Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Reader Request - Dealing With The Festive Season

With Christmas right around the corner, a reader has requested this blog.

No matter who you are or what you circumstance may be it can be very difficult to deal with the festive season. Ensuring you've bought sufficient gifts for those you care about (or don't as the case may be!). Deciding where you will spend Christmas; will it be with your parent(s)? Your partner? Their parent(s)? Do you host your own festivities? If you host your own, do you have enough plates? Chairs? Food? Do you buy all attendees a gift or is your gift hosting?! How do you ask for the gift you want without sounding like a brat? What if someone buys you a gift you already have? What if it's truly disgusting? What if the food is disgusting...? The stresses of Christmas are seemingly endless. Why not just throw a mental health in there too? Just for shits and giggles?! Of course, I jest. People often have a very strange outlook on mental illness. What do you do when your mum pipes up at the Christmas table with "Did you hear about uncle Keith's breakdown? Poor aunt Sally having to put up with him all these years...!" Oftentimes, people don't know how to respond to a mental health diagnosis. 

The best approach I find is to just be honest. Let people know how you're feeling if you're particularly down. Sometimes though, that doesn't work either! Everyone who knows me knows I'm not the most festive person. Some even call me a Grinch. I'm fine with that. Even though the Grinch eventually loves Christmas! I often get the same comments and questions: "oh you're so miserable" "how can you hate Christmas?" "You work with kids, you must love Christmas" blah blah blah! Why does it matter to you that I don't like Christmas? Does it stop, you from enjoying the festivities? Of course not! I don't like Marmite either but no one makes a big deal of that! I've written a few blogs including Christmas and I'm always honest about it. 

Let me tell you about a Christmas of mine. Please beware that it may be triggering; it was Christmas 2009. I was spending my Christmas Day with my boyfriend at the time and his family. This was the second year I'd spent Christmas with them. It was no secret that they didn't like me much. I never really feel much like celebrating at Christmas. This Christmas though I was especially depressed. Two months earlier my mum had been sent to prison for non payment of Council Tax. The family was torn apart. My mum loved Christmas. I remember how she used to make a big deal of it. She would tell us to stay in bed until at least 8am but she would be waking us up at the crack of dawn! My family wanted me to be at home with them for this difficult time. There were many reasons for me to turn this idea down. First of all, what could I possibly do? Whether I was at home or in London, nothing would change. Second, why would I want to be with everyone else in a collective depression? They say that misery seeks company but I'm not sure the company it seeks is miserable company. Finally, the family were postponing Chriatmas anyway!

I decided to go with my slightly better judgement and spend Christmas with the Mr as planned. I thought it would be nice to be away and thus distracted. The Mr had told his family that I wasn't feeling particularly festive this year owing to the circumstances and asked them to not make too big a fuss of me.  Unfortunately, being the type of people they are, they went all out. I got a designer purse and bag, various expensive toiletries and a few other gifts. I was, of course, grateful for their generosity but I just didn't feel like being around them. After present opening, I went upstairs to have a bit of quiet time. Every 5 minutes or so, someone came to check if I was ok or if I needed anything. Again, I was grateful for their concern but I just wanted to be left alone. Yes, to wallow in my misery as is my right. The rest of the day pretty much passed in a blur. I'd spoken to my mum and she sounded destroyed by the situation. She wanted to be at home with her children and grandchildren as anyone would at this time of year. Speaking to her made me feel much worse about things. I tried to avoid being around the Mr's family as much as possible. Unfortunately for me, this irked his younger sister somewhat. She definitely never liked me. I think perhaps she thought I simply wasn't good enough for her brother. The evening of Christmas Day we were playing "family" games together and every time I gave an answer the sister would sigh loudly or roll her eyes! I told the Mr about this in privacy and he said I was just "reading too much into things". Fair enough, I knew I wasn't but I didn't want to create an issue so I left it. 

The following day, the Mr had a house party. I really didn't feel like partying so most of he evening I sat outside by myself looking at the stars. One of his friends came out to see if I was ok. Pretty much the only person in his life who treated me with any amount of respect and human decency. I told him I just needed to be alone with my thoughts and he brought me out a cushion and a jacket to make me more comfortable. 

My mum was released on 29th December. I decided to take a trip up home to see her and have a "celebratory" meal with the family. I didn't feel much like celebrating but I figured I had to make an effort. In honesty, I felt pretty numb about the whole thing. I guess I ought to have been happy or relieved that my mum was out but I wasn't. I just felt completely empty. I became concerned as it seemed to be the start of a period of flat affect. I don't like this feeling as it leads to pretty destructive behaviour in an attempt to feel something. I didn't stay with the family long. Just one day and then I headed back to the Mr to celebrate the new year. 

When I was on the coach back the Mr was texting me. I guess he was trying to show that he cared when he came out with "you know what, you haven't given me a blow job in ages!"... I didn't know how to react to this. Ordinarily I may have laughed at him but given the situation I found it incredibly insensitive. He wasn't kidding either. When I got back that evening we went to the local pub. He told me we were meeting his old school friend as he hadn't seen her in about 5 years. I wasn't bothered about him wanting to meet her. In fact, at the time, I couldn't have been less interested if I tried. When we got to the pub we ordered a drink and waited for her. Within 5 minutes of her arrival she was flirting outrageously. Ordinarily this wouldn't bother me but they had a history. A very complex history. I could feel myself becoming more and more irritated and uncomfortable with the situation. When she went to the bathroom I told the Mr how I felt and he told me I was "just being silly". I decided to deal with it the only way I could. I got very drunk!

