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disneyfordreamers
05-20-2012, 03:19 PM
Anyone who has bipolar disorder can you let me know any strategies or things you did differently going to Disney world? Or at least tell me how it went for you?

My friend and I wanted to go to an event in Orlando during thanksgiving week (not this upcoming thanksgiving but the one after). We were both going to be in a competition but I decided that the trip itself would be enough for me and I wouldn't do the competition actually, so I am just going for the trip so we can go together and I will just be helping her out to the competition and cheering her on to win.

I am a little worried because I normally don't travel much and try to keep my day to day routine very structured. I am excited about the trip and want to do it, and the good thing is we have plenty of time to plan and adjust since it's not til the following Thanksgiving.

I'm also happy that it's during thanksgiving as holidays tend to be really stressful for me , which of course they are for everyone! But after a holiday, even if I had a good time, I always get depressed after it so I'm sort of glad this trip with a friend will be right through a holiday so we will miss it.

I'm not that worried about the cost of the trip because I already saved a lot that I will need. What I am worried about is handling the planning and the traveling and being at Disney. Just the change in environment and routine and different amounts of sunlight and lots of people and noise etc.

Note-I copied this post from the theme park strategy part of the board, I had originally posted it there and they suggested I copy it here because the disability part of the board might be more helpful.

disneyfordreamers
05-20-2012, 03:54 PM
I decided to post some of my more specific worries..

-Someone said thanksgiving week is very busy. Are there any quiet places that you can kind of step away and have some peace for a few minutes or is the park pretty much packed?

-I think i might do better if i stay a few hours then go back to the hotel for a break for a while and just be in the room having some quiet..do you have to stay in the park the whole day so you don't waste money, do you know what I mean? Like is your ticket for the whole day anyway?? or if you leave and come back later do you have to buy a whole new ticket?

-do you think I should try it because it is during thanksgiving week and it will be crowded and Disney will be very stimulating emotionally/visually/auditory etc Like maybe honestly I just shouldn't go, or go at a different time of year?

-I'm worried about losing my phone and not being able to call anyone, or losing my purse, or getting separated from the friend I'm going with and not knowing what to do alone

-my friend I'm going with has been my friend since we were teenagers (late twenties now) so she knows I'm bipolar however we have never lived together or traveled together..I'm worried about if she really understands me or will be affected negatively by me on a trip.

-Ideally i would love to go to at least one show (probably one will be all), but I'm not sure I should..honestly the shows seem like the most stressful thing to me. Should I just skip shows to make it easier overall, or would I really be missing out on a Disney experience if i don't do a show?

I have other concerns but I'll leave it at this for now. Thanks.

Maggie'sMom
05-20-2012, 04:43 PM
I decided to post some of my more specific worries..

-Someone said thanksgiving week is very busy. Are there any quiet places that you can kind of step away and have some peace for a few minutes or is the park pretty much packed?

-I think i might do better if i stay a few hours then go back to the hotel for a break for a while and just be in the room having some quiet..do you have to stay in the park the whole day so you don't waste money, do you know what I mean? Like is your ticket for the whole day anyway?? or if you leave and come back later do you have to buy a whole new ticket?

-do you think I should try it because it is during thanksgiving week and it will be crowded and Disney will be very stimulating emotionally/visually/auditory etc Like maybe honestly I just shouldn't go, or go at a different time of year?

-I'm worried about losing my phone and not being able to call anyone, or losing my purse, or getting separated from the friend I'm going with and not knowing what to do alone

-my friend I'm going with has been my friend since we were teenagers (late twenties now) so she knows I'm bipolar however we have never lived together or traveled together..I'm worried about if she really understands me or will be affected negatively by me on a trip.

-Ideally i would love to go to at least one show (probably one will be all), but I'm not sure I should..honestly the shows seem like the most stressful thing to me. Should I just skip shows to make it easier overall, or would I really be missing out on a Disney experience if i don't do a show?

I have other concerns but I'll leave it at this for now. Thanks.

Since I'm the one who mentioned Thanksgiving being busy on your other thread, I guess I should follow up here. Yes, Thanksgiving is busier than the other times I mentioned, but it isn't Christmas or Spring Break busy. It is doable for you. My recommendation is to follow the general Touring Plans strategy which is get to the parks at opening and then take a break away from the parks in the middle of the day when it is the most busy, then come back in the evening when crowds start to die down.

