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Trauma surrounding Christmas

(11 Posts)
laudanum Wed 13-Dec-17 05:04:49

Anyone else here that doesn't do Christmas because of severe past trauma? I'm talking about me as a person alone, I certainly wouldn't insist anyone around me didn't celebrate it. I tend to go into major recluse mode as it's not like you can get away from it. It's everywhere, online, offline when you go outside with Christmas decor and stuff in shops etc, the inevitable merry Christmas' from folks you run into.

Everyone else seems happy and into it, and I just want to crawl into a dark hole and hide.

I'm also fed up of people telling me I'm being miserable and I should make the effort, but why can't folks just accept that I don't want to take part, and leave me to get through it the best I can? Why isn't that enough?

milkjetmum Wed 13-Dec-17 05:20:19

I find Christmas deeply depressing in a way I think some people feel about new years. My anxiety builds as Christmas things appear in shops.

But I have consciously worked on this since having children of my own, and I now try to give them happy Christmas memories in place of my own unhappiness. A bit of a fake it to make it approach, and my anxiety is lower each year.

Christmas is such a diverse event, can you identify some aspect you might be able to tolerate and gradually build on that to develop new happier associations? Eg if decorations are a trigger but you like baking become the office mince pie guru? Or focus on religious/charitable aspects over the commercial? I started out with a token Christmas jumper wink

laudanum Wed 13-Dec-17 05:48:13

I really don't want to build on it, I'd just like to be able to not do it without being made to feel like I have to for the sake of others. There is so much trauma from it due to childhood events, and some subsequent trauma during adulthood. I often feel like people are pressured into taking part, and really I think some of us just aren't cut out for it.

I know this is a simplified way of putting things, but if I said to people that I don't watch a specific television programme for example, it would be accepted that I don't like it and I could move on. However, when i say I don't do Christmas, I'm immediately scowled at and folks say I need to make an effort. I have felt actively suicidal the last few years because of trying to cope, however this year I haven't because I met a wonderful man earlier in the year who made me feel like i was a human being again. Anyway I'm just rambling now, but he's been very understanding and not at all pushy, but other folks aren't so helpful and it's hard to keep treading water when I keep having flashbacks and nightmares because of C-PTSD related trauma.

I guess i just wanted to be able to blather in about it somewhere to see if anyone else was in the same boat.

AnchorDownDeepBreath Wed 13-Dec-17 06:09:58

I used to hugely struggle with it for the same reasons - really horrendous childhoods; and some not much better years as an adult. I had a good few years of trying to ignore it.

I have found that it's best to learn to enjoy aspects; and now I can throw myself into it, mostly. I have moments where I'm uncomfortable and triggered but I know how to get through it now and the people I tend to be around know why, so are supportive.

I agree that it'd be good if you could opt out; but I don't think you can. Like you said, it's massive for a lot of people, and countries. It's everywhere. I'm in a non-Christian country at the moment and it's everywhere here, too. There's no real way to escape it and feel okay; you just feel like you're endlessly running. It should be okay to opt out; but my experience is that it's just not possible.

I'm looking forward to Christmas this year. For the company; and the food, more than some other aspects, but I'll get there too.

I hope you find a way to cope that suits you thanks

laudanum Wed 13-Dec-17 12:42:48

One of the things I do around this time of year is deactivate social media stuff that hit me in the face with it because that definitely doesn't help, but at the same time that isolates me somewhat so I try to stay connected to places where i can easily hide or choose not to read stuff. Forum boards like this are great for that, but places like Facebook aren't, so I suppose it's picking the lesser of however many evils.

SatsukiKusakabe Wed 13-Dec-17 13:13:17

I had some bad experiences with Christmas when younger, but found I was really able to throw myself into it when I had children and sort of overwrote them. I also find that focusing on doing something for others at this time really helps. Could you get away somewhere?
I’ve had ptsd related to something else, and I had to physically move from the area associated and the stuff that would trigger me, before I could start to move on and so can imagine how awful it must be for you to be surrounded at this time of year and really sympathise. It was a complex situation and I couldn’t tell anyone other than my dh the extent of it, so had to do a lot of avoidance. The main thing that helped though was talking about it with a professional.

