Boundaries in bipolar disorder matter and over the holidays, bipolar boundaries matter even more. We set functional boundaries for a reason. Boundaries keep us safe. Boundaries keep us well. And that is not just as important during the holidays but, rather, more important. We must maintain boundaries with bipolar during the holiday season.
Everyone Has Boundaries, Bipolar Disorder or Not
Of course, every person has boundaries. Every person has lines they will not, or at least don’t want to, cross. This could be about anything from integrity at work to interpersonal relationship interaction to how he or she treats the paperboy. Boundaries are healthy and necessary.
And the thing about boundaries when you have bipolar disorder is that boundaries, typically, protect mental wellness. For example, there may be a reason you don’t spend five nights with your family – they may worsen your mental health. There are reasons you don’t drink with bipolar – it destabilizes your mood. And so on. These lines are put there to protect you.
Bipolar Disorder and Boundaries During the Holidays
And here’s the thing – these important lines do not go away just because snow is on the ground. You cannot suddenly stay out until 2:00 a.m., get three hours of sleep and expect there to be no consequences. You cannot get drunk just because people are passing out bubbly at a holiday party and expect it not to affect your mood. You cannot disrupt your bipolar routine to fit in every holiday event and expect stability. You just can’t.
And the issue with the holidays is that there’s additional pressure on everyone to do things they wouldn’t normally do. Excessive socialization is expected. Overindulging is expected. Spending money on gifts is expected. And what’s more is all these things are expected to be enjoyable and people with bipolar disorder simply may not find them that way. Chronic illness just doesn’t respond to the world in the way that we want.
Respecting Boundaries with Bipolar at the Holidays
I think what’s important to remember is that boundaries are healthy, we need them, we need to respect them and we can’t let others impose their own desires on us, forcing us to abandon our own boundaries (Depression and Setting Emotional Boundaries). Because if we allow this, we are the ones that will pay – perhaps precipitously so. While it can seem negative when you have to impose a boundary on others, really it isn’t because it’s a positive step for our own health. So our job is to respect our own boundaries in order to remain well and communicate this lovingly to others – after all, they have boundaries, too, and we are simply asking for the same respect we show them.
Check out Natasha Tracy’s book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar and connect with her on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter or at Bipolar Burble, her blog.