Sensitivity and Bipolar Can Be a Confusing Relationship

Bipolar and Sensitivity

Bipolar and SensitivityOpening the doors to intense feeling, creativity and understanding leads to a world of overwhelming beauty, but at the same time offers uncontrollable worry, anxiety and emotions.

Whenever I read about sensitivity, people say, “I always felt different.” At risk of being cliché, so did I. It was an indescribable feeling in my stomach. I had a good childhood and can pick out fun and happy memories, but my life seemed to be peppered with worry and concern and I have forever been called ‘a sensitive child.’

I used to ‘feel’ things so intensely. If anyone said anything upsetting to me I was always deeply hurt and carried the thoughts and feelings around for a long time. I could snap, defend and shout in response to anything I felt was unfair but was always very affected.

Upsetting films used to bother me. On one occasion I watched the end of a violent film and went to bed petrified. I sobbed, panicked and was inconsolable. At the time there had been a bombing on the news and I remember counting in my head, 3-2-1, convinced a bomb was going to explode. My mum sat with me for hours, telling me happy stories to calm me. I finally fell asleep with the light on.

I was just a little girl with a sensitive soul. I grew up telling myself to grow a tougher shell. I had no understanding of the breadth of the word ‘sensitivity’ and how it encompasses your entire mental and physical state.


I believe there is truth that highly sensitive people absorb life like sponges and find it difficult to drain negativity. Emotional resilience is paramount to staying mentally well and I struggled with this. My inability to cope with a dysfunctional family in my teens, a natural ambitious nature with fear of failure and a traumatic car accident wore down that resilience.

I became vulnerable. At the same time I took on other people’s problems, feeling their moods, pain and upset. Genetics was of course a factor but I’ve no doubt my sensitivity to emotions contributed to my inability to cope and ultimately, my diagnosis of bipolar.

Anxious and Afraid

One of my triggers for recognising an episode is my level of physical sensitivity. Chemical changes ignite anxiety, which is a little word for such a magnitude of feeling. Most recently I experienced complications with my medication and this fueled a highly sensitive state.

Next page: being sensitive and manic

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