What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

sad_snow

I think it’s worse this year, but there are a few other things going on that are exacerbating my symptoms.   I seem to have a weird form of it, which starts in late July or August, when my body begins to notice the reduction of light, even though summer is at its peak. Even though I detest winter, my mood starts to pick up in late January or February, when my body notices the lengthening days. I’m at my best in April – June and at my worst in November and December. My SAD seems to imitate the sleep/wake patterns of hibernating animals.

seasonal_moods
Graph I made showing my moods throughout the year. This never varies much.

Here’s an overview of what SAD is, from mayoclinic.org.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/definition/con-20021047

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.

Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medications.

Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.

Symptoms

By Mayo Clinic Staff

In most cases, seasonal affective disorder symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. However, some people with the opposite pattern have symptoms that begin in spring or summer. In either case, symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses.

Major depression

Seasonal affective disorder is a subtype of major depression that comes and goes based on seasons. So symptoms of major depression may be part of SAD, such as:

Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
Feeling hopeless or worthless
Having low energy
Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
Having problems with sleeping
Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
Feeling sluggish or agitated
Having difficulty concentrating
Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Fall and winter SAD

Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:

Irritability
Tiredness or low energy
Problems getting along with other people
Hypersensitivity to rejection
Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
Oversleeping
Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
Weight gain

Spring and summer SAD

Symptoms specific to summer-onset seasonal affective disorder, sometimes called summer depression, may include:

Depression
Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
Weight loss
Poor appetite
Agitation or anxiety

seasonal-affective-disorder

Seasonal changes in bipolar disorder

In some people with bipolar disorder, spring and summer can bring on symptoms of mania or a less intense form of mania (hypomania), and fall and winter can be a time of depression.

When to see a doctor

It’s normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed or if you feel hopeless, think about suicide, or turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation.

Causes

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown. Some factors that may come into play include:

  • Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.
  • Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
  • Melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of seasonal affective disorder include:

  • Being female. SAD is diagnosed more often in women than in men, but men may have more-severe symptoms.
  • Age. Young people have a higher risk of winter SAD, and winter SAD is less likely to occur in older adults.
  • Family history. People with SAD may be more likely to have blood relatives with SAD or another form of depression.
  • Having clinical depression or bipolar disorder. Symptoms of depression may worsen seasonally if you have one of these conditions.
  • Living far from the equator. SAD appears to be more common among people who live far north or south of the equator. This may be due to decreased sunlight during the winter and longer days during the summer months.

Complications

Take signs and symptoms of seasonal affective disorder seriously. As with other types of depression, SAD can get worse and lead to problems if it’s not treated. These can include:

  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Social withdrawal
  • School or work problems
  • Substance abuse

Treatment can help prevent complications, especially if SAD is diagnosed and treated before symptoms get bad.

Original article is here.

 

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My posting habits and S.A.D.

I thought this was pretty interesting.

posting_activity

My number of posts peaked in May and June, then leveled off, and began to fall until December, when the days are at their shortest. I made very few posts in November and December and many of those were reblogs or very short (I can’t show you that on the graph, you will have to take my word for it or check for yourself). This month they are rising again. This coincides with the chart below which I made a few months ago. It shows the level of my moods at different times of the year. My mood begins to decline as early as July, and starts to improve in January. It’s the lengthening and shortening of days my brain and body reacts to, not the cold or heat.

seasonal_moods

I think my Winter Blues are saying adieu!

snow_bench

I’ve posted before about my SAD (seasonal affective disorder). I also explained that for me, a sufferer of the Fall/Winter type (the most common type), I’m extremely sensitive to changes in daylight.

The Winter Solstice falls around December 21 or 22 every year. That’s the shortest day of the year, but also the last day the days are going to get any shorter. The next day, the sunlight-hours increase every day by increments of about a minute a day, as they march toward the Summer Solstice which falls from June 20 – June 22 every year.

