometimes learning to live with “weird” triggers is part of the deal. This can be especially true when you live with borderline personality disorder (BPD), a mental illness characterized by emotional instability and difficult interpersonal relationships. But what we don’t always recognize is the triggers we consider “weird” are actually more common than we realize.

Some folks with BPD feel a wave of abandonment when they see a friend “like” someone else’s post but not theirs. Others, due to heightened sensitivity, might fly into a rage when they hear repetitive noises for extended periods of time. Some might encounter a seemingly-pleasant scent that takes them back to a traumatic time in their life they’d rather forget.

We wanted to know what “weird” triggers people with BPD are susceptible to, so we asked our Mighty BPD community to share their experiences with us. Below you can read what they had to say.

No matter what “weird” thing triggers a BPD episode for you, we want you to know you deserve support and understanding.

Here are the “weird” BPD triggers our community shared with us:

1. Loud or Repetitive Noises

“I have problems with loud noises, especially sudden loud noises. It makes me very jumpy and defensive, and that makes me aggressive because I automatically go into fight mode thinking there’s a threat.” — Sandra S.

“Sounds, someone eating, the clock ticking — any sound that is loud or repetitive causes me to flip out and I can’t help it.” — Micaela A.

“Noise triggers me a lot. I’m talking about noise that repeats itself constantly like rain drops ticking on the balcony fence. Not when it rains heavily, but the last bits that fall off a tree or the balcony from our upper neighbors. Sometimes the fridge makes a weird constant noise for a while. Even when the TV is on, I can hear it. My boyfriend then is like ‘What? I don’t hear anything.’” — Kayleigh B.

2. When Someone Leaves the Room

“When someone simply leaves the room. It’s weird and strange to me because it feels like there’s a disconnect between my thoughts/mind and emotions. I know people don’t just disappear when they leave the room, and I know it does not mean they are rejecting or abandoning me. But after becoming more aware, I realized the agitation, panic or mood shifts that would occur in the moments right afterward. Maybe I’d slam things and not realize I was doing it. Or if I was more vulnerable that day for whatever reason/already having a bad day, I’d maybe even cry and have no idea why.” — Kelyann N.

3. Getting Behind on Chores

“When my house gets dirty. I start spiraling. [I think to myself:] ’I’m a failure at being a homemaker. I’m a failure at work. I’m a bad student. I’m a bad wife. I can’t keep up with basic things. Why do I even try? Just give up.’ Then I wanna do something impulsive or self-medicate to ease the pain. I hate that a dirty house can trigger me this badly. I’m in therapy trying to remedy it in healthier ways.” — Whitney A.

4. Feeling ‘Ignored’ on Social Media

“People ignoring my comments on their post. Especially when they have liked other comments but not mine.” — Kirstie F.

5. Being Asked a Question You Don’t Know the Answer To

“When I’m put on the spot. When someone asks a question or asks me to do something, I panic and I can’t answer the question. Then I get angry because I feel like I am letting them down and they will hate me..” — Sarah T.

6. Phone Calls

“Phone calls… Especially robot answering services — ‘Press 1 to get irritated press 2 to pull your hair out.’ Honestly one of my biggest triggers. I’ll end up screaming and yelling to the point I’m sweating and spittle is coming from my mouth.” — Brandon H.

“My phone ringing… I now have it on silent all the time but I won’t answer it anyway!” — Hellan B.

7. When Guests Don’t Behave How You Want Them To

“If a visitor comes over and either doesn’t wash their hands when necessary or if they use my dish soap as hand soap when I have hand soap in an equally accessible area. Then once they go to dry their hands, they use paper towels instead of the hand towel that is closer to them. All of that makes me really upset.” — Angel M.

8. When Someone Comments on Your Food Choices

“I have issues with food. Growing up, I had to ask for every single thing — every snack, every drink, etc. So as an adult, when my hubby comments on something I’m eating or plan to eat (maybe it’s not the healthiest choice, or eating out may cost too much for our budget), I have a full-blown melt down over it, scrambling to ‘take back my control.’” — Nicole A.

9. Making Decisions

“Having to make any decision.” — Holly F.

10. Leaving the House

“That moment before leaving the house. I instantly have to fight the urge not to break down. It doesn’t matter what I have to do, my mind goes into panic mode like there’s a war outside my front door. Like entering a void. So many emotions just to make it to my car.” — Rashad H.

11. Being in an Unfamiliar Place

“When I go into a new store. [Here’s an] example. I’m used to my Walmart — I know the layout, I know where everything is and I can be in and out easy and quick. But when I go into a new Walmart, I don’t know where things are, the lights are different, the signs are different [and] the layout makes no sense to me. I start to freak out. I get anxiety and start to dissociate from myself. It’s like that with any new stores — grocery, pharmacy, even gas stations…” — Raylene I.

12. Being in the Cold

“Being too cold. It’s also due to PTSD from when I gave birth… I have intense panic attacks if I get cold enough to be shivering.”

13. Smell of Cinnamon

“The scent of cinnamon can throw me into a violent rage. I’m talking broken furniture, assaulting whoever is around, self-harm.” — Felicia A.

14. Writing Papers

“Writing papers, I’m so afraid of screwing up and doing something wrong. I’m afraid of my own opinions and thoughts, “ — Hope C.

15. People Talking About Their Parents

“People talking about their parents triggers me to the core. I freeze and go catatonic.” — Rae P.

