I have known for a long time that isolation can be a trigger to a bipolar episode; however, I didn't realize how slowly isolation can creep up on you, whether you have bipolar disorder or not. I truly enjoy working from home, don't get me wrong. I love it, in fact -- flexible hours, working in the comfort and peace of my home, my husband being close by, and getting to work in my PJs! I never thought of it in terms of being lonely, because I'm not that. But I am isolated -- I live out in the country (and I love it, the peace and quiet), and what neighbors there are, are very quiet as well. Actually, none of us even know each other -- it's not the type of place where you borrow a cup of sugar or anything like that. We're all pretty reserved and stick to ourselves. And I don't really go out, except for doctor and therapist appointments, or to the store and, of course, for Date Night with hubby on Fridays (just so I can't be accused of being agoraphobic). But isolated? Yeah, I guess so. I hadn't thought of it that way. I really don't have a social life (a lot of it is because I don't go out to bars). I really hadn't cared about it until I thought of writing this article. And when I started thinking about it, I was convicted by my own words, since I've written so much (so many articles) about how isolation is one of the biggest triggers to a bipolar episode. I was always ok with being isolated. I was ok with not having friends. I'm married to my best friend, and I thought that was enough. I have a strong support network (I do live with my primary supporter after all, and I talk to my mom pretty much every day). But I don't have any friends. I thought I didn't need them. And yet in my articles, I tell people that in order not to become isolated, they need to have a social life in order to stay balanced and be stable with their bipolar disorder. I tell them that they need to have a social life in order to manage their bipolar disorder well. And yet here I am, convicted by my own words. I met someone in NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), who told me I should get on Facebook.com, and I would meet some friends. I did! Online, granted, but friends, nonetheless. I re-met people I knew (out there) that I hadn't talked to in quite a while – and we caught up on things. That led my curiosity to classmates.com, where I was able to get in touch with several people I knew not only from High School, but Jr. High School, and even Elementary School! What fun it turned out to be! Now, I don't feel so isolated. I actually have friends. And my little 'home' world doesn't seem so 'off by itself' any more. When I take my breaks from work (or my husband is watching the races or his wrestling on TV). I can spend a little time chatting with my friends. For those of you like me, whose bipolar disorder has affected your social life -- even if you don't go out much, there are other avenues to avoiding isolation. Getting online can help, as it did me. Even www.bipolarcentral.com has a forum where you can stop dwelling on yourself and talk to others about your bipolar disorder. The point is, isolation CAN be a trigger to a bipolar episode, and we need to avoid that, as we do all other triggers to episodes.
David Oliver is the nation's leading experts on helping and supporting a loved one with bipolar disorder. You can get learn about many of David's little known, yet effective strategies to cope and deal with your loved one's bipolar by clicking here right now. View all articles by David Oliver