Surviving The Holidays


Getting through the holidays can be challenging to say the least. The holidays are supposed to be a time where distant relatives, close family members, cousins, and good friends come together during a time of fellowship.THM_ThanksgivingMeal

(pic via: THM)

Though, these happy times can often bring on unwanted guests: anxiety, stress, triggers, and depression, just to name a few.

I use to dread this time of year. Not only am I the ring-leader to coordinate these events, but I am diagnosed with Type I Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). As you can imagine this becomes a bit of a challenge.

For some of you, on top of a disorder (bipolar, schizophrenia, etc.) there may be the loss of a loved one plaguing you, general anxiety/depression, and/or the general stresses of the upcoming holidays.

Whatever the case may be we suffer in silence. How do we get through ALL of this holiday demand, and still put on that good ole’ “Holiday Cheer?”

I’m not here to say I have the “magic cure” to what ails you, but here are a few tips that just might make your holidays palatable.

· Watch your intake of alcohol. While it sometimes feels good to fit in with “The Jones,” it can end up making you feel worse, and cause undue depression after a short while.

· Be honest with yourself. Don’t set expectations to high for yourself for the day. You’re not looking to disappoint yourself if your family/friends gathering isn’t going as planned. We often have that “Norman Rockwell” picture in our heads for a picture perfect day. It’s alright if the day doesn’t necessarily go as planned.

· Set aside a little personal time. It can be overwhelming to be in the company of your family and friends (especially if you haven’t seen them in a while) in large groupings. Allow yourself to go outside for a short breather. Go to the bathroom to splash a little water on your face. Whatever the case may be, it’s ok for you to step away for a brief moment or two to gather yourself.

· Keep in mind “you’re not perfect!” There is no right or wrong way to handle the day. Some follow family traditions, while others may choose to change things up a little. Expect the unexpected.

· Budget your holiday gift giving. It’s really easy to fall into the depths of spending, especially if you’re going to be visiting family for the holidays. No one expects you to buy them a sound system, TV, or major appliance for the holidays. Look at small items that won’t break the bank. Even a gesture of a holiday card with a gift card is better than over doing it on spending. If you find shopping a challenge, get a spouse or friend to support you while to take on the task.

· Talk to your health care provider. You may find it necessary to talk to your psychiatrist, therapist or primary care physician to make some adjustments to your medication during this time of year.

The holidays are emotionally, physically, and psychologically draining. You need every bit of strength. Don’t short change yourself on sleep, rest, and exercise. Don’t forget you’re just as important and you need to properly care for yourself to manage through. Be aware of your caffeine and sugar intake. Caffeine can cause irritability and sugar can make you more tired than normal.

If you have any tips on how you get through the holiday, feel free to comment.



Living with type 1 bipolar disorder, PTSD (due to childhood trauma), Rapid Cycling, and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Writing about my life experiences.

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