Christmas: The Aftermath

thefunnyinbox-snow-man-rob

OMG! What a head fuck! Christmas has come and gone and unfortunately it wasn’t pretty. Anxiety surrounds the prospect of New Years Eve still to come, but compared to this time last week, I think I’m doing a little better – if only just.

In the week leading up to Christmas, I was busy with writing assignments for University. I had made the conscious decision a few weeks earlier that I would not let the occasion get the better of me – as per my last post before Christmas. I thought I was prepared but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

As a reward for getting my assignments out of the way, I took myself out to see a game of 20/20 Cricket. (Being summer in Australia and thus being Cricket season, its one thing to do if you like sport – especially Cricket) – Anyway…

From the moment I got into town (which is about a 90 minute drive from where I live), I felt like rubbish. I felt so out of place which is a bit unusual as I love going to watch live sport. The game itself was enjoyable but by the time I got home I was exhausted.

I’ve seen a pattern developing recently whereby whenever I go out and do something, I am completely wiped out the following day.

With Christmas only three days away, I found myself sinking again and everything went completely off track. Plans I had for Christmas night went out the window and I decided to just stay away for the sake of myself and everybody else. I didn’t want to subject anybody to any negativity, plain and simple.

On Christmas Eve I decided to cook so I wouldn’t have to worry about cooking on Christmas Day. There was no roast, no turkey, no ham. Just a Greek lasagne dish called Pastitsio. Along with some prawns and plum pudding with custard, that was Christmas lunch/dinner. I was actually doing well on Christmas Eve after falling in a heap over the previous two days. I had coffee with my next door neighbor. She gave me a card and a movie voucher which was really thoughtful and nice. I have since invited her to see Les Miserables with me over the next couple of weeks.

That night, in a highly emotional state, I watched a Christmas movie called ‘Noel‘ and I was in tears most of the way through. I was desperate not to completely breakdown so I let the tears run down my face, but I avoided any full blown crying. On Christmas morning, I had a modest sleep in and felt okay.

For about an hour and then it all went to shit.

My friend who I was supposed to go and see on Christmas night, send me a text message wishing me a Merry Christmas and informed me that his in-laws were not going to be there as originally planned. He said if that changed anything for me, then I should reconsider going there. Initially I completely ruled it out and sent though a reply saying so. Then guilt hit me like a tonne of bricks and I changed my mind. I sent through a text asking him what time he would be home, but unfortunately (and therefore typically if you ask me), I never got a reply. By 8pm that night, having felt like shit for much of the day, I sent a text to him saying “Thanks for making a difficult day even more difficult”. By the next day he sent me reply saying he was sorry for not replying sooner, but that he also didn’t appreciate ‘the dig’. He knew full well I was struggling with the whole occasion, but in typical fashion, his ego was far more important than any pain I was going through. An attempt to clear the air on my part two days ago had all but ended our friendship. He said he was too busy to call me and I called him an Asshole in reply. His response:

“Wow you have really lost the plot. I don’t know why I bother. Enjoy your self absorbed life”

BAM!

Didn’t I feel like a worthless piece of shit after getting that. Add that to the list of things NOT to say to somebody with a mental illness – regardless of whether it’s Christmas or any other time of year. One thing I do know about myself is that I am not self absorbed. People with any form of narcissism really get up my nose, however…

Bipolar IS selfish by nature, but that doesn’t make us selfish people, self involved, self absorbed  or whatever. I know full well what my flaws/personality deficiencies are, whether they are linked to Bipolar or just naturally make up the person that I am. We are all the same in that regard. This is where tolerance, understanding and empathy come into play. Especially at this time of year where there are triggers for some at almost every turn.

To say that I am hurt over a sense of abandonment at this time of year, (particularly when you tell somebody you are struggling, only to fall on deaf ears) is a quiet understatement. Simple words which promote empathy would be a nice start. My friend is obviously far too busy to even make a small amount of time to come and visit me. To see him, I basically have to go to his place 9.5 times out of 10. One way traffic in a friendship/relationship is also one of my pet hates. Okay, I live one hour away, but is a one hour drive really that hard?

The other frustration when it comes to my illness is that he has no real understanding of it. He cares, but he doesn’t get it. The reason why there is a high emphasis on this person is because he is my only support. I have recently met somebody who does understand my illness and isn’t judgmental about it. I really hope that a friendship can blossom as a result, but it’s too early to tell. I’m not one to try and force anything. You simply cannot control other people and that’s reality. A fair one too I might add.

Which brings me back to my friend of 20 plus years.

Yes he doesn’t get my illness. He knows that I have Bipolar amongst other issues, but I don’t think he can really handle these facts. When I’m good, things are fine. We get along great. When I get depressed, I normally shield him from it to protect both parties. I am able to suffer in silence (most of the time), without having to deal with the guilt or humiliation of having symptoms and episodes (mostly depressive ones), exposed to others. Then there are his friends and this is the reason why I cant even go over there on New Years Eve – as much as I would like to under normal circumstances. Similar to Christmas night, it would be nice to not have to subject myself to self imposed isolation. His friends know that I have a mental illness. Unfortunately, they do treat me differently because of this. Therefore I am not comfortable being in that social circle and besides, they are his friends, not mine. I have tried to accept his friends as my own, but the bottom line is that they are just as ignorant as he is and all of it makes me very uncomfortable.

So my plan for new years eve is to simply make it through the day. Hopefully my symptoms won’t be a major factor. Like Christmas night, I will most likely double up on my medications and get an early night. I’ll also have to negotiate new years day, but hopefully by the 2nd of January (which I now have plans with my new found friend), I will be back to normal, having survived the stress of the holiday period, and can then focus on the challenges that await for 2013.

As per my pre-Christmas post, wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I sincerely hope you have a good one. If you are struggling, do reach out to someone that you trust. Hopefully you won’t get burnt in a similar way to what I did this Christmas. Above all, remember that you are not alone, even if you feel that you are. Despite our best intentions and efforts, this is a difficult time of year for so many of us and therefore it is not to be underestimated.

Do what you have to do to get through and survive, but please be sensible and safe in the process.

Sending lots of love, warmth and empathy to everybody – especially to those who understand and appreciate the meaning of this post.

4 comments on “Christmas: The Aftermath

  1. I’ve just read this post and I have to say in some ways I can completely relate to what you’ve been through this Christmas. I may not understand depression 100% but I know what it’s like to live with someone who suffers from it and my Christmas hasn’t exactly been full of joy and peace because of this crippling illness and feeling like telling friends about it won’t exactly help if they don’t understand. You seem like such a great person despite your constant battle. I hope you have a better New Year and your so called friend comes to his senses.

    • Thanks for stopping by. My friend and I have cleared the air over the phone tonight. There’s too much history and genuine care for one another for things to escalate beyond whats happened already. I appreciate that it is also extremely difficult for those who are in the role of a carer for someone with a mental illness. I admire you standing by the person you love and supporting them any way you can. I know it’s not easy regardless of which side of the illness you may find yourself. I very much appreciate your comment. Thank you!

  2. I haven’t seen my oldest friend for 10 years. He and I were like brothers when we were young but then I went away to school and we lost touch. In the meantime, I was diagnosed with bipolar as my symptoms got worse and worse. I reconnected with him over the Christmas break and I’m trying to set up a time to meet up. I don’t think I can tell him about the decade past without mentioning my diagnosis.
    I know what you mean about having an old friend that cannot understand your illness
    Wish me luck 🙂

    • I wish you the very best of luck! Let me know how it goes. You are more than welcome to send through an email via the contact page if you don’t end up posting about it. I hope that it really goes well for you 🙂

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