I always noticed a darkening of my overall mood and loss of energy very shortly after the first day of summer, since the days are already becoming shorter even as they grow hotter. My body perceives these changes as early as mid-July!

There’s probably an evolutionary reason for this. Our distant ancestors were nocturnal, tree climbing, shrew like animals who may have needed to hibernate during colder weather to conserve energy and calories, while food was scarce. Many mammals today have a need to hibernate, and this tendency may have been retained in human genes to some extent, causing many of us to feel tired and depressed when they days begin to shorten. How nice if hibernation were an option for some of us humans!

bear_sleeping

Getting back to the topic at hand, my mood is already starting to improve, even though the first day of winter was only about 3 weeks ago (that long already???)
That’s early even for me. My body and spirits don’t usually start reacting to these increases until the end of January at the earliest.

But maybe my improving mood is due to more than just the lengthening days. Since I’ve been in therapy, I’ve been feeling a little bit happier and less anxious overall. For example, I have a serious car issue, but I’m actually not freaking out the way I would have a year or two ago. I’ve also noticed people are responding to me in a more positive way (or maybe nothing has really changed but I’m just perceiving they are perceiving me less negatively than before).

My creativity is increasing, and my motivation to write, and–I dearly hope I don’t sound narcissistic saying this–I think my writing lately has improved immensely and I’m beginning to find my humorous voice too and seeing how funny things can be I never would have found the humor in before.

I still have a long road ahead (my therapist thinks it’s going to take a while) and maybe this is just the honeymoon stage of therapy before the work starts getting really emotionally draining, but it’s a taste of what might be to come and I’ll enjoy this as long as it lasts.

The first sign of spring.

proud

It’s just like old times! I just counted, and this weekend I made 10 new posts (11 if I count this one), most of them original content. I don’t think I’ve written that much in a few months. It seems like my inspiration’s back, at least for now. Maybe I’m just feeling better because in 2 days the days will start getting longer as they march toward Spring, and with that, an end to this year’s bout of Seasonal Affective Disorder. As far as I’m concerned, the first day of winter is like the first sign of spring.

I may or may not continue in this vein, but I’m not going to worry about it. I just feel great about how busy I was blogging this weekend. I actually found time to read and comment on other blogs too, something I’m really not very good about keeping up with.

Getting the spare room ready.

room_for_rent

The weather has improved significantly (lots of sunshine) so I’ve had a little more energy and my mood has been slightly more upbeat. I’m incredibly sensitive to the weather due to my SAD.

Last week I was depressed about my roommate moving out, even though most of the time she got on my nerves. I think it triggered some abandonment issues for me. Today I actually got a burst of energy and cleaned up the room for whoever moves in next. Stacey had already done a pretty good job cleaning the room before she left, but it needed a lot more attention. So I vacuumed the floor, and also the walls and ceiling (lots of cobwebs), scrubbed the baseboards and woodwork, and put a new set of sheets I’d bought last weekend on the single bed. This weekend I want to purchase a small rug, a comforter for the bed, and maybe a plant to make the room look more inviting.

The rooms’s pretty basic (not really worth posting a photo of) but it’s clean now and for what my new housemate will be paying, they can’t expect a whole lot. But I think when I’m done sprucing it up, I’ll be proud to show it.

I’ve been feeling lonely in this house alone, and I’m actually getting excited about having a new housemate. A gay man I’ve spoken to seems the most promising so far. I felt comfortable talking with him over the phone and he has a steady income (he’s a forklift operator!) I’ve been avoiding calling back most of the other people who’ve shown interest so far, and I think it’s because I’m holding out for this guy. He’s coming on Saturday to see the room.

The neverending rain and depression.

rain_gif

I can’t seem to shake this seasonal funk I’m in. It’s been raining steadily for a week now–gloomy, overcast, steady rain that goes on all day and night, not the intense but shortlived thunderstorms of summer that are somehow energizing.

