Jumping off my balcony, abusing drugs, walking down the middle of a highway and neglecting meds. That’s how I use to ring in the New Year and wish my family a Merry Christmas. Since I’ve been diagnosed bipolar in 2011 I’ve found that once the Christmas season hits, I start to experience relapses. I could be as stable as a seamstress going into the holidays but just the anticipation of knowing they are arriving brings such great distress to my life. I mean it’s such a jolly time of year; I hate always being the one to ruin Christmas and New Year for everyone.
I think it’s weird to think that there’s a specific time of year that can make certain people especially triggered. Mine seems to happen in the spring time and in the winter. I’m sure there are a lot of factors at play including passed experiences during the season, lightness, weather, occasions, events, etc. In my case I think this time of year is so triggering because I get so over excited for Christmas and New Year’s that nothing lives up to it and then my once hypomanic feeling crashes into a devastating depression which cycles me to use and behave out of the ordinary.
This year is a new test. My parents have left me alone as they have travelled for a vacation and I find myself alone battling my own inner demons. The first week was tough, I had a lot of freedom and there was so much temptation that it overwhelmed me into a funk. But having surpassed that, this second week is going much easier. I find myself actually being proactive in my own life and working towards healthy goals and objectives. I feel in charge of my life at this time of year for the very first time in close to 4 years.
But as I’m sure everyone is wondering, how am I going to stay in charge and feel this terrific stability even when New Year’s rolls around? The answer was determined without me even realizing it. The less I drank, the more I stayed away from drugs, the more I complied to my medications as prescribed by my pdoc and the more proactive I became with my pdoc in what medications work and which ones don’t, the more I became “myself” again.
It’s strange to say I had literally lost myself for years, but it’s true. I looked in a mirror at a person I could not recognize. My body walked around aimlessly with a mind in charge I could not even begin to understand. I had blinders up, whatever Ashley wanted Ashley did. There wasn’t a word consequence in my vocabulary. I continue to look back on a version of myself who did horrendous things and all I can feel is sadness, shame and regret. But if I’ve learned anything it’s that I cannot change the past, and I cannot predict the future, I can solely live in the now and be certain that this holiday season will not be the most triggering time of the year, it will in fact be the most wonderful time of the year!