Tag Archives: season

For Those Who Lack Joy During The Holidays & Are Judged For It

Many people struggle through the holiday season for a range of very valid reasons.  Dysfunctional families causing unnecessary drama & misery, suffering loss through failed relationships or deaths of loved ones & financial struggles are some of the most common reasons, but there are many more.  Yet in spite of the validity of these reasons, many people are quick to shame these poor people, making their pain even worse.

My heart goes out to such people.  As I’ve written about plenty of times, I struggle through the holidays as well.  And, as many others have experienced, I’ve been shamed for that as well.  I’ve heard the usual comments like, “Focus on the positive!”  “It’s the most wonderful time of year!”  “Everyone is so happy.  Why can’t you be happy too?”  “Don’t be so negative.  It’s Christmas!!”  It’s no surprise, but comments don’t help. 

What people who make comments like this fail to realize is saying such things doesn’t make a person automatically feel better.  In fact, they only make a person feel worse.  It’s much like how saying, “cheer up” doesn’t cure depression or, “stop worrying!” doesn’t cure anxiety.

When you are faced with these overly judgmental people, it will be upsetting.  There is no avoiding that.  It does help to remember that some people simply aren’t very understanding others.  They either can’t or won’t try to understand the position of another person & unfortunately, they are everywhere.  This is how they are & they have no desire to change that about themselves. It has nothing about you that makes them act this way. 

There is also the fact that so many people have their own issues that they refuse to face.  Some people have come from their own dysfunctional, abusive pasts & rather than admit that fact & face their demons, they prefer to think only of happy things.  Traditionally, holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, so they are a great time to justifiably be focused on only happy things.  Or maybe holidays were the only time of joy they had in their childhood, so as adults, they cling to them to bring them joy as they once did.  Holidays also allow dysfunctional families to gather together & pretend that they are functional & happy.  Those from these families may enjoy this charade because even if only briefly, they can believe that they have a happy family.

One final thing to consider.  Colossians 2:16 in the New Living Translation of the Bible says, “So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths.”  Notice that even the Bible even states that people aren’t to judge others for how they celebrate special days.  Celebrating certain ways & certain days is traditional, but it isn’t necessary for anyone, even professing Christians.  God gives people free will to do as they please, & that includes how they celebrate special days.  If He won’t judge you for what you do or don’t do during the holiday season, then there is no reason to accept the judgment of human beings.  Do what makes you comfortable, & ignore the petty criticisms of people who don’t know your situation. 

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Enjoying Life, Mental Health

Depression During The Holidays

Many people suffer with depression during the holiday season.  November & December are very painful for them.  Yet sadly, this phenomenon is rarely discussed.

Thanksgiving & Christmas can be a very difficult time for many people & for countless reasons. 

Even for those who adore the holidays & circumstances are good in their lives, there is the stress of extra money spent for meals & gifts, so much more to do in preparation such as meal planning & decorating, less time to relax & more.  This stress can ultimately result in anxiety & even depression.

For those who don’t host, holidays still can be very stressful.  There are family demands & expectations.  Many dysfunctional families have very high expectations for the holidays & everyone must meet them or else suffer consequences.  Having been down this road, I can assure you, it doesn’t exactly make a person happy during the holidays!

Often young married couples are pressured to spend holidays with their two families, which is very stressful.  Their holidays are a source of stress & scheduling to make everyone happy or consequences if they don’t.

There are also so many people who have lost a loved one to consider.  This may be their first holiday season without the loved one who enjoyed hosting holiday get togethers.  No longer having those gatherings can create sadness as losing them is what is known as a secondary loss to the primary loss of that special person.  Even years later, that loss still can be painful.  Or, even if that person didn’t make a fuss over holidays, holidays still may be a reminder that someone special is gone.

Many other people have had to sever ties with their abusive families, & the holidays are a painful reminder that they are without a family.  Seeing others happily spending time with their families or talking about how they can’t wait to visit with their relatives are painful reminders of what a person in this situation is missing.

People who are unable to be with their family during the holidays experience similar emotions.  Law enforcement officers, first responders & military personnel are some examples of people in this situation.

