I like to control the sounds in my environment as much as possible. This is because it’s a stressor for me to be out, particularly in transit. If I don’t have a friend with me, I want to have something to make a noise, some sort of sound for me to focus on. This does a couple things. It enables me to deal with the stress of being out by helping me focus on something besides the fact I have to interact with other people, and it helps me interact with other people in a polite and respectful manner so my bipolar hypomania doesn’t drive me into being excessively rude and inconsiderate because of the stress.

I can be rather rude and inconsiderate at times, even with something to distract myself with, but the vast majority of the time, it helps me slow down and think before I go off the deep end. The more stressed I am, the more rude and inconsiderate I become, so I really need something to distract me from the anxiety which drives up my stress.

Most of the time, this sound is music. I have two mp3 players. One I wear at all times; the other is a backup. On each of these, I have playlists and songs I listen to on repeat, because having one song on repeat tends to help me best; random songs aggravate my anxiety. Mostly, I listen to a song I see as being related to a story I’m writing, but sometimes not; for instance, right now, I have a number of Christmas songs ready to play on my main mp3 player right now.

For times I can’t listen to my music—as when I’m waiting for an appointment to commence after checking in—I have other methods of introducing sounds, and thus stress relief.

My earlobes have been pierced three times. On days when I expect to be spending a lot of time without my headphones and music, I wear dangly earrings arranged in such a way they’ll ring together whenever I move my head. When I get to the place where I can’t have music, I shake my head to make the earrings tinkle. Sometimes I’ll also wear a charm bracelet my mother gave me. It’s an entirely girly thing, but I enjoy the way I can make it tinkle to a beat by sharply twisting my left forearm; it doesn’t get much use, mainly because I’ve found a combination of earrings that tinkle and don’t also cause my ears to hurt.

And then, for the holiday season from US Thanksgiving through New Year’s, I wear an actual bell.

I have no idea why I’m like this. All I do know is that I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. I’ve listened to music to go to sleep with, and usually had some sort of music playing whenever I’ve gone out on my own. One of the best Chrismases I had when I was a child was the year I got a Sony Walkman cassette tape player, and when the Discman came out, I was thrilled. I’m even happier with mp3 players, because of the variety and amount of music they hold. I’ve just always wanted to have music, and it’s always kept me from going off the deep end and turning into a total ass whenever I’m out.