We All Feel Like That

What a mixed reaction it provokes when somebody says ‘we all feel like that’ to a bipolar sufferer.   One part of you thinks, yes that’s true and another part says, but you’re not bipolar.  Like me.

I have recently experienced a high.  It’s been really hard work to get back on the line and I consider myself a good self manager of over 20 years standing.  However, experiencing a high where I needed to seek medical help again made me think about the statement ‘we all feel like that’.

The Doctor responded with that very line.  We were talking about triggers and in particular the referendum and the American election .  This had all been unpredictable – as life generally is. We also discussed stressful situations closer to home.  I often describe my mood swings as a thing apart.  It doesn’t really matter what my triggers are you end up with the same result – you are ill again and need to take action.

I would like to mention another current topic that tends to occupy us all at this time of year.  Christmas can be a lovely thing to look forward to or it can make people feel very stressed.  Probably for most people it is a combination of both these things.  If that’s possible!

Somebody observed that if you have had a bad year you don”t want to bother decorating your home.  If it’s been a good year the decorations have probably been up since July!

If you suffer from bipolar disorder this time of year can be fraught.  It’s complicated by the fact that the illness can sneak up on you because you are distracted and out of routine.  Lots of people do things at Christmas because they feel they should and that the aim is to make other people happy.

Nothing wrong with that statement in particular but it means there is much less opportunity to say a self managed ‘NO’ to invitations and varied Christmas requests.  Wearing a bipolar Christmas hat can be a mixed blessing!  All the hype that goes along with preparing for Christmas can lead to a lot of stimulation that the bipolar Christmas hat can thrive upon.

My advice, for what it’s worth is to adopt some extra Christmas self management.  Don’t worry about saying ‘NO’.  Do the things that have to be done but work on the broken leg syndrome.  Would you be attempting this if your leg was in plaster?  If possible space out friends and family – not always easy but make sure you have a bolthole when things get too much.  If heading for a high mood swing make sure that somebody recognises this and factors in some peace and quiet for you.

Remember that if awareness of your mood is uppermost in your mind the bipolar might move away and allow you to have the best Christmas ever!

Joanne Howell
Seaton, Devon
December 2016

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About voicebath

Bath and North East Somerset’s community mental wellbeing blog
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