Which leads into your next question... You do not need to buy a new ticket if you leave the parks in the middle day and come back. If you are returning to the same park, you don't need a hopper ticket either.

There are quieter places in the parks. I'm drawing a blank right now on where to recommend in each park. Maybe someone else will chime in with suggestions. One place that pops to mind is to ride the Peoplemover in Tomorrowland at the MK. You can also leave the MK and ride the monorail to one of the monorail resorts and walk around. The Poly and the Grand Floridian have nice areas that are pretty quiet near their beaches.

My DD needs me right now. I'll come back later tonight and answer more of your questions.

Bete
05-20-2012, 05:16 PM
But I think I can give some suggestions that may help you.

There are first aid centers in each park. If you need some quiet time you can go there. You can even get a cot and lay down there.

For the more popular rides you can use fastpass. You need your ticket and you insert it into the fastpass machine for the ride you want to do. A voucher will come out with a specific return time. This will cut down the time to wait for the more popular rides.

Go to u tube and watch movies of the rides or shows you are interested in. You will then get an idea if the ride or show will suit you. Try to set up a plan for each park. Avoid backtracking. Be willing to change your mind on an activity if it's too long of a wait. If you are doing a Disney resort for your stay, you can do extra magic hours in the morning or the late evening. This means only resort guests will be in the parks for those special times. It's way less crowded at those times.

There are neck pouches you can buy that will hold your cell phone, money and tickets. You shouldn't lose anything if it's all wrapped around your neck.

The parks are open a lot of hours and you can certainly take a break and return later in the day on the same ticket. Take a break and get a bite to eat. If you want to do a table service restaurant you should make advance reservations or you probably won't get in. You can make table service meal reservations by calling Disney dining or you can do it online.

There are special Christmas events that are included with park admission and you may enjoy seeing holiday shows and such. Again, u tube can help you through this part.

Unless, you try you will never know what you can handle. You may want to prepare your friend more in talking with her about you condition.

disneyfordreamers
05-20-2012, 05:32 PM
Thanks for answering my questions :goodvibes
So I've been reading this board more and am seeing "touring plans" a lot. People have said those help a lot because they tell you where to go to make your day go better. But what exactly is a touring plan - how do you get one?

I've also been thinking what will be good is to make a plan for each day but then have it be like "if we change our minds, or if it feels like a rush, we will just skip whatever things we decide to skip"- like we don't have to stick to the plans exactly.
That should leave me secure feeling enough that we have plans and know what will happen when, but also not feeling stressed that we have to stick to every plan we made.

Maggie'sMom
05-20-2012, 06:04 PM
Thanks for answering my questions :goodvibes
So I've been reading this board more and am seeing "touring plans" a lot. People have said those help a lot because they tell you where to go to make your day go better. But what exactly is a touring plan - how do you get one?


I have a few more free minutes to respond to some of your other questions.

Touring plans: A touring plan is a plan for what order to ride the rides and how to tour the parks in general. I mentioned the Unofficial Guide in your other thread. They have set touring plans in their book for people with different interests and time periods, e.g. a two day MK touring plan for families with young children, a 1 day MK touring plan for adults with no kids, etc. (I can't remember the exact names of their different plans, but that's the general idea.) The book also gives you general guidelines for setting up your own plans. Like you should always hit the headliner rides first thing in the morning when the lines are the shortest, then use fastpasses later in the day. Beware that the rules for using fastpass have changed since the last Unofficial Guide was published. It used to be you could use a fastpass anytime after your ride window opened. Now you have to use them within the one hour window (with a 15 minute grace minute period after). Check the touringplans.com website for up to date information.

I've also been thinking what will be good is to make a plan for each day but then have it be like "if we change our minds, or if it feels like a rush, we will just skip whatever things we decide to skip"- like we don't have to stick to the plans exactly.

That should leave me secure feeling enough that we have plans and know what will happen when, but also not feeling stressed that we have to stick to every plan we made.

I think this is the perfect idea for you!

You mention being worried about losing your phone. Going off how my DD is, I know she worries about things that are unlikely to happen, but she gets really anxious and no amount of reassurance from me can make her stop worrying. What you need to do is have a plan in place for the unlikely event you lose it. I'd recommend you write down phone numbers that you would need (like your friend who is traveling with you) and keep that list in your pocket or bag. If you were to misplace your phone, you could go to Guest Services and ask to use their phone to contact your friend. Make a plan before your trip for how you will handle these things that are worrying you. Since you are worried about losing your purse, leave some money and/or a credit card at your resort so you aren't stuck if you were to lose your purse. Set up a place to meet your friend if you get separated. If you know ahead of time how you will handle each situation, it will worry you less.