I don’t like fall in this part of the country. It always rains a lot, and as much as everyone crows about the “fall colors,” I don’t think they’re that special. This isn’t Vermont with its sugar maples that turn brilliant orange and red, or Colorado with its neon yellow Aspens–here the trees just look unhealthy. There’s a few spots of bright color here and there, but the numerous oaks and sycamores just turn from green to brown or a deep purplish red before they go bare for another winter. It’s depressing. Maybe up on the Blue Ridge Parkway the sight is prettier, but I don’t have a running car right now so I can’t go there.

I’ve been stuck inside my house for days, waging war on the camel crickets and the fleas I can’t seem to get rid of. I’m working a lot more. My roommate is moving on Tuesday and I haven’t found a replacement yet. It’s dark when I get up in the morning. It’s getting dark shortly after I come home from work. Yesterday was actually cold and I had to crank up the heat for the first time since April. I’m tired and draggy all the time. I barely have the energy or motivation to cook dinner. I’ve even been avoiding my friends because I just feel like I’m going to drag them down with me.

As far as my writing, the ideas have been coming like an old man’s teeth–few and far between. I’ve been resorting to either reblogging other people’s stuff, posting fluff or pictures, or recycling old articles I wrote, due to the dearth of original ideas. Actually I do have one good idea for a new long article, but I can’t seem to motivate myself to write it. I’d promise I’d write it today, but I don’t trust myself to stick to that promise. I know if I don’t though, I’ll be feeling terrible about it.

exhausted_rain

Last fall wasn’t any different from this one weather-wise, but I was new to blogging and the excitement and novelty of that kept me motivated and able to beat my SAD symptoms. I did have a lot of worries, as I recall. My daughter was still having drug issues and was facing 30 days in jail (she is doing a lot better a year later–she has matured a lot and become much more responsible). I wasn’t sure I was going to get along with my new roommate. My ex was still abusing me through text messages. But blogging was like a whole new world, it felt like doors were opening everywhere.

Sam Vaknin, the “god of narcissism,” found this blog in November (my least favorite month other than December) by Googling himself (haha!) and actually made some nice comments and shared some of my articles on his sites and social media. That gave my blog the early jumpstart it needed and I was ecstatic. As far as I know, he still comes here to read but he no longer comments or shares anything. That’s okay because this blog is doing well on its own now, without anyone’s help. But the novelty and newness of it is gone. I don’t see any new doors opening. I know I have to open those doors myself (the next step would probably be writing a book) but I just don’t seem to have the energy or motivation.

Last year at this time the ideas were almost coming too fast–it was actually frustrating because I didn’t have enough time to write about everything I wanted to write about. Now it’s all I can do to think of any original ideas at all. As far as writing about narcissism, what more is there to write about it that I haven’t already? I don’t know whether to keep the focus on narcissism, or shift the focus to general mental health, or just turn it into general purpose blog. I’m stuck. Blogging has brought me so much joy; what happened?

I feel like I’ve reached a blockade in my path to recovery. I know that isn’t really true, and it’s just depression making me feel so negative, and it’s just a matter of working through it or waiting it out. I know it will pass; it always does. But I feel like I’m running in place but going nowhere. The weather isn’t helping.

storm_clouds2
This too shall pass.

I know the only way through this is self discipline. I have to make myself write even when I don’t want to. Once I get started, I get into it and that tends to lift my mood and my imagination begins to work again. I also have to make myself get out, in spite of the gloomy weather and no car. I have the company car to drive; I can at least go up to the store in that. Walks in the light drizzly rain aren’t so bad; it isn’t freezing cold out. I haven’t been to church in several weeks either. It always make me feel good to go, but for some reason I’ve been sleeping in instead. Then I wind up feeling guilty and miserable (not because I’m offending God–I don’t think attending church is necessary to “please God”–but because I know I’m doing myself a disservice by skipping).

