I have a difficult time doing anything that is not in my normal schedule. Even if it’s as simple as going to a new store to go shopping, meeting someone at a restaurant I’ve never been to before, or going to a get together at a family member’s or friend’s house. I do my best to prepare myself for any situation that I will be getting myself into. Basically, all I try to do is to find out as much information as I can about the upcoming event and come up with a plan for what I can do if I have an anxiety/panic attack, if I start crying, or if I become uncomfortable in any way. Planning helps me feel safer and reduces stress when I walk into these unknown situations, but it doesn’t always solve every problem.
For example, today I went to two different family member’s houses. The first house was somewhere I had never been before. I started planning by trying to figure out who was going to be there, my husband helped me with this. Then, my mother helped me by reminding me that I can handle this. Also, if I became too uncomfortable or scared, I could always walk outside and call someone to talk me through it. Additionally, I planned on taking a Valium on my way over there to help keep me feeling relaxed and prevent an anxiety/panic attack. Furthermore, I planned on sitting by someone I’m very comfortable with and having my husband sit on the other side of me, that way no one could catch me off guard.
Nothing every goes perfectly as planned, but things almost always go better when you have a plan rather than going in unprepared. When I arrived at the first house today, I was surprised to see that there were 5 people there I didn’t know, and I had no clue these people would be there. I freaked out at first, my heart started to race, but at least I had taken a Valium, otherwise my reaction would have been much worse and more noticeable. Then I thought about my plan and I sat myself down next to a family member that I find enjoyable and is also understanding of my bipolar disorder. This kept me calm. I used these techniques help me through the day, and to my surprise, it was easier than I thought it would be. I’m sure that the people I didn’t know thought I was different because I avoided them at all costs, but oh well; all I really cared about was making it through the day without freaking out.
The second house I went to was fine; I’m already comfortable with the people there, and everything went well. I’m proud of myself for making it through the day, especially since things didn’t go as I thought they would. Planning ahead doesn’t solve every situation, but it does make it a whole lot easier. It also helps a great deal to be with someone that knows your situation and is there to support you; for me, that’s almost always my husband. He knows how to make me feel safe and comfortable. I’m extremely grateful for his love and support, as well as the love and support from my mother and other family members.