Bipolar Bytes; Decking the Halls and Turkey Balls

Good day all and welcome…  

to the second ever installment of the wildly popular feature Bipolar Bytes here on Running Naked With Scissors, where I bring bipolar disorder to you in manageable bytes of information.  Because Bipolar is a mouthful and trying to get it  all at once is just …well it is a choking hazard.

I am on a mission.   (did that sound too stuffy up there? good day…good day and..  uh,,  ) 

You do know I am seriously cracking myself up right now right?  I mean, I am serious just not that full of myself.  Playing with my words again bytes, bites choke on it. …  right?…

Ok well let me stop and get myself together.  I need to find the duct tape after cracking up.

No no no sorry, that was bad.  Not bad as in naughty,  just plain bad. Never mind that being only the second installment, wildly popular is a bit of a stretch.  A bit hahahahaaha.

I got it now.  Ok I can do this.        

Let’s have a byte of bipolar.

Would you like fries with that?  Coke to wash it down.,..?

*ahem*

C’mon get serious, Bipolar is nothing to laugh at.  Why did the bipolar bear cross the road?  He felt like it.

Details

First; a small disclaimer of sorts, a CYA – or CMA which is only to say I am not trying to present myself as being some kind of authority on the matter at hand.  I am simply a girl with a disordered brain trying to make sense of it  and have company doing it.  Share the wealth right?

And hoping that by shedding some light on this very much misunderstood brain disorder,  it will not be the big scary monster under the bed it is now.  That those with it will be more willing to get help, and those that only heard this or that, and what they heard makes them run the other way when they hear the term, might have the information to let go of their fear.  We fear what we do not understand.  So let’s try to understand it.

The information below or after, herein, forthwith or wherever it is in relation to this paragraph,  is my understanding, and my best effort to provide simpler explanations of a complex disorder.    There is a lot of information out there and some of it contradicts itself  - how ironic, but typically you get the same basis of fact as to what this disorder is and how it affects people who have it.  I have struggled with the best way to share with you as one, I am not one to do research, I will if I have to, but its tedious and too constricting, something that takes the enjoyment  out of writing for me and gives me a headache.   Two, being a serious procrastinator, if I waited until all the research was solid, well we wouldn’t be here.  I am not a professional, not even an expert bipolar patient, more of a rebellious one I think .  I won’t put anything out to you that isn’t verifiable and while I am trying to educate, please seek the help of a professional if you are ill, or someone you love is or you suspect they are.  Hereafter the statement of covering my ass shall be simply referred to as te CYA / CMA and referred back to this nonsense that covers my ass.  I think   I will have to check with the legal department but I think saying – get a second opinion if you want to act on any information contained herein should do it right?  I suck at this kind of thing.  

Ok  Then,  now that we got that covered let’s get on with it.

Decking the Halls and Fa la LA de da

Did you ever happen to hear, or notice that the holidays are not always the cheer and joy and fun festivities that everyone waits for all year-long?  I mean for a specific group of people as a general rule.

I am sure that we have all had a year or two that isn;t great and the holiday spirit just isn’t there, but for some of those who suffer from bipolar disorder or (insert mental illness here) it can be torture year after year…

after year.

And guess what?   You might never know, or you might have been in a situation where all appeared happy and normal, in the typical happy, normal dysfunctional family way, and suddenly, someone who you thought had the brightest smile and the most holiday cheer is in the bathroom sobbing uncontrollably and you really need to pee.

While it is possible they maybe drank too much eggnog and are three sheets to the wind, the point I am trying to make here is; for all the merry festivities, peace and goodwill toward man, the holidays can be the hardest and most dangerous time of year for the mentally ill, and while they may just seem cranky and grinchy and you maybe want to say

get over yourself

(not really the best idea, runs along the lines of snap out of it, its all in your head..  etc etc, ignorance ad nauseum) 

there are many real issues that cause much more disorder than usual mentally, and being compassionate  and caring may make all the difference to how someone mentally ill gets through the holidays.

But we can’t change what we don;t understand so let’s talk about the holidays for a minute and what they look like if you have a SMI.  (serious mental illness, of which bipolar disorder is one)

  • Schedules go to hell-
  • sleep goes to hell
  • sobriety goes to hell
  • typical daily social interactions – go to hell
  • elves come out of the woodwork and go to….no wait, wrong list..

Are you getting the idea?  Sorry to be blunt but it pretty much boils down to life as we know it on a daily basis …goes to hell and that can be really devastating for someone with enough mental disorder, on a daily basis, to go to hell on their own steam.

