Last month, ManicMuses wrote about irritability and how she deals with it in her first post, Irritability – My Special Compass Point. I have to say that I applaud her for having a plan in place for when this flag is thrown, and I am also incredibly envious, because I rarely visit irritability-land, I go straight from being calm to being filled with murderous rage.
Case in point. My aunt is in town this week. I love my aunt very much, but she lives on her own and has a difficult time sharing space with others (even a decently large space), and is very set in her patterns and behaviors. Okay, that’s bound to happen when you live alone. You aren’t constantly taking other people’s preferences or rhythms into account, and the only one you have to be considerate of is yourself.
She was married when she was much younger, and lived with a different man – with whom she became quite serious, I believe they even discussed marriage – years ago. But she has spent most of her life as an adult keeping her space as strictly her own. And of course there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s exactly the way it should be, actually. She works hard and pays a mortgage and every damned piece of bric-a-brac in her house should be arranged to within a millimeter of where she wants it. Likewise, she should be able to behave however she wants, be loud, leave dishes out, whatever. In her house.
But when she is staying in someone else’s, or when we share a hotel suite during visits to family, she needs to realize that other people need to be factored into the scenario and their lifestyles accounted for.
Up until now, this may just seem like me ranting and venting and blowing off steam. I won’t deny that I’m cranky – to understate the situation vastly. Here’s why these words have a place in a blog on mental health.
This aunt is my mother’s sister. That matters because I know my mom discusses my struggles with her family more extensively than my dad does, which is fine with me. I am an open book about this crap, and the more informed people are, the better. Not only that, but my aunt very recently had extensive, long-term involvement with a man who carried a bipolar diagnosis. Apparently neither of these factors taught her anything about actually being around someone who is bipolar (and apparently nothing ever taught her that everything in life does not get to be done exactly as she determines it should).
I realized several weeks ago that my moods were in a more highly reactive place. I was still functioning and keeping it together, and I still am now, but I have to be more aware of triggers and emotional lability. It’s been some time since I had a full-blown mood episode, and I would very much like to keep it that way.
Tonight, two seconds of direct interaction with my aunt and I was thinking, Irritability, what the hell is that? She doesn’t make me irritable, she triggers me so that I become a full-blown, raging bitch in the blink of an eye. I run for the nearest exit, because I don’t particularly enjoy taking my mood symptoms out on other people. It’s unkind and it’s counterproductive. It won’t teach her any lessons about the best way to deal with me when I get this way, and she does try to be understanding and sympathetic. And as for counterproductivity, when my moods amp up, the best thing for me to do is go somewhere calm and quiet and trigger-free to bring myself back down. I know I am not unique in this method of symptom management, but I also know that I am hyper-aware of my symptomatology presentation.
And yet I lack the logical progression with many – most – things. I don’t go from calm, to sensitive, to irritable, to annoyed, to angry. I go from cruising along at normal (for me) life level to wanting to strangle someone or smash something in ten seconds flat.
Why is that, do you suppose? For those of you who have dealt with PTSD, and of the bloggers here this may only be Ruby, do you think that could play a role? Am I really missing symptoms and signs that are blatant in situations I know to be pretty high-stress?
Answers, thoughts, and suggestions from my fellow bloggers (on this site and on their own), from readers, from anyone at all would be very much appreciated, because I don’t particularly care for this aspect of myself.
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