Each year, I look forward to the holiday season consisting of October, November, and December. These three months also terrify me to my bones.
You are probably wondering how this time of year can bring me such great joy, but also immense sorrow.
Let me start by giving you some background…
My Childhood Memories
I have memories of my childhood, but they are both few and far between.
My clearest and dearest memories consist of my family’s Christmas traditions. Some of these traditions I practice with my own family.
Christmas Eve, we would drive around looking at Christmas lights. We did this with no specified time period, but until my family and I were satisfied.
From our Christmas light driving excursion, we drove home. Each of us opened up a present and we read the Christmas story in the Bible. We also watched or read a Christmas Carol.
My sister, brother and I left some cookies and a glass of milk for Santa. I remember each year trying to stay awake, so I could hear Santa. It never failed, I always fell asleep before I heard his footsteps.
In the morning, my parents used a sheet to hide the opening to our family room. They tacked a sheet to the ceiling so we could not see the tree and all the goodies Santa brought for each of us. This only built our anticipation while we ate breakfast.
After breakfast, my parents took the sheet down and it was the first time we took in all that Santa had delivered. First, we opened up our stockings. Next, I usually put all the presents into piles for my mom, dad, sister, brother and myself. One person opened a present at a time. If the gift was from someone present, I always took the time to say thank you and give a big hug.
It usually took us hours to go through the present-opening process. I always tried to go as slow as I could. You see, I just plain enjoyed experiencing the traditions of my family. To me, that was the important part of the celebration.
Feeling the Christmas spirit meant more to me than a material present.
I share this to show how the spirit of Christmas was created within my being back when I was a child. It is still within me to this very day.
Living with Bipolar Disorder During the Holidays
As I grew older, my life changed drastically.
I started exhibiting mild signs of Bipolar Disorder in my teens.
My first major episode that ended up in a hospitalization, occurred at the start of my Sophomore year in College.
Fast forward about eight years later, I found a pattern to this fall time period. I usually fell into the depths of depression when both the time and season changed.
From that time until the present, I generally get depressed or manic around October, November or December.
Having Bipolar Disorder, you can feel extreme ecstasy one minute and feel like a non-functioning inanimate object the next. To make things worse, you can exhibit symptoms of both mania and depression at the same time.
I have learned over the years to feel my emotions during the Holidays. I’m not sure if I’ll be stable, manic or depressed. I do my best to let myself experience my feelings and emotions. Then, let them pass.
You see, I tried my best when I was younger not to feel depressed. It is the worse feeling in the world and I did not want anything to do with it. I tried my hardest to repress those feelings and it worked for awhile. It is not a good idea to repress how you are thinking or feeling. It comes back a 100 fold. Now, if I feel depressed, I utilize my coping skills and talk to someone.
To me, the spirit of Christmas is not merely about feeling happy and joy. It is being around those you love and experiencing your yearly traditions.
The gift of giving and sharing is priceless. Sharing traditions, a cup of eggnog or a simple conversation is the essence of Christmas.
These simple ideas can be practiced throughout the year. You can also utilize these simple and practical ways HERE, to get the most out of life when you have Bipolar Disorder.
It does not matter your religious affiliation or what you believe. This spirit of Christmas is in each and every one of us.