Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas with the family...ugh

Ahhh, yes...The holidays. Nothing brings out one's long-stuffed anxieties and resentments with more alacrity than the holidays. This morning, the resentment gurgled in my mother's voice, as she explained how difficult it is to schedule our Christmas meal around the family gatherings of each of my brothers' wives. I had to bite my lip. I wanted to remind her how long it had been since she had any scheduling worries, as I can't remember the last time all of us got together! I just listened instead.

It's been a long, long time since all of us have been together for a holiday. Sure, we live all over the place, but the reality is we just don't care enough to get together. Just because we are family doesn't mean we like each other! It took a long time for me to be okay with that. My family gets along much better when we each live at least a toll call apart!

Getting together, when you come from a terribly dysfunctional family, is not usually a joyous occasion. We don't yell, or drink, or beat each other up, but it's just not fun. There's tension. There's sarcasm. There's back-handed "compliments," which are really put-downs in disguise. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Fun... Fun is not what comes to mind when I think of gathering with my family for Christmas. My long lost (I thought they were lost) anxieties and resentments have been tapping my shoulder all week. Seriously, I can almost hear them! Tap, tap, tap..."Peek-a-boo, remember me?"

For example, I have no desire to see the brother who lambasted me with sharp, hurtful sarcasm and anger, without cause, over one year ago. As I wrote in April, despite apologizing for my part, I do not expect he will ever do the same. He doesn't know how. We've not spoken since his last hurtful e-mail.

I typically don't think about him nor the entire scenario, but faced with possibly spending two days with him changed that. Tap, tap, tap..."Yoooooou-hoooooo..." Despite praying about it (my sponsor's suggestion) and working to let go of my resentment, I am still hurt. So hurt that I actually changed my plans. He and his family will be the only absent family members when I join everyone at another brother's house.

Part of me thinks changing plans to avoid him is wrong. I should be bigger, somehow. But I don't know... Depression has taught me to pick my battles. I've learned to conserve my energy and to expend it judiciously. The tension and awkwardness of sharing space with my family is stressful enough, I think. Perhaps adding the hurtful brother to the mix would have been too, too much. I think it would have, and the risk to my mood and energy wasn't worth the risk. Holidays tear apart "normal" people. I'm just emerging from a very difficult, hopeless period. Even on my best days, I'm not "normal." I didn't think it was worth the risk to my mental health to subject myself to more than I needed. But I'm still not sure...

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