Bipolar Disorder: Family Holiday Tips Published in its entirety. I believe this article is good for everyone.
Does someone you love have bipolar disorder? Help them have happier holidays with these tips.
If you have a loved one with bipolar disorder, the holidays come with a lot of anxiety. You never quite know what to expect. But by being open and planning ahead, there are many ways to help your loved one -- and that can make the holidays happier for everyone.
- Be direct. This is by far the most important suggestion when helping a loved with bipolar disorder. Don't just guess at how you can help; sit down and talk with your loved one. Ask what you can do. Ask how you can check in on them without being intrusive. Preferably, do it early -- aim for late October, says Ellen Frank, PhD, director of the depression and manic depression prevention program at the University of Pittsburgh's Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.
- Think about what's worked in the past and what hasn't. Try to recreate the aspects of past holidays that have worked and avoid those that haven't, says Raymond L. Crowel, PsyD, of the National Mental Health Association. For instance, if you see an unpleasant pattern -- like a happy holiday party that usually devolves into a nasty fight in the late evening -- reschedule things. Plan your dinner for earlier in the day and end the party before things typically go awry.
- Offer to help. If your loved one with bipolar disorder is hosting a family dinner, pitch in early. He or she may really need assistance in planning it from the start. Once you get close to the actual date, arrive early to help with final preparations.
- Pare down the guest list. A huge family gathering may be overwhelming for a person with bipolar disorder. If you're hosting, think about planning something more modest this year, especially if there are specific family members who tend to trigger mood swings in your loved one. In order to make it up to the people you didn't invite, get together with them after your loved one with bipolar disorder has left.
- Change the venue. If holidays have been difficult for your loved one in the past, try mixing things up. Plan a holiday dinner out or a day at the movies. A change in routine could help keep everyone from falling into familiar patterns.
- Think about limiting alcohol. If your loved one with bipolar disorder has problems with alcohol, find ways to de-emphasize it. "Some families decide that if a person has been having trouble with alcohol, they will have an alcohol-free holiday that year," says Michael E. Thase, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
- Offer a place to go during a party. If you're hosting a get-together, offer your loved one a place to retreat to during the party if things get too intense. Having a place to unwind for a few minutes by lying down, reading, or watching television may make him or her much more relaxed.
- Don't forget about your own needs. If you sacrifice everything for your loved one with bipolar disorder, you may just wind up unhappy and resentful. So try to strike a balance between what your loved one wants and what you want.
Accept your limitations too. No matter what you do, you can't single-handedly keep another person safe and happy -- whether they're coping with bipolar disorder or any other condition. Make sure to get help from other family members. You may benefit from seeing a therapist to help you tackle some of these difficult issues.
Published Nov. 14, 2006.
SOURCES: Raymond L. Crowel, PsyD, vice president, mental health and substance abuse services, National Mental Health Association (NMHA), Alexandria, Va. Ellen Frank, PhD, director, depression and manic depression prevention program, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburg, Pa. Michael E. Thase, MD, professor of psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburg.
Thank you for the cartoon Benita! LOL
One Christmas party down, three to go! Have a wonderful day everyone! Please don't drink and drive =0)
Labels: Bipolar, Christmas, Family Tips
N Posted by Rain at 12/19/2006 12:52:00 AM
jules posted at 1:02 PM
I had therapy this morning for my BP. I have a new therapist who's about my kids' ages. LOVED that (not!) How can you help if you have no life experience? Ugh.
Rav`N posted at 4:28 PM
Good luck with the Christmas parties. Least there'll be good food involved right? Hope you and your family have a very merry x-mas and all that.