Mania & the Season of [Over]Giving

It is nearly December. ‘Tis the season of giving. Thinking of others and embracing generosity sounds absolutely wonderful, but if bipolar disorder comes into play, it’s not a magical time of year.

My first manic episode was during the winter of 2015. Thanks to the facet of manic behavior that pushes every behavior to excess, I spent entirely way too much money on everything from holiday decor to uncharacteristic shopping splurge purchases.


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When mania comes into the picture, tasks like holiday shopping can become chaotic.





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Well, for one, at the heights of mania, money seems limitless. The need to budget is nonexistent. Swipe that credit card. Load up the entire cart with gifts. Shop in the store. Shop online. Swipe the card some more. Money is no issue, right? Wrong, but in a manic state of mind, logic does not win.


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Secondly, the “generosity gear” goes into overdrive. That isn’t to say that during a normal state, I’m not at all generous. I mean, mania can lead to generosity to a level that is harmful to the individual. It may seem wonderful to leave the waitress a $100 tip or give every person you know a pricey gift or two, but, that just isn’t sustainable.


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Thirdly, mania can feature scattered thinking and forgetfulness. You may literally buy a gift for someone and have forgotten that you already bought something for that person on your list. You may not be able to place where you put those gifts.


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Finally, there is the impulsivity factor. With mania, there is no pause button to stop and reflect on if you REALLY need this or if this is REALLY a good idea. Get it and go… and maybe get another one… and maybe a collection would be a swell idea!


And, if you are not careful, by the end of the season, there goes your checking and savings accounts… and here comes your crash, just in time to pay those sky high bills…



Quick tips:

  1. Create a reasonable holiday budget and stick to it.
  2. The holidays feature a lot of stressors (emotionally and financially) which may be triggering. Keep an eye on your symptoms and seek help right away if you notice a shift (i.e. significantly less sleep, hyperactivity, irritability).
  3. Stick to a schedule as much as possible during this time of year. Try to avoid staying up late!


How do you get through the holidays with mood disorder symptoms? Let me know in the comments!

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