I know for a fact I’m not the only person suffering from bipolar disorder with a fear of venturing outside of my home. Around 80% of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder also suffer from either generalized anxiety disorder or social anxiety disorder. Considering there are 5.7 million adults in the United States with bipolar disorder that’s a heck of a lot of people.
I may still struggle with going out into public but I’m going to share with you some of the techniques I found extremely helpful to get me to go outside more.
Wearing headphones and listening to music: I dread going to the grocery store because it’s usually pretty crowded. The worst part of the trip is the interaction with the checkout person when a store does not have auto checkouts. My solution to this has been to put on a set of headphones and play some music I find relaxing. There are times however, I didn’t even play the music I just wore the headphones because people usually don’t interact with someone wearing headphones.
Take someone with you: Going outside especially on shopping trips and to doctor appointments is a lot easier if you’re able to take someone else with you. If things get overwhelming they can step in and do things for you such as paying for your groceries or even being your advocate at the doctor’s office assuming you have shared with them your symptoms and reason for the visit.
Go out during off-peak times: Many times I’ve made 3 AM visits to stores that were open 24 hours like Walmart and some grocery stores just to avoid the crowds.
If you can handle this when you’re first getting started it will be very beneficial because the fewer people in the store the fewer chances you will have of something triggering your anxiety. If you’re not sure when the off-peak times are at a store Google usually can help with that. Just Google the locations name and you should see at the bottom of the right sidebar the times that location is the busiest.
Anxiety medication: (Quick disclaimer here. These should only be used if nothing else seems to work and you should use as little of these as possible.) Medications such as Lorazepam and Xanax are lifesavers when you hit those moments where you just can’t bear being out any longer because of your anxiety. I’ve had to use them in the past and have found them pretty helpful. However, if used regularly they will not be as effective and possibly even become addictive.
I hope this blog post helps you in some way and address your anxiety issues because no one should be locked away in their home like a prisoner because of a mental illness. Go out and get some fresh air and maybe find a way to enjoy yourself. A change of scenery usually will help with the depressive part of bipolar disorder.
I usually don’t do this but I am turning on comments for this post. If you have any tips you would like to share please post them below.