Feliz Navidad and a happy, shiny new 2018 to all. I hope you survived
As you probably know yourself and have read in every single bipolar article or heard in every support group, the holidays can be a bitch for the mentally unstable. There are of course a number of reasons: breaking routine, the stress of travel and getting kids and spouses ready if you have those. Organising kennels and a hundred other things that make your head want to explode, and then you don’t even feel festive anymore. And of course, there are those who can’t celebrate with family, or don’t have any.
Unfortunately I cannot relate to the latter so I won’t pretend to know what I’m talking about, but I can probably teach everyone about dealing with a 40 person family. Yes, 40 people. We know we are blessed but it becomes terribly overwhelming. So what I realised was that I needed to create some kind of ‘safe space’ for myself. Instead of sleeping in the house like most of the others, I pitched my little single person tent outside. We were so hot it was unbelievable, but every time I felt overwhelmed or offended or anxious, I went to sit in my little sauna until I felt ready for all the people again. I did the same when I went away with my parents, sister and her fiance. I went reasonably well until my sister smacked me with a backhanded sarcastic remark which, since I am overly sensitive, ruined my day. But I had my room, my own room, and I could close my door and create a safe haven for myself with books, blankets, chocolates and drinks. I could just walk away and go decompress.
I know this sounds incredibly simple, but I’m telling you to me, it was a revelation. Probably because I was never in the position to insist my own space, with so many people, but it really made all the difference. So this was the one thing I learned to survive the holidays. The second was to stick to whatever your poison is for anxiety, and even if you don’t feel anxious, take as prescribed. My doctor gave me Urbanol, one in the morning and one at night, and although I would have MUCH preferred Rivotril or Alzam (but family history of addiction, thanks dad), Urbanol seems to just take the edge off a little bit and make me act like a human being. Other obvious things that I should know but still got wrong was don’t get trashed, stay hydrated (Lithium) and remember to fill your script BEFORE you go on holiday.
I’m clearly such a slow learner when it comes to this and would love to hear what you do/don’t do to cope with the festive season.