Hypersensitive, Overwhelmed
afchavez posted:
Hey all, I'm new to the community and thought I might ask this here, see if anyone has answers.

I'm eighteen years old, and according to my mother my bipolar disorder has been a problem for me since I was a small child, but my memory is very dissociative and spotty, so I couldn't really say. To me it feels like it's only started to get bad in the late stages of puberty, age sixteen onward and so.

Anyway, what I wanted to ask about is my occasional episodes of hypersensitivity to stimuli - is this caused by bipolar disorder? I can't be certain, because I might still have lingering bits of PTSD cropping up after a trauma I went through at age twelve. I thought all the therapy and soul-searching had helped me process that crap, but I'm no doctor, so I can't tell.

This doesn't happen to me often as long as I stay on my meds. I'm all about multi-tasking; I get restless watching television if I don't have something to write or draw at the same time, and I always have the radio on when I'm driving, etc. It takes a few tasks to fill up my head the right way on a normal day, but when I get into these phases I CANNOT focus on more than one thing at a time. If I'm really into the TV while I'm like this, I won't even hear someone talking to me unless they raise their voice, and then I freak out because of the loud noise. The more there is going on around me, the more wired I get, and when I finally break and yell at everyone to stop I stutter and repeat phrases.

Sleeping helps, but I'm not always in a situation where I can sleep it off. When I'm at school I just have to run to a bathroom or corner and do breathing exercises for half an hour. If it goes on long enough without my being able to get away I may even get dry heaves when I'm finally alone. This usually doesn't last more than a day - music and isolation helps a lot - but while it's going on it's really inconvenient and uncomfortable.

So my question is this; is this cause by my bipolar? My manic stages are usually marked by irritability and aggression, and I've always been more depressive than manic anyway, so I'm not sure what to make of this. Anyone with a little more life experience know what I'm talking about?
jselleck responded:
Welcome to the board!!! I'm sure someone has had an experience like your's, but the best advice I can give you is this. I'm 36, and was diagnosed BP II 8 years ago after moving to Texas to get away from my overcontroling family and be with my husband who was my boyfriend at the time. Although I was officially diagnosed later in life, looking back I probably started to show signs late in my high school years, and most deffenietly while in college. When I was in hs, I was over sensitive to the least little thing, and as a result was a huge target of bullying. Which didn't help matters at all. My senior year was both the worst, and best one of my hs career. I had two study halls, plus newspaper class, and I spent most of those three periods hiding out in my school's darkroom listening to music and printing pictures for the newspaper and developing film for both the student newspaper and yearbook. My teacher used to joke that I was getting high on the chemicals used in the photo process. Which I wasn't. I just didn't get along with other kids well, and was most comfortable in my own little world. The other classes I took, I mainly kept my head down and participated as little as possible. In fact I can remember actually getting locked in the darkroom twice by other students. I don't know who was madder when that happened, me or my teacher. Lets just say if looks could kill, I would have been in jail.
Things only got worse in college. The first two years I was in college I didn't have a car on campus so I was always begging my friends for rides to Wal-Mart or the local mall, anything to get off campus when the walls would start to close in on me. Which they did on a pretty regular basis. Once I got a car and was able to take it to school, I was always running off to see my boyfriend who lived about 15 minutes away. Which of course caused my grades to slip, which didn't make my parents happy. Now that I'm older and married, it's my husband who's always accusing me of not paying attention to him. Like you I love to have the tv on, or music playing real loud in the background. When my husband calls to chat, which he does everyday he works, (long story) I forget to turn them off or down, and so he accuses me of not paying attention to him. Which I don't mean to do, I just like to have all kinds of stuff going on in the background.
So to answer your question, I don't really know if this is caused by BP or just a quirk of your personality. My husband has add(attention deficient snydrom) and he acts the same way sometime. Have you ever been tested for that?? It can occur in people with bp. Just a thought. Best advice I can give ya is stay compliant with your meds and tell your doctor about any strange side effects or behaviors you experience.
Hope this has been helpful. If I haven't answered your questions wait a while and see if anyone else on the board notices your post. Give us a while, things tend to slow down near holidays and the week-end. Good luck, I wish you well.