Bipolar Disorder: Handling the Holidays
With a little planning you can avoid holiday depression, anxiety, and mania -- and enjoy the season.
Bipolar Disorder & Shopping Sensibly
It's very easy to get caught up in the frenzy of the season and become
fixated on finding everyone the perfect gift. But again, you need to stay in
control -- especially if you're prone to unhealthy buying sprees. Here are some
Keep perspective. Don't get too caught up in finding the
best gift for everyone. It's not worth the anxiety -- and besides, your nephew
would probably be happy with a check anyway.
Stick to a budget. If you have a problem with overspending,
come up with an explicit budget well before the holidays arrive. You may want
the aid of a friend or family member to help you stick to it.
Spread out the shopping. Try to shop ahead. Frank suggests
Halloween (or earlier, if you can manage it) as a great time to start
Shop online. If you have access to the Internet, online
shopping is a low-stress way to avoid the mall's hassles. For a little extra,
some sites may even gift wrap.
Go for gift certificates. Just about everyone loves a gift
certificate. And they don't have to be impersonal. Choose one that fits the
person: get your sister one from her favorite boutique and your uncle one from
a restaurant he likes.
Caring for Yourself
The holidays are a time when we're encouraged to think about other people
instead of ourselves. That's fine, to a point.
But if you focus so much on other people that you neglect yourself, you're
at higher risk of descending into mania or depression.
That's not good for anyone.
"Your first order of business during the holidays has to be taking care
of yourself," says Thase. "If you don't, all sorts of bad things can
Thase compares living with bipolar disorder to diabetes. "Just as diabetics can't eat all of
the sweets during the holidays, people with bipolar disorder have to take extra
precautions," he tells WebMD. "But if you take those precautions, the
holidays really can go well."
So this holiday season, plan ahead, keep to your schedule, and scale back
your expectations. If you do, you can beat holiday depression, mania, anxiety,
and hassles -- and enjoy the season. That's good for you as a person living
with bipolar disorder -- and for your loved ones too.