For some of us being beautifully bipolar makes us sensitive. I was never sensitive to outside forces like I am today, before bipolar disorder came into my life. Our bipolar disorder brought a lot of new things into our life and reactions to overstimulation is one of them. Honestly, I avoid situations that rack my senses. Another way of handling overstimulation is to challenge yourself a little at a time. Start with staying in the environment. Then if you can handle it, try it again for a little longer. Continue in this way.
Light, or the lack of, can affect how we feel. I recently wrote about how the dark outside can makes us feel sad and lethargic. But too much light and we may feel too energetic. I can’t imagine attending a light show with lasers and such. It would attack my sensitive eyes. Grocery stores can be hard to go too if they are too bright. I know this because this is the reason I will not shop there. That is okay because there are a lot more people for which the brightness of the light does not bother them. They are not losing money on account of me. And there othere grocery stores at which I can shop.
It is easy for noise to feel like sandpaper on our brains. Rough and aggravating. I am particularly scared of sudden loud noises like a motorcycle passing me on the road or if someone drops something loud. But if there are a lot people creating a raucous, it is just as bad. Loud music in someone else’s car can make me seriously anxious. Screaming kids drive me up the wall. Their reverie is my headache.
Wow, people. If there is any one particular thing that I am sensitive to it is a crowd of people. I do not go places where there will be crowds, like big concerts, festivals, fundraisers. It is sad that I am kept away because of the overstimulation I get from people. It does not have to be somewhere with a huge crowd, heck a large bookstore chain’s café can make me mad. Shopping is difficult during times when there are a lot of people at the same shopping center. Instead, I shop during the weak at off peak hours, not many people are there with me.
Stress can play a big role in overstimulation. Stress can cause our senses to heighten and with them heightened things like noise or light may be more jarring. We know that when we are under stress we feel on our toes and a book clattering to the floor can make us jump out of our skin.
Here is where overstimulation gets crazy. Each of the above mentioned things can cause distress to our psyche, but two or more is a recipe for a big puddle of overstimulation. Imagine being in a nightclub. The nightclub scenario is a nightmare for me. Loud noise, darkness, and a crowd of people. GET ME OUT OF THERE! Or how about a busy restaurant on a Friday night. I can’t do it.
It seems unfair, doesn’t it? Why, when we deal with so much that comes along with our diagnosis of bipolar disorder, do some things become unbearable. Diminish it in your mind. “So, crowds bother me at least I can still have meaningful relationships.” “So, loud noises overstimulate me. I will get some noise canceling headphones for those times I know there will be a lot of noise.” You see, if you think hard enough you can balance out the bad with something good. Being overstimulated can make you feel frazzled, but know you are not alone. There are a lot of us like you.