So today, instead of sleeping in, as I’ve been doing on weekends lately, I’m going to make myself write, make myself go out for a walk in spite of the dreary weather, maybe even take a short drive. Read a book. Clean the house (it needs it). Do something that will make me feel like one of the living. Sitting around feeling sorry for myself and sleeping half the day away is going to get me nowhere fast. I got away from my abusers, but the way I’ve been treating myself is self abuse! It’s possible to be as toxic to myself as my narcissists were to me. I know I’m not the only person in the world who struggles with this time of year. And spring is only 5 1/2 months away! :mrgreen:

Hey, I actually wrote a new article that’s more than two sentences long! I think I feel a little better already.

My Seasonal Affective Disorder makes me want to hibernate until spring.

seasonal_moods
Graph I made showing my mood pattern throughout the year. It’s this way every year.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my SAD.

SAD is triggered by the lack of light and shortening days for those affected with it. During the shorter days the brain produces more melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that induces sleepiness in certain animals, like bears. It’s the reason why some mammals hibernate until the warmer, longer days of spring. Unfortunately, some humans retain this biological urge to hibernate, but because we must continue to live productive lives, our natural urge to sleep is ignored and seasonal depression is the result.

I seem to suffer from a weird form of SAD. The fall is much more depressing to me than winter. Most people with SAD feel terrible in late fall AND all winter. But for me, I start feeling depressed sometime in mid-August, when the days are growing noticeably shorter. Obviously, for me, the heat as nothing to do with it.

My SAD really kicks in once Fall officially starts and the trees start changing colors. My worst months are by far November and December. I absolutely hate them. I can’t stand the holidays (too stressful), so they do nothing to lighten or bring cheer to my low mood. All I want to do is curl into a little ball and hibernate until early spring.

In mid-late fall, everything looks so grim and barren to me–shades of gray, brown, and black, and everything is dying/going to sleep. The cold, gloomy, overcast days don’t help either. It’s dark when I get up and dark when I come home from work. It’s everything I can do to drag myself through these dark, depressing days.

Although I hate ice and cold and snow, sometime around the end of January (which I read is statistically the most depressing month of the year) my mood begins to perk up as my body begins to notice the lengthening days. Actually, I feel relief after the first day of winter, just knowing the days are going to get longer for 6 more months. I feel even more relief once the Holiday season is over (which I find really stressful).

My mood continues to improve until mid-late spring, then starts to level off, until early August when it starts to sink again.

My mood is at it’s highest around the end of April/early May. I have no idea why. Maybe because the days are fairly long by then, but the oppressive heat (which I don’t really like) hasn’t kicked in yet.

I think it might also have to do with the fact there are so many happy colors in the spring–and they aren’t the dreary 1970s-like browns, golds and oranges of fall. They’re more like 1980s colors–or even 1960s colors in some cases (and weren’t both those decades less depressing than the 1970s?) Everything isn’t all the same boring shade of green the way it is in summer either. I love spring.

My body/brain seems to mimic the cycle of hibernating animals–except that in the winter I actually feel better than in the fall. That I can’t really figure out because I hate cold weather so much (and it’s coldest here in February, but my mood is not that bad anymore by then).

I face this same strange pattern every single year. I’m coming into the worst of it in about another month or so. Blah.

For further reading: How to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder/Winter Blues:
http://www.normanrosenthal.com/blog/2012/01/how-to-beat-seasonal-affective-disorder-winter-blues-infographic/

On having seasonal affective disorder (SAD), dishonesty, and a few other things.

This is going to be a long post, because I have so much to say.
I haven’t been completely honest about why I haven’t been posting as much (being overworked and tired is only part of it) but I was very confused about all these emotions I’m having and wasn’t sure where to begin, even though I wanted to talk about it. I just felt so overwhelmed and confused I was sure anything I wrote would overwhelm and confuse the hell out of anyone reading it and make no sense. Even now, I’m having trouble knowing where to start and am not sure this is going to make any sense, but I’m going to try, since I have the time.

