Christmas Wishes 2020

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What a year this has been. It has affected us all in some way. It has certainly affected Sanctuary members as sadly, we have not been able to meet face to face and I have missed meeting with many of you, both “old” members and new.

We have had the stress of lockdowns, both locally and the state borders, meaning that some of us have not been able to see family members. Some people have said that they have enjoyed the peace and quiet, others have been lonely and scared. And so now, Christmas is less than a week away. Shops are busy, some of us wear masks, some of us don’t. We sanitise and sanitise as we shop, and we scan the QR code.

For those of us caring for someone with BPD, we have an added stress. We would love to have an enjoyable, happy Christmas as we are led to believe other families have, but in many cases, we know from past experience that for us, that probably won’t be the case. We will be walking on egg shells, trying to do everything to make it a happy time for everyone, especially our family member with BPD.

We try so hard to buy gifts which will make them happy, cook a meal they love, and try to make a day filled with joy and laughter, yet often none of that works and they seem to get more and more sad or distressed as the day goes on.

I think that most people with BPD have such feelings of emptiness that no matter how hard we try to give them joy, nothing we do, can “fill” them up.

Inevitably that sadness affects us too as we try to understand why nothing works. But then I found this, which explains much about how people with a mental illness are affected by Christmas celebrations.

The holiday season beams a spotlight on everything that is difficult about living with a mental illness. The pressure to be joyful and social is magnified tenfold for our loved ones.

Instead of mirth and merriment, they feel especially sad and dissatisfied.  “Everyone is happy and in a good mood and I feel depressed and worthless all the time. What’s wrong with me?”

When I read that, it was a light bulb moment for me. So that’s how my daughter is feeling! That’s why she doesn’t join in.

So, let’s take the pressure off our loved ones to be joyful and social. Let’s try to make Christmas less stressful for them. We can’t change the way our loved ones feel but we can change our expectations of how they should behave on the day and so, make the day less stressful for ourselves too.

Be mindful of the way your loved one may be feeling at this time. Try to accept and understand their feelings. If they would rather be on their own and not join in the festivities, accept that this is their way of coping with the day. Don’t try to cajole them into joining in. Let your love, understanding and acceptance be your gift to them.

Meanwhile enjoy the time with the rest of the family. They too deserve your love and attention.

With this in mind I wish you all a peaceful Christmas filled with love. And don’t forget to be kind to yourselves too.

Judy

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Photo by Ardi Evans on Unsplash

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