Thanksgiving and Christmas are just two days out of the year.  Just two days.  However, the days before and after these two days, and the events surrounding them, are more than that.  They can become an entire season meaning a whole lot of stress for your loved one.


I know for my mother, November and December are the worst months of the year for her bipolar disorder.  We have to watch her more closely during those months for signs and symptoms of a bipolar episode.  It's just been a tradition for her over the years, although she hasn't had a full-blown episode in a long time. 


Maybe it's the weather.  Maybe it's the stress of the holidays.  Maybe it means more people around your loved one than usual.  Maybe it's a winter cold.


But it could be that they could be experiencing a let-down after the Thanksgiving holiday right now, and they could be going into a depression.


So here are some suggestions of what you can do now, and after Christmas:


·         Try to understand

The holidays are a hard time for many people with bipolar disorder.  Just like I was saying about my mom.  You don't have to know exactly why, but you can still understand that it IS a hard time for your loved one.  They may be more irritable or short-tempered during this time, because their anxiety and stress levels may be a bit higher, as well.


·         Try to be more patient

This may not be so easy for you when you're getting your head bitten off, but remember that some of this may be the mood changes because of the weather or because of your loved one's bipolar disorder.  Remember this could be their disorder talking, and not your loved one.


·         Make sure your loved one keeps up their mood chart

By keeping up their mood chart, they can notice patterns developing before they go into full-blown episodes.  They may feel let down after the Thanksgiving holiday, but it doesn't have to develop into a bipolar depressive episode if they are noting their moods in their mood chart and watching them carefully.


·         Try to keep them busy

If the Christmas holiday is a happy time for them, try to get them involved in some of your holiday planning.  Have them help you with your Christmas present shopping list, and maybe even the Christmas shopping.  Don't overwhelm them too much, or get them too excited, however, as that can lead to a bipolar manic episode.


·         Make sure they are still being productive

Try to get them to still keep a To-Do List.  Holidays or not, there are still things to be done around the house.  If you are putting up a Christmas tree and/or decorations and lights, they can help you with that.  Whatever they do, make sure they are being productive, otherwise they may get depressed and, again, that may lead to a depressive episode.


·         Keep your communication lines open

Whatever you do, make sure the two of you are still communicating.  You need to stay close so that if your loved one doesn't feel "right," they feel they can talk to you about it.  You should be aware of their thoughts and feelings, especially if they are feeling let down after the Thanksgiving holidays, and if they are feeling apprehensive about the approaching Christmas holidays.  That way you can help your loved one through them.


Remember, at this crucial time for your loved one, to watch for triggers, signs, and symptoms to their bipolar disorder, like we do for my mom.


Holiday time is a big trigger to bipolar episodes for some people with the disorder, and so are holiday let-downs.  You can be a big help to your loved one, and point out to them if you do see some of this behavior in them (like sleeping too much or too little).