Bipolar and the Festive Season: How I Unplugged the Christmas Machine and Created Stable Holidays

I often write for the Gum on My Shoe website. Authors Martin Baker and Fran Houston created the site as a companion to their excellent book High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder.


Here is an excerpt from my latest article: How I Unplugged the Christmas Machine and Created Stable Holidays…

I love Christmas. I like the music and the colors. I’m listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack as I write this! I love the food and the snow and the lights on the houses. It is not a religious holiday for me, but one that I associate with really good childhood memories and a lot of family events.

And yet, there is also the bipolar disorder side of Christmas. Bipolar is an illness triggered by change, even if the change is positive. I write about triggers in my book Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder. For all of my adult life I’ve loved Christmas, but once my bipolar started in my late teens, I kept getting sick at this time of year.

It took me years to figure out why. My bipolar diagnosis at age 31 helped, but I still wasn’t able to handle the up and down emotions during the holiday season here in the States. (Please feel free to substitute the holiday you choose to celebrate.)

Even after my diagnosis and creating my management system I lived with very serious depression and paranoia for many years. No matter how hard I tried I could not stay stable during the holidays. Each year I would promise myself that the time between Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve — our biggest holiday celebrations in the United States — would not make me sick.

I usually failed……

Click here to read How I Unplugged the Christmas Machine and Created Stable Holidays!  We can have happy holidays. It takes a plan and it might take a few years of practice, but life gets better when we recognize what we need and take small steps to change the holidays for the better. We can do this!


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