The Plan: Coping With the Fucking Holidays 2010

For those new to the blog, a summary of the situation: the holidays trigger my PTSD. My PTSD is the result of my childhood, as my parents headed into the kind of abusive territory you usually only see and hope only exist in dramatic novels and movies. I’ve had good years and bad years, and… well, this is hasn’t been a great year.

Every attempt to cope with the holidays in the past have ended in disasters of varying degrees. Last year left me screaming inside my head for 72 hours straight during Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day, because those days in my tender years tended to be celebrated via knife threats pinned to the wall in the kitchen, and other such fun activities. Family tradition, what can I say, apart from WHAT THE FUCK WHY MUST SOME PEOPLE FUCKING SUCK AT PARENTING AND THAT’S REALLY AN UNDERSTATEMENT HERE.

Also, to make things really good and explosive, I suffer from bipolar I. The version that can yield hallucinations, which do not work well when one is susceptible to flashbacks. Or really well, depending on your point of view.

Anyways.

So… new plan for trying to make the holidays not suck as much.

1. Acceptance.

I’ve tried to deny and pretend that neither my PTSD nor bipolar exist. This doesn’t work for me; maybe it works for other people, but the past years have been quite visceral demonstrations that my PTSD and bipolar don’t work at a conscious level. A friend of mine, despite having seen said demonstrations at least once, during a really bad particular event, still believes it’s all because I’m just not… ignoring it strongly enough, basically.

I really don’t know how much stronger denial can get past forgetting that it exists at all, and I’m a master at forgetting—consciously, anyways.

So, on the days when the warning signs appear, or fuck, if it shows up at a certain severity, I will not try to delude myself and instead take early action to mitigate it, even if it means knocking myself out with three Xanax pills at a time and… I hate this… missing work. I have a great job, and it hurts to miss it, plus missing work just leads to perceptions of decreased viability and….

Anyways, that sucks, but it sucks more to crash due to denial.

2. Keeping up health.

I hate this, but I’m temporarily suspending my 1.5-to-2-pounds-a-week diet in favor of 1 pound to weight maintenance. I need all my energy to deal with… well, whatever. Ill effects from being sick or exhausted intensifies all my reactions.

This means: balanced meals with veggies and protein and carbs and all, always breakfasts and filling out all my calories for the day, and enough sleep. Especially the latter. Even if I’m scared that the nightmares will come and I’ll wake up in flashback mode, because I can trigger in my sleep, since life apparently hates my guts. (That probably ties back into #1 above.)

3. Keep up good social connections.

I can withdraw into myself during times of emotional intensity and significantly increased triggering potential, partly because that’s simply how a lot of people react to this kind of crap, and partly because I’ve hurt people during these periods. Sometimes they don’t forgive me, nor should they. I’m a plague and human being of negative worth, honestly, during the holidays.

I have friends now who understand more this kind of stuff, or at least are willing to. And the commenters on this blog. I can’t promise I’ll always blog, because even my mania during this period turns from crazy productiveness into insane paranoia; but… I’ll try to at least keep up with a couple folks. It’s hard for me to concentrate on multiple people during these times. Or really any time.

I notice also that when I’ve been cooped up in my house for days for one reason or other ((Like the Seattle area not plowing when we get a couple inches of snow, resulting in frozen packed slurry and hell on commuting.)), away from my coworkers, I start to lose touch with the present something serious.

And… I guess I just have to stay away from the friends and acquaintances who actually hurt me, not intentionally, during these times. One of my friends actually helped a lot in pushing me over the edge during the final week of Christmas, and the only reason I stopped crying about what he did was because the screaming started.

Anyways.

4. Attempt to keep up a schedule.

This soothes the bipolar. Anything that soothes the bipolar will help. This means keeping really strict medication timing, proper sleeping hours, and dragging myself into work with a bento box every time. ((I can’t really not have a bento box these days, due to being allergic to gluten, wheat, and dairy, which almost no restaurant or delivery place will take into account, because it’s just a bother, you know.)) I have checklists for mornings and evenings, and have been trying to keep up with them.

Plus GTD helps out with the planning, more or less. ((A shout-out to Appigo’s Todo foriPhone, which has enough features to support full-out hardcore GTD, and yet is flexible enough for doing almost any variation of GTD that fits you if you’re not hardcore.))

Of course, I have to accept that sometimes my PTSD will derail some, most, or all of this. I don’t want to, it feels like I’m just accepting defeat, and those who know me, know that my usual attempt to problems is to beat them with a hammer until either they break or I do.

Dunno what else.

Dunno.

Anyways, such is The Plan. And now I need to sleep. Thank the gods for Ambien.

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3 thoughts on “The Plan: Coping With the Fucking Holidays 2010

  1. This sounds like a good solid plan. Eating enough food to support optimal function is a very sensible decision. You might also want to arrange things so you always have several days’ food supply on hand, suitable for prepping and eating in a not-so-functional state, so that you won’t go hungry if you have a run of bad days.

    Best wishes.

  2. Of course, I have to accept that sometimes my PTSD will derail some, most, or all of this. I don’t want to, it feels like I’m just accepting defeat

    One of the useful life-lessons I have learned is that the beginner strategy is to prevent things from going wrong; the expert strategy is to make sure that when things go wrong anyway, it still is not a problem. Instead of accepting defeat, it’s planning for a second line of defense. For example, trying to keep yourself functional and going to work, but having personal-days available for if/when you can’t work. Shopping and cooking in advance of need, but also having some nonperishable, ready-to-eat food on hand for when you fall behind on shopping and then the PTSD hits. Or, for a more work-oriented context, the difference between warning users that they have to input data just right or the program freezes, and setting up the program to accept multiple formats because you know that typos happen.

    It sounds like you’ve already done this kind of planning; I’m offering this mostly as a less discouraging frame. Learning that this was the expert approach really inspired me and made it easier to minimize the number of crises I experience.

    • I’ve never thought of it as an expert approach before. It really is quite difficult to juggle… I do have quite a food store set aside, and I’m trying to compose menus of foods better. Trying.

      the expert strategy is to make sure that when things go wrong anyway, it still is not a problem.

      Aaah, so this is the Xanatos version of dealing with PTSD and other trauma. I like it.

      (And yeah, the spam trap is still marking your comments as spam, and I have no idea why. I will keep an eye on the spam trap and maybe manage to train it better. Bad spam filter. No treat….)

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