Bipolar: Same Time Next Year

I used to have a problem, could be called “Same Time Next Year.” It meant that every year at the same time I would go into a bipolar episode. It was like I couldn’t help myself. Like the moon and stars would align themselves or something, I don’t know. Not really. But I would get depressed every winter, right after Christmas, or I should say, right after my birthday (New Years Eve).

Then, through therapy, I learned that I actually wasn’t so different, and that this phenomenon wasn’t so unusual. That there are actually patterns that can come with bipolar disorder, and that they can be predicted. And that if you can predict them, you can actually avoid the inevitable bipolar episodes that come with them. Amazing! What’s even more amazing is that it actually worked!

Here’s what we discovered: There is something called SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder. It happens to people every year in the winter, when we lose natural sunlight and get depressed because of the change in weather. It’s easily fixable by getting more sunlight (going out whenever the sun is out) or using a heatlamp. But many people with bipolar disorder also have SAD, and if you know you have it, then every year at wintertime, you can know in advance that it’s going to come upon you, and you can know that it’s a trigger for a depressive episode.

If you know about a trigger in advance, you can be forewarned. And forewarned is forearmed! You can watch for symptoms, and when they occur, you can catch them right away, and call your psychiatrist who can usually just up your meds temporarily. This will help you to avoid a full-fledged bipolar episode.

This can happen with other patterns as well. Like if you know there are other times to be aware of. For example, I know that every year at my sister’s birthday and deathday, I’m going to be depressed. So I don’t jump to conclusions and assume I’m in a bipolar depressive episode because I know the pattern. And I allow myself the day to be depressed, and I’m fine the next day, and everything’s ok.

But if you know that there’s a pattern to your episodes, like that every year at the same time you happen to go into a bipolar episode, try to figure out why at that particular time you are set off. Then you can be prepared. Like I said, forewarned is forearmed. So you will be prepared and can watch for symptoms and be ready to call your psychiatrist and to get your meds temporarily upped to avoid that full-blown bipolar episode.

Now that I am aware of my patterns with my bipolar disorder, things aren’t as bad. I no longer get depressed every year after the holidays, because I’m aware that that’s a bad time for me, so I’m just more wary at that time. And, like the times with my sister, I’m just more aware of it. And I watch myself more carefully. You can, too. And that way, by watching for patterns, you can avoid the big, major episodes.

Wishing you peace and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,

Michele

2 Responses to “Bipolar: Same Time Next Year”

  1. This is not at all unusual–you should not feel abnormal in any way. Although fall and spring are the usual cycle times, one of my consulting psychiatrists noted that our patient cycled EVERY January. With some prophylactic increase of mood stabilizers, and a very close eye kept on her, she was eventually able to concquer these swings.

  2. Ditto!

    Almost without fail I’ll be depressed in January, in fact it usually starts Christmas week- maybe due to the extra stress or more likely because it’s not my usual routine. My mood also swings end of August/ early September and in Spring too- I reckon it’s all due to daylight hours.

    This year I was given a rather marvellous lightbox for the SAD side of Bipolar and it has definitely taken the edge off. Many of the Bipolar people I’ve communicated with over the net have said that they are adversely affected by winter months/shorter days/dull days.

    Was interested in your spirituality post too- I’m also spiritual. I sometimes wonder if Bipolar and spirituality are connected too. I wrote a post about it on my blog if you’re interested:

    http://rachelmiller1511.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/spiritual-traits-v-bipolarborderline-symptoms-hypomania/

    Hope you’re keeping well.

    Rachel

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