I was diagnosed with bipolar in December 2011, so have lived with the condition a few years now.
I work as a paediatric nurse in Norwich which in itself is a challenge with my condition. I work hard to remain in employment and try not to let my condition dictate my life but I have ups and downs throughout the year.
I'm a lot more stable than I used to be, but I find Christmas time to be particularly difficult.
I think I've worked out why, and I wanted to share with you some things I'm going to try this year to make it easier.
Being honest with friends and family
I moved to Norwich permanently after spending 3 years at university here, but I spend Christmas back home with family and friends. When I get there I automatically snap into the happy go lucky girl I pretended to be for years and years.
Moving to Norwich helped me get a fresh start, and most importantly to come to terms with my condition and accept that I can't always be the person I pretend to be.
But when I return home everything becomes an act again. I think to protect the ones I love. I don't want them to see me at my worst, so I'll only show them my best.
I don't want them to see me at my worst, so I'll only show them my best.
I come back and struggle with the pretence, and by the time it's all over I've made myself ill.
But I'm trying a new method this year though, where I’m not going to pretend to be this 'in control' person that I never have been and probably never will be.
Making time for myself
I also make myself so busy at Christmas that I never make any time for myself.
Stress and sleep are my two issues throughout the year, and Christmas is for me the most stressful time of the year. This affects my mood in ways I can’t explain, and then has a knock on effect on my sleep.
I try to squeeze in seeing everybody all at once and I overwhelm myself. I suppose in a way I’m avoiding my feelings by constantly being on the go.
I suppose in a way I’m avoiding my feelings by constantly being on the go.
This is the way I’ve learnt to cope with the pressure at Christmas, but it hasn’t worked so far.
I put so much pressure on myself to be the life of the party, when sometimes all I want to do is crawl into a ball.
My happiness is a different kind of happiness to my family and friends, and I find it hard to define.
If I’m too happy people think I’m going into an episode, and if I’m not happy the same goes. This is more so around Christmas time because of the heightened emotions. I get more periods of depression than I do mania, and I find it is easier to slip into a depressive episode when I’m stressed.
I end up crashing when I return to Norwich and it’s overwhelming. I feel suicidal and low in mood, or so erratic that I can’t control my behaviours.
This year will be different.
This year will be different. I’ve started running and I’m going to try and take some time out for myself over Christmas and relax, something I haven’t been able to do for a long time.
Christmas overall is a difficult time and one that I feel quite alone with my emotions. It’s definitely a time I don’t look forward to like I used to.
Hopefully this year will be the start of a new change.