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We Asked, You Answered: What Do You Find Difficult About the Holidays – and What Do You Find Helps?

16 Nov 2021 — 3 min read

By AFSP

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The Other Side of Hospitalization

The holidays can be difficult for many of us. We asked our followers on social media for examples of what they find challenging, as well as strategies they find helpful. Here are some of their responses:

  • I'm bipolar with social anxiety, and all the events and gatherings really take a toll. When it gets too much, I let my family know I need a break, and then I spend some alone time to recharge my batteries.
  • My son took his life in 2017. His birthday always started off the holiday season. It was his birthday, then mine (we always celebrated together), then Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc. It just sometimes seems pointless. But then, there's my grandson. We love taking him to special holiday happenings that take place this time of year. That makes a huge difference. Last year, we took him up north to play in the snow. We go out and look at Christmas lights. I meet up with friends for coffee or dinner. We might take in a Christmas show. Things like that. I don't miss my son any less, but those things lift my spirits. It's not that it's "better," but we're getting better at living with this.
  • The only thing I find that helps is that I personally have a strong mental health treatment team that cares a lot about me and that I can go to when I need help. The only downfall is that they’re not available nights/weekends/holidays. That’s when I have to turn to the few friends I have and or crisis lines and other resources. I also try to remind myself of the good things that are going on in my life. I try to put myself in other people’s shoes to try and understand where they’re coming from. And I try to remember the good times and good memories about my Dad and the three friends I’ve lost to suicide.
  • It helps to stay active and do projects with my suicide support group to help other survivors of suicide.
  • I love the holidays, but I also end up with high anxiety. I go from being excited to feeling bad physically, carrying the tension in my body and having heart rhythm issues. Once the festivities start and family comes over – all the things I had been looking forward to – it's like the pressure is all I experience and not the pleasure. I have been doing DBT since March. This year, I plan to use my skills by practicing mindfulness – doing one thing at a time and staying in the moment; reducing emotional vulnerability by spending time alone and "recharging;" freeing myself from unrealistic expectations; and freeing myself to enjoy the events myself.
  • Taking it day by day. What I find helps is creating gifts for others, or helping others when I can. (Though there are many times when you don’t feel appreciated – and then you get hard on yourself.)
  • Setting boundaries with my family.
  • Not being around family.
  • Missing those who should be here, and appreciating those who are.
  • Planning activities with friends and family members.
  • Spending the holidays without my grandparents can be hard. I think about the holiday traditions they started.
  • When my family comments on my weight. I wear bigger clothes, so they don’t see my body.
  • All my family asking about relationships and how school is going. I try to keep those discussions short.
  • All the expectations to be happy, but not feeling happy all the time. Sleeping, coffee, and chocolate help!
  • Doing something my loved one enjoyed!

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