I wanted to talk to the Mr about how I was feeling (or not feeling as the case was) but he was dismissive. When we got back to his I pretty much passed out drunk. The next morning we slept in given we were both hung over. By the time we actually got up and dressed it was time to leave for a New Years house party. All the while, I could feel things festering away. Bubbling under the surface. I just did what I normally do, I put a smile on and got on with it!

The house party wasn't too bad. There were enough people around that at least one of them would be willing to speak with me. The Mr simply left me to my own devices whilst he went outside to get stoned! Just how I like it, alone in a room full of people I don't know! (sarcasm!) I was drinking and dancing and just chatting to anyone who would give me five minutes. I have this incessant need to talk and it annoys people. I'm aware of how irritating I can be but if I stop talking for too long a period it's when the voices start. The only other thing that stops them is listening to ridiculously loud music on my headphones. That may well explain my hearing issues! 

We rang in the new year, from what I remember, with laughter, cheers and all round hugs and kisses. By this point I must have drank more than half a bottle of Bacardi. I'd now stopped adding the mixer and was just drinking it straight! The Mr had come back at the countdown to midnight and was now mingling with others inside. I was dancing. Suddenly he came over to me and whispered rather threateningly that I ought to behave myself as I was causing him embarrassment! Right there was the straw that broke the camel's back! I launched into a tirade of verbal abuse. Telling him and everyone else who could hear that he was a "selfish boyfriend who only cared about getting his dick sucked even though his girlfriend is in complete turmoil [sic]". Now that I'd started I couldn't stop! It all came tumbling out like verbal diarrhoea.  I was screaming at him and lashing out. Rather than stick around and talk to me, he simply walked outside and continued to smoke weed!  One of his friends was ushering me into the bathroom. To calm me down. I was screaming, yelling, crying. The floodgates had opened and I'd lost control. 

What happened next is pieced together by other individuals. I have very little recollection myself. I went downstairs to find him and to talk. Everyone was staring at me, whispering behind their hands with looks of horror and distaste on their faces. I found him, of course sat outside smoking as if nothing had happened. He was laughing and joking with his friends. This made me even more angry. He saw me approaching and stood up. His friends seemingly scarpered no doubt hoping to avoid this banshee going wild again! I grabbed the joint from him and took a long drag (bearing in mind by this point I'd never smoked cannabis). As I exhaled I said to him "Is this what you want is it? A girlfriend who smokes so much weed she doesn't care about anything?" As he started to reply I walked off. 

I had no idea where I was or where I was going but I needed to get away. The Mr followed me. He was yelling at me. Chastising me for embarrassing him in front of his friends. It was so cold. I was in a dress with no coat or shoes and there was snow on the ground. The Mr kept asking me where I was going and I just yelled at him "I want to go home". At some point during he row he over took me and continued to yell at me. Neither of us can be certain what happened but based on the pain on the back of my head the following day, I slipped and knocked myself unconscious. It took the Mr a bit of time to notice I was no longer yelling back and when he turned round he saw me lying on the floor. You'd expect at this point he'd pick me up and carry me back to the house. Instead he unceremoniously dragged me back then dumped me on the kitchen floor. According to some, my breathing was shallow and ragged. According to others I was choking on my tongue. Whatever the case may be, an ambulance was called and I was taken to hospital. 

I remember waking up in a blindingly white space. I could hear various beeps around me and I felt as though I'd been hit by a truck! I had a drip in one arm and I was attached to a heart monitor. As I sat up, I saw the Mr sat at the bottom of the bed in a chair. His head in his hands.  When he looked at me I felt the most intense anger and hatred I have ever experienced. I wanted to tear him apart with my bare hands. I removed the heart monitor and the drip and told him I wanted to go home. A nurse came and told me I couldn't be discharged as I was "suicidal". I told her if she didn't let me go I'd kill her as well. 

That, my friends, was the worst Christmas/New Year combo I have ever experienced! I often think that if I had just been able to speak with the Mr about my feelings and if he'd just listened to me, the whole sorry affair could have been avoided. My sage advice to those struggling at this time is to talk about it. Talk to someone you know will listen. Be as open and honest as you can be. Don't bottle everything up because when the time comes, the explosion with be catastrophic! Needless to say, my relationship didn't survive this nuclear meltdown. We separated and then got back together but things were never the same. 

If you feel you have no one to talk to, there's always The Samaritans. Also, Sane have a text care facility that really helps. If all else fails, feel free to message me. I can't promise I will be there immediately but my emails do come through to my phone and I will check them periodically over the next week or so. I won't have the answers for you but I will listen and advise as best as I can.  If you need to take some time out for yourself, please do it but I implore you not to spend Christmas alone. This year is my first Christmas in London despite living here almost 10 years and with the year I've had I wanted to spend it by myself. Fortunately, I have a wonderful friend who has informed me that I am to spend the holiday with her and her partner for which I am truly grateful. I may have wanted to be alone but no doubt if I was, I wouldn't be blogging next year. 

Please, take good care of yourself this holiday season. Be kind to yourself. Don't feel that you have to join in all the festivities. Remember, you're only human. 

1 comment:

Thanks for your comment!!