Bipolar Disorder: Handling the Holidays
With a little planning you can avoid holiday depression, anxiety, and mania -- and enjoy the season.
Planning for Holiday Success When You Have Bipolar Disorder
It's very easy to let the holidays dictate your life. You have to
go shopping. You have to go to your office party. You have to
bake four batches of Christmas cookies. It can make you feel completely
powerless. Your own needs become irrelevant.
The key is to take control before that happens. "Where is it written
that you must do all these things?" says Frank. The key to a
successful holiday is to plan for it well in advance, she says. Here are a few
tips that may help ease your holidays:
Scale back your expectations. Be easy on yourself. "The
gifts don't have to be perfect," Crowel tells WebMD. Neither do the
decorations. Or the turkey. Or anything.
Think twice before playing host. The preparations for a
holiday dinner -- shopping, cooking, cleaning -- can be overwhelming for a
person with bipolar disorder. So make sure you are really up to it. If you do
host, simplify. Pare down the guest list. Cook something you can prepare in
advance. Ask for help from friends or family.
Be open and direct with your family. Tell them what you
need this year. If the usual family gathering of dozens seems like too much,
see if your family might cut down the guest list. Obviously, this could cause
conflict with the rest of the family. But if the extended family members really
care about the person with bipolar disorder they should understand, Frank
Make this year different. If holidays have not gone well in
the past, make changes. Instead of doing the usual dinner at home, go to a
restaurant. If staying with your in-laws hasn't been good for you, check into a
nearby hotel instead. Or simply get away from all the holiday hubbub and go on
Spread out the visiting. Frank suggests shifting some of
your visits into October and January, instead of trying to fit in everyone in
November and December.
Increase the number of check-ins. You might want to step up
the schedule of appointments with your therapist or check-ins with your family
and friends. It's a good way of staying grounded.