1. Seasonal Affective Disorder.

tigger_SAD

Let me start with the most obvious and simplest to explain. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, but I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Last fall, I was so new to blogging and so excited by the novelty of it that my excitement over my new “toy” overrode my usual feelings of depression I get when the days become shorter, colder, and gloomier. I even thought I’d been spontaneously “cured” but it’s back this year. It always starts around late August, when the days are becoming noticeably shorter (and this year, the trees begin to change early too). The fact that it’s still as hot as a pizza oven makes no difference. SAD is triggered by lack of daylight. It really starts to kick in after the autumnal equinox (September 23 this year) when the days begin to become gloomier and grayer and the nights are longer than the days. In this part of the country, there’s always a lot of rain in the fall and overcast days. I know we need the rain, but my brain doesn’t care and the darkness always triggers depression, which causes me to feel sad (SAD is a good acronym for this disorder!) and as gloomy as the gray days, and any motivation I have or energy goes out the window.

The string of upcoming holidays, which seem to mitigate the gloom for normal people (and even make them feel happy), don’t help me one bit. In fact, they make things worse. Halloween isn’t too bad (it doesn’t cost much and isn’t a “family” holiday), but Thanksgiving and Christmas are a different story. As a person with no money and who is not in contact or close to most of my family, the holidays, especially Christmas, are very difficult for me. Besides my children, I have no one to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with. Christmas is so overcommercialized and you are made to feel somehow defective or different (in a bad way) if you can’t afford to buy a ton of gifts (and don’t get many either), don’t love Christmas music, or can’t get into the “holiday spirit.” I know Christmas is really about the birth of Jesus, not crass commercialism, but unfortunately our society has made it that way, and if you’re a poor person with hardly any family and few close friends, it’s really hard to not get depressed.

I always begin to feel better sometime after Christmas, and usually by early February my mood is improving, despite the cold weather. Again, this has to do with the lengthening days. In fact, every year I look forward to the winter solstice, because it’s then that the days begin to grow longer again. It doesn’t take too long for my body to notice it. And once Christmas is over and done with, I feel relief. Then it’s just a matter with putting up with 2 more months of cold and gloomy, overcast days. And because I live in the South, the winters here are not long. It’s usually warming up by early March or even the end of February, and the first signs of spring can be seen then too. I always notice my energy level and motivation increasing, and my mood becomes more upbeat and positive.

So the lack of motivation caused by my SAD (and blogging no longer being the novelty it was last year at this time) is partly responsible for my not writing every day the way I used to. But that’s only part of it.

2. Coming to terms with being a covert narcissist.

covert_narcissism2

The other part is a lot harder for me to talk about, even though I’ve talked about it before, and nothing bad happened when I did and people didn’t unfollow this blog in droves, the way I had feared. About two months ago, I began to self identify as a covert narcissist (in addition to my having BPD and Avoidant PD). It explained the “Aspergers” I was sure I had up to that point. I don’t want to belabor again how I made this discovery or why (if you’re interested in reading more about that, I wrote several articles about it in early-mid August and started another blog, intended to help people with self-aware covert narcissism and BPD who do not want their disorders), but for some reason, I began to feel a lot of shame associated with the “NPD” label, based on the general attitude toward narcissists, especially those who have been abused by them (and the attitude is understandable).

Although I didn’t want to be dishonest because this blog has always been a place where I can be completely honest and would not have discovered this truth about myself had it not been for writing honestly about my feelings every day, I clammed up just the same. I began to fear people’s judgment of me for being “one of them” (even though I’m mindful and think I do pretty well not acting in narcissistic ways) and feeling like maybe I should downplay the “narc” label. After all, it’s just a label, right? And not even a label given to me by a therapist or mental health professional, but a self-diagnosis which might be wrong anyway. I can’t even bring myself to add “covert narcissism” to my list of disorders. BPD’s bad enough.

