Bipolar Travel – Revisited

Yes!  I made it to San Francisco on Tuesday without as much as an anxiety attack!  No Xanax, no panic, no hypomania.  Who is this person?

It’s been only two months since the Bipolar Boarding post was written (snickering all the while) and four months since starting on med after my diagnosis of Bipolar II.  Can it be? Has the med actually started to work?

I think it has.

There’s been a definite shift in how I approach things.  Using travel is a great example of the change in mindset that’s taking place.  I did not make a packing list.  I figured as long as I had my meds and glasses, anything forgotten could be purchased if necessary.  I did not bring a large carry-on.  No overhead compartment stress! I just brought my laptop and stuffed it under the seat in front of me.  Packing?  I shared a suitcase with my husband. What to do once I got to the city?  I purchased a guidebook and map but decided to play it by ear and do what I feel like doing when I get up in the morning.  There’s definitely a pattern emerging here.

Besides finally figuring out I have to be nice to myself and start learning how to eliminate huge stressors, the big question I’ve tried to sort is whether during prep for the last trip I was sliding into hypomania or suffering from anxiety.  Looking back, it was probably a combination of the two since the meds were still kicking in. I may never know.

Since arriving in SF, I have, however, suffered one major anxiety attack.  Although it was paralyzing and I spent most of yesterday recovering, it has given me yet another chance to fine-tune recognition of anxiety vs the onset of hypomania. Which, believe it or not, is comforting.  The goal is to recognize anxiety and begin to treat it ASAP – with breathing, meditation techniques, med, whatever is available.

Although I realize I’m far from recovered, the moral of the story is three-fold: I’ve experimented and emerged successful from my attempt at eliminating travel stressors, I’m learning to fine-tune recognition of anxiety vs hypomania, and to stick with the med, because once at the right dose, it can start to bring about positive, life-altering changes.

Congratulations! It’s all one, big learning curve, isn’t it? Trial and error. Unfortunately, it’s our lives we’re experimenting with. And good for you to be able to see your anxiety attack as something to learn from. Perception is 90% of the battle.


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