What is it about the shows that is stressing you? Is it the noise factor? Dark? Crowds? If we knew what it was that was worrying you, maybe we could direct you to a show which would be best at accommodating you. But there's so many things to do at WDW that you won't totally be missing out if you skip the shows.

ETA: Make sure you sit down with your friend before the trip and talk to her about how your trip might be affected. If there are things she might be able to do to help you (like cue you in if you are starting to get a little manic), then talk to her about that. It's a different situation being a parent to a bipolar child because I am so keenly aware of her triggers and her nonverbal cues that she's having trouble. But I can direct my DD to put on her earmuffs if I notice sounds are getting to her. I can direct her to start doing some of her breathing techniques if she's showing anxieties. I can remove her from a situation if it seems she's getting worked up and won't be able to handle it. Your friend might not know your cues and triggers well enough to help you with these things, but make sure she's aware of what things might bother you and how you might react.

ETA again: Water helps soothe my DD. It can be a shower, bath, or going swimming. When we went last time, we took a mid-day break to swim almost every day and it really helped her.

disneyfordreamers
05-20-2012, 06:27 PM
Maggiesmom, thank you SO much for giving me such helpful, detailed and encouraging answers!! :goodvibes I really appreciate it!!

My friend I'm going with knows I'm bipolar and because we have been friends for a long time, she knows my triggers and how I get BUT since we have never traveled together I'm afraid things will be different when she's around me 24 hours a day 7 days a week for like a week and a half. I don't want anything to be difficult between us. She's not my best friend but she's one of my really close friends so I don't want her to be unhappy or think "what did I get myself in to?" :scared:

disneyfordreamers
05-20-2012, 06:38 PM
Good idea Maggiesmom, I really do feel better after taking a shower because of being alone in there and hearing the noise of the water and feeling warm and clean and relaxing.

You have such good ideas :goodvibes

I didn't really get how fast passes worked.......that is so nice that you have a whole hour window of time to take your turn!
Because for example if it said 7:30, I wouldn't be able to relax the whole day because I'd have to keep checking the time and looking at my fastpass time again.
If you have an hour window to use it, I don't have to freak out so much about the time.

disneyfordreamers
05-20-2012, 06:50 PM
Shows? I think it's the possibility of the disorganization of it, the chaos.
I have no problem waiting in long lines for Rides, because, even though there's lots of people all crowded together, at least you know where youre supposed to go, because they have lines set up to stand in, and it's set up in an organized way.
But when you go to a show, doesn't everybody just rush in to find a good seat and push into each other? That makes me feel anxious thinking about that.

Maggie'sMom
05-20-2012, 09:30 PM
Maggiesmom, thank you SO much for giving me such helpful, detailed and encouraging answers!! :goodvibes I really appreciate it!!

You're welcome! DD and I are leaving on Thursday for our next WDW trip. Each trip I learn something new about how to better handle situations and help her.

My friend I'm going with knows I'm bipolar and because we have been friends for a long time, she knows my triggers and how I get BUT since we have never traveled together I'm afraid things will be different when she's around me 24 hours a day 7 days a week for like a week and a half. I don't want anything to be difficult between us. She's not my best friend but she's one of my really close friends so I don't want her to be unhappy or think "what did I get myself in to?" :scared:

First of all, sit down and share your concerns with her. She knows your diagnosis. She knows your triggers. And she's still making the decision to go with you on a trip for a week and a half! I think she's accepting that everything might not go exactly as planned. But make sure to discuss that with her. Discuss how to handle certain situations. For example, if you do go to see a show and you start feeling like you can't handle it, are you okay just getting up and leaving and letting her stay to see the show? Is she okay with that or is she going to feel obligated to follow you? How are you expecting her to react?

Second of all, make the decision that you don't have to spend every minute of this trip with each other. Is she comfortable doing some things alone or is she someone who needs a companion all the time? Because I think you will both be happier if you have at least a little alone time during this trip. Even if it's as simple as one of you goes and sits by the pool to read while the other watches some TV in the room.

Shows? I think it's the possibility of the disorganization of it, the chaos.
I have no problem waiting in long lines for Rides, because, even though there's lots of people all crowded together, at least you know where youre supposed to go, because they have lines set up to stand in, and it's set up in an organized way.
But when you go to a show, doesn't everybody just rush in to find a good seat and push into each other? That makes me feel anxious thinking about that.