But in spite of all that, in my gut I know my self assessment is correct. I’ve become very hesitant to call too much attention to it however, because of my fear of negative judgment (which in itself is a part of both BPD and covert NPD). I know it’s silly, because it was abuse itself that made me this way. In the past few months I’ve hesitated to write articles about abuse, because knowing I have covert narcissism made me feel like a fraud. But I’m not a fraud because I am myself an abuse victim–one so badly damaged I was infected with narcissism myself. That’s why once I got over my rage and hatred toward narcissists (which I worked out through my earlier blog posts) brought on by their abuse, I found myself attempting to understand why they did the things they do. It took several more months of completely honest writing (running naked in public) that pulled the scales from my eyes and made me realize that I myself had the disorder and was trying to understand myself!

It took an email I got this morning from an ACON (who I had confessed about my narcissism to) that said she could understand how I could have been infected and that as long as I was aware and trying to change (which I am doing) that there was nothing wrong with my writing for ACONs and in fact, she had been helped by my articles and would continue to read them. Most people, in fact, have been very supportive and understanding. I was actually shocked by this, given how demonized NPD is.

I know as a blogger who writes primarily as a form of self therapy, that I cannot get any better if I stop being honest. I worry far too much about what others are going to think, or that I will be disliked, or people will judge me harshly. I suppose this is natural, having been judged harshly by my narcissists all my life, so I always assume the worst will happen. It rarely does, but just the same, it makes me clam up and leave things out.

These labels can be so damaging, and make those of us who want to change ourselves afraid to admit the truth. It was bad enough admitting I was BPD, because of the negative stigma associated with that. But admitting you’re “N” is even more scary. Some people think you’re the devil himself. But why should it be that way? It’s just a label. If I’m not acting out or hurting anyone, then it makes no difference to anyone but myself. It’s something I need to deal with. I can’t get any better if I don’t come to terms with that reality and on some level, accept it.
I could be wrong anyway (but I don’t think I am).

I felt so much better when I left nothing out, when I was so candid and brutally honest about the most personal and embarrassing and shameful things imaginable. It was scary but I never once regretted it, and found myself growing and changing, becoming happier and more confident (in a real, not a narcissistic way). I was feeling more empathy for others and becoming less shy. I was finding myself connecting with people in a way I was never able to, and was beginning to feel like I mattered. So why would I stop?

I judge myself and don’t want to “own” this label, but realistically, how could someone have been raised the way I was and NOT develop a Cluster B disorder like BPD or NPD? I was both scapegoat AND golden child, and constantly receiving contradictory, mixed messages (I was perceived as either “better” than others, superior, and expected to live up to some ideal image of a child my parents had for me, or I was told I was worthless and bad because I was unable to live up to that unrealistic ideal). This isn’t something I chose; it was something done to me. Narcissism is contagious.

And that brings me to the third issue behind my depression and lack of motivation…

3. Fear of parental disapproval.

angry-parents

There’s another reason why I’ve been less motivated to write. The way I was raised has everything to do with all my emotional problems and my mood swings, inability to connect with anyone emotionally, or feel like I’m leading a fulfilling, successful life. It even explains why I married a malignant narcissist and spent 27 years with him as a codependent, abused wife (covert narcissists–and BPDs–often pair up with higher spectrum or overt, grandiose narcissists and are almost always codependent).

But lately I’ve been afraid to write about my parents and their emotional abuse of me, even though they were my first (and because my personality was still forming, my most toxic), abusers). I can’t blog honestly if I leave my experiences with them out. But I’ve been afraid to write about them just the same, and that’s because about 6 months ago, I found out my parents had found my blog and were reading it. That might make anyone clam up, but no real names were being used, so I wasn’t guilty of slander or libel. It might even do them good to read about the way they made me feel, even if they didn’t care or tried to project everything back onto me (because I wasn’t lovable enough as a child, or am a “loser” who makes “bad choices” today or whatever it is they’re saying about me). It would certainly do ME good to be honest about what happened. After all, this blog is my self-therapy and with any therapist, you would talk about your childhood and the bad parenting you got, so why wouldn’t I write about it? It’s not as if I’m losing anything by doing so, since (as far as I know) I’ve been disowned anyway. I’ve been the black sheep for years and am NC with my mother anyway.

