Today I had a number of errands to run and appointments to go to. For the entire duration of the time I was out, I was experiencing mild to moderate anxiety and intense noise sensitivity. I believe both of these conditions are related to my bipolar disorder but was wondering if any of you have ever experienced them? I will try to describe in more detail what I am talking about.
SUSTAINED MILD TO MODERATE ANXIETY
I have an elevated heart rate, I am sweating more than normal, I feel nervous and embarrassed. My muscles are all tense and I tend to try to do things as quickly as possible; so that I can get back into my car where I feel safer. I am very self conscious, the fact that I am overweight, that my hair is not done perfectly, that I am wearing clothes that are not as flattering as I would like and so forth, all play on my mind. I am paranoid that people can tell that I am anxious and I desperately want to hide it. I stumble over my words and am forever apologising for little things that are meaningless. All of this goes on the entire time I am out in public, it doesn’t actually stop me from achieving the things I went out to do, but it comes very close. In between tasks, while I am driving to the next errand for example, I often cry, then compose myself again, ready for the next thing I have to do.
When I get home I fall apart, usually having a full blown panic attack and having to medicate myself and use all of my knowledge on how to calm myself down – eg. meditation, being in a dark quiet room, deep breathing, being held by my husband if he is home and so forth. It usually takes about an hour for me to start feeling normal again.
INTENSE NOISE SENSITIVITY
Separate to the sustained anxiety, today I was experiencing intense noise sensitivity. For me this is like someone has turned the volume up all around me. I can hear every little noise as though it were very loud, especially voices. If there are a number of people in the room, I hear all the conversations as though they were right beside me and speaking loudly. I find it very difficult to filter all the noises I am hearing, so that I can concentrate on the conversation I am trying to have. This intensifies my anxiety and especially my social anxiety, because I look stupid when I can’t understand or follow the conversation I am having with one person. Today at one point, I was having a conversation with two people at once (my dentist and his assistant) and this multiplied the problem. I find myself easily distracted by unimportant noises and the distraction confuses me greatly. I very rarely get noise sensitivity without first having anxiety but it has happened on occasion.
Do any of you experience either of these conditions? I’d really like to know whether I am alone in this or whether it is common. I would really appreciate your feedback.