16. Kids All Talking Over Each Other

“My kids all talking at once. As a mother of 5, it can get chaotic and all the noise and yelling make me anxious and cause disassociation.” — Amber M.

To the Suicidal Mama Fighting to Stay Alive for Her Kids

Fellow Mama,

I see you lying there in bed, trying to will yourself to get up. I know some part of you might wish you hadn’t woken up this morning – that you could fade away into nothingness because it seems a hell of a lot better than dealing with the demons you fight off daily in your head. I recognize that question in your eyes: “Is this life really worth all the effort?”

And I see the moment when it all rushes back to you, when you remember why you keep fighting. I watch as you summon all your strength to push yourself out of bed because the baby is crying and the preschooler needs breakfast and you know you are needed.

I feel your pain as you hold that precious baby and watch that “big boy” eat breakfast and wonder what you ever did to deserve such a gift and simultaneously hating yourself for ever wanting to disappear. The love you feel wells in equal proportion to your guilt and you can’t decide if your tears are ones of joy and thanksgiving or shame and self-hatred.

I witness you fight through your day, each action a tremendous victory. It’s far from perfect, but it doesn’t matter because you’re there for another day. You show up – whether it’s at work, at home, at school – you show up for another day. You do what you have to do to survive. Sure, the kids will eat pop tarts in the car for dinner and you haven’t showered in four days and you’re living on a diet of drive thru coffee and your kid’s left-overs, but none of that matters because you’re still here. You’re still fighting — despite everything.

I see you, mama, fighting against all odds because your children need you. I see you struggle and I see you persevere because there is nothing more powerful than your will to protect your kids. They don’t know it yet, but their mom is a warrior, a queen, a saint, a testament to the unyielding power of love.

Yes, people may judge you because you haven’t changed your clothes in three days or they hear you crying to yourself in the bathroom stall or they disagree with the way you parent your kids, but I’m here to tell you, none of that matters. It doesn’t matter because you showed up and you loved your kids and that’s enough. Let that be enough.


A Mama Just Like You

7 Reasons Bipolar Disorder Makes It Hard to Hold Down a Full-Time Job

For many people (including myself) who received a mental health diagnosis as a young adult, the idea of reaching adulthood and thriving can feel a little (OK, a lot) overwhelming. For those whose diagnoses came a little later, figuring out how to adjust so you can continue to maintain your lifestyle offers a seemingly impossible ultimatum. At the end of the day, the question remains the same: how do I keep a career when my own mental health is a full-time job?

Here are seven things that make that question even more complicated.

1. Concentration.

Whether it’s depression, mania or hypomania, concentration can be a crapshoot when it comes to productivity. Try breaking your day into little chunks that allow for breaks. If your work is time-sensitive, try starting with something that can be accomplished quickly or easily. That will help boost your confidence the project can be completed. Needing to take a break isn’t a weakness, but you may find it comes up on your yearly reviews.

2. Risky behaviors.

Mania is known for a lot of things — impulsive behavior included. While the hope is that law enforcement doesn’t need to be involved, sometimes mania results in hospitalization or jail time. It may also look like gambling debts or hypersexuality among co-workers. This all has the possibility of negatively impacting job prospects and steady employment. The fallout from these risky behaviors can often be just as damaging as mania itself.

3. Short-term creative spurts.

Creativity is something that goes hand-in-hand with bipolar disorder. Using those moments of creativity for marketing, art or other business uses can be fantastic when it works, but often those moments of expression and “genius” are lost when moods and energy levels change. When your boss sees the decrease in productivity, you may find yourself being asked questions you don’t have the energy to answer.

4. Sick days.

This might be the obvious one. Sometimes mental health requires a sick day (or two). Jobs frequently have a strict attendance policy that doesn’t account for mental health. So it might be important to go to your hiring meeting or to your HR person with some ways to help fix the problem. Bosses are more willing to work with you if you come in with solutions and not just problems.

5. Insomnia and hypersomnia.

Insomnia and oversleeping might lead you to have similar problems as taking too many sick days would. Coming in with solutions such as staying late so you can take a nap at lunch, or working from home may create some spare time so you can catch some extra sleep. Using your “insomnia time” to pick out your clothes, make your lunch or mentally prepare for your day could help as well. Ultimately, this might be something your job doesn’t want to work around and you may have to make some difficult decisions.

6. Burnout.

If there’s one thing that seems to hover around mental health and jobs, it’s burnout. If you are burned-out of your job, you may find the only way to find relief is to find a new one. Do that too many times and suddenly you have a lot of explaining to do.

7. What starts in hypomania, fails in depression.

This was a difficult lesson for me to learn. I apply to so many “high-need” jobs when I’m hypomanic. Jobs that require me to be at my most creative all of the time. And while I can handle that task when my moods are up and when I’m pulling long days, as soon as my energy drops, I’m struggling to maintain those trends and commitments. Picking your jobs strategically, or being upfront with your boss may save you some heartache later.

The thing about bipolar disorder is no matter what job you choose, you’ll always feel like you’re working two. Taking care of yourself is a priority that, if ignored, will leave you unable to succeed for long. The scariest part of any job is asking for something you might not be given. Ask for an adjusted schedule. For a later shift. For help. Bosses and coworkers generally don’t respond well to being presented with a problem they have to account for. But if you bring a problem with possible solutions, you just might find you’re able to take on more than you thought you were capable of.


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