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The holidays are a great time to reconnect with family and friends. It can also be a stressful time of year, especially if you suffer from a mental illness.
Holidays mean lots of parties, gifts, guests and a lot of togetherness. If you suffer from a mental illness this can be hard to adjust to. My husband does not like the holidays at all. He will actually yell at the tv over the endless Christmas commercials. (They do get to be annoying when it’s the same ones over and over).
Not everyone with a mental illness has difficulty with the holidays. My husband has severe Bipolar and his moods can change in the blink of an eye. A lot of people do have problems with the holidays though. Did you know that around the holidays there is a higher rate of patients being admitted to the hospital for psychiatric treatment?
Here are 7 typical holiday stress triggers for a mentally ill person.
I can only talk about what my husband and I experience in life. Everyone is different. Not everyone will have the same triggers, some are the same some are different.
McFly craves alone time a lot. It’s only the two of us in our home and he can only deal with so much togetherness at a time. The holidays and all the preparing and shopping etc. would trigger a Bipolar episode if we celebrated the holidays.
2. Hates attention on themselves
I love to receive gifts and surprises. While he loves to spoil me and loves to buy me little gifts, he does not like gifts for himself. It’s a constant struggle because I want to spoil him too. He doesn’t like any attention directed at him. He doesn’t like to be the center of attention.
- Memories of lost family members
We have all lost family members. The holidays are a time family usually share stories about those that past. Maybe it’s talking about making a dish following Grandma’s recipe. It could be sharing a funny story about the past with a lost family member. M. has lost 3 family members around the holidays. He just can’t deal with it. He can not move on from the past and tends to get “stuck on it”. He is working on it with his therapist, but this is one of his biggest quirks if you will.
Stress is a big trigger for him any time of year. The added stress of the holidays would send him downward spiral, so we try to avoid stress as much as possible.
- Gets annoyed at constant Holiday commercials
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, he yells at the television over the endless holiday commercials. Especially if it’s the same ones being played over and over. Forget about getting him to watch Christmas movies like the Hallmark ones. I can get him to watch the classic cartoons with me though.
- Does not as daily routine interrupted
McFly does not like his routine interrupted in general. He will ask me every night “what is on my agenda tomorrow?” Some days when he wakes up, he’ll ask me again. He is a stickler for routines. If I decide I want to go to the store or something at the spur of the moment, he typically will not go with me. He loves to stay home way to often, to be honest. It has to be a planned outing to get him to go out of the house and depending on what it is, there is still a 50/50 chance he’ll change his mind about going.
7.Does not enjoy decorations
This goes with his daily routine. He doesn’t like decorations because it obviously changes the way the house looks day to day. He is a minimalist, to begin with. A friend of ours is a serious hoarder and has commented that our home looks like we are moving out. As a blogger, I receive packages a lot for work. The empty boxes drive him nuts and he takes them out to the dumpster pretty much as soon as I open the box.
Hopefully, this post helps you to understand the struggles someone with Bipolar or any mental illness may deal with during the holidays. If nothing else, just notice that they may be struggling more than normal and give them some space. Just asking if they are ok if they need anything goes a long way.