But Why? The 3 S’s… 2 S’s and a Pee and Stress. Not Pee, just P 

Structure, sleep, and a  proper diet, are three key items for helping manage bipolar disorder and sometimes, especially in times of stress, like say;

  • awkward social situations such as spending time with distant family who either pretend you are just being difficult (i.e. denial of the elephant sporting holly and tinsel in the room) or won’t stop asking questions and treat you like you are two and /or contagious
  • trying to find the perfect gift for someone then stressing they won;t like it
  • spending way more money than usual
  • office parties
  • cookies, cakes, candy every time you turn around
  • worrying about a date for parties and stuff
  • being alone when everyone else (it so seems) isn’t
  • anything perceived or real which causes stress or anxiety
  • being around other people when you are an introvert
  • noise
  • increased demands on time and expectations of increased tolerance for all the ways and things you have problems with day-to-day..  - kind of want to note here,  I think this comes because there are increased demands on everyone and its hard to remember that just because you can / do / have to,  doesn;t automatically mean someone who can;t usually, should be able to too.

if any one of these, never mind all of them, gets knocked even a little wonky, it can cause a full-blown episode of mania, depression or the ever so fun and hard to figure out mixed variety.

Not all that different, more or less

Now none of the above listed are anything exclusive to being mentally ill, everyone (for the most part I would bet)  deals  with them more during the holidays, but if you have a hard time coping and functioning during the daily grind,  however are you supposed to cope and function during the holidays?

Faking it is an option and fairly common too.  I have done it.  Last few years I have been more aware of my dread and discomfort during the holidays and have made a point to notice the little things that make it special too.  Peppermint mochas, are a perfect example and one that is off the top of my head because my mom just got me peppermint flavored cream for my coffee.  Thanks Mom.

I have also paid attention to my ability to function and if I need to be by myself or not participate in something, I do what I have to do. or..not do I guess.   I may miss something that I really wanted to do, or participate in but If I am confused and anxious and all worked up, manic or depressed, I may not get what I hoped for out of it anyways, which causes a sort of snowball effect by adding to the already large number of stressors, disappointment.

Off to left Field

If you think about it – it is possible the creators of such Christmas classics as Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and who could ever forget the Grinch, who we all know was a creation of Dr. Suess, ok well if you didn;t then now you do, were either mentally ill themselves, or dealt with it closely.

Frosty – keeps melting and has to start all over again – the Grinch is grinchy and turns into the grinchiest grinch at Christmas when the Who’s in Whoville get all happy, and as far as Rudolph – well, where should I start? There;s the elf that wants to be a dentist, a red-nosed reindeer that is ostracized, the Island of Misfit Toys and of course the bumbling abominable snowman.

If we had been shown Rudolph over and over as kids and told it is to learn about people who are different and how we all fit in… I think we could    

  1. understand and help the mentally ill

    who are struggling and

  2. two, well I don;t know two, but I bet I wouldn’t be writing this post. I do have my thoughts but this is bipolar in bytes – not a master’s thesis. and a bit off the topic.  Focus is not easy either with all that is happening.  Go figure.

So moving on…

Wrapping it Up

We have established that not everyone gets through the holidays In joyous festive uplifting moods, in fact some don’t get through at all…(suicide is always a danger for bipolar patients etc. anytime of the year) and while you all understand the basics behind it and may even felt the holiday blues , you may be wondering how someone can be a grinch – or cry on xmas… or completely fall apart and lose more marbles than they could spare. With all the cheer and good will and fa la effing la there is going on.

Well it so happens I love the holidays..it is my favorite time of year,  but  hold onto your hats because this is so hard to fathom, I dread them.  It is a struggle and the hardest one, the only thing that is harder is the end of summer with the air conditioning but that is really a different animal all together.

Many years previously. You would never have known I was hurting inside, in absolute emotional agony. Yea there are a lot of people with bipolar disorder that are really good at that. Personally I didn’t set out to deceive anyone, I just didn;t want to be the party fart – party pooper, party foul, and no one really cares how shitty you feel during the holidays.. I mean I know you do but when everyone is smiling ad laughing and singing carols, its hard to think there may be not only someone who cares, but help and someone who feels the way you do.

That;s usually before you are aware you have a reason for being that way. Once you get a diagnosis, you may hide it so you don;t become persona non grata because you have a mental illness…. it’s as if they are contagious at Christmas time, a s mentioned above in things that cause stress –

Inebriation was a pretty good anesthetic and helps give the days that hazy dreamy cheer. I will get to that in a minute.Or maybe another day, there are so many in the holiday season….

