Sucks the joy out of what? EVERYthing. Once, before my husband was medicated and in therapy, I told him that he sucked the joy out of our holidays and special days. I know it sounds awful but we were walking on eggshells and it just seemed like he was being such a jerk. Now I know it was not him – it was his Bipolar 2. Now I know better.
After years and years of research, I know that holidays, special events, weather, and/or outings can be triggers for him. At first he will seem super excited to be a part of whatever is happening and then he will hit a wall and BAM he hates everything and shuts down. To an outsider he just looks like a dude pouting because things did not go his way. What is really happening is that his brain gets overwhelmed. Think about a house with old wiring – you turn on too many lights and the circuits get crossed and the electric system shuts down, right? Ta da – that is his brain. So now I am far more forgiving.
Luckily I’m not into holidays all that much and now even less so. I think he is finally coming to the realization it is better to relax and enjoy a quiet holiday with the people he loves instead of trying so hard to have that Hallmark or Currier and Ives moment that is so hard to do and not necessary. His attempts were coming from love. He is not the only one that has been taught by American commercialism that happiness is a bunch of people overly smiling around a huge Christmas tree with too many presents laughing and drinking egg nog.
If there is anything the pandemic has taught my family it is that less is more. We are enjoying spending more time together doing what WE like not what society expects of us. We travel far less so that when we do go somewhere we really appreciate it. We are enjoying eating in more than going out to eat and realized that restaurant food was really not all that good. We like playing video games alone and together. We are happier with a slower pace.
I finally talked my husband into an artificial tree and he is now happy that he does not have to spend hours looking for that “perfect family christmas tree”. Our kids have been decorating the tree by themselves for years. He helps them with the lights (soon they will be able to do it alone), they choose a theme or no theme, light on the decoration or crazy heavy is their choice. I sit with hot cocoa and take photos. When they are done, we do not touch it. After the holidays they put the decorations away. Our holiday dinners are simple. Simplify, simplify and simplify!
I would love to someday spend Thanksgiving at the beach. . .not sure if the family will go for that yet.
If you have a mental illness or love someone that does, remember that you/they are not sucking the joy out of life. It is the mental illness that does that. BEFORE it gets a stronghold on you, surround yourself with all the tools you need. Find a good therapist and see him/her/they routinely even during times you feel “just fine”. Have a good understanding doctor or psychiatrist that has conversations about your meds if you are on any and actually take them on time! SLEEP is the best medicine always so be sure to meditate/do yoga/walk/listen to ocean sounds – whatever it takes for you to get a restful night of sleep. Surrounds yourself with family members and friends who GET you and accept you just the way you are. That’s right – even some family members will judge you and never understand why you are the way you are. It’s okay to not talk to them. You are not living in a Hallmark movie – reality can be great too, if you don’t buy into the commercial hype.