It won’t be hard to say goodbye to 2020, given all the challenges it brought. But New Year’s Eve itself might be difficult, especially if—like me—you are single and anticipating an emotionally charged time with potential mood swings. That’s why I am planning ahead for what to do—I want to ring in the new year with style and stability.
What are your plans for New Year’s Eve? If the new year is meaningful to you, and the thought of not being with the people you love feels devastating, then planning ahead is a smart way to keep the bipolar from taking over what is normally a time for celebration.
I have a love/hate relationship with the holiday. It can be a fun time for meeting with friends or kissing someone you love, but there have been many occasions when the holiday was a time of loneliness and frustration over the state of my life!
This year will be particularly difficult. I will be alone for the first time that I can recall. So, I am preparing for potential mood swings.
Society puts a great emphasis on this season. I have always found the advertising around the new year particularly aggressive. It tells us we need to be making merry and drinking champagne at midnight, or we just aren’t popular enough! Ah! The pressure!
A New Year’s Celebration Like No Other
2020 has been unlike any other year in my lifetime. As the months passed, I realized that the holidays were not going to go as planned. I had to come up with ways to manage my brain and my life in order to keep my mood stable enough to work and focus on all of my goals and dreams. Here is what I will do to ensure that I stay stable on this rather-stressful holiday and make it through the end of the year with style!
#1 See This as a One-Time Event.
This year is not the past, and it’s not the future. It’s simply this year.
You can do anything for one season.
You can be alone and use the phone and video chats on the days that are important to you to connect with people.
Even if you’re depressed, you can do this. YOU CAN.
Think of the tools you have to manage bipolar and talk to yourself when your thoughts move toward the negative. I am not making light of these truly difficult times, but reality is reality. We must talk to ourselves and remind ourselves that this is not forever. Say it out loud and reach out to someone if the feelings and thoughts are overwhelming. It’s very important to reach out when you feel like isolating.
This means that I focus on my bipolar stability in order to have the energy and drive to get on with life. The last thing we need right now is a holiday mood swing.
When I focus on managing bipolar first, I am able to enjoy myself more. Please call someone and ask for help if your bipolar is raging right now.
#3 Plan for New Year’s Eve.
Think right now of what you want and need for New Year’s Eve. As odd as it sounds, set up specific times to call people. Think of watching a movie together on a live stream or offer to be online to chat with people who might need your help.
My goal is to have something planned. As I write this, my brain is telling me that I don’t care at all about New Year’s Eve, but I know that when it arrives, I will feel alone and unloved if I don’t plan something. I am going to prevent this from happening to me, and I want the same for you.
#4 Examine Your Emotions.
How are you feeling, really?
I’m angry at so many things. I’m angry that I can’t do what I want. My nephew is joining the US Navy in January, and the world health crisis means I can’t have full holidays with him before he goes.
I am upset that people are not wearing masks.
I am many things. It is probably the same for you. We can learn to manage these real emotions. This is not about bipolar disorder. These emotions are from an obvious situation that has changed all of our lives.
It helps to talk with someone and even laugh about how ridiculous all of this has been for the world. We have watched movies about pandemics and zombies, meteors and asteroids hitting the earth, and then something usually reserved for the big screen actually happened!
We will have stories about this time for the rest of our lives. This will define all of us in some way.
It’s okay to be upset about it all, but we can at the same time be objective and see it as a fascinating time in history that we got to experience.
#5 Use This Time to Plan Your Future.
Disruption can also be a time for growth. If you are angry and upset with life, what will you change when all of this is over? What can you learn about yourself and what you NEED in the future?
Pain is a teacher—I know, it’s a cliché. But it’s the truth!
It’s painful for me to realize that I am single during a world health crisis. I was FINE with being single for quite some time. Then, this year, I finally decided I was ready for a boyfriend—and then the whole world turned upside down! I could not believe it! What the heck, universe! What the heck!
This emotional reaction taught me that I had been holding off on starting a relationship for all the wrong reasons, and I stayed single too long. Now I am paying the price. I had to be really honest with myself about staying single. The current health crisis forced this internal evaluation. And it ties into New Year’s planning.
Single again on New Year’s Eve is not where I want to be, but it’s where I am. I can deal with it. And, yes, I plan to date next year. I have learned that being single is not where I want to be anymore. The pandemic made this clear.
#6 Let Go of the Guilt If You Are Actually Enjoying the Alone Time.
What if this has been a glorious time for you? What if staying at home, not feeling the pressures of having to be out in the world, makes you feel better?
Maybe the idea of NOT seeing anyone during the holidays is your secret pleasure!
Here is a direct quote from my very introverted mother: “The world finally lets me live like I want.”
Having to stay at home when I don’t want to has helped me see that she feels similarly when society tells her the opposite—that she needs to get out more. It has certainly been a learning experience.
As I write this, I’m reminded that I always have more emotions during the holidays. I’m interested to know what you’re feeling.
We can all plan ahead and make the new year better than the one we say goodbye to on New Year’s Eve. That won’t be difficult!
Julie A. Fast is the author of Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder, Get It Done When You’re Depressed, and The Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder. She is a columnist and blogger for bp Magazine, and she won the Mental Health America journalism award for the best mental health column in the US. Julie was also the recipient of the Eli Lilly Reintegration Achievement Award for her work in bipolar disorder advocacy. Julie is a bipolar disorder expert for ShareCare, a site created by Dr. Oz and Oprah. Julie is CEU certified and regularly trains health care professionals, including psychiatric residents, social workers, therapists, and general practitioners, on bipolar disorder management skills. She was the original consultant for Claire Danes for the show Homeland and is on the mental health expert registry for People magazine. She works as a coach for parents and partners of people with bipolar disorder. Julie is currently writing a book for children called "Hortensia and the Magical Brain: Poems for Kids with Bipolar, Anxiety, Psychosis, and Depression." You can find more about her work at JulieFast.com and BipolarHappens.com.
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