Nemesis: the inescapable agent of someone’s downfall

‘Tis the Season to be Lonely

Fuck a la la la la, la la la

‘Tis the Season to be Phoney

Fuck a la la la la, la la la

Dish the drama up with candy

Fuck a la la la, la la la

Scratch my heart out with your nails

Fuck a la la la, la la la


Etcetera Etcetera Etcetera

I love Christmas.  I love the holidays.  I love all the happy, the jingles and the merry joy that Disney says we feel.  But then I’ve never been at the centre of a true family holiday – I watch from the outside, always have.  Stare at the shows that every family puts on, hiding the nail scraping against the chalk boards behind closed doors.  My favourite bit of Christmas is my children’s joy: we have no family so it is simply us and the elves.  The elves are a license to tease my children for an entire month with marshmallow booby traps and gift wrapped toilets.  I watch my friends gradually becoming more and more stressed, memories of past Christmases (holidays) haunt with losses that can never be recovered: of self and loved ones.

Then there are my friends who because of shift work cannot be with their family over the holidays.  The guilt.  It eats and gnaws at their bones.

The friends who are estranged from their family.

The friends who spouses have sprouted horns and separated them from their children.

It just never ends.

Then the shift includes a fire caused by the inevitable tree aflame.  Or the Domestic with the children who have barely enough to eat never mind a gift from Santa.  Tragedies are the stuff of the holidays.  Walt Disney is an evil genius focused on adding a spoonful of vinegar as you choke on merry cheer.

What I find most bemusing is that Christmas, for me a Christian, is about love, renewal and rebirth of hope.  Yet all I see is greed, anger and hatred.  Fist fights over parking in overcrowded malls; the constant unceasing pressure to provide the perfect Christmas; women and children cowering in shelters from enraged husbands pushed to the brink of sanity and decency by … Christmas cheer?

Fuck a la la.

Not going to lie, I still love Christmas but then I am the ultimate Human Fainting Bambi.  But I know what is a coming, it’s predictable and inevitable.  So here are some coping skills, some I use, some I don’t but I asked my friend, Allan Gray of Dubiel Gray (the Learn/UnLearn/ReLearn Trainer of the TBI/PTSD Brain):

  • Have a BUDDY SYSTEM set up, either 3 (the Triangle) or 4 (the Diamond)
  • Agree on a schedule to check in with each other
  • SEND UP THE COUNT – if you don’t know what this means smack yourself with an elf made of lead
  • Have a fixed date in the future that you are looking forward to: plan it with your BUDDIES.  This has to be a concrete date that you will enjoy, look forward to and can go to when you are feeling anxious.  It is BRIGHTER, LOUDER, EXHILARATING and SAFE.  It is in the FUTURE.
  • Go to the toilet regularly: toilet breaks are what you took as a kid when things got dull or too difficult in class.  Kids are very intelligent and they know what to do – learn from them.
  • When you feel that all too familiar feeling of anxiety and frustration creeping towards you MOVE, change your posture, get up and if it doesn’t ease, leave.  Take time out.

Accept right now that Disney is an evil mastermind and the ultimate pedlar of lies.  (Sorry Walt, Grandpa spoke highly of you but you’ve warped the idea of what reality is.)  Know your limits.  The past does not own you, but it can inform you of what to expect.  Prepare.  Plan.  Go in ready and eyes up.

If you’re struggling there’s us: #PTSDChat or @KateGillieArt

Stay connected with those who understand and can support.  Read the other posts and #PTSDChats on HOLIDAYS and Surviving them.  Information, Resources and Being Prepared will get you through.



  1. Please add your comments to this post: share your experiences, coping skills and anything … Thank you!

  2. john wheeler Reply

    ‘Tis the Season to be Lonely

    Fuck a la la la la, la la la”

    Whatever!!!! I’d do you!!!!!!

    • Some are worth repairing. Some not so much.

      So long as they don’t harm us, and we see a benefit to them in our lives, it’s worth the effort. Otherwise?

  3. Great article! Another good coping tool for me is to meditate, or if I can’t because of unwanted intrusive thoughts/memories going outside and having a fire is nice. Look at the moon, and watch the trees blow with the wind. Also getting out with a good friend to see local music is generally a spirit booster.

  4. What if I really don’t know what “Send up the count” means?

    • Grab the lead elf! Kidding. It’s a military Veteran term, it means to call your buddies – check on them. It is the same for all of us. Reach out and ask, genuinely ask and wait to hear the answer, “Who are you doing TODAY?” It requires us to care, to check in and spend the time. Push each other to standing, pull each other out of the darklands.

  5. Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all of us you really know what you are talking about! Bookmarked. Kindly also visit my website =). We could have a link exchange contract between us!

    • I will but I’m not sure what a ‘link exchange contract’ is … I’m not very good at this stuff which is why I have my friend Rebecca help me out. I didn’t know what Twitter was in February 2015 … just about holding my head abovee water!

  6. From @CanPraxis

    Surving the holiday season means staying focused on one simple positive a
    day screw the rest. The Glitz and Glamour are artificial. The real
    Christmas present and the reward for the New Year is moving one small step
    forward towards overcoming PTSD. Yep, there’ll be setbacks and hard times.
    The reality is nothing you value and hold near and dear to your heart was
    given to you free. You had to bust your ass for it. Same is true for
    overcoming PTSD and yes it can be done.

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