Holidays and mental illness

The holidays are here upon us. It is a time of cheer for many of us. But it can be a time of stress for those of us with mental illness. I thought I would offer some tips to get along with those with mental illness during the holiday season.

1) Don’t talk down to them. They have a brain disorder. They are not stupid. When they talk to you, reflect back what they are saying to you so they know you are listening. Do not tell them they are wrong in their perceptions. Just say back what they are saying. What emotions are they feeling. This can lead to greater communications.

2) If your loved one feels like staying in their room, then let them. Don’t force socialization on them. The relatives can pop their head in to say hi if they way. Don’t let any negative remarks be said. Just say hi, happy holidays. Go on. Don’t guilt or shame your relative into joining the festivities.

3) Winter is a regular season of depression for many because of less time of light in the northern hemisphere. Taking fish oil supplements with vitamin D can help some people. (I do not make any medical claims. Nor am I a Dr. This has helped me in many ways.) Get enough exercise may also help depression. There is medical research backing this up now that depression can be lessened by regular exercise.

4.) Try to keep things simple. After all, it is the reason for the season that is important, not the money spent. Do simple things together rather than worry about going to a lot of places with your mentally ill loved one. Stay at home more.

5.) Do something for someone less fortunate. If you can get your loved one to do so, find someone less fortunate and do some act of service for them. Even if it is buying a gift for the Angel Tree or serving food at the homeless shelter. When you look around you and see how blessed you are compared to others, it makes you feel better overall. Doing good is good medicine.

6.) Try to continue with all medicines during the holidays as this is a stressful time. It is not the time to try to cut dosages or try new ones unless it is necessary. Wait until the holidays are over for the new stuff.

Those are some tips. Hope they help.

I do want to plug a book I am reading called “I am not Sick! I do not need Help! By Dr Xavier Amador. It is excellent. I can not recommend it enough for anyone who has a loved one who is mentally ill and who is refusing treatment, or won’t take meds, etc.

This book describes a method of communication that will help you both with a win/win situation. I strongly suggest you get it as soon as possible. Our local NAMI Board is buying it for the library.

Have a great Thanksgiving. Remember, you can do it. One Day At A Time.