Why Is Family So Stressful for the Mentally Ill?
Wednesday, December 28 2011 Natasha Tracy
Happy holidays, all. I am back from my family sojourn and feeling exhausted from it. Which is odd, actually, because nothing stressful happened. I worked, we ate, we played cards we pretended to be happy (some more than others) and the holiday passed by.
And a giant "meh" was heard by all.
And yet still I find myself crippled with exhaustion and stress post-holiday. Why, exactly, is that?
Breaking with the Normal Routine
One could suggest that simply breaking with my normal, controlled routine is enough to cause havoc with my mental state. And one would be right about that. I'm very much used to a daily routine and control over what I do and do not do on a daily basis. And this sort of routine and control is lost when sleeping on a Murphy bed / medieval torture device in someone else's house.
And change is bad. I don't care what people say.
But I think the big thing with the holidays is pretending to like them for the benefit of those around me. Don't get me wrong, I theoretically like the holidays - who doesn't enjoy presents and feasting - but I just don't care for them much in reality. In reality I'm a pretty depressed person who doesn't really like much of anything and the holidays certainly fall into that category.
All the holidays represent to me is a lot of work pretending to be happy and normal and someone that other people in my family would actually like and relate to. Ugh.
Mental Illness and Pretending
And this type of pretending, this type of acting, really is tiring for the soul. Most people have no idea what it is to orchestrate every blink to ensure that others don't know how you really feel. But people with a mental illness know. They know what it is to hide their every thought from those around them. They know what it is to shoehorn into normal. They know what it is to pretend to care about tinsel and lights when all they really want to do is curl up in a ball and wait for it all to be over.
This is no one's fault. It's just how I feel. Everyone else can be the greatest version of themselves they could ever be and it would make no difference to me at all. Because it's not about them; it's about my brain. But no one understand that. They assume that unhappiness on my part is a problem. It's them. It's the holiday. It's the cranberry sauce. It's whatever.
But it isn't. It's just a daily event. My daily event. My daily life.
So there is nothing left to do but pretend. But to pretend that everything isn't a mess of sadness and crazy. It keeps everyone else happy and going and takes the spotlight off of what no one can do anything about anyway.
But it all leaves me tired for days. To the holidays? To the sleeping I say.