With the holidays coming up I think it’s really important to raise awareness of the struggles introverts, people with mental health issues or just anyone who feels overwhelmed by Christmas parties and events.
*Written from the POV of a person who is both an introvert and struggles with mental illness.
- I’m Sad: Christmas is a hard time. Even the smell of a Christmas tree can cause childhood memories (good and bad) to come flooding in. Being sad around Christmas is OK. Believe me, I try my best to spread holiday cheer. But, sometimes I just need a few minutes to sit with the sadness, acknowledge it and let it pass.
- There are too many people: My comfortable number of people to be around is anywhere from 1-7. Anymore than that & I feel overwhelmed especially if I don’t know them well. It’s important to understand that not everyone enjoys being around a lot of people. It doesn’t mean I dislike anyone, it just means I get overwhelmed by the crowd easily. If I’m sitting away from the crowd, I’m likely just taking a few moments of quiet to regroup.
- It’s hot AF: The more people, the hotter it gets. I don’t know about you, but I hate being hot. Actually, more than hate… It’s like when I’m warm my anxiety also goes up 10 degrees. If you see me wander outside without a coat, don’t be alarmed. The shock of the cold is enough to bring me out of a panic attack sometimes.
- I’m trying to find a dog, cat or any other animal: I mean come on. Animals are like the greatest therapy. I’ll often find one and invite it to be by my side for the entirety of the evening. This is what my internal dialogue sounds like when I finally find a dog/pet, “Hey, you’re a dog? Perfect. Come with me, let me pet you and please don’t leave my side. You are my ticket out of awkward small talk.”
- The noise level is boggling my brain: Loudness can sometimes cause me to feel anxious. My solution? I hide in a bathroom. Okay okay, I don’t hide. But I’ll literally just go chill on the toilet for a bit. Even meditate. It doesn’t mean I want everyone to stop talking, I just need a tiny break.
Things to Remember:
- I’m not mad at you.
- I appreciate the effort the host has gone to.
- I’m having fun (I swear)!
- It’s not personal. Even if I have a panic attack at the event YOU hosted, it doesn’t mean the panic attack is your fault or relates to you at all. Sometimes panic attacks can be triggered by tiny things that cannot be avoided (ie: song on the radio).
- I love you. If you’re my friend or family, I love you. And I appreciate you, especially when you’re patient and understanding of me during these events.
- If you’ve come out of town, I have missed you! Even if I struggle to make conversation, just being around you is nice.
Ways to Help:
- Offer me an out. Ask me to walk your dog, go to the basement to get something, or anything else that lets me have a break from the crowd.
- Avoid pressuring me to be social. Please don’t mention how quiet I am or ask me to engage in conversations. Believe me, I will if I can.
- If you see me standing outside, please don’t draw attention to me. I’m already the gay cousin, I don’t need to be the weird gay cousin who stands outside in minus 30.
Here are 5 memes that perfectly display my love-not love relationship with Christmas
Love to everyone during the holidays. ❤