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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holiday Blues and such

Hello from the Other Side (as Adele says in her latest hit "Hello") ,

The"other side" meaning the other side of the commercial hoopla of hyped up, sugar crazed, "happy" faces...the reality is there are many of us who feel down right "unhappy."  This time of year can trigger anxiety, panic attacks, depression, manic episodes, agitation...just to name a few.  Large crowds of family/friends, loud noises, busy bodies, rushed traffic - ring a bell anyone?  Here are a few helpful tips from yours truly:

1)  Be kind to yourself 
     Yes, episodes of extreme emotions can and do happen.  They are part of having a mood disorder.  It is so terribly important that I try to remind myself I am a good person even in the midst of some mood shift.  If I am gentle towards myself, it seems like I can manage the symptoms a bit better.  Also, I find I am better at communicating with my loved ones.  Words of affirmation are a great way to speak kindly to yourself.  For example, "I am a kind and loving person", "I am doing the best I can at this particular moment in this particular situation", etc.  Once I have regained some sort of peacefulness in my heart and head, I can better assess my mood, environment, thoughts, and needs.   Being kind to yourself will also help with feelings of guilt or shame.  So, let's play nice ok?  :)

2) Be Gentle with your loved ones too
     Many people, with or without mental illnesses, often struggle this time of year.  Everyone has a heightened sense of stress.  For those of us with mental illnesses it may seem like our loved ones don't have time to listen/respond to our needs.  And yes, sometimes this is true.  Sometimes they are not able to take on our illnesses.  But, it doesn't mean they don't love us or care for or about us.   It simply means they are at a place where they need a mental break for their own health.  If we can give our loved ones the space and recovery they need, everyone will benefit.  Our loved ones require just as much support, relaxation, and love as we do...so, let's try to give them patience and kindness during this hectic season.
**If you are suicidal, PLEASE TELL someone.  Many of us do suffer from suicidal thoughts, especially during the holiday season.  This is not the time to be silent...Please tell someone, call the E.R., or call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255...Your life matters.  Call and get help.**

3) Try to come up with a Holiday Battle Plan
     If you have a battle plan, even a small one, you have a necessary tool to utilize.  If loud noises bother you or set off agitation, then discuss with your loved one where you can find a quiet place to go.  Or bring your headphones and listen to music that calms you...even if that is Metallica!   If certain people are triggers, try to arrange yourself so you have the least amount of contact with them. These are just a couple of ideas I can think of...but,  having a Battle Plan can sometimes be the difference between enjoying the season and running on empty. 

I hope this little list finds you in a stable place during the Holiday Season.  My deepest desire is for you to know you are loved and have a purpose in this lifetime despite having a mental illness. 

With Much love and blessings
~A.W.