This means different things for different people—traveling, planning and coordinating with family, busy schedules and spending money are all common themes during the holidays.
People with bipolar disorder may have difficulty dealing with stress, depression, or hypomania during the holiday season.
Whether you have a big turkey dinner at home, travel to a popular restaurant, or refrain from participating in the Thanksgiving holiday, here are some tips for getting through Thanksgiving Day (and actually enjoying it):
1. Traditional Family Gathering
This version of Thanksgiving is a great way to celebrate, but family time and social interaction can be both pros and cons, depending on the person.
Try to enjoy the event in itself. Not everyone is lucky enough to see the same loving, loyal faces each year at the same table amidst a large turkey, sides, and dessert.
However, a large volume of people, conversation, and commotion can be exhausting for people with bipolar disorder.
- If you are affected by the above factors, try limiting your time at the Thanksgiving dinner event. If you usually stay for six hours, try staying for three. The important thing is you made an appearance and spent a reasonable amount of time. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty.
- Ask for help. If you are stressed, and you have a whole Thanksgiving event to plan by yourself, ask a friend or family member for help. Delegating the Thanksgiving Day preparations can make things a lot easier.
- Remember to take any prescribed medication during these busy days. If you will have trouble remembering, use an alarm or reminder.
- Try to limit your expectations for the family event. There will probably be a grumpy family member making things more difficult or an unexpected burned pie. This is life. Roll with it as best as you can; don’t expect perfection on any holiday or any other day, for that matter.
2. Trip, Travel, or Dinner Outside the Home
Whether you are traveling 1000 miles north to grandma’s house or partaking in a fancy dinner at the big buffet downtown, here are some tips to tackle Thanksgiving outside the home:
- Make sure you packed your medication, and any other items that you will need to relax, self-soothe, or stay busy. Be prepared for travel. You are less likely to stress.
- Get enough rest before, during, and after the travel or event.
- Be positive—at least you are not cleaning up after 10 or 20 people at your own house!
- If you are anxious about the event details, find out from a friend or family member beforehand.
- Know when to say no if certain aspects of the event cause you stress.
- Prepare a plan for relaxation and/or alone time if you are staying in someone else’s home.
3. Boycotting or Refraining from Thanksgiving Festivities
Not everyone is down with holiday events. That is perfectly OK.
- Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty or weird about not participating in the Thanksgiving holiday. We are not all interested in that type of thing.
- If the day is a trigger for you, make sure you surround yourself with others in a positive environment. Keep yourself busy your mind off negative things as much as you can.
- Again, take your medication, and make sure you engage in all aspects of your treatment plan.
- Talk to a friend, family member, or professional if you are feeling depressed. I recommend calling 1-800-273-TALK if you are feeling alone.
No matter how you choose to celebrate (or not celebrate) the Thanksgiving holiday, make sure you take care of yourself and put yourself first. Do not cross any personal boundaries that will cause you undue stress or problems.
Do you like or dislike the Thanksgiving holiday? What are your tips for surviving Thanksgiving with bipolar disorder?