Remember, us bipolar persons do not do well in crowds and gatherings. If you or a family member is bipolar, look out for these things.
If you are somewhat manic, the crowd energy can aggravate the situation. Look out for:
- We cannot cope with the numerous conversations and activities simultaneously. You might flit from group to group, feeling like you should be talking to the next set of persons over even as you join this conversation. You will feel as you need to be everywhere so you don’t miss anything.
- You might be more talkative than normal, or more garrulous.
- You might not be able to stop some of the actions you might be doing – including physical activities like poking or nudging or otherwise physically bothering people.
- You might have nervous tics – tapping your feet or hands, or your coordination with objects such as when preparing dinner, will be off.
- You might not be able to focus on what to do next easily.
- Alternatively, you might feel overwhelmed by the amount of noise and activity, and your reaction might be ‘get out of there’.
- Oh yeah, you are likely to be irritable with every little thing that people do and you might be the person who precipitates the big Thanksgiving argument.
If you are depressed, you are NOT going to want to be in a group at all. Look out for
- Deciding you don’t want to go to the Thanksgiving dinner, or seizing any reason not to go.
- You are going to hate having to interact with the crowd. You won’t want to talk to anyone, or only to the one or two safest people.
- You won’t be able to concentrate on the conversation and you are going to feel like an idiot that you can’t hold your end of the conversation. Perversely, you might realise that other people don’t notice.
- You are going to want to find a quiet place to sit – an empty bedroom, the quiet corner behind the Christmas tree, the swing on the porch. Or in the kitchen, where you hide the entire time.
- You are going to hate when your family introduces you to new people, or when they put you on the spot to say or do something. This can trigger an anger reaction.
What can you do? On today, if you are manic you can
- Look for the signals you are getting manic. In fact, you need to be looking for them all night.
- Once you recognise the manic signs, stop what you are doing and do the things you need to calm down. Check out this post. If you have medication that works against mania, and you can take it, take it.
- If you are not drunk and you are capable of talking a walk, go for a 10 minute walk. Being away from the noise will help. The activity will too. Do NOT continue an argument in your head while walking.
- You are not going to be right in any argument, even if you think you are. Just stop arguing and go for a walk to calm down. No, you do not need to get in the last word.
If you are depressed…
- And you aren’t making it to dinner as promised, at least text a message to someone that you won’t be coming. The message is “I can’t make it, I’m depressed.” At least your family or friends will know that you are safe at home. If you are able to, try calling someone. You don’t need to contact the host, just someone who will be there to pass on your message.
- If someone in your family can’t make it because they are depressed, let it go. Tell them it is okay. You would’t ask them to come if they were recovering from a heart attack. Same thing.
- If you are at the Thanksgiving gathering, it’s okay to find a quiet space. The same walk may help you get away from the crowd.
For me, there is also a concern what happens AFTER Thanksgiving. We can often summon the energy and reserves to make it through the day, but this has consequences – I’ve noticed that I usually get depressed about 4-8 days after the holiday. It’s as if I’ve drawn down my reserves to act nicely and the depression catches me when I am at my weakest.
I’d recommend that after Thanksgiving that you keep a vigilant eye on your moods, and do the things that stave off depression for you.
But for today, Happy Thanksgiving.