“Working on Us” Week #24 Blog Post

BeckiesMentalMess created this wonderfully unique blogging opportunity that, not only gets the community involved, but also spreads awareness about an important topic : mental health.

If you would like to read her “Working on Us – Week #24” post that helped to spark this conversation, click here: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/66556224/posts/2490771519

Managing Good Mental Health During The Holiday Season

Question Prompt:

  1. Do you have a stable relationship with your family and/or friends during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season?  If your answer is (YES), please give us an example of what the holidays are like with family and/or friends?  If you answered (NO), Please explain to us why not?
  2. Do the holidays trigger certain memories of people, places, and things?
  3. Do you have a favorite holiday, if so which one and why?  (Note: This does not have to be based on the current holidays coming up either).
  4. If you stress out during the holidays, what is the best way that you handle stressors?
  5. Do holidays tend to make you melancholy?  If so why? and how do you go about dealing with the depression that takes place?
  6. This is a question that anyone can answer if they feel so inclined… Do you think that the holidays are shoved down our throats every year a little quicker with each passing year?  (Meaning, Halloween finished October 31st, and Christmas stuff was on the shelves October 15th), Does this trigger an emotion in you too early?
  7. Does your family/friends show understanding and compassion during a moment that might be hard to handle on your own?
  8. Do you even bother celebrating the holidays with family/friends?  If you answered this question (NO), what is it that you do during the holiday?  (If you answer, I try to sleep through it… It’s a fair answer).
  9. Do you avoid holiday music and TV specials during this time?

I have always been anxious around my family during the holidays. I felt like I didn’t belong or that the accomplishments I achieved in life were overlooked next to my sisters.

I have never been a traditionalist, so not getting married and having kids but instead opening up about my vaginismus was difficult for my family to understand. Instead of supporting it openly, they just never acknowledged it.

I wrote a book on vaginismus to help spread awareness about the condition and I never received a “Congratulations” or a “We are proud of you!” However, my sister has been working on a book for a decade, and is currently getting back into trying to write again after having two kids, and my parents can’t stop talking about it.

Last Christmas, someone in my family mentioned that they were excited to finally have an author in the family, but they weren’t referencing me – they were talking about my sister and her future publication.

This is just one example of how I don’t really fit in with my family or their traditional beliefs. I thought getting into Johns Hopkins for my Masters would be an achievement of a lifetime that they would be so proud of, but apparently it wasn’t enough. During a family Christmas Eve party, a family member said, “Good job getting into Johns Hopkins!” However, my mom swooped in and downplayed my achievement by saying, “It’s only for online classes.”

To answer the questions that Becky asked up above, I’m going to answer them in poetry form rather than simply writing a narrative. This will be a challenge, but I’ve never said no to one…

Holiday Memories

Carolers sing their happy tunes as I sit alone surrounded by people.

Their fake smiles and boisterous laughter fill the rooms,

and the warm, crisp smell consumes the hall of baked apple.

Christmas cheer has never been attainable to me,

except for one memory that I’m not allowed to remember.

I fight back the smell of smoked turkeys and pine tress,

as I recall that blissful time seven years ago back in December.

Christmas in October

Walking around the stores and seeing Christmas brought in.

Isn’t it a little early to have this holiday begin?

I buy the lights and merriness around me to void the sadness I feel within,

but I desperately miss seeing Halloween whenever I walk in.

Holiday Movies

I watch the holiday shows and listen to the music to feel apart of something.

Am I kidding myself or am I genuinely wishing for those stories to be mine?

After the pretend stories end, the feeling in my heart is numbingly cutting.

I walk over to the cupboard to drown my sorrows in my lonely friend – blush wine.

Hope for the Holidays

I wish my family knew how troubling the holidays are for me.

I sit alone in a crowded room staring up at the Christmas tree.

Others flock around acting jovial and carefree,

I hope one day this depression will let me be free.

