The holidays can be challenging for everyone. But if you are anything like me, you await November and December holidays with real dread.
I tend to face an abundance of triggers – relatives, stress, exhaustion, decorating, holiday shopping, money, meal prep… The list just seems to go on and on.
There are several concerns that make the holidays considerably tough for those with bipolar disorder.
- A disrupted schedule can be a big problem. It is very important that you don’t forget to take your medicine! People with bipolar disorder tend to do best when they follow a regular schedule – waking up at a certain time, exercising, eating healthy, and going to bed around a certain time. During the holidays, maintaining a regular schedule can be particularly hard – you may be traveling across time zones, partying, or staying up. It’s very easy to get off track.
- Excess stimulation has a way of triggering a swing toward holiday depression or mania. There is shopping, decorating, preparing, and a lot of family time (that is not always pleasant and happy). Therefore, over stimulation is another concern for those battling bipolar disorder during the holidays.
- The holidays occur during a time of shorter days and longer nights. This being considered, a lot of people find that their mood swings are related to the seasons. Depression being more common in the fall and winter, right when the holidays begin.
- Christmas Eggnog and Hot Buttered Rum is often being passed around, encouraging people to unwind and spread the “holiday cheer.” However, alcohol can interfere with medicine and make you more prone to mood swings.
- A lot of those fighting bipolar disorder have a history of excessive spending during manic episodes which clearly leaves you at risk when joining in on the excessive spending on Christmas gifts.
I have recently written a post regarding identifying your triggers. I had found myself falling apart recently and decided it was time to do some self-reflecting and try to make some changes so that I can enjoy the season.
My best advice is to know your limits and not ignore the warning signs. Sometimes you just need to walk away and spend a few moments with yourself. Enjoy a little quiet time to get through the day without a manic or depressive meltdown. It’s easy to try and let things slide during the holidays, but if you allow stress to continue to build up, it will get the best of you in the end.
I also believe that you should do your best to not over schedule. I understand that there are parties, banquets and celebrations that you will be invited to but pick and chose wisely. Sometimes it is necessary to avoid certain people or places. I would especially try to avoid attending numerous events several days in a row. You will need all of your energy to cope with one event at a time, and if you become overwhelmed with obligations you won’t be able to function at all.