Dealing With The Holiday Anxiety
With Christmas just a few weeks away, or should I say, A few Payments away! How often do we find ourselves still behind in our Holiday shopping? How often do you find yourself at the shopping mall, Wal-Mart, Costco, or even Wal-Greens on Christmas Eve trying to find that last minute gift? Telling ourselves ” Next year I’m going to start my shopping earlier!”. Just to have it added to another “New Year’s Resolution” that we never keep. It is an ongoing dilemma we keep finding ourselves each and every year. And on top of it all, when that last minute gift is opened! you get a half-hearted “Oh Thanks um….. that’s nice!” and you can’t really blame them because you felt the same way!
It’s not only Christmas, it’s also Birthdays, Anniversaries, and other special occasions also. We live our lives so committed to our Jobs, our families, and our other obligations that we overextend ourselves to meet crazy time limits, and it causes us to find ourselves out of time, out of options. Like an epidemic, it tears at us breaking down our desire to enjoy those special moments that are meant to bring us together. We often time just “Bail-out” on events claiming “I just don’t feel good today… I will make it next time.” You end up dealing with “The Fear” or “Guilt” that you didn’t just suck it up and go. “If only I had just gone shopping earlier, or took the time to at least write a card!”
Why do we do these things to ourselves?!
We all do it!, I often find myself dreading Family Functions, Holidays, Birthdays, etc. for this very reason. I get the news that “so and so is having a Birthday party Please Come!” and while I am really excited to attend and see friends and family. I go about my daily routine trying to keep up with the demands of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness and let the day creep up and there I am! Biting my nails, hyperventilating, not knowing what I am going to do!!! “What do I even get them? What are they really into? I can’t just show up without at least something!!!”.
Losing track of time is not the only thing that brings on the Holiday Anxiety. We often find that the holidays also bring up old memories of loved ones that have passed on. I lost my mother and father 20 years ago during the Holidays. They had both passed within a couple of months of each other, my father had passed in September and my mother had passed about a week after her birthday in November. While we were aware of my mother’s impending death, my father’s was a huge surprise.
While it did take a couple of years, it eventually started to slowly take effect on me. It, along with marital problems I was also having with my then wife, started taking its toll on me. I started to drink a little more than usual (whatever that truly means), getting to the point that I didn’t like to go anywhere or do anything unless it involved alcohol. It became my way of self-medicating for social anxiety that I was feeling. I drank for several years not really knowing at the time that I was covering up my anxiety, and my Schizophrenia. It was a huge awakening, sobering up and finding out that a lot of your feelings and thoughts you were having was not the alcohol, but it is in fact actually YOU!
Becoming sober was a truly terrifying thing for me, as well as for millions of others! and in a lot of ways, contributes more to my Holiday Anxiety than the procrastination, social gatherings, and searching for gifts all combined. I live in constant fear that I might say something wrong, misinterpret what others might mean when they speak to me, and a sense of paranoia of things around me. I always carry within me the guilt of things that I have said or done while drinking.
The holidays are supposed to be the happiest time of the year and really it is! But for a lot of people, it is also the hardest time of the year. Depression, Anxiety, Fear, and Guilt affect many. I am one of the lucky ones that I have a huge amount of support from my wife of 17 years, and she was granted a huge amount of patience that she leaned heavily on during some of our darkest times. If you have these feelings of Anxiety, Depression, Guilt or even Fear, I beg you to reach out! If not for yourself do it for the ones around you. You may not see it, but there is someone that would really want you to just talk, or show up to their holiday feast!!!