When Triggers are People

It is common for bipolar mood swings to be triggered by one thing or another, ranging anywhere from physical pain to stressful situations to a particularly uncomfortable television program.

But what happens when our triggers are people?

I know that I’ve found there are certain people in my life who can trigger my mood based on whatever mood they are experiencing. When they come to me in depression, I often walk away feeling depressed. When they come to me excited, I find my walk to the bus to have an extra pep in its step. These are people who often feel things deeply (not unlike myself) and they’re people I can connect to on a very deep level. Unfortunately, being around them is like rolling the dice, because I never know what mood we’ll be in by the end of our encounter.

I admit, sometimes this phenomenon will leave me leaning toward being more antisocial than anything else, but most of the time the visit is worth the risk.

The other sort of human trigger I find most often is the person who gets under my skin. It could be someone who agitates me or pushes my buttons, the most common sort of trigger I have when I am working. The more stress that is added to the situation, the more agitating the person becomes until I become entirely frustrated and overwhelmed.

This sort of trigger person is the most frustrating to me, because in times of great stress it can be practically anyone (family, friend, co-worker, even a stranger). It is like my perception around a person changes, and all I can focus on is how irritated the person makes me feel.

The best remedy I’ve found for this sort of trigger person is distance. Less time together, less phone calls, and less opportunity to drive me bananas. This has generally worked for me, though not particularly in the workplace because in a cubicle situation, asking for distance means asking a lot.

In my experience, people act as triggers for bipolar swings just as often as other external triggers do, which can be hard when you’ve got the added pressure of your trigger’s feelings to deal with (something you don’t have to consider when triggered by the weather or a television program or stress).

It can be difficult to remember that your trigger is a person too, and acting gracefully around someone who irritates the crap out of you can be extremely taxing. When in doubt; get the hell out! Try creating a little distance, hopefully that will help keep your sanity and the peace.

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3 responses to “When Triggers are People

  1. Thanks. I needed to hear this. I do so agree!

  2. Sarah, excellent point. I have been exploring reframing from the word “trigger” to “test” or “tested.” This helps remind me that that it s pivotal moment, and I can pass the test (that is, avoid becoming triggered), or drift towards other alternatives. It is like circumstances are reaching for the steering wheel of my emotions and I have to either cede the drivers’ seat or fend them off.

  3. This is spot on! I know people who trigger the most amazing high in me and people that just make me anxious and depressed, just being around them. Thank you!

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