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It's the Most Triggering Time of the Year

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! 


Good on you! I'm doing the same this year, staying on my own in Brussels for Xmas instead of joining my family in London. I'm not giving or receiving presents. I am singing in various Xmas concerts but have chosen them wisely. Last year my demented mom insulted me and I threw the contents of my wine glass at her. She seems to have forgiven or forgotten now but I don't want to stay several days at her house and risk another scene. I'll go to church & watch TV. I don't like the consumeristic side of the season but will enjoy decorations etc. My first manic episode happened over Xmas when I was alone and exhausted in NYC. This Xmas will be much calmer, with lots of lithium...

As someone who suffers from bipolar and PTSD I find that the I hate Christmas. My third Christmas is my first memory, and also the time I was told that my brother would die if I didn't engage in being sexually abused. I'm 27 now and have been living abuse free for 11 years. Every year I remind myself that I can make this holiday my own that it doesn't have to be awful...but someone it never stops the inevitable depression at the beginning of December.

I'm not looking forward to Christmas - the most stressful family gathering of the year. I am only 44 days clean and sober and was diagnosed bi-polar 1 in my early 20's. Mum's a sober alcoholic, Dad and brother heavy drinkers. All of them dysfunctional - I stay out of their way as much as possible. Once I arrive on Christmas Eve there are no trains until the day after Boxing Day. All I can do is surrender, get through it and hope nobody triggers me - I'm not willing to give up my 44 days clean for them. I keep telling myself I've put up with all their crap for 43 years, I can manage 3 more days. Wishing you all a Peaceful Christmas.

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