So if you really think about it, the fact that bipolar and mentally ill people actually suffer more during the holidays – no matter if they are depressed or manic – more likely to be one or the other, more likely to have episode then, more likely to wreak havoc to any or all areas of their lives, more likely to commit suicide or attempt it…. more…

And Putting a Bow on it.  

Which brings us to the point which is  - we all have to deal with stress during the holidays.  not all of it is bad, otherwise why would we have such festivities?   It is often times, especially with mentally healthy people,  merely a matter of tolerance to change and what they like and don’t and the extra stuff may just be a bit of unpleasantness, to those with bipolar or (insert mental illness here) , it is something that threatens to change their overall well-being.. you know, more.

Your bipolar buddy, struggling to put on a happy face  and  be  festive, is just  like you  but needs a little more care and understanding during the holidays because their tolerance may not be what yours is,  and they might really be struggling more than they are letting on.

Not because they are grinchy or scroogey, not because they want to be,  they have a chemical imbalance that adds to the problem or is the problem.   (another stressor btw – wanting to be happy like everyone else..seems to be)

Don’t judge so harshly.   Peace cheer and goodwill toward man remember?

Be understanding and you may get less Bah Humbug from the disordered amongst us, which is less Bah Humbug for all.  Not more.  Cool huh?

I am sure we will be having some conversations over the next few weeks about the ins and outs, ups and downs, and particular pitfalls, as well as the amazingly beautiful things about the holidays…

But go ahead and chew on that for a while, just save room for the turkey

and stuffing

and pie…

and leftovers…

I love the holidays…

Lizzie Cracked neer broken

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21 responses to “Bipolar Bytes; Decking the Halls and Turkey Balls

  1. Been here far too many times. My children are autistic and they cannot function worth a damn during the holidays if it is not completely incremental using microbial increments. Then, there is OCD me who wants to get it all done three days ago. Holidays are interesting…before you get to the 47 people you know who you haven’t since since Moses dropped the first tablets.

    All to say, I get this entirely and it applies to so much more than merely BD. Oh, look, a different sort of company…the kind I like <3

    Muah! Fab run down! <3
    xxx

  2. Lizzie, I can relate to all of this. I decided to keep it simple this year, large groups of people are very hard to cope with for me, so I scaled it down to four, including me. I cut back the expectations I had of myself when it comes to the meal. I’ll let you know how it goes. Today, I have spent the whole day in bed. Needed that.
    Much Love,
    Gail

  3. I SO understand this, although I am not bipolar, I suffer from anxiety disorder which rears its ugly head so often in social situations. Gotta love those people who say “Quit being such a stick & just enjoy yourself why don’t you?” Would that I could. Happy Thanksgiving Lizzie! Hope your holidays are not too stressful.

  4. Good reminder for those who have friends/relatives with some form of mental illness…I remember only too well how hard it was to participate/pretend/endure the holidays such as Christmas…when I suffered from depression for too many years….Diane

  5. Lizzie, thank you. I suspect there isn’t a single one of us who doesn’t have someone in the family suffering from some form of mental illness. My guess is we all forget sometimes how hard the holidays can be. This is a great reminder that we might need a bit of sensitivity.

  6. Pingback: Staying grounded | Therapy With Shannon·

  7. You did a stellar job in writing about being bipolar on the holidays. I think that breaking it down the subject categories will be very helpful to others in the same situation. Tweeting this now … :)

    • thanks – i sat here and thought about how to do it so long that i almost didnt and it got very complicated – so i just made it simpler.. and relatable becasue we all have our days during the holidays.. but the biggest thing is keeping in mind that a person without “normal ” mental functioning feels stressed and pressured during the holidays and has a hard time coping at whatever point they cant anymore… some people with SMI are already struggling with everyday pressure and the added expectations and .. stressors can really wear a person who cant no matter how hard they try – and some do try harder – the other thing is lonliness… if that is a normal trigger for becoming depressed or manic.. it is for some reason worse this time of year.. alone in a room full of people – comes to mind quite often and it happens more often too..

      there were so many situations and awkward things that happen and change that i just thought saying it all goes to hell relative to regualar day to day life was easiest explanation.. thanks for sharing it.. I think its the most important thing i have had to say in awhile.. and i hope the message gets though :-)

    • why thank you :-) I am not writing i might as well be sprucing the place up – getting ready for the xmas tree… I had an idea!!

      to the cloud.!.. ok not really but that sounds kinda cool.. ;-)

  8. Pingback: Staying grounded | Real Caring Integrative Therapy·

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