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Christmas Woes

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

It is that time of the year again. The family get together. The Christmas lunch with the family you haven't seen all year but well, it's Christmas and you should invite them. More alcohol might make it bearable. Hot summer nights that make it harder to sleep. Or if you are near the Arctic circle it's pretty dark most of the time. And the chaos of the Christmas shopping, stocking up on the groceries since you won't be able to shop for just one day and the anxiety of just who is coming to lunch on Christmas Day.

And if you are bipolar, it's the riskiest time of the year. Poor sleep, disorganisation, stress and increased social pressure take a toll on everyone but if you are prone to mood swings it can be a disaster. Forget to take medication. Use more alcohol of anything else to blot out the stress. Hard to sleep or to sleep too much. Your support network has gone off on holidays so you are bereft of the usual structure in your life.

So we have had a few more hits on this site in the last few weeks. The mental health crisis teams have been busy. Now it's over and 2023 has to be better than 2022.

Back to the mentally healthy resolutions of the new year.

  1. Make sure I get at least 8 hours sleep in 24 hours. Preferably between 10pm amd 8am. I'm sure my neighbours will appreciate it that I am not making merry at 3am even if the cats want to play.

  2. Check the medication. Mood stabilisers- whether it's lithium, lamotrigine, sodium valproate or whatever else your doctor prescribed get back on to the right dose at the right time of day. Yes, mood stabiliser medication do prevent those out of control highs - and even more importantly those horrible lows that inevitably come after when you have the face the chaos caused by that manic spree.

  3. Eat. Three meals a day. Preferably some protein. Not too much sugar. Your brain needs food to make those neurones that keep you healthy. You need vitamin B - yeah, green leafy vegetables, meat etc. Maybe vitamin B supplements for a while to get you through the stress.

  4. Drink. Not too much alcohol or caffeine. If you are on lithium watch the salt intake and how much you are drinking. Stay hydrated.

  5. Cut down on the stress. Do you really have to see that obnoxious uncle at Christmas lunch? Give yourself space between stressful events. People living with bipolar disorder or cyclothymia take longer to recover from stressful events. Most hospital admissions are because things got really out of control after a few stresses close together. You didn't recover from when your budgie died before that confrontation with the neighbour and the nasty phone call you got from the family member form hell etc etc etc. One stressful event in 48 hours. Time to rest and recuperate and recover.

  6. Emergency care. If things are starting to unravel, check in with your doctor, the mental health crisis team, your caring network. Do you need different medication for a few days? Most people with mood disorders recover quickly from an episode if the medication is right and the environment is supportive.

Now it's 2023. Holidays. Either in the humid heat or freezing cold wherever in the world you are. You have survived another December without a holiday in the mental health unit. Congratulations!

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