I recently read that an estimated six percent of people struggle with depression during the holiday season.  Many of those people don’t experience depression at any other time.  Some of them also have been misdiagnosed as having Seasonal Affective Disorder because they present with similar symptoms & happen at similar times of the year. 

It’s also estimated that 64% of people with a mental illness experience worsening of their symptoms around the holidays.

If you too experience depression during the holidays, you aren’t alone by far!  Many people share your pain.  There are some things you can do that can help.

I always recommend starting with prayer.  Ask God to help you however you need.

If you feel alone, try spending time with friends whenever possible.  Go out for coffee or lunch.  Hang out at home & talk.  If they aren’t available, volunteer with a cause near to your heart or visit folks in nursing homes. 

Consider seeing a counselor.  If you aren’t able to or are uncomfortable doing this, at least write in a journal.

Have good boundaries.  Don’t say yes to every invitation.  You don’t need to be constantly busy. 

Create new traditions either just for yourself or with your family.

If you feel you must visit others on the actual date of the holiday, set aside a different day to enjoy the day with those closest to you. My paternal grandparents never celebrated Christmas on December 25.  They celebrated on the weekend between Christmas & New Year’s.  That way, no one felt pressured to be with them on Christmas day.  They could spend the day however they wanted & still enjoy my grandparents’ annual Christmas celebration.

Don’t expect your adult children to spend all day with you, especially if they have a significant other or friends they want to visit.

Keep your expectations realistic.  Don’t expect to lose this depression easily.  One good holiday won’t cure you forever.  It may take several holidays to make progress.  Or, you may not be able to shake the depression completely.  I haven’t been able to.  But, since I know it will come each year, I try to find ways to bring some joy into my life during the season.

Don’t let anyone shame you for how you feel at this time! I’ve experienced this & can’t tell you how maddening it is. People who are quick to judge lack empathy & have no business hurting someone who is already hurting. Ignore them!

I hope these tips help you!

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Filed under Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Enjoying Life, Mental Health

When People Judge You For How You Celebrate (Or Don’t Celebrate) Holidays

The holiday season is a very popular time of year for narcissists.  Overt narcissists love ruining everyone’s joy by causing discord around holidays.  Covert narcissists love throwing parties, cooking, baking, buying tons of gifts & making sure everyone knows how hard they worked & sacrificed.  This sort of thing can lead to a lot of dread of holidays in many of us who have been subjected to holidays with narcissists. 

As if that isn’t bad enough, there are also those who judge those of us who are less than thrilled with holidays or even choose not to celebrate them.  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been criticized for not liking holidays or celebrating them anymore.  I wish these judgmental jerks would experience just a part of what I have, then see if they can maintain their “holiday cheer.” 

Since that’s impossible, I figured I would discuss this topic for those of you who share my lack of enthusiasm & give some points you can bring up to the judgmental folks if you need to.

Not everyone is going to think the same about holidays, & there is nothing wrong with that!  Everyone is unique, right down to their fingerprints & DNA.  Just because someone celebrates in a way that is different than you doesn’t mean they’re automatically wrong.  It just means they want to do something different.  What gives anyone the right to say their way of celebrating is the only way to celebrate?

Some people are what I refer to as holiday Nazis.  They want what they want, when they want it for holidays, & there is zero tolerance for disobedience.  My mother in-law was like this as was my first mother in-law.  What makes the wishes of these people so important anyway?  What if someone wants to spend the day at home with their immediate family instead of attending some big party?  Why is that wrong?  I don’t see how it is. Again, it’s different, not wrong.  Besides, these people & their demands can ruin holidays for even the most die hard holiday fanatic.  How is that so difficult to understand?  It’s only normal that after repeated ruined holidays a person comes to dislike them.

Some people are also dysfunctional & not willing to work on it.  For them, holidays are a time to prove that their family isn’t dysfunctional, but a big, happy family.  These people can’t stand those of us who don’t go along with the charade, because we threaten their delusions.  Rather than face the truth, they attack those of us who live in it for not going along with their big happy family act.  How does this make any sense?  It only makes sense in the minds of the dysfunctional fools who behave this way.

