Mostly a Christmas post but Thanksgiving can be substituted.
I thought about how I was going to do this post more than once. I considered not doing it, I thought about making it funny, or about simply whining for my own selfish purposes, and then…I thought about the facts.
- Christmas has the highest incident of depression out of the entire year. [X]
- 45% of Americans dread the holiday. [X]
- The children are hyped up on sugar and LIES. [X]
In our community especially… the pressure is high. Too many closeted kids, or too many family members with uncomfortable smiles and wary eyes at their gay nephews and nieces. Too many conservative thoughts you disagree with so violently it makes your stomach hurt. Too many people who can’t go home at all. Too many people on diets or in AA. Struggling with depression when all the cheer only reminds you how “not normal” you are. Struggling with anxiety and the fear of the social part of it, the questions, the reactions to gifts that you haven’t perfected yet. Going in tired before its even started.
The struggle is real, guys.
So let’s try to make it a little easier?
- Realize this isn’t going to be easy. Accept it. Do your best anyway.
- Stop putting unreasonable pressure on yourself to be happy. Take a deep breath, take it slow. Let the little things make you smile.
- Seek out the people you know you can be yourself with. Stick close to them.
- Watch your alcohol intake. While a few drinks may make you feel better, too much will make you feel worse. Alcohol is a depressant.
- Too much sugar, carbs, and caffeine will also drag you down. Enjoy your treats, don’t overdo it.
- Try to get a goods night rest before family activities.
- Keep your expectations low.
- Remember. You’re going to be okay.
- Schedule a Self Care day for right after the holidays.
- Keep a drink in your hand (doesn’t have to be alcohol). It gives you something to fidget with, something to cover up that expression you let slip, or something to avoid answering a question with.
- It’s likely your family members are the same exact people they were last year. You probably are too. This could get tricky, but you can do it.
- Remember that after this day… your life is going to be exactly as you left it.
- Get up, sit somewhere else, start a new conversation.
- I know it feels personal, but it likely isn’t. Grit your teeth, let it roll of your shoulders. [X]
- If you absolutely have to say something, be polite. Remain calm. People don’t typically respond well to yelling.
- + Interesting fact, people tend to listen only to reply, especially when things get heated. Statements will often earn you arguments, arguments will get you nowhere. Try presenting your case in the form of a question, see what happens.
- Remember that most people believe things because they were raised that way and they probably don’t know any better. Likely, they don’t want to be the Bad Person.
- Remember that some people are just dicks and there’s nothing you can do about that.
- + Advice: avoid them as much as possible.
- If you have triggers, know them, identify them, be prepared for them.
- + Take a walk. Go to the bathroom, wash your face. Text your friend. Take a breath, count to ten. Healthy coping mechanisms people. (It’s okay to take meds, its okay to use essential oils, its okay to have to call your sponsor.)
- Try emotionally distancing yourself. Pretend your a social scientist and its your job to study how these people act in their natural environment.
- If you have to, just don’t go home. That’ll be complicated, but weigh the pros and cons. Which struggle is worth it?
- If you haven’t read the other lists (save ‘if you’re alone’ – unless you’re not going home), do that. So that I don’t have to repeat things.
- You’re probably not the only ‘family disappointment’. Make alliances. Your cousin that dropped out of college? Yeah, chill with her. The uncle that still hasn’t gotten married or had kids and grandma’s Annoyed™, he’s probably cool too.
- Set boundaries. You don’t have to answer their questions. Say no. “You’re making me uncomfortable and I don’t appreciate it,” is a thing you can say.
- Don’t jump down someone’s throat for getting things wrong. Either laugh it off, or educate them. If you’re the only queer in the family, they likely just Don’t Know. Ignorance is widespread.
- + Also keep in mind that you might not be the only queer, and the closeted kids are looking at you as an example.
- If you’re recently out, expect it to be awkward. Remember, this isn’t news to you – but it is to them.
- If you’re transgender, your pronouns will probably be forgotten (especially if this is new, or people are rude). Take a deep breath, kindly remind them.
- If you need it / are comfortable with it – take your significant other or a friend. Then the two of you can laugh about the drama, and you have a built in support system.
- Just showing up is a victory. You can leave early. It’s okay.
- If they make a stupid, homophobic joke – you don’t have to laugh. Look them in the eye and ask them why it’s funny. (That’s confrontational, you don’t have to do it lol).
- You are valid. You are lovable. You are important.
Ways to turn your perspective around | Aka: be positive-
- Remember why we have this holiday. Be gracious, be loving.
- If you know you aren’t going to feel bright and shiny after hanging out with these people, do your best to make them feel bright and shiny. Be the cheer bringer instead of the receiver.
- Keep in mind that you might not be the only one having a hard time.
- Don’t ruin it for the children. They’re brand new and they’re hopes are still untarnished. Let them stay little while they can.
- The night will end, and you will go home.
- One or two bad apples don’t ruin the whole bunch. Remember there are people you’re related to that you actually like.
- Play with the kids if you can’t handle the adults. They’ll love you for it.
If you’re alone during the holidays-
- Volunteer at a shelter or a soup kitchen. Visit a nursing home.
- Go out – (Call ahead to places if you’re not sure).
- + Chinese and Jewish restaurants and national chains are almost always open.
- + As are most movie theaters.
- + If you live in a large city, Tourist attractions are usually open. Museums too.
- + Skating rinks generally are too.
- + Get a room at a hotel, they often offer Christmas packages. Go to the spa, get a massage.
- + Go for a walk or a hike in a park.
- + If you’re religious, attend a church service (attend a lot if you’re interested in church hopping).
- Do some DIY projects. Read that book you’ve been putting off. Binge a new TV show. Write a book. Draw a comic.
- Eat. You have to eat. And drink water.
- If you can afford it, take a trip. Go somewhere where its still warm, or somewhere you’ve always wanted to see at Christmas. Join a Singles Group if you don’t want to go alone.
- If you don’t like the silence, fill your iPod and take it with you everywhere. Even better, don’t put any holiday music on it.
- For Thanksgiving. Consider a Friendsgiving. You likely aren’t the only one not going home. (FriendsChristmas could work too honestly it’s just more rare).
Need something else? Google-
- How to survive the holidays when you have a drinking habit.
- How to survive the holidays when you have an eating disorder.
- How to survive the holidays after the death of a loved one.
- How to survive the holidays when you’re broke.
- More results on depression.
- More results on anxiety.
- More for LGBT.
Remember that, even if they’re hard to take sometimes, these people are your family and they love you.
Hotlines and Resources-
- – Your Holiday Mom – get some nice words from moms around the world who want to love you.
- – Suicide Hotline with TEXT feature
- – Transgender Suicide Hotline
- – Anxiety Gifs
- – Self Help Masterpost & Calming Masterpost & Stress Masterpost
- – Tips for when Gender Dysphoria is getting you down.
- – National Association for Children of Alcoholics – 1-888-554-2627
- – Be Sober Hotline – 1-800-237-6237
- – The Trevor Helpline (lgbt) – 1-800-850-8078
- – Eating Disorders Central – 1-888-236-1188
- – Keyring cards to explain your disabilities, mental illness, or disorders
- – 7 Cups of Tea – free online peer therapy. I’m also pretty sure you can set it to use texts.
- – Pronoun Necklaces
- – Make yourself a Holiday Survival Kit
- – A guide to speaking out against bigotry.
Stay safe. Lots of love,
A lot of info for this post was taking from The Huffington Post, Web MD, Mental Health Now, Buzzfeed, and Psychology Today.