My brother called me a few days ago drunk, and I see the signs that this may be a bad Christmas for him. He has bipolar disorder and his trouble times are usually around Christmas and New Years and late summer early fall. Around Christmas if we leave him alone he gets depressed, if family comes to visit he gets stressed, either way he drinks and it makes matters worse.
The run up to Christmas and gifting and wrapping gifts is a big deal for him. It’s like he’s planning a campaign with limited funds and he always seems to fail on delivery and timing. Either he wraps things late or ships things late or ships to the wrong address or causes some drama with the gifts. The gifts are often inappropriate and strange finds he gets in thrift stores or eBay, like stuff he bids on that he got stuck with and he tries to ‘spin’ them as gifts. Occasionally they can be very thoughtful and nice, it’s such a mixed bag.
So much of his self worth is tied up with them, but they are often a burden for the recipient. I have a pile of gifts of his from last year still wrapped and sitting in my kitchen from last year, in hopes that my other brother who’s in an on-again off-again divorce estrangement situation might come by and pick them up and he could drop off the birthday gift that I was reminded I’d forgotten about in his drunk phone call. I joked to my sister that it would be like a hostage exchange.
Judging by dystopian Holiday movies, maybe everyone feels this way around Christmas. But families with mental illness in the mix seem to be extra-specially dysfunctional around the holidays. I usually try to engineer an excuse to avoid some of the holiday weirdness, but it seems my escape hatch was thwarted this year with scheduling mishaps, so I’ve resigned myself to grin and bear it.
Is anyone else dreading the holidays? Or looking forward to them for that matter? I’m torn between wanted to commiserate with someone or be inspired that things won’t be that bad.