Year end and the New Year is a difficult period. I dread the annual year-end holidays, parties, family-visiting, they are like going through the motion of living. The challenging degree goes up a notch when the withdrawal symptom of depression prevails. I have not enjoyed Christmas and New Years for almost 35 years. I remember these many moments of anxiety when I had to make my appearance. There were about two to three years I was completely MIA (Missing In Action), the withdrawal symptoms conquered and consumed me. I was home-bound, living under the false sense of security of my home. My relationships have turned sour; the sense of ambivalence has been felt strongly.
My recovery began in 2016. For the first time, I enjoyed the New Year celebrations, yes including the spring cleaning tasks to be done yearly. The sense of connectedness with the world in a celebrating mode was exhilarating, it comes with a sense of calmness that was assuring.
So, what now?
How to be at least interested in the holiday seasons should I have a relapse and slide down to depression?
Am I to be home-bound and be MIA again?
How to at least feel a minimal sense of joy for the holidays celebrations.
It’s no easy feat. I will take the day in portions, morning, noon, afternoon, evening and the night. These shorten spans of time help me to focus on the ‘here-and-now’ and the question what can be done on my part?
Again, it’s no easy feat to persistently counter my negative thoughts. An example, they gave me silent treatment after a courteous ‘Hello’, I felt bad. To unburden the negative feeling, I will say “Well it’s not the first time to experience their indifference.” They have their loads of problems weighing them down. Also, if they are happy with what they are doing, is good enough for me.
Anxiety, another symptom I sporadically experience it. I do deep breathing or simply walk away from the situation that is getting on my nerves. With a calmer mind, I may be able to reflect and pinpoint the situation or thing that trigger my anxiety.
Motivation is low always especially getting up in the morning. This has been my biggest rock on my path, the inability to kick-start the day. Very likely I would be lying horizontally, parallel to the ground and sleep the day away. Inevitably, by late afternoon, my mood sours, irritation sets in. Unfortunately, I’ve no magic spell to push up the ‘motivation-gear’ from neutral to level one.
It’s challenging but I try to break up the day into morning, afternoon and night. These time frames have specific and regular daily tasks that I am supposed to do. Watering plants and sweeping the dead leaves in the garden is one thing need to be done in the morning. Playing my usual online game in the afternoon is something I can do though most of the time I am not interested to have a bit of fun. In the evening, doing the laundry as in loading the clothes into the washing machine. The trick, though taxing is to persist regardless how numb I feel for the day. Soldier on with these regular tasks, focusing one task for one section of the day is setting myself up to be consistent, it is injecting a slice of normalcy in being a living person during the depressive cycle.
This form of regularity has its merits. It tells my body and mind that normalcy is the way to live, the specific task for different timespan is a good disruption for low-mood behavior patterns. More importantly, it creates a momentum, once ignited, it may bring about an upward trend from the cycles of Bipolar Depression.
So far so good, I’m enjoying the seasons holidays. More importantly, I have an action plan in place should Depression weigh me down during these celebrative events. I am happy that I can be a ‘living’ person, enjoying the way of life .. Cheers!