Us bipolar persons do not do well at holiday time. We just don’t.
I’ve written about what you could do if you are manic or depressed during the holidays (it says Thanksgiving, but the ideas are the same). Worth reading, including the comments.
This 2013 Holiday season is particularly long because the holidays fall midweek. For those of us with mood swings, the danger time starts today Fri 20 Dec 13 and goes until about Mon 6 Jan 14.
The real trigger for mood swings is that the holidays interrupt our regular schedules – and the inconsistency tends to leave us out of sorts and vulnerable to changes in mood. My personal experience has been that stretches of open / unoccupied time tends to lead to depression and late nights tends to trigger mania. And they can swing back and forth over the holiday season. You mileage may vary, but hopefully you know what triggers your mood swings.
People and family gatherings don’t appear to trigger mood swings, but they can make any depression or mania you have much much worse.
Here’s the major rule for Christmas – DO NOT START OR ENGAGE IN ANY ARGUMENTS!!!
Got that? I don’t care if you think you’re right – don’t do it. Nothing good will come of it.
If you have a sibling, child, or partner who is depressed – it’s okay for them to not participate in family gatherings. Do NOT try to force them to take part – you’ll be torturing them. If they don’t appear on Christmas day to open presents with the rest of the family, the excuse is “John couldn’t make it, he’s not well”. You have the whole rest of the year to see them.
Generally good ideas
As best you can, keep your schedule as close to normal as you can.
Don’t try to do too much. Moving from one gathering or house to another all day long, is not a good thing. Leave time for you to take a breather on an afternoon. Alternatively, don’t stay all day by family – leave before it begins to drag on and you’ve overeaten.
Take a time out and go for a 15 minute walk outside sometime during the day.
Don’t spend long periods of time by yourself. Meet with some friends for a coffee or an ice cream or a beer. Go with someone to a movie.
Finally, the holidays are not the end of it. The instability echoes for 2-3 weeks after the holidays, so if you have mood swings, you are more likely to slip into depression or mania in January. All the things that you do to protect yourself in over the holidays, you have to continue in January.
Have a happy holiday.