Day 7: Do you think there are any triggers or patterns to how your illness(es) effects you?
I believe that there are both triggers and patterns to how, when and why my illnesses effect me. My life, when reviewed, maps out those patterns that I continue to repeat and the triggers that can send me spiraling into decline. You would think recognising a trigger early enough would lead to my being able to head it off. But nothing in life, well my life, is that easy.
One repeated pattern is that I get to a place in my life where I want to do something or anything. I put aside any evidence of the symptoms and side effects, taking on the cloak of normality. I then work extremely hard with moments of break through symptoms that I hide. However, during this time I equally become increasingly skilled and obtain promotions. Eventually, the fast pace and stress of pretense shatters me and I end up at home, hiding from everything. Then it all starts over again…
The pattern is supported by my hatred of taking medication and the eventual belief that I don’t need to take them. This is probably a common “mistake” or “belief”, that in feeling better I am then able to continue managing them without any medication. It is also a form of rebellion against having to think of myself as mentally unwell. I want to be normal so badly that I thought if I behave that way, then the mental illness just disappears. I have been wrong and I am trying not to repeat any pattern this time.
The problem of finding patterns is that that knowledge can lead to a fear of making any decision in case it reinforces an existing and dangerous pattern. I began to question everything and it left me indecisive and terrified. I am still looking for that happy medium.
I am going with the first three triggers I can think of and that won’t stress me out too much to share them. I am sure that there are probably many, many more. I trigger guilt and over developed responsibility that easily kicks in if I feel like I let anyone down. Unfortunately, I do not include myself in that ‘anyone’ and that can be a trigger. I hold myself to a high standard of what I should be like as a friend. It may not be what my friend needs or wants, the problem is my thoughts about it.
My second trigger is too many people around me in a small space, like a supermarket aisle. Adding to my stress is if there is an absence of a clear escape routes. I can fall into a panic attack with no warning or as a result of someone brushing my arm. It can look like a heart attack and everything can only get worse if people notice what is happening to me.
A trigger to over eating and hiding at home is compliments. When I lose weight I don’t notice. I mean I notice smaller clothes but other wise I just keep working away at it. The moment someone compliments me, I just want to get fat again. Believing for some weird idea that being fat will protect me from my past nightmare experiences.
I am trying to reduce the impact of my triggers and where possible working out how to remove them.
In combination, the patterns and triggers can create the perfect storm that on one one day can prevent me coping with less stress than what I coped with the day before. They can drain my resources and fuel my disability. It is an ongoing recovery at this time