But I still fear their judgment, for God knows what reason. Why do I write openly about my ex’s abuse and not fear his negative judgement? What makes it so different? What makes that “okay” and writing about my parents “not okay”?

I worry way too much about the negative opinions of others, and that in itself is part of my narcissism. I was bullied as a child and that didn’t help either. I put far too much importance on what other people think. I don’t think I lie excessively, but leaving things out is a kind of lie too. I lie by glossing over things, not talking about important things that affected me and caused my problems, not admitting the way I really feel about something, downplaying both my abuse (due to fear of my parents judging me even though they already do) and my own disorders. When I lie by omission, it’s still a lie, and I’m not doing myself any favors either. In fact, the fear of negative judgment feeds on itself, and I imagine the worst outcomes and that tends to feed my fears even more, making me even less motivated to write.

So what I need to do is not worry about what everyone will think, and go ahead and write what I feel and let the chips falls where they may. If I’m harshly judged by some, so be it. Those are probably not people I would want to have anything to do with anyway.

A small part of my depression is because my car needs major repairs and my job only pays enough to pay the bills so I’m living pretty much from one paycheck to the next (and working a lot more). I’m going to go ahead and ask for donations via Paypal but I’ll do a separate post for that and I hope it doesn’t offend anyone.

So that’s where I’m at. I need to start writing about everything I’m feeling again, starting from today and stop worrying about what a few people think and censoring myself because of them. They don’t matter, but my growth as a person does, as well as those who get something from reading this blog. Censoring myself for fear of negative judgment is one of the things I need to work on getting over. It helps no one, least of all me. Haters are always going to exist, no matter what you blog about. I can’t lose my original focus and why I started blogging in the first place, and lately I’ve been slipping. That needs to stop now.

You may find this article inspiring too, if you blog and are afraid to be completely honest.

Surviving the holidays

charliebrown

I relate to Charlie Brown. As a kid, “Peanuts” was my favorite comic strip (I owned all the Peanuts books too), and Charlie Brown was a lot like me–fearful of what others thought of him, frequently bullied and taken advantage of, and often pessimistic. But he also had a good heart, and his faithful dog Snoopy brought joy to his life when he was ready to give up. So I have used some photos from the classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in my post.

The holidays are a rough time for many people, but they are especially hard on those of us who have been victims of narcissistic abuse and been cut off (or have gone No Contact) with our families. It sure doesn’t help either that I have SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and become very depressed during the shortest and coldest days of the year.

I have described the way my MN mother has systemically, through triangulation, scapegoating and gaslighting of me as well as making good use of the flying monkeys in her own extended family, has cut me off from all my relatives who I never knew very well anyway. She has even recruited some of the relatives on my father’s side into her evil campaign against me. I am the family embarrassment and black sheep.

Even though I have gone No Contact with my mother and several other family members, I feel I would have been eventually cut off completely from them anyway. I’ve almost certainly been written out of both her and my father’s wills. My mother’s extended family and friends don’t know me; they only believe the vicious lies what she tells them about me–what an ungrateful and selfish daughter I am (and how narcissistic I am too), what a pathetic loser I am (because I’m poor and haven’t achieved a high status career the way they all have), what stupid choices I make, and how emotionally unstable and crazy I am. It’s obvious she’s projecting some of her own character defects onto me (a red flag for narcissism if there ever was one), but knowing this doesn’t make her hateful comments and lies hurt any less–and some of them have a grain of truth–especially the picture she’s painted of me as an impoverished “loser” and that I was always destined to fail (because I was programmed and trained to fail).

It hurts like hell to know how hated I am by my own family. Even as a child I sensed my mother hated me, because I was an exceedingly sensitive child and she could never understand that. She also knew I could see right through her, even when I was a toddler. Knowing that my family hates me has done enormous damage to my self image and crippled me in succeeding in life. I was programmed by her to fail. My being a success would have been a huge danger to her.

