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I Survived Christmas Without Ending up in a Psych Ward

It took a lot of mindfulness and mental strength to get through December 2010.  Christmas and the New Year are incredibly stressful times for some.  In Australia it is hot, so we have the heat to contend with, but cooking all day in a stifling kitchen with inadequate air conditioning is not part of my challenge of the season.

Organizing who goes where on what day, getting the tree up, buying the presents, posting the cards, making the Christmas cake, food shopping, wrapping the presents and decking the halls with boughs of holly is the easiest part in the world.

What is not so simple is coming to terms with the fact that we do not see certain family members because of a major fallout fifteen years ago.  One could very easily blame my mental health issues for this and sometimes when I feel kicked and down I do blame myself.  But relationships are never quite that black and white. 

Certain family members decided to go down south for Christmas without telling us and continued to do so for many years afterwards.  This was never discussed with us and it was the elephant trumpeting loudly in the room all throughout the rest of the year.  Except they could not see what the problem was, only we could – according to them.

Although we made up with parts of the family, the others still do not wish to speak to us even though I feel I have made considerable progress with my mental health.  I made overtures to a certain member on the one occasion we did get together for an elderly person’s birthday and I was rebuffed.  It hurt.  Big time.  Two Christmas’s have come and gone since and there is no sign of reconciliation even though we have let it be known that we are willing.

During those desolate years Christmas quickly became a time where it was a good year if I didn’t end up in a psych ward.  Most years the tree didn’t go up, cards didn’t get posted, presents became cash or gift vouchers and we always “celebrated” at my parent’s house.  This has had an effect on my now teenage children who are very jaded about December 25th.  Never kid yourself that as a mother, you are not pivotal in the meaning of their lives.

This year was different.  My mental strength is far more considerable now.  We not only endured Christmas, we may have even enjoyed it.  I am still analyzing the length, width and breadth of the most important 24 hours in the calendar year.  We may not be important in some people’s eyes, but to us and each other we are the most crucial and significant people on this planet.

Without them I would not be here.

I Survived Christmas Without Ending up in a Psych Ward

Sonia Neale

Sonia Neale was recently awarded the Inaugural Barbara Hocking SANE Australia Fellowship to study and research Borderline Personality Disorder overseas in the USA, Canada, UK and Ireland. Her previous Psych Central blog was called Therapy Unplugged. She is the author of two books, The Bad Mother’s Revenge and Death by Teenager, both published by ABC Books/Harper Collins. She lives in Western Australia, is married with three adult children, has studied psychoanalytic psychotherapy, has a Certificate IV in Mental Health and is studying for a Psychology/Counselling degree. She currently works as a peer support worker in the mental health field.

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APA Reference
Neale, S. (2011). I Survived Christmas Without Ending up in a Psych Ward. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 4 Jan 2011
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