All I Wanted for Christmas

Last Updated: 13 Dec 2021

Years ago, I was hospitalized for bipolar during the holiday season. It was a particularly challenging time that taught me about the power of hope.

holidays christmas bipolar disorder hospital inpatient

Hospitalized for the Holiday

It was Christmas Day 1981.  I was hospitalized as a result of a bipolar episode I’d had earlier in the month. On that particular day, I was given a day pass to spend the holiday with my family.

But, at the end of the day, I had to return to the hospital.

For me, this was a very difficult time.  All I wanted was to be home for good.

The holidays can be an incredibly emotionally charged time for those of us living with bipolar disorder. In some cases, like mine mentioned above, some individuals will spend this holiday season in an inpatient treatment facility.  This experience can be traumatic.  Loneliness and despair are amongst the feelings associated with situations such as these.

But there is hope. After all, isn’t that one of the spiritual elements of the season of Christmas?

Hope for Better Days with Bipolar

Despite the fact that I was in a bad space, literally and figuratively, I had hope that things could get better. And they did.

It took time, but, eventually, I was able to learn about how to manage my symptoms and break out of the cage that had imprisoned me for so long.

I still have hope today. I have hope that our society can learn to be more compassionate towards those living with brain disorders. And I have hope that one day the suffering associated with mental health conditions will be eliminated.

On Christmas Day 1981, I was lost, but now I’m found. I have discovered that it is possible to live a life that is not a perpetual rollercoaster.

My life is not perfect, but it is a far cry from where it used to be.

Yes, there is hope. And with hope comes faith.

And with faith, anything is possible.

Originally posted December 7, 2012

About the author
Karl Shallowhorn is the Education Program Coordinator for the Community Health Center of Buffalo. Karl has been living with bipolar disorder since 1981. He is a New York State Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor and has worked in both the addictions and mental health fields for over 17 years. Karl is the author of Working on Wellness: A Practical Guide to Mental Health. He is a certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor and also works as a mental health consultant for organizations across New York State. Karl has provided a variety of mental health-related seminars and workshops for conferences, schools and businesses on the local, state and national levels. Karl serves on the Board of Directors for the Mental Health Association in New York State, the Mental Health Association of Erie County, the United Church of Christ Mental Health Network, as well as the Erie County Mental Hygiene Community Services Boardand the WNED/WBFO Mental Health Advisory Council. Karl has received numerous awards for his advocacy efforts in his professional career.

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