Why I Disappear at Christmas Events

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.

Lastly,

Here are 5 memes that perfectly display my love-not love relationship with Christmas

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Love to everyone during the holidays. ❤

 

 

Gift Ideas For Anxious Friends

The holiday season can be especially overwhelming for people who struggle with anxiety. The financial burdens, social gatherings, disrupt of routine and family dynamics are but a few of the triggers a person with anxiety may struggle with. Throw in some seasonal blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the struggle can feel completely overwhelming.

If you know someone who struggles with anxiety or SAD, consider gifts that may help them stay present, calm and loved.

Here are 5 gifts to give someone who’s struggling through the holiday season:

  1. Books: Anxiety can cause people to isolate. Give them a book to keep them company during the cold holiday season.Consider these: UNPLUG: A SIMPLE GUIDE TO MEDITATION FOR BUSY SKEPTICS AND MODERN SOUL SEEKERS

    Buy HereF*ck That: An Honest Meditation

    Buy Here

    O’S LITTLE BOOK OF CALM & COMFORT

    Buy Here

  2. Cozy Items: Give them some warm comfort to help them feel comfortable.Consider These:

    Comfort Memory Foam Slippers

    Buy HereAVALANCHE PLAID ROLLED STADIUM THROW – GREYBuy Here
  3. Self-Care Items: These don’t have to be too fancy. Since the holidays can be a lot financially, even just buying them their favourite shampoo and conditioner can take some stress off.Consider These:Aveeno Body Wash

    Buy HereThe Comforter Bubble Bar (Lush)

    Buy Here
  4. Journaling Items: Journaling can be extremely helpful for people who struggle with anxiety. To make this gift extra special, inscribe something hopeful and heartfelt inside.

    Consider These:IT’S GONNA BE OKAY MINI INNER TRUTH JOURNAL

    Buy Here

    HABIT TRACKING JOURNAL

    Buy Here

  5. Art Supplies/Books: I know for me, art brings me back to childhood. It allows me to let go of current worries and just have fun.Consider These:

    LETTERING IN THE WHIMSICAL WOODLANDS

    Buy HerePencil Crayons

    Buy Here

Dual Brush Pens

Buy Here

 

What else would you add?

How to Support People With Mental Illness During The Christmas Season

Christmas, although a cheerful time, can be especially stressful for those struggling with mental illness. It’s a time where there are numerous social expectations, alcohol (depressant) is easily accessible and may be part of family traditions, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is at a high as the world feels terribly cold and dark.

Loneliness during the Christmas season is also common among people who suffer from mental illness. I know for me, winter is the time where I isolate myself most. I find winter and Christmas to be a lonely time despite the family gatherings.

Not to mention the stress of organizing a schedule of multiple family dinners, buying gifts for loved ones and still finding time to practice self-care and make sure mental health is being taken care of.

Here are some ways to help make the Christmas season more manageable for those who suffer from mental illness:

  • Manage Expectations: For those who struggle with mental illness, getting out of bed may be a struggle in itself, let alone going to multiple Christmas events and dinners. It’s important to understand if someone can’t attend an event or has to cancel. Understand that we are trying our best.
  • Do a secret Santa or a homemade gift exchange: Money is stressful for everyone. But, as someone who struggles with anxiety, I find money can put me straight into a downward spiral. Limiting gift expectations can ease the anxiety associated with gift giving. Side Note: Gifts are nice, but when did Christmas become more about material items than helping those who are truly in need?
  • Ask what they need: Instead of asking what they want for Christmas and insisting on getting them a material gift, ask what they need? Money for counselling? A massage gift card? Grocery money? These gifts may be especially appreciated and help in reducing anxiety surrounding the expensive months leading up to Christmas.
  • Try throwing a sober Christmas party if someone close to you has struggled or currently struggles with addiction. This act of understanding will likely warm their heart and ease their anxiety about temptation.
  • Check in: If you haven’t heard from a loved one who may be struggling, reach out. Or get creative- send them a letter. Small acts of kindness sure do help me get out of depressive states.
  • Support their dietary restrictions: A lot of people who struggle with mental illness have to be especially mindful of their diet. Certain foods trigger depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. Be mindful of this and if you’re hosting a dinner, have healthy options available and don’t pressure people to indulge if they don’t seem comfortable.

I hope everyone is managing as the days seem darker and colder. Comment ways you survive the Christmas season!