This is a guest post by Mike Jones from Schiz Life.
The holiday season can be challenging for anyone, no matter the reason. But while for most people the biggest struggle this winter will be to decide on what presents to get everyone, for others the holidays can be a personal hell. Coping with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or any other mental disorder during Christmas and New Year’s Eve can be particularly hurtful due to the constant pressure of having to behave in a certain way.
Not So Merry Christmas
Unfortunately, Chrismas is not such a merry time for everyone. According to research published by Randy and Lori A. Sansone in the US National Library of Medicine, the use of emergency psychiatric services decreases during the holidays, only to be followed by a spike in activity shortly after. For people dealing with mental disorders, the holiday season can be an emotionally draining period.
What is more obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression or schizophrenia and love life just don’t seem to mix. The lack of a significant other or tensions in an existing relationship can be more emphasized during the holiday season when you suffer from a mental disorder. And due to this, you may have the tendency to blame your illness more and feel worst. This is normal, and what you can do about it is slowly learn how to cope.
How to Cope During the Holidays
Coping with mental illness during the holidays when you’re surrounded by family and dear ones isn’t easy. However, with a little patience and a lot of willingness, it is possible to handle your mental disorder successfully during this holiday season. Here are five ways in which you can do that.
1. Accept Your Disorder
Learning to accept an illness can be a trying time. It’s certainly not a simple process and you will have to be very patient in the process. However, if you manage to acknowledge your feelings and accept that you won’t be the happiest person at the Christmas party, it will be far easier for you to cope during the holidays. You don’t have to say it out loud or tell anyone about it. What matters most is for you to be at peace with yourself.
2. Communicate with Loved Ones
Even though you might feel like they don’t understand you at times, your family and friends can offer you the care and support you need to get through this holiday season. In a recent essay that she wrote and published in TIME Magazine, pop singer Kesha admitted that she struggles with mental illness during the holiday season.
And when she had hit an all-time low, she managed to recover from it with the help of her mother. For you, it might not be your mother. The person that will help you with your struggle might be your sibling, your friend, your significant other or even a teacher. It’s important to accept that people care about you more than you think.
3. Have Realistic Expectations
At the end of the day, what you need to understand is that Christmas, just like any other holiday, will never be perfect. Don’t expect each Christmas that you spend with your family, friends and possible significant other to be straight out of a TV special. Learn to accept and enjoy what you have. And if you feel that it’s getting to be a bit much, just take a break for a few hours. Just make sure not to isolate yourself completely, because this can worsen your symptoms.
4. Don’t Judge Your Family
The holidays can be an opportunity to see loved ones you haven’t been in contact with for a while, but depending on how you feel about said person this is not necessarily a joyous occasion. But don’t judge or blame your relatives for not understanding your mental illness. Chances are they never might, so don’t beat yourself up about it.
5. Seek Professional Help If Necessary
As previously mentioned, studies show that the period directly following the holidays is always prone to a surge in patients seeking emergency psychiatric services. Therefore, if you feel like you can’t handle things, there is no shame in seeking medical attention immediately. Don’t wait for the holidays to end because your condition might worsen.
Embrace Your Mental Illness
What you need to remember during this holiday season is that you need to embrace your mental illness, not struggle to hide it. Not everyone will understand what you’re going through, and that’s fine. It is not your fault and those who matter most surely won’t blame you for having a hard time.
And if things get rougher than usual, don’t be afraid to reach out to a loved one or even a medical professional if you need it. There is no shame in asking for help. In fact, having the courage to do so is an important step towards getting better.
Mike writes about health, is interested in personal branding, and manages his Facebook and Twitter accounts. Prior to becoming a freelancer, he graduated from Boston University with a degree in Mass Communication.
If you enjoyed reading this article, you might also like:
- How to Enjoy the Holiday Season When You’re Chronically Ill
- Pudding Perfection: 10 Indulgent Desserts for Healthy Holidays
- How to Learn to Accept Your Chronic Illness