9 thoughts on ““Working on Us” Week #24 Blog Post

  1. Hello, Victoria… I’m so pleased that you participated in this week #24 of, “Working on Us”.
    Has your relationship with your mother been strained? Was it even more prevalent after your sister had children?
    Let me ask you this question as well… Did your family start treating differently when they learned of your mental illness/vaginismus?
    My siblings definitely treated me like sheer crap. The attitude was, I basically don’t exist and still don’t. My mother and I are it. We talk. I don’t speak to anyone else in my family because of the stigma. Do you think that’s what it might be, or was this happening all along?
    Another note… I love your poem. I can relate on so many levels. I find my depression gets much worse during the holidays because I feel alone. I am alone technically. I do visit with my roommate’s sister’s during all the holidays, but I still feel out of sorts because my roommate makes everyone feel out of sorts due to her own mental illness.
    It’s usually between the last week of November through the first week of January that I start shutting down… Like you, sitting on the sidelines and watching the festivities and feeling like your absent while being in the same room.
    Correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t you just get married?
    I hope you don’t mind me asking additional questions… This is something I sort of do, to acclimate myself to a newcomer of “Working on Us”. It also helps others to get to know you better as well. Sometimes, I have noticed that when we speak openly, you find out you’re not alone in your thinking, but by speaking up, others can also lend suggestions to help cope with your feelings.
    (Sorry for my late response, my computer decided that updates needed to be done in the middle of reading your post) UGH!
    Again, I am so appreciative of you sharing here on, “Working on Us”. 💚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey there! My mom and I are nice to each other and of course I love her, but we definitely have different opinions and get on eachothers nerves more than her and my sister. Like WAY more. I become very agitated and anxious, and I have to find a quiet place to think if I’m visiting for longer than a few hours.

      I would say though that my sister having children didn’t amplify the family’s biasedness towards her. They had always kind of favored her and praised her for things that I was overlooked on. For example, my sister got into IU Bloomington, a popular school here in IN and everyone praised her and told her how great that was. When I got into ISU, a school not super well known (except that Larry Bird went there), my dad’s side of the family’s words were verbatim, “Oh.” Then they kind of walked away.

      Personally, I think there is a deeper rooted issue causing the biasedness that isn’t anyone’s fault though. Our middle sister passed at 2 or 3 years old when I was just a baby and I was the child conceived to “replace” her, since my dad knew my mom wouldn’t be able to handle her death. I found out that’s why I was born from my mom on a family vacation sitting by the pool. I also think the death of my other sister caused her to have extreme anxiety and that’s why she is as anxious as she is today.

      Aside from that, my parents definitely treated me differently when I was diagnosed with vaginismus. For awhile, I pretended it was diagnosed because inserting tampons hurt, even though all of the articles online talked about sex. I grew up in an extremely Roman Catholic household, so the thought of sex before marriage was a big no no. I know they knew I was having sex with my college boyfriend at the time and that that’s how I found out, but they become even more distant when I openly came out that I had vaginismus to my friends, family, and essentially the world.

      I’m sorry that your family treats you like this and that you had to resonate with my poem 😦 It’s definitely not a poem anyone should resonate with.

      I did just get married actually. I found that my parents became a little more attentive with me after that. I wrote everyone who gave gifts a “Thank You” card after the wedding, and my mom said she cried reading it. She then said she was proud to be my mom, which I never heard her say before. I was pretty moved by that and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bring me to tears.

      Despite most of my family knowing I have vaginismus, many still can’t relate and the few who don’t know talk about my husband and I having babies. Another reason why this holiday season is going to be awful…

      Not having sex obviously means no babies. Our dog is our baby and my parents have a hard time understanding that’s the case and why.

      On a side note, my husband’s mom hates me and wants nothing to do with me because she wanted to bring her dog to the wedding and never asked us. We asked her politely if she couldn’t bring him, and even said we would even pay for him to have a day at a dog spa, but she got super pissed about that. She then threatened she wouldn’t come to the wedding and I had to succumb and agree to let the dog be there.

      She never said one word to me at the wedding, addresses all of the cards she sends only to my husband, and even said the whole family is going to see a movie over the weekend and didn’t invite me. Honestly, we haven’t spoken in months now. I never thought I’d have a mother-in-law like this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Egads… Your mother-in-law obviously has massive issues. (Sorry, I know that was rude of me to say, but Dang!).
        My mother had a daughter 3 years younger than me, but she died only a few weeks after she was born. They kept trying, but didn’t have my brothre and sister until 6 years later. (Twins).
        I’m extremely close with my mother because we have soooo much in common. Miscarriages and divorce, plus she is my dearest friends inthe world. Unfortunately she lives 3000 miles away, so it’s near to impossible to visit with her.
        As far as your family having issues because you went out and began a blog to write about the vaginismus … That’s just wrong. I personally think it falls under the quote my grandfather used to alwasys say… “What will the neighbors think.” Screw it. Personally, I applaud you for bringing more awareness to this disorder.
        I think you’re an absoultely strong woman, and when I saw that wedding picture, I was thrilled for you!!
        Heck with the attitudes family gives… We can pick our friends but not our family, remember that.
        Make new traditons with your husband…where no one else is included. It will make things a little easier to handle the holiday season.
        Take good care of yourself, Sweetie!!! 💚

        Liked by 1 person

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