Disney is generally pretty organized when it comes to seating for shows. When it comes to the bigger theater shows like Festival of the Lion King or Finding Nemo, there is a line and the castmembers direct you to where you should sit. They have an order for filling up the theaters and it's really quite efficient and organized. Some of the other shows like Philharmagic, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, and the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, the waiting area is a little less organized. You are in a big open area and then the doors to the theater open. You go in, choose a row, and follow the row as far as you can before sitting. It's more chaotic, but still somewhat organized chaos. :) I really haven't experienced any pushing while getting seated.

One thing you could do is visit guest services and ask about getting a Guest Assistance Card. You will need to explain what your needs are and they can put stamps on the card which you will show to cast members at each attraction where you might need assistance. You might be able to access an alternate waiting area at the shows to lessen your anxiety about the seating. Check out Sue's Disabilities FAQ sticky at the top of this forum. Post #6 is all about Guest Assistance Cards. I've never had to get one for DD, but you might find it helpful, especially for the shows.

Here's a link to Sue's sticky: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=595713

disneyfordreamers
05-21-2012, 06:16 AM
Have a good time on your trip :goodvibes

I haven't talked to her about everything yet (all my fears) because I just haven't had time to really get into it (got a new job :goodvibes ) but we talked for like 15 minutes last night and she had what I think will be a good idea.
She thought it would be a good idea to leave one day on the trip (like in the middle of the trip or toward the end) to do nothing. Meaning stay at the hotel, swim in the pool, read or watch tv, order room service for all our meals, and possibly go out and do something if we end up feeling like it but no plans and just a really relaxing day. I think it's a good idea. It may seem like a "wasted" day when you could be at Disney, but I think it will be just the right thing to have the days split up with a day in the middle of the trip that is just restful.

So I think from what you have said that one of the bigger shows will be what we end up going for since it sounds more controlled and organized. We will see how it goes and I will find out more about the different shows offered and look for other posts/trip reports on this forum that describe people going to see shows so I can see how everyone's experiences are. But just from what you have already told me I think we should stick to the bigger shows.

Thanks for the info on the GAC. I read it and I don't know. I'm not sure if a GAC would help me with shows. I read it can give you a different place to wait in line, but I am okay with standing in the regular line. Plus with a show you have go find a seat so I'm not sure because if you're waiting in a different place, you could get in and not find any seats left. I don't know. Also a GAC seems really complicated and I don't even know what I would tell them when they ask what my needs are. I think I can do without a GAC anyway. I don't want to feel any different than other people and also every time I showed it to them I would worry a lot that they were thinking 'what is wrong with her that she needs a gac'. :scratchin

Thanks so much maggie's mom for your help and encouragement and have a great time on your trip!! Let me know how it goes :goodvibes

pbrim
05-21-2012, 11:59 AM
I have a friend who has a number of medical problems, including bi-polar, who has done a park trip with me. Another thing to consider: Are you staying on-site at one of the Disney hotels, or off-site at another hotel? If you are staying off-site, how will you be going back and forth?

We stayed on-site, which meant we had access to the Disney transport (buses, monorail, boat) to go back and forth to the hotel. So if she wanted to go back to the hotel for a few hours, or was not up to coming to the parks as early as I was, she was able to travel back and forth to the hotel by herself while I did my own thing. If she was coming to the park alone, she called me when she got on the bus, which gave me time to go meet her at the park entrance.

It's not that I would have minded going back to the hotel with her, and it only happened one day. It just gave her some peace of mind to know she could concentrate on taking care of herself without feeling that she was ruining my trip.

Also do remember to make use of the First Aid centers if you need to. Being able to lie down for half an hour in a cool, dark, quiet place with some privacy can do wonders sometimes. Don't feel you are imposing, that's one of the things they are there for. After all, from Disney's point of view, if you can spend half an hour in a First Aid center, and then get back into the park, possibly spending money on shops or food, that's much better than you having to spend possibly an hour either way going back to your hotel :)

AppleSister1
05-21-2012, 12:32 PM
Hi! I saw your orginal post on the theme park thread. I have one family member who is extremely anxious and uncomfortable in crowds. We have always had a basic plan for our trips, and this gives her some structure and a sense of "where are we going next?" We also make one ADR (a reservation of sorts) for one TS restaurant a day. We know we will have at least one meal where we can sit and relax, and where we can all meet up if we decided to separate.