Because of my C-PTSD and suspiciousness and lack of trust of others (and due to being naturally introverted), I  find it very hard to socialize and make friends because I have so much trouble reading social cues and knowing the right thing to say at the right time (for years, I thought I had Aspergers). It seems that my only social life is on the Internet. I’m afraid to get close to people because I’m afraid they might hate me if they knew me too well. So I spent most of my time alone, reading, blogging, and interacting with my sweet and loyal pets, who never judge me and accept me for who I am. I actually prefer it that way. I relish my time alone, without the stress of having to be “on” in social situations. I’m never really lonely, and I’m free to be myself without fear of judgment.

CHARLIE BROWN TRIES TO PERK UP THE FORLORN LITTLE CHRISTMAS TREE

But the holidays are hard because I am so alone in the world. Thanksgiving is coming up this week, and I’ve made absolutely no plans, because there is no one to make plans with. My only immediate family that has anything to do with me (or are still alive) are my son and daughter. But my son lives several states away and there is no way either he or I can afford to travel to be together, and my daughter has moved in with her boyfriend, and although she says she will be around on Thanksgiving, her word is about as reliable as a Nigerian email scam. She will probably find some excuse to not show up.

It’s very difficult for me to listen to people all around me talk about their big holiday plans–plans that involve boatloads of relatives, extravagant gifts, preparing huge meals for the extended family and their large circles of friends, planning plane or road trips to see beloved family and friends. I admit I envy these people, and really have a hard time dealing with their holiday chatter. It makes me feel so cheated and drives home how unfair life can be. Holiday commercials are even worse, and their images of the idealized, big extended, functional families sitting around a huge table groaning with food while the kids happily open gifts under a 12 foot tree feels like a kick in the teeth. It feels like the universe, or God or whatever, is taunting me:
“This is what everyone else has and you do not. You don’t deserve what they have. Nyah, nyah! Suck it up, loser.”
That’s really what it feels like. And it’s so, so hard. It makes me want to crawl into a large cardboard box and die.

I have a roommate, but she will be with her own family on Thanksgiving, and frankly, she isn’t someone I want to spend much time with. So it looks very likely I will be alone on Thanksgiving. Should I cook a small turkey just for me? I might–just to go through the motions of doing something special, and because I enjoy cooking and baking. I thought of going to the Catholic church I’ve been attending lately for their free Thanksgiving dinner–but that just seems so desperate and pathetic. I can’t help but associate people who go alone to such events as being the rejects of society, those without families or friends to be with. Well, that’s exactly what I am though, isn’t it? What makes me think I’m better than those people? Still, I don’t know if I can bring myself to go.

Christmas will be even worse. I think I’ll just skip Christmas this year. I’ve said that every year though since my kids became adults, and I haven’t skipped it yet. I may put up a small pre-lit tabletop tree from the dollar store. I have an antique mirror I can put behind it to make it appear brighter and bigger. But I don’t know. For me, giving gifts is far more fun than receiving, and Christmas is no fun if you’re too poor to give anything. I can make some of my glass and mirror suncatchers and give those (they were well received last year) or bake cookies and wrap them in attractive packages and inexpensive colorful tins.

Or maybe this can be the year I decide to stop feeling sorry for myself and give someone who is even worse off than me a few hours of joy. I could volunteer at the church, or the soup pantry, or even invite a homeless person or someone with no one to be with out to dinner for Christmas. Even a total stranger! At least I have a home, and a little bit of money; many people don’t even have that. In a week or so I’ll be receiving a several thousand dollar settlement from my daughter’s car accident back in October; I think I should use a little of that money to try to bring some joy into someone’s life who doesn’t have any at all. But will I do it?

snoopycharliebrown

The holidays sure are a challenge, and every year I dread them and wish I could just hibernate until spring, but maybe this will be the year I can give to someone else what I don’t have much of myself.