Bipolar and Being Incapacitated by Anxiety

Bipolar and Being Incapacitated by Anxiety

I know that anxiety is not a symptom of bipolar disorder, but many with bipolar disorder also suffer from anxiety, whether it’s an official anxiety disorder or not. And when my anxiety gets really bad, which it has been lately, I become absolutely incapacitated by anxiety. I, literally, sit on the couch unable to move to do anything. And writing or working is right out. Anxiety causing an inability to act is having a devastating effect on my life.

Why Am I Incapacitated by Anxiety?

What seems to happen is that the anxiety takes up all the space in my body – especially the space in my brain – and then there is nothing left for anything else. And being totally full from anxiety, I feel like I’m vibrating or made of smoldering coals or something. And all that vibrating and slow burning incapacitates me and makes it impossible for me to do anything. Like, even getting up to go to the bathroom seem like an almost-impossible chore.

Effects of Anxiety Incapacitation

Having no brainspace available means no writing for me. No working for me. No billing for me. No money for me. It’s fairly devastating when you’re a freelancer.

Anxiety is not necessarily a symptom of bipolar but one with bipolar can still be incapacitated by anxiety. Read more.And, just like I can’t write, I also can’t move to clean, cook or do anything else. My apartment looks like a bomb site. Hazmat is coming at noon.

And, of course, having this catastrophe around me and being unable to fix it causes even more anxiety. What if someone comes over? What will the person think? How will the person judge me for not being able to do something as simple as vacuum?

Admittedly, depression can cause a person not to do any of this stuff, too, but right now, anxiety is the culprit.

Why So Much Anxiety?

I’m prone to anxiety; I have found and many medications make this worse. I have learned to deal with this side effect but sometimes the amount of anxiety is simply unmanageable. And a few weeks ago I changed bipolar medications and that has made my anxiety reach that unmanageable level.

And while some people would just say, “well, get off the medication, then,” I don’t think that’s the answer. I have to wait and see if this side effect dies down, then I can make discontinuation decisions.

Handling Anxiety Incapacitation

Sometimes I take medications to counteract the anxiety (as-needed medication) but while that lessens the anxiety, it doesn’t necessarily fix the problem as it tends to still leave my brain full, although less anxious. So what I can do is simple things that don’t require intellectual capacity, like make myself dinner, but what I can’t do is things like writing for clients.

And, of course, I’ve tried traditional anxiety-coping techniques, too, like meditation and relaxation, but they do absolutely nothing to help me with this level of anxiety.

In my case, the only answer I can think of is to wait out the anxiety and hope the side effect will dissipate so I can get back to a level of anxiety that’s doesn’t incapacitate me and that I can handle.

For other people with bipolar and severe anxiety, the answer may be different medications – perhaps ones specifically for anxiety. I’m trying to avoid this, but some people can’t. The good news is that some medications can treat anxiety and other symptoms of bipolar, too. However, your doctor cannot make the necessary changes if you don’t tell him or her. My advice is don’t wait to be absolutely incapacitated by anxiety before you mention it. Try to quell the anxiety before it gets out of control.

Banner image by Wired Anxiety (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.


About Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.

Natasha’s New Book

Find more of Natasha’s work in her new book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. Media inquiries can be emailed here.

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