I agree with a PP that staying onsite could be great for you.

Lastly, don't ever feeling bad about taking a mid-day break!!!! Lots of people do that at Disney as a matter of course!

Mama Who
05-21-2012, 01:31 PM
I decided to post some of my more specific worries..

-Someone said thanksgiving week is very busy. Are there any quiet places that you can kind of step away and have some peace for a few minutes or is the park pretty much packed?

-I think i might do better if i stay a few hours then go back to the hotel for a break for a while and just be in the room having some quiet..do you have to stay in the park the whole day so you don't waste money, do you know what I mean? Like is your ticket for the whole day anyway?? or if you leave and come back later do you have to buy a whole new ticket?

-do you think I should try it because it is during thanksgiving week and it will be crowded and Disney will be very stimulating emotionally/visually/auditory etc Like maybe honestly I just shouldn't go, or go at a different time of year?

-I'm worried about losing my phone and not being able to call anyone, or losing my purse, or getting separated from the friend I'm going with and not knowing what to do alone

-my friend I'm going with has been my friend since we were teenagers (late twenties now) so she knows I'm bipolar however we have never lived together or traveled together..I'm worried about if she really understands me or will be affected negatively by me on a trip.

-Ideally i would love to go to at least one show (probably one will be all), but I'm not sure I should..honestly the shows seem like the most stressful thing to me. Should I just skip shows to make it easier overall, or would I really be missing out on a Disney experience if i don't do a show?

I have other concerns but I'll leave it at this for now. Thanks.

My best tool for surviving the parks with BP and anxiety is to travel in the off season. The last two trips during high season have been the two where I had debilitating panic attacks and had to be taken to first aid. It can make or break a trip.

Your ticket is for the whole day. 4 hours in the morning, a break and 4 hours in the evening is better than 10 or 12 hours with no break at the end of which you're freaking out. Set your breaks and stick to them! Go back to the hotel BEFORE you need to. If you wait until you need to, one hitch can be the final straw.

My personal experience leads me to say that you should ABSOLUTELY go but absolutely NOT on a packed weekend.

I carry a small backpack style purse which is much harder to forget. I keep my cellphone in my pocket. I understand the nervousness but I have never lost either. With my family, we establish certain meet up spots. If we get separated, we will be in front of the castle at noon and will not leave until we are all there, or we will meet back in the hotel room at 4 or something similar. Whatever the meet up is, nobody leaves it until everyone is reconnected.

I have a GAC. I got it on my last trip after one of those panic attacks. It was the difference between returning to the park the next day or staying huddled in my hotel room. I think it is worth going to gust relations, explaining your needs and talking to the CM about whether there are accommodations that would help you see the shows. "I would like to see X but I am concerned that if there is a rush for seats with no structured directions I will be overwhelmed by the crowd. I need a calmer method of being seated with fewer people pushing impatiently past me." They will figure out if there is something they can do. Know ahead of time what you are worried about, maybe even make notes for yourself. Tell them what you need and they will try to find a way to get it for you if they reasonably can.

Nicole&Becker
05-22-2012, 03:44 AM
Ok, a couple of things to keep in mind... Without knowing how your individual Bipolar effects you, it is really hard to advise. I suggest talking to your therapist about some calming strategies. I find that bringing calming music with me (like on my phone) and headphones helps me to tune out the loud noise of the park that can be really overwhelming. I try to take breaks often and just close my eyes to help recenter myself. Even a stall in the bathroom is a good place to "hide out" for a few minutes.

If you take medication, be sure to talk to your psychiatrist about any other possible meds that may be helpful for the trip. Sometimes having something for anxiety if needed is helpful. Be sure to have your care providers numbers with you just in case you need something while you are away.

As for a quiet corner, if you are not bothered by smoke, the smoking section is pretty quiet and out of the way.

Just be sure to take care of yourself and be aware of how you are doing while there. Hugs!! It CAN be done and you will do great as well as have a wonderful time. My biggest piece of advice though, if you tend to tune out when things get to be too much, then make sure you take LOTS of pictures. It will help you have something to focus on as well as help you remember how much fun you had.

WheeledTraveler
05-22-2012, 07:45 AM
If you're really worried about the time with your friend, can the two of you do a "mini-break" to somewhere close by to home, but using a hotel for sleep, for a night or two between now and then? It won't be the same as WDW, but will at least will give you 24 hours together as a kinda test and hopefully result in one less thing for you to worry about!