Thoughts on the Holidays with Mental Illness

The end of the year holidays are upon us once again.  For some it means going back to the old childhood hometown and gathering with family.  Others will go out in the pre dawn hours to fight the hordes in one of the greatest and time honored of American traditions, buying junk.  Spent one holiday shopping season working as a retail store clerk years ago.  It gave me a renewed appreciation for store clerks working at such a hectic time.  We were often understaffed and running out of popular items.  Not very fun.  I was quite a cynical Scrooge when it came to the holidays for several years afterward.  To a degree I still am cynical about the holidays.

The holidays have long been a stressful time for me.  I really haven’t enjoyed the holidays since I was ten years old.  By the time I got to high school I saw the holidays as little more than a series of senseless rituals and activities attempting to capture an unobtainable ideal of happiness and joy that exists only in fantasy.  Part of my stress comes from watching others strive for this fantasy ideal of the perfect Christmas or Thanksgiving and they try to include me in that nonsense.  The holidays aren’t going to be perfect and to expect them to be is insane. So is going to any store on Black Friday.  I can imagine just observing the mob mentality in any major mall or box store would be a good case study for any psychology class.  But maybe in the future the crush of crowds in stores will be replaced with online realtors’ servers getting overloaded during the holidays.

For me going to even the supermarket between Halloween and Christmas is stressful.  Too much sensory overload and stimulation from all the decorations, piped in Christmas songs, and Salvation Army bell ringers.  Too bad there aren’t any really cool Halloween or Labor Day songs.  And the only places I ever heard St. Patrick’s Day Irish songs or Cinco de Mayo Mariachi music were in pubs, Mexican restaurants, and bars.  For me, the real fun of the end of the year holidays come after Christmas and watching college football bowl games every night for two weeks.  My New Year’s Day ritual is pretty much grilling steaks or brats and watching football all day.  So it’s not like I’m a total Scrooge.  I’m just selective about being Scrooge.

The sensory overload and overstimulation while working with schizophrenia during the holidays often make the holidays tough for me.  Anymore I’m just happy with going to my old hometown for a couple days and enjoying the extended family.  Actually the family gatherings aren’t that stressful even though I enjoy the Easter gatherings more because of the better weather.  But to all my readers, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza, Happy Winter Solstice, Happy Saturnalia for any student of ancient history, and Happy Birthday Sir Isaac Newton for my scientifically inclined friends.

 

 

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Author: alifeofmentalillness

I write about my experiences with mental illness and life in general. I am also currently under going 'lifestyle changes' (I hate the term 'dieting' as it's sounds so temporary) and have lost 70 pounds since spring 2014. I've put my poetry and novel writing on lower priority since I started losing weight and blogging more seriously.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Holidays with Mental Illness”

  1. we know that sensory overload and holidays are very stressful for you. we enjoy your company and having a house full of family and friends. hope our feasts and celebrations will be low key enough that they will be tolerable for you. hard to believe that this will be the first round of holidays for you with no grandparents alive. ( ps when is Sir Isaac Newtons b day?)

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