by Sara Lomas
I know the holidays are near by the state of my skin. Stress makes me pick at any bump real or imagined. Right now I look like I’m going through a particularly awkward stint of puberty. Red marks cover my face neck and shoulders, and I catch myself scratching at them unconsciously. Dermatillomania is the fancy term for compulsive skin picking. I call it soothing-yet-gross.
Anxiety is my backseat driver. She sometimes brings her sister Depression along and I end up taxiing them around because they keep giving me wrong directions. Throw in adult ADHD and you have a bunch of mean people cat-calling behind my head. Hilarious, ladies. Laugh it up. They can be especially cruel around Important Days like birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. The pressure of trying to keep it together for Special Time X often has the inverse effect. Holiday Madness is a real thing that has little to do with 50% off Made in China.
So far, I haven’t totally crumpled under the strain of Impending Christmas. I know this can be a stressful time of year for a lot of people. Planning, organising, trying to get out cards to friends and family, get shopping done, or just cleaning the house for incoming guests can be daunting for anyone. Doubly…no triply…ok, infinitely so for people suffering from one or more of myriad mental health issues.
I’m learning to choose my battles. I have to prioritise, write things down, and take on one task at a time. So far, I haven’t done any of this, so of course my guts are churning and my head is a scramble of noise.
I want to send out cards to everyone. I intend to hand craft dozens of individual gifts. I hope to bake up a mountain of goodies. The reality is, if I can make sure the kids get new underwear and perhaps send a mass holiday email, I’ll have to call it a victory. I’m learning to let go of my fear of judgement. I don’t want Long Distance Friend to feel slighted because they sent me a thoughtful card last year and I can’t even find my stamps. I don’t look forward to So-and-So thinking I’m an insensitive flake for not making time for them or having something to exchange with them when they show up at the door. I know some of this will happen anyway. I’m not very good at social graces. I’m working on it, but essentially, this is the way I come.
There was a time when it wasn’t so heavy —The Time Before Children. The fact is, you can’t forget your kids at Christmas. You can’t hand them a last minute gift card from the Bulk Barn and hope they’ll be cool with it. It is a special time for them (at least in our family) and that matters to me. On the other hand, my kids make Christmas special for me too. Their excitement creates a heavy sense of obligation, but also a thrill when they go bananas over a single string of coloured lights. I’m sure it will pass…they’re not teenagers yet.
So, to all my mental sisters and brothers, may you have a peaceful, tear-free, hiding-under-the-covers-less holiday. And if you don’t, it happens, and it will pass, I promise.
Now I have a list to make.