With the holidays comes the expectation of joy, which can be hard for people who live with mental illnesses like bipolar disorder. To find out what people living with bipolar disorder really want for the holidays, we asked people in our community to share what’s on their “secret” wish list this year.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “To not feel like the black sheep. It’s hard when you want to be happy and participate, but the holidays tend to be more stressful than enjoyable.” — Lizzy H.
2. “A therapy dog. Studies have recently shown that given the effect of pets on those with mental illness they should not be seen as secondary sources of support, but primary. If I could have a dog that would offer comfort and love, take away a fraction of my loneliness and give me a sense of worth by caring for something, I feel like I could get my head out of the place where it always is. Or the most luxurious bedding so at least when I do need to retreat from life, I can have the most comfortable place to do it!” — Kaitlin C.
3. “To find a medication that works for me without either triggering my eating disorder with weight gain or completely wiping me out so I can’t function and get through the day. I just want to be able to stay in my safe middle ground without compromising my ability to live.” — Nate H.
4. “One day to feel ‘normal.’ No mood swings, no suicidal thoughts, no lashing out at friends and family…That’s all I want for Christmas.” — Wendy W.
5. “I want a moment of peace, away from the exhaustion.” — Diana J.
6. “To be able to have a break with racing thoughts and to break free from the roller coaster ride of the mood swings brought on by social gatherings. I want to be able to enjoy the time with my friends and family, not fight the war within to isolate myself.” — Tara N.
7. “Calm… I constantly create chaos where there should be joy. I haven’t been able to stop the volcano inside me for almost two weeks. The meds are barely taking off the edge. No one understands how hard it is to just function, let alone Christmas shop, bake cookies, attend holiday functions and not scream that it’s all just too much. I need quiet and calm within myself so that I can enjoy my family.” — Tanya D.
8. “To be able to relax and not hide because I have inner demons telling me ‘they would be better off without me.’ To feel comfortable in my body. To not cry myself to sleep every single night. To not look at my life and realize I’m wasting it away with this every single day… I miss spending time with my family and my friends…I just want peace of mind, and self peace. I want my life back.” — Marika K.
9. “Something I’d love is for people to genuinely understand and respect the boundaries I set for myself around alcohol and sleep because these are two of my most important factors in successfully keeping episodes at bay in conjunction with my medication.” — Stephie B.
10. “I would like to enjoy the time with my family rather than feel swallowed in chaos and ready to snap the chains and find the nearest exit. I would like to not feel like an outcast. I would like for people not to tip toe around me like I’m so fragile the slightest of words will break me. I would like to minimize the stress of smiling for the cameras. I would like to feel appreciated for my efforts for finding the strength to get dressed and go celebrate with loved ones.” — Kimberly T.
11. “To have a friend come over and help me with all of the chores and tasks that have piled up because of my recent depressive episode. To simply watch movies together, bake or even just sit in silence. To feel less physically and emotionally alone.” — Meghan G.
12. “Space from the family when I need it. If I’m getting overwhelmed, I need to get away. It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with you, I just don’t want to hurt you (emotionally or physically) and I’m afraid of what you’ll think of me.” — Renee M.
13. “For people to stop saying, ‘You don’t seem bipolar,’ or ‘Calm down.’ None of this is my choice. I didn’t choose to this like I choose my clothes in my morning. I want understanding on both good days and bad.” — Virgie B.
14. “To not have to hide in the bathroom, because my emotions feel inappropriate for the happy time. I want to live in the moment, not in fear.” — Jocy C.
15. “A time machine so I can go back in time and tell my psychiatrist the right med combo that actually works for me instead of wasting two years of my life teetering on the edge of everything.” — Carrie L.
16. “Because of the stigma and culture, I want my mom accept me as who I am, accept the fact I have mental illness, accept that I feel lost so many years. I believe Christmas is all about magic, if my mom just once asks me about my mental health.” — Han N.
17. “I want people to understand that if I have to cancel at the last minute, it’s not because I don’t want to see them, it’s because I’m sick and can’t go out. I don’t want to have to lie and say I’m throwing up, but saying the truth is an acceptable reason.” — Ren K.
18. “For people not to assume that me being cheery over the holidays is a sign I’m becoming manic.” — Brooke-Marie T.
19. “I’d like the people who say ‘let me know if I can help’ to check in on me. So many people say ‘I’m here for you,’ but I feel alone.” — Katie P.
20. “Better access to mental health resources, especially for the uninsured and those with no to low income.” — Clea B.
21. “Pictures of my kids and grandkids a reminder of why I keep going. Keep pushing forward. Those are my accomplishments.” — Lisa K.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.