Christmas! The song goes that it is the “Most wonderful time of the year!” that is unless spending time with your family is one of your BPD triggers. If family gatherings are triggers for your borderline symptoms of anxiety, depression, or impulsivity, or even waking up your binge eating or cutting urges, you’d better be prepared. Here are some simple tips for getting through Christmas when you have BPD…
Hold on To Those Memories
Parties can be stressful for anyone, BPD or not. There are a lot of expectations that the celebrations will be full of magical moments. That’s a lot of pressure! Let’s be honest, when does putting an entire family inside a housework 100% right? The important thing to remember is that parties are temporary. Many times when things are not good, it seems that it has always been that way and that it will always be that way. You forget the better days when you weren’t exposed to stressful triggers like those “family gatherings”, so hold onto them for a little while.
Have a plan
Be clear on what your triggers are and then do your best to avoid them. If you know your brother is going to say something that will upset you, wait for him to sit down and then sit on the other side of the table. If you know that a second glass of wine is going to make you talk too much, swap the wine for cider. Imagine possible complicated situations beforehand and think about how to get out of them.
Be aware of yourself
Practice Mindfulness. Check yourself in during the event. Be aware of the sensations in your body. Are you breathing? Are you tense in the shoulder area? Make an effort to remove yourself from emotionally charged situations, either physically or simply by giving yourself a moment to breathe or be quiet with yourself. You cannot control the reaction and behaviour of others, but you can be in control of your own.
Remember who you are
You’re not 13 anymore, although it’s easy to fall into that thought when you’re surrounded by relatives and people who have been with you through many of the changes in your life. As you enter the environment that harks back to your past, your childhood, take a moment to remember who you are NOW. Stock up on positive things that you know are true about you. Be your best friend during the event.
As everyone says, it’s better to give than to receive. A good way to feel present and blessed and also to examine your own priorities by volunteering at a daycare centre, orphanage or charity. By helping others, you not only understand your own worth and the difference you are making in the lives of others, but you also have the opportunity to step outside yourself and imagine the struggle that others are passing by. Being able to put yourself in the shoes of others is a very good skill to learn. And it improves the spirit.
Remember who they are
Don’t forget that your family members are probably not trying to be the villain. His brother has his motivations for saying the things he says. Maybe he’s stressed and he’s behaving like this because it’s the only way he knows of trying to look like a better person. Maybe he didn’t prepare for this occasion as you did. It’s liberating to realize that not everything is personal against you.
If possible, plan a day to recover after the event. Even for those who don’t suffer from the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder, being with family can be exhausting and emotionally draining. If you take this moment to get yourself back on track, the consequences can be minimized.
If you have any other tips for surviving Christmas with BPD do let us know in the comments below.