Many of us think of the “holidays” as a time for family, friends, fun, and laughter. The summer holidays are especially great times to barbeque, attend parades, and watch fireworks. However, holidays are not always fun and happy occasions – and some refer to this as “the holiday blues”.
For people who have survived a family trauma of some kind, the holidays can be difficult, to say the least. Knowing that the cousin, uncle, brother, sister, etc. who abused you is going to be at the family picnic can trigger all kinds of thoughts and emotions, as well as symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Those suffering from depression and/or anxiety know all too well how difficult being around others can be.
It’s often helpful to set realistic goals and expectations around each holiday. Give yourself permission not to attend the party if your abuser has been invited. You can also then think about how you would want to celebrate with other people if you still want to be a part of some kind of celebration. Reach out to your support system even if just to talk or vent about your feelings. If you are able to attend a celebration with others, share in the tasks such as helping to cook, clear plates, or play with the kids. Talk with your therapist about your thoughts and feelings around any of the holidays, or if you’re a part of a group, bring this topic up for discussion.
The emphasis on safety and self-care is of utmost importance. If you’ve been experiencing depression, know that the holidays are a particularly stressful time for some, and think ahead of time about how you can take good care of yourself. For those with anxiety, keep in mind your relaxation techniques and practice whenever possible. Do your best to stay away from maladaptive coping mechanisms, such as drinking, using or abusing drugs of any kind, or acting out hostility or anger to name a few.
Whether it’s this Memorial Day, Independence Day, or any other holiday, our therapists here at Specialized Therapy Associates are here to help. If you’re interested in beginning treatment with us, please feel free to call our intake department at 201-488-6678 to discuss your options and see how maybe the best fit for you. In the meantime, take good care.