I’m just gonna cut straight to the chase. Christmas dinner can be ROUGH. Once you sit down with your loved ones, it is game time. Here are seven tips to help get through the Christmas feast, or fiasco, or whatever you want to call it:
One: Being put on the spot
When a conversation that you are not interested in participating in turns your way, or requests your attention, or a response, just sip on your egg nog, your water, your wine, your gravy, whatever, and fake a coughing fit. Most likely you’ll get a get out of jail free card cause, quick frankly, you can’t speak. You don’t have to engage in every conversation.
Two: Fake a phone
Your cell phone can be a major ally when you need an out. It could be considered rude to take a phone call during dinner but so what, for example, “It’s work, I gotta take this.” Just make sure you set your alarm on two or three minutes before you plan to exit and when it rings, pick it up, fake talk to a person that is not on the other line and put up your finger to the table and say “One sec.” Simply put: Anyone can be on the other line when it is fake.
I don’t know why they say, “Go to your doctor.” I’ve been in a hole the past week and need a doctors note to justify my absence at work which really isn’t happening and shows the stupidity of the modern age to expect someone with a mental illness to make it a doctor for a note.
Meditation is hard. It takes discipline, time, and regularity. It takes a lot. I have always struggled with meditating. Even with my mood stabilizer, I’ve always had rushed thoughts that have made it hard for me to sit down, be still and chill. When I read about meditation and all the forms it entails I thought ok, I’ll pray as a form of meditation, cause although my mind won’t be blank, if I focus on Hail Mary’s, at least I’ll get a break from my normal storm of thoughts.
So where does this meditation take place? The sauna.
I missed Thanksgiving this year and, to be honest, I don’t really feel bad about it. I convinced myself I would be a downer or not able to fake it, so I decided to stay home and relax. I’ve been honest with myself, and my family, about my depression which has been hard since not all of us like to communicate the truth about our hard times; especially when we try to avoid worrying someone or becoming a red flag in the family. It is hard to survive the holidays when there is pressure to be social.
Some of us have pressure to attend religious celebrations like going to church or synagogue and you don’t want to come across as unholy cause you missed the obligation to attend a service. Religious guilt can be the worse. As an Irish Catholic I feel like I have the cross to bear of guilt coupled with the disease to please which can be rough. It can be a lot to handle when you’re not feeling like yourself. If you take on the pressure of family gatherings, your high school alumni holiday party, office pot lucks, neighborhood celebrations, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day (and the list goes on and on) it seems like you are letting all sorts of people down. You’re not. The only person you are letting down can be yourself.
It was my period. That was the reason I lost it last weekend and plummeted into a terrible bed glued depression. I didn’t understand most of the technical psych terms my psychiatrist used when he tried to explain it to me but thankfully, now I know, I am not crazy, I just need to watch out when the next menstrual cycle comes around. I don’t recall ever having this problem in the past when I was on the same antidepressant so this is all new to me. I went into my session knowing that he wasn’t going to change my meds cause I guess I am doing better then our last session. It’s hard to know what to say when you see your doctor. You want to squeeze as much information in the expensive time you have to get answers and positive results and that alone is a stress. But all you can do is do your best to retell the stories you lived through since you started taking a medication and hope it’s enough to help your shrink monitor your behavior.
Well, tomorrow is the big day. My first psychiatrist appointment since he prescribed an antidepressant for me, and I am not sure what to tell him. I’ve been trying to track how my antidepressant has affected me these past several weeks and, to be honest, it’s all a confusing mess between seeing good things, experiencing bad things, and finding no changes in my mental health at all but some movement, I think.
So, I had two weekends that I was social and managed to leave my place. Then out of nowhere this past weekend I couldn’t get out of bed and cried uncontrollably over external difficulties with the plot of my life like a breakup that continues to haunt me (and I really screwed up cause during my crying episode I called him after months of being strong and staying away), hardships at work that are only getting worse, and fighting change when I desperately need but change is hard for me. But these challenges have always been the case so I can’t say external issues caused the crying, but this crying was bad. It didn’t stop and I couldn’t place it or understand why now? Did I screw up my med dosage?
It’s the second weekend since I’ve seen some changes in my behavior since I started my antidepressant, most specifically, my social life. Last weekend I went out dancing and this past weekend I really went out dancing. A friend of mine invited me to some DJ dance party in the Arts District in Downtown LA. It was one of those warehouse parties where you walk down an unknown alley and a bouncer stands by a door, stamps your hand, and the doors open to the scene. I am not a “scener.” The last time I was at a huge house dance party I was in my early twenties living in New York. I was not yet diagnosed with Bipolar II so found myself going out all the time and dancing out all my mania.
Well, I guess the antidepressant is starting to work cause I made it out for the first time in a long time. Manic, no, but I ended up at a club by myself at a hip hop party. Awesome. I sat at the bar and took in the scene and the next thing I know I was dancing. Was anyone else dancing? No. But I got the party started. I didn’t even change from my work clothes before I decided to go out. I had on an orange top, black pants, and Michael Jackson shiny moonwalk shoes with white socks. I closed down the club. I went home and saw the clock and it was 2:30 in the morning. I don’t recall the last time A: I went out dancing and B: Went to bed past midnight. So I woke up at a reasonable hour and went to take my meds and the antidepressant stared me down.
It has almost been over a week on my new antidepressant and it’s getting easier to open the pill box and take it. Not perfect, but I’m trying. I skipped a couple days which I know is bad but I waffled on taking the whole thing to begin with so I needed to take baby steps. However, this week I was more diligent about keeping a daily routine of taking them and did my best to fight the feel I get when I have to open the box. The stupidest thing I did was look up all the side effects. I prefer not to know.
Well, I started taking a new medication for depression. So far, so good, until bam, lunch with no hot sauce. I was at lunch with a new coworker and was trying to put hot sauce on my sandwich and my hands started shaking. Everyone at work knows I’m bipolar which causes me to be paranoid to begin with. Now I have new medication with new side effects. I quickly put my sandwich down and hoped that my coworker hadn’t noticed but, quite frankly, what would anyone say to me in that situation. I stared at the hot sauce and frowned.