Holidays, Mania, and Depression

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.

10 thoughts on “Holidays, Mania, and Depression

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  1. I would add that we should never be the ones who organize the celebration, I tried once, too much things to do, too much excitement, things really can get lost of control during and after that, lots of money gone, just to mention one 😛


    1. thank you for this article… i am deep down in the depression pit, now i have to get back to being creative, those two dont mix, feel like im drifting in a limbo state right now, have to force myself to snap out of it, not easy task, will return to this site always, thank you daniela… havent had episode in over 2 years, must fight back. sorry for typing like a kid im doing my best


  2. Hi last year on June I started a relationship with a tall handsome and awesome body, we have good connection from start and we personally met. I love his great manly voice. At first all seemed well and going normal getting to know each other. My mother was on her way as I was to have surgery and I have no family in the USA. then suddenly out of nowhere the changes on him, like a complete different person. 7 months I waited to meet his kids 7 and 2 yrs old boy and girl. He left me alone every single holiday even thought I was recently recovering of a major surgery done in Dec 11. He promise me that he was to past New Year with me of all the other holidays and on that date early New Year came and told me he was leaving to go pick up his kids so that was his ex wife could go out and celebrate New Year with her new boyfriend and friends. I was in total shock and disbelieve that everyone else was more important than me. On that same New Year eve, I told him we were over, that I leave him free to prioritize everyone else if he wanted but I was not to get left over and crumbs of his time that for me is all or nothing. 2 days after new year eve he wrote saying he was coming to my place as nothing have had happen, I told him after I was waiting 7 long months to met your kids now what we are over you are bringing them to my place?. He showed up, still I was pretty upset and hurt. we been on this back and forth relationship. Almost 2 months ago I told him do not text me or call me ever again that I was tired been mistreated, his so many sorry but yet do it all over again in no time. Two and half wee went by without hearing anything about him, no call, no text not showing up to my place as I asked him. Then a month ago I started to work again after my short term disability and my mother told me that he has come to check on us and she noticed he put something under my pillow in my bedroom. I read the most heartbreaking letter, he told me he has ADHD and Manic Depression I was puzzle in shock as I never heard of any of those two health condition. He said in that letter that he love me and those two and half week apart were the most horrible and difficult thing he had ever had to deal with as with his two prior marriage he was never in love and that I showed him what love was, to forgive him for all the pain he had caused me, I texted him back telling him how I was to understand what was going on with him if he never told me he suffer from Manic Depression, he told me about the ADHD because his 7 yrs old son also have that condition. When I started searching for this two medical condition I came across this article and all his ways made all his behavior make sense. He said he couldn’t live without me, yet I never been a weekend with him, never an entire weekend, he prefer to stay away with his kids instead of come to my place and spend a weekend as a family, he use to tell me that we wanted to marry me, now he don’t talk about that anymore. Everything started getting worse when he have to had shoulder surgery only 2 days prior my major surgery and either of us could work and money became a problem. he have to leave his apartment and come to mine and with the little disability money each of us get we were hardly able to keep afloat and another time we got into another fight before he telling me he have bipolar and I told him to get all his stuff out of my apartment even though I didn’t know how I was to survive without his help. I’m a sickle cell patient and we also need peace or we to brake into a crisis, this relationship have only brought me pain, tears, endless sleepless night and lot of stress that I have end up in ER with pain crisis. Now I’m back with him after I red that letter where he told me he was to make it up to me and wanted me to feel special and that want to take things slow. Yet nothing had changed, he go and come, he disappear from my place for day and every weekend and we he finally came to my place its like he is a complete stranger, don’t give me a kiss nor a huge nor a caress, seems to me that only when we go to bed is that he remember who I am or what time of relationship I want to have but now I refuse to made love to him. I know this is silly to think or hope that until he realize that I want him as a husband not as friend with benefit then I will have intimacy with him. That until he start giving me kisses, hugs and caresses I can’t give him my ultimate prove of love such as make love to him then we will only share a bed. I know I’m hoping for something that might never happen, that I’m dreaming. I have many time before knowing his problem brake this relationship so many times, yet and a fool in love. The new problem is that I commented with him that I had read this article and asked him what med he take for his bipolar depression and he told me, he is allergic to the only thing that can help him with his mood swing, I broke in tears and I realize that nothing ever will improve and he himself told me this worsen by you getting older. That only thing he is getting is anti depressant med and steroids that obviously it doesn’t help him. If anyone that read this could give me any advise of alternative med or natural med that could help him please let me know. I have been back to work and mine was a major surgery yet he haven’t been able to go back to his because he started doing things he didn’t suppose to way before time and his shoulder is been hurting a good deal still and that also make him more mad and upset because he can’t go back to gym that is another thing that help him a bit. HELP PLEASE.


  3. Hi Jinnah-
    in your experience, have you ever found yourself developing fixations on certain people when you are unstable/or especially manic? If not, would you say that such behavior could be typical of a bipolar person?


  4. I wish I had read this last Christmas (and the ones before) because every year I seem to get hypomanic in the build up to Christmas and then crash and burn sometime on Christmas Day or Boxing Day. Every year I feel I disappoint my family with my mood swings. To the point that this year I am hoping to avoid the holidays altogether and fly to the Canary Islands for some winter sun…


  5. Hi, I never understood why Christmas Day especially, why I was always down and moody which followed for a few days to weeks to a month. How can someone be miserable at Christmas??
    Just glad I read this as I know I’m not alone now. Thanks guys 🙂


  6. I’ve often told people I don’t like the holidays and they look at me like I’m crazy and ask why. Honestly this is why. For a long time I felt, even before being diagnosed, that holidays are too stressful and its a struggle to get through them. It’s overwhelming to see all the bright lights and smiling faces, even if I’m possitive going into the season the pressure to get everyone something perfect and decorate and cook and be jolly soon leads to a spiral. I wish everyone was a bit more understanding of bipolar so I wouldn’t get that look when I tell people I’m not into christmas.


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