Yes, the holidays are coming, as you can tell by all the Christmas decorations that have been up in stores since before Halloween!  So you are probably already feeling some nervousness or pre-holiday jitters concerning your loved one with bipolar disorder.

 

There is no reason that bipolar disorder should stop you from enjoying the holidays the same as anyone else.  You just may have to do some extra planning.

 

For example, if you are in a gathering of people and you notice that your loved one is having difficulty (acting stressed or anxious) in the situation, make sure that you have a way to leave early without offending anyone or drawing attention to your loved one.

 

This is easily done ahead of time by saying that although you are glad to be included, you might not be able to stay long, or that you may have to leave unexpectedly.  You don't have to give any other excuse than that.

 

The important thing is that you show support for your loved one and their bipolar disorder.  By planning excuses in advance, if you should have to leave, your loved one will not be embarrassed – especially if you back them up on this and leave willingly when they need to leave.

 

It's especially important to notice possible symptoms in advance and to take action on them – this way your loved one will feel especially supported, because they don't necessarily have to come forth first.  In other words, you should be able to judge ahead of time whether your loved one is "up" for a social gathering or not, whatever your plans may be. 

 

If you notice that your loved one is nervous and you haven't even gone to the gathering yet, tell them that it's ok, and you can do something else together instead.  Then call and make an excuse like "something came up" and apologize for not meeting the arrangements.

 

It's better for your loved one to avoid an unpleasant or stress-inducing situation rather than to go with you just out of obligation.  If it seems like there are going to be problems, it's better not to go at all.

 

Make sure you show support to your loved one by being understanding (even if you do feel disappointed).

 

If you know that the holidays are difficult for your loved one, do not plan activities that involve other people coming over to your house.  This may be too stressful for your loved one, as you don't have as much control as to when people will leave.

 

It's better to go to other homes for social (family) activities during the holidays, where your loved one has the control to stay or to leave.