Going home to visit my family during the holidays used to be a joy when I was a child. Bipolar disorder changed this for many years. I saw family gatherings as a place that highlighted my shortcomings, my medication weight gain and how behind I was in life because of this illness.
It’s Easter tomorrow and for those who celebrate the day with a big family dinner, planning ahead for the inevitable feelings that come up for people with bipolar disorder is essential.
Now that my bipolar disorder is under control and I’m more able to accept myself for who I am, I enjoy dinners with family and friends. I still have the illness. I still struggle with my weight and I still get stressed when there are too many people around, but wow, life is so much better when you learn how to exist in your environment no matter where you are! You can do it!
Lets Face Facts: Family dinners aren’t always the best place to be when you have bipolar disorder. This is especially true if you only see your family during big occasions and past resentments, worries and personal slights come to the surface no matter how hard you fight to stay stable.
Here are four tips to make it through the FAMILY DINNER!
1. Refuse to compare yourself to people who don’t have bipolar disorder. This leads nowhere and makes you feel inferior.
2. Don’t take the bait. For example, if you’re with people of a different political persuasion, force yourself to be SILENT unless it’s so egregious you have to stick up for someone. If your family has a pattern of political strife during dinner, check out of the conversation and play with the kids and the animals.
3. Be the solution, not the cause. Don’t let YOUR bipolar disorder make you into the person creating the stress around the table. Work on stability. Take care of yourself and treat bipolar disorder first so that you are one of the people who brings pleasure and not pain to the event.
4. If you take medications, don’t forget them! If you’re flying somewhere, keeps meds in separate bags.
I just traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for work and visited my family in Alabama. I was nervous. I’m not thin. I’m not perfect. I used to feel inferior to my accomplished family. I now know that when people love you, they accept you. I felt accepted and loved when I was with my family. This made the trip wonderful instead of stressful.