One of the challenges of living with bipolar is not knowing when one is being overly reactive.
I have had to think through this question quite a few times in the past six months with respect to circumstances that affect my sleep.
Previously I mentioned that I decided to have an extended time back home with my family in Singapore because I felt quite destabilised after a few months of poor sleep (due to housing issues mainly).
But within a week of being home, I found that I could not sleep well either and decided to check myself into a hospital.
That has led to a host of other problems including insurance claim being turned down (I am $900 out of pocket) and my medication dosage being on the high side in my opinion (I struggle with feeling sleepy a lot of the time).
Looking back, I wonder if I should have tried something less drastic?
It didn’t help that many of my close friends from church were all away in Israel for a trip.
Singapore being a small country, space is a premium and most homes are not very big.
I felt I would be too much of an intrusion if I just rocked up to a friend’s place and asked to sleep for a few nights.
Maybe if I had alerted a few friends that I was having sleep problems and may need to take refuge – that would have been okay?
Well, that is what I probably should do in future.
When I came back to Brisbane, my sleep was fine for a while but it started to get affected by noise from my housemate’s late night visitors and – something I did not expect – fleas!
For some reason, my housemate was not affected at all but I would wake up scratching like mad. The flea bites were turning into open sores that risked getting infected.
The bites were not only confined to my lower legs (although they were the worse there). When I had bites on my neck I felt that was the last straw – I had to move out.
I then spent a few days trying to find a place to move into. It was quite an exercise because I wanted to find a place within a suburb that my sister could come and live with me when she came to work in Brisbane. The suburb was a 45-minute drive away and I encountered traffic twice when going or returning from there.
Unfortunately, my efforts came to nothing in the end because the property owners changed their minds in the last minute about wanting tenants.
I then had to deal with the fleas and call in the pest guy. I also had to speak to my housemate about the visitors. In other words, I could not run away so I had to face my problems face on. The fleas seem to have gone, for now. I am told that they are hard to get rid of, so I shall have to see.
Looking back, maybe I should have done that first and not been so quick to want to move out. Perhaps I was over-reactive because last year I had delayed too long in moving out of a problematic house.
By the time I did, my sleep had become too unstable and it took a lot more effort to get it back to normal.
Looking at both incidences, I can’t say that there is a rule of thumb when it comes to reacting to adverse circumstances. I did ask for advice in both situations and I got conflicting advice from different people. I had to choose and I do not know if I made the best choice.
But maybe there isn’t a best choice because every decision has unknown repercussions.
That is what I have decided I want to learn from these incidences – not to over-worry about over-reacting, but to learn to trust that I will be able to deal with the unknown. Otherwise I will always be second-guessing myself and that I think is far more unhealthy.