The moment I see Christmas decor in the stores, my anxiety goes on high alert (which these days is around August). The holidays bring the promise of cold weather, festive decorations, and fun music. It also delivers invites to parties, family dinners, hugs, pats on the back, and conversation. It’s like the holidays are an entire season dedicated to socializing. ::SCREAM::
So here is the holiday edition of what it means to have anxiety. It’s not all candy canes and Happy Holidays. In fact, it can look more like Bah Humbug for some of us.
Having anxiety during the holidays means…
- Being invited to holiday parties but being afraid to attend.
- Not being invited to some parties and worrying about why, regardless if you had no intention to attend in the first place (see above).
- Family dinners that feel awkward because all you really want to do is eat alone and away from all the eyes judging you for how much salt you put on your turkey or how much gravy you mix with your cranberry sauce (I can’t be the only one that does this…).
- Wishing the CoyoteVest came in adult sizes to ward off the unwanted hugs and pats on the back that are promised with each relative’s visit.
- Remembering every bad thing that ever happened to you on a holiday and reliving it during each family gathering.
- Family gatherings in general. Enough said here.
- Sitting with your egg nog in the corner of a room observing the party you were forced to attend by your parents and contemplating ways to escape without being noticed. Bonus points if you figure out a way (and share it here, please).
- Attending a party willingly and spending the entire time playing with the house pet to take your mind off anxious feelings inside of you.
- Getting guilt tripped for opening presents but not wanting to stick around and hang out afterward. Side note: Anxiety doesn’t go away just because you offer someone something shiny and new. Granted, it might distract them for a minute, but that’s it. It’s nothing personal to you, it’s just the struggle they face of being in groups of people.
- The drop in temperatures makes you think every sniffle is the flu.
- If you are able to open yourself up and socialize, going home later and worrying you said something wrong, were too open, or otherwise just looked stupid the entire time.
- Watching The Grinch and being envious of his Mount Crumpit home.
- Doing all your shopping online because going into stores alone generally ends in an anxiety attack because the sales people jump on you like red on a candy cane or the crowds are just too much to bear.
If you know someone with anxiety, the best gift you can give them this holiday season is the gift of respecting their boundaries. They will let you know what they are. In the end, it’s the best gift you can give them during a very social and traditionally stressful season.
For my fellow anxiety sufferers, here are my holiday wishes for you:
May your blankets be warm. May your TV not fail you. May your panic attacks be few and your loved ones understand you.