Day 7: Do you think there are any triggers or patterns to how your illness(es) affects you?
I suppose each of my illnesses have different triggers but it does seem that when I am in a depressive episode, I am much more easily triggered for the others as well so I will start with that one.
For Major Depressive Disorder there is no one trigger. This is a chemical/ biological illness and I have found myself depressed when all is going well in my life as well as when things are going badly. Depression is MUCH different from sadness (that everyone is susceptible to) in that it doesn’t JUST occur when something bad happens. If I am already depressed and something bad happens it can compress the issue and make it seem exponentially worse. For example; when my 5 year relationship ended suddenly and unexpectedly in a way that I was not prepared for and left me feeling extremely betrayed, I was sad, but not depressed. I recovered in a way I assume most other fairly well put together women might and moved on in a very healthy way. However, another time in an instance when I was in the middle of a depressive episode a coworker I had grown very close to left after giving adequate notice which was upsetting to me because I would miss her. I was also to take over her workload, which usually I would see as a challenge and wouldn’t bat an eye. In this case, because I was already mid-depressive episode (which I didn’t know at the time) I broke down and couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t eat much for a couple of weeks and began to isolate myself from everyone. I didn’t let anyone at work know how upset I was because I knew this was an overreaction, but I couldn’t control how I felt. I now understand why I was able to react appropriately when my fiancée and I broke up but overreacted when my coworker left.
I also have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and I have that all the time; it does not go into remission like the depression does. I do have more issues with it while depressed but regardless, the things that make me most anxious (“trigger” the anxiety) are chaos or chaotic environments/ environments that I have no control over or where I feel completely out of control. Anyplace extremely loud and chaotic is bad! Loud/out of control/ chaotic children are the worst. Any of those are big triggers. I will have an anxiety attack if someone startles me; like if someone hides in a dark place and jumps out at me yelling loudly to scare me. I have been known to punch (yes, literally) people in haunted houses for doing just that. So I do not go into those anymore. I used to box and it is a natural reflex so if you like your nose, please do not scare or startle me. I will feel eternally guilty!! 😦 I can also feel very anxious when I am pressured or rushed, particularly if I feel it involves an unreasonable deadline or expectation.
The PTSD and OCD are also anxiety disorders and those are triggered by some of the same and some different things. One thing that is unique to PTSD is my phobia of guns. I will have nightmares and intrusive thoughts for a while if I see one. I don’t even like to talk about them or hear people talk about them. I am ALL for the 2nd Amendment but in no way or form should I ever be around one!! Terrified doesn’t even begin to describe how they make me feel. My OCD can be triggered by feeling like I have disappointed someone, particularly someone I respect. For example; if I feel as if my boss is not happy with me (I was the same with my parents when I was young) I will work to exhaustion until I feel it has been made right, but will be mortified to have them find out because then I will feel guilty. Guilt is another HUGE trigger for my OCD. When I feel that I have not been attentive enough or something similar to my children I will clean and cook and organize and do things that might give me a sense of completion or satisfaction only it doesn’t really do that. It does keep me busy so the guilt ends up lessening.
I am sure I have several other triggers, but these are among the worst.