So one thing I will ask, gently, is have you taken any steps to deal with the trauma? I mean counselling or some other way of facing it? Because Christmas isn’t the issue is it? That’s what the trauma has settled on, but it’s bothering you whether you celebrate or not. You don’t need to get to a stage where you dive into it, but indifference to it and others opinions of would be a better place?

I know people who don’t celebrate for religious reasons and it is hard to avoid as such but they are to an extent left alone and are happy in it because it’s the right thing for them. I wish you all the best anyway flowers

Zevitevitchofcrimas Wed 13-Dec-17 13:43:31

I agree to an extent op but personally I don't like holding onto bad feelings so I would be trying ti do things created new memories.
If you have children obviously it's different as you have to do Xmas for them but if it was just me I would start to do something silly like have hawaii day, get flowers, haiwen Stuff and do something silly and totally opposite to Xmas, or go away.. Really treat myself and instead of hanging onto to feelings do things to build new memories and move on. flowers

PS I had significant trauma one Xmas and this upset the route I went down.

laudanum Wed 13-Dec-17 14:05:34

I'll update more when I'm at my laptop - I have been in therapy for trauma but will go into more detail when I'm able to type on a larger keyboard. ♥️

laudanum Thu 14-Dec-17 01:58:31

I've had therapy to help me process and validate the trauma I've dealt with, because I knew if I didn't, I was going to be in serious trouble. It was getting to the point where I was having flashbacks out of nowhere when I was just doing normal everyday stuff, one moment I'd be faffing about in my kitchen, and the next I'd be absolutely boiling with rage and upset because my brain spat something horrible out at me. The more it kept happening, the more dangerous I knew things would get for me if I didn't get help. I was at the point where I couldn't have any men near me that I didn't already know and knew were safe, not because I was afraid of what they would do to me, but because I was afraid I'd get angry and charge at them, which is obviously NOT OKAY.

So that prompted my latest round of therapy, and it was mostly talk therapy to get it out of my system for processing. Cognitive behavioural therapy doesn't work for me, so we were going to try EMDR, right up until after getting everything out in talk therapy, that there was too much trauma there to process in that way and it would end up being too dangerous. Talking about stuff helped relieve the bottle-neck of pressure, and it was extremely validating to hear someone tell me that my trauma is entirely real and justified. Unfortunately I had to stop going because I'd tightened my belt to pay for private stuff as the NHS is so absolutely at breaking point that the waiting list for therapy was so long, and I was also at breaking point. I ran out of money, but the time I had with the therapist was helpful. Once we realised EMDR was too dangerous, we talked about minimising my contact with traumatic events/objects until I was in a position to afford to see someone each week again. My CPTSD trauma surrounds sexual assault, childhood trauma, domestic violence, psychological abuse, and a partner that cheated on me numerous times. There's been so much of it, and it gets triggered off by some seemingly innocuous stuff too. My therapist and I agreed that minimising involvement with stuff that kicks it off or invokes memories was the best tactic, except sometimes you can't avoid those triggers, so I go with doing the best I can.

Sorry for the rambly stuff.

milkjetmum Thu 14-Dec-17 08:19:36

I think that's the nub of the problem, that your triggers are very hard to avoid. I would suggest a few things- first to get on the NHS waiting list, eventually you will get to the front of the queue! Talk to your gp about medication, it might take the edge off enough to make counseling like cbt a little easier for you.

If you feel up to it, reflect on where you would like to be in future. Eg I'm sure you don't aim to work at Lapland, but maybe just to be able to walk through shops in December without feeling that lurch when you see decorations?

Celebrate any little victories. Eg if you have Costa coffee in their seasonal takeaway cup that is another step forward to Christmas losing its power to hurt you.

SatsukiKusakabe Thu 14-Dec-17 10:38:31

Thanks for explaining more. I know it must be difficult. You have been through a lot. milkjet has some good advice there I think.

I think small steps is key, and trying to get things to improve a little year on year even. And try to embrace as much change as possible. Go somewhere unassociated, or do a new activity that is unrelated to Christmas, and see it as trying to create some different associations with this time of year.

I really feel for you. I’ve had depression and anxiety in the past, and they both can be dangerous and debilitating, but PTSD is a whole different thing, so exhausting and unpredictable.

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