Ideas for Coping With the Holidays Despite Mental Health Issues

Making Christmas Fun

Since I’m already struggling with the looming calamity that’s called Christmas, my mom suggested I write down my ideas for making it a better experience than in previous years. So here we go, my ideas.

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Idea 1: Let’s keep it simple.

I have an (adopted) grandmother who would love to make any new Christmas the biggest and most glamorous family Christmas that the history of Christmases has ever seen. Yup, the same grandmother who still calls me “that girl”. But the more fuss, the more I am afraid of messing up and spoiling it for everyone. So let’s keep it simple, please.

Idea 2: Let’s keep some familiar routines.

Our routines mean a lot to me. I like to know what happens when. I know many of our routines don’t go well with the holidays, but losing the routines is really hard for me, and if we could maybe keep some of them at least, it would probably help.

Idea 3: Let’s have breaks from the family / alone time with my attachment person.

Having everyone there is stressful. I fret that my mom will like everyone else better than me. That I won’t get what I need. I’d like to have breaks from that, breaks that I can spend alone with my mom, so I don’t get too overwhelmed.

Idea 4: Let me know that you know it’s hard for me.

Okay, I don’t really need to suggest that to my mom, as she’s already doing that, but I want to say that I appreciate it a lot. It really IS hard, even to prepare for Christmas, and it’s giving me all kinds of stress. Having my mom acknowledge that even when I’m functioning on a level way below what would be expected of someone my age, I could be doing much worse and am actually working hard to keep up even this low level of functioning.

Idea 5: Let’s gently watch out for nice moments together.

I tend to get preoccupied with everything that does not work out, goes not as planned, with what I’m not good enough at, and with negative feelings that arise. While I hate it when someone tries to shove all that’s good in my face and tells me to appreciate that instead, I think I could use some gentle prompts to find out what things I do like, what I am doing well, and what feels good about the whole Christmas deal.

Idea 6: Let me know I’m not alone, but have a go-to place for all that’s sad, too.

Again, that’s something I don’t really need to suggest to my mom, but as it’s important for me, I write it down anyway. I tend to keep my struggles and sadness to myself for too long, because I don’t want to spoil the holiday for anyone. Which works until I can’t cope anymore and stop caring about everyone else. So it’s really helpful that my mom is sensitive to how I feel and gives my sad and troubled feelings space, too.

Idea 7: Let me know that if I can’t take any more of it, that’s okay, too, and help me with a face-saving escape plan.

Just what it says, really. I’m very worried I’m going to look like a baby or like I’m totally incapable or retarded or something in front of everyone. That’s horrible. Knowing that if I absolutely can’t take it anymore, I can get away from it all in a way that feels safe and does not make me look terribly inept, would help enormously.

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That’s what I came up with. Do you have ideas that help you cope with the holiday season?

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. nobodysreadingme
    Dec 17, 2012 @ 11:56:42

    Want to know something? These would be good guidelines for everyone.
    Someone was fretting the other day that she didn’t feel very jolly, and although she knew she couldn’t fake it it made her feel mean spirited
    ‘Not feeling Christmassy isn’t a crime.’ One of my finer lines I think

    • Lola
      Dec 17, 2012 @ 17:05:39

      It’s a really good line! People used to look at me like I was the Grinch or something when I didn’t feel Christmassy enough, and I never got it. It’s not like I wanted to spoil it for anyone else after all.

      • nobodysreadingme
        Dec 17, 2012 @ 17:11:03

        did it ever occur to you that by acting the way they did they were spoiling things for you.
        Christmas isn’t compulsory, and a day or two of false jollity and bonhomie won’t help you.

        • Lola
          Dec 17, 2012 @ 17:20:52

          Actually, that never occured to me before. But I suppose you got a point there. And yeah, feigning cheerfulness and festiveness, that never works out so good.

  2. finallyamanda
    Dec 18, 2012 @ 13:05:29

    I’m just curious if your mom reads your blog? She sounds like an amazing woman!

    • Lola
      Dec 18, 2012 @ 13:16:03

      Thank you for the sweet compliment for my mom! 🙂

      Yes, she reads my blog. In fact, our agreement about the blog is that whatever I post, she reads first. Just so she’s aware of what’s going on and can help me use the blog in a positive way, not as a means to escape real life struggles or stuff. So yeah, she reads. She wants to be in the loop to make sure I can cope with replies etc. that I get, too. She also deletes my spam, because random sex-related junk keeps popping up there, appearing when you hover the cursor over the link, and shit like that where I don’t expect it can be quite triggering.

  3. Emma
    Apr 11, 2013 @ 01:42:12

    I know it’s been a while since this was posted, but I’ve just been reading some back posts on your blog, and this one is particularly helpful. I’ve struggled with holidays for years now, so I totally agree with the ideas you listed to make it easier. For me it is being depressed that really makes Christmas suck sometimes. Whenever we visit family or they come over to our place I just get in that mood again. Reading this post, I had a sudden thought. I tend to get depressed when I am in groups of people and I think I know why now. Back when people bullied me very badly (often in large groups) my unconscious defense mechanism was depression, because when you don’t feel it is hard to care if someone says something awful to you. So even though that’s all behind me when I am with family, or friends, it is the automatic defense because I am in a group again. I never thought of that before, oddly enough. So thanks for posting this and helping me come to that conclusion! Maybe next Christmas I can keep that in mind, and maybe it will help a little. 😉

    • Lola
      Apr 18, 2013 @ 09:49:29

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment, Emma! 🙂 I’m glad if what I wrote was helpful to you. What you wrote makes sense to me. I hope that maybe in the future, when there are larger groups, keeping in mind that the defense mechanism comes from the past and isn’t needed anymore will help you! Good luck with it! 🙂

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