And, what if someone has found a way to enjoy holidays that works for them?  Why is that worthy of criticism?  Holidays are supposed to be about joy, peace & love.  Where is any of that in judging how someone spends holidays? 

Those of us who have had more bad than good holidays don’t need judgment & criticism about what we want to do.  We don’t need to hear that we are wrong for how we choose to celebrate or if we choose to ignore the day.  We don’t need to be criticized because we prefer Italian food or some other food over traditional holiday fare.  We don’t need to have our faith brought into question because we don’t celebrate Christmas the way other people do.  Not celebrating Christmas the traditional way has absolutely nothing to do with a person’s faith in God any more than not celebrating Thanksgiving makes a person ungrateful.  No one should be made to feel flawed or “less than” simply because they choose to live their life in a way that brings them peace & joy.  If someone tries to make you feel badly for how you celebrate or don’t celebrate this holiday season, remember that clearly they have the problem, not you.  Functional people don’t try to ruin other people’s joy.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health

Holiday Stress

The holiday season is officially upon us, which means those of us with narcissistic parents &/or in-laws are filled with dread.  We know the narcissists in our lives have unrealistic expectations of us every day of the year, but holidays often seem to up those expectations.

My late mother in-law would tell me when I was to be where on which holiday.  She never said the exact words, but it was clear there was no excuse for me not to be there.  The same with my ex mother in-law.  Not obeying meant facing their anger.  It also meant spending the day without my husband & being angry with him for choosing his family over me.  Obeying meant spending the day surrounded by people who disliked me, & me resenting them.  Since many others with narcissistic parents or in-laws face this same scenario, I thought I would share some thoughts on the holidays.

Remember, you are an adult.  You do NOT have to blindly obey your parents or in-laws when they demand you spend a holiday with them.  When you disobey their orders, chances are good they will be upset.  They will try to guilt trip you for not wanting to spend time with “family”, or show their disapproval in some other way such as with criticisms or even the silent treatment (if you’re lucky…).  Remind yourself as often as necessary that you have nothing to feel guilty about.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend a holiday with those you love, such as good friends rather than abusive & mean people

Also, if you want to spend a holiday with someone other than your narcissistic parents or in-laws, you can offer a compromise.  My paternal grandparents always had a big Christmas gathering on the weekend after Christmas.  That way, everyone could spend the day with whoever they wished, yet there was still a family Christmas party.  Why not do the same thing?  Does it really matter what day the day is celebrated, so long as it is celebrated?  Celebrating on a weekend also means many people don’t need to be at work the following day so they can relax more & enjoy themselves.  Since narcissists do things more willingly when they can see it benefits themselves, why not approach it from this angle?  “You won’t have to get up early the next day for work if we celebrate on Saturday instead of Tuesday.  That means you can relax/enjoy the holiday/spend more time with your family & friends.”  I know, many narcissists demand holidays be celebrated only on the exact day.  My late & ex mothers in-law were that way.  But if you approach your suggestion in a way that clearly benefits them, you stand a chance of getting your way.  This isn’t a perfect solution since you’ll still be spending a holiday with narcissists, but it does at least free up the actual holiday to spend however you like.  It’s a pretty reasonable compromise!

If celebrating a holiday on another day is not an option, set a time limit.  Determine ahead of time you’ll only spend 2 hours with them, or whatever time seems reasonable to you, then leave at the end of that time.  Tell the narcissist ahead of time that you only have a short window of time to spend with them, so you must leave by 2:00 or whenever.  No, they won’t like it, but don’t back down!  Stick to what you said, & leave at the set time.

If the demanding narcissist in question is an in-law & your spouse wants to spend the day with the narcissist, so be it.  You can’t make him change his mind.  You can, however, refuse to go.  You can stay at home & watch Netflix all day.  You can spend the holiday with friends instead.  You can create a new holiday tradition to enjoy when your spouse isn’t with you.  Trying to think of it as a day off to spend in any way you like definitely helps diminish & disappointment you feel.

Most of all, never forget to pray about your situation.  God will show you the best way to handle it & help you to get through this difficult time of year.  xoxo

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism