December 03, 2014

Post Traumatic Holiday Disorder-- PTHD

I have a mild case of Post Traumatic Holiday Disorder (PTHD), second cousin to the more commonly known Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

My house-full of company left yesterday.
This morning I dragged myself from bed.

My kind mother straightened up the day she left AND she just about finished my literal mountain of laundry.
(I didn't do laundry the week of Thanksgiving and oh my!!)

I have a table clutter with games to put away, and old Thanksgiving decor mixed with new Christmas decor that I'm just setting up.  Bleh.

My toddlers have, for the day, lost their cuteness.  We're at the "how the heck is this child going to survive to the age of two phase".  Climbing, drawing, splashing in every toilet and dog bowl...  

PTHD makes these normal and otherwise endearing behaviors somewhat mind altering and frustrating!!  Sigh.  

PTHD is triggered by sharpie markers and nail polish bottles found within reach of toddlers.  Only those trying to raise teens and toddlers in the same environment can understand the intensity of emotional responses to such objects.

My brain is swirling with fun holiday memories, good times, wishing we lived closer to family, joy that everyone is growing up, and a secret desire to just be a kid again and really spend one holiday vacationing.  I am excited for Christmas and overwhelmed by Christmas.

I have a list two miles long of things I have already done and things I should have done by now.  

Oh Internet-- someday feminists will unite to save women from the tyranny of our own desires for improvement.  On PTHD days I take a big drink of "come down with the rest of us sister!!"  I laugh at my ghetto transitional Thanksmas decor, bask in my humanity, surrender to my imperfections, and tell myself that the women behind the smiley Instagram pictures are either saintly, faking it, or they are just as PTHD as me some days.  

I have become skilled at feeding large groups.  I really love to entertain.  A week of 14 for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is a lot.  It's fun for me to plan and budget and create.  But, boy howdy, even with a lot of help, it is work.  Shopping, preparing and cleaning up... Well, that's my life.  

Add in sightseeing day trips, intense conversation, an intelligent active toddler who prefers drawers to toys, and eight excited children who don't want to miss a moment of visiting night or day, and you've got the perfect storm for a PTHD relapse.

The day after company leaves I am always down and always exhausted.  I used to think my mood swing was because I felt overwhelmed with the clean-up.  But, I don't think so.  I clean my house weekly with or without company.  I think the real reason is-- I feel lonely and tired.  I get angry that my life does not allow me to rest-- I must go on.  I miss the excitement and anticipation of the holidays and I dread their return.  I love celebrations and family.  I need schedule, routine, and order.  I am always sad and relieved when real life returns.

I think PTHD is caused by a sudden drop of adrenaline.

I have wondered if the only real cure would be living near family such that holidays were just a glorified every Sunday experience.  In this instance PTHD might lessen, but I also think the actual joy of the holiday would lessen as well.

I'm choosing to embrace my PTHD.

Truthfully, caring for others day in and day out is just plain exhausting.  Especially the day after company leaves.  And, I'm just a normal woman with good and bad days and predictable holiday hangovers. 

The best antidote for PTHD is rest, evaluation, blogging about the holidays so you have a record, and a good chat with an old friend to swap stories and realize PTHD is more common and normal than you think it is.  

I try to focus on the positive and not replay the things I wish I had done differently. I try to bask in all that I finished and give myself a day or two before I start compiling my next long list of things to do.

To those of you who might also suffer from Post Traumatic Holiday Disorder, I recommend one relaxing night.

Eat a simple dinner (we're having broccoli and mac n cheese on leftover Thanksgiving paper plates), you're probably out of groceries anyway.  Joyfully return to early bedtimes for the kids.  Perhaps sneak a bootlegged episode of Downton Abbey, make time to talk and reconnect with your spouse, and maybe take a long bath with lavender and epson salts.  

I actually forced myself to go to Storytime at the library this morning so that my littlest got some fun interaction and I had people to talk to.  I did not however, shower or change out of my yoga pants.  PTHD symptoms get worse for me if I allow myself to isolate.

Today I feel tired, but I'm not afraid of my emotions.  PTHD reminds me to take care of me.  

Holidays are full.
We do a lot.
We care a lot.
We plan, we serve, we work hard.
Our job is constant.  
Our job is fun and good and there are many, many great days.

I'm ok with a few PTHD days.
I'm excited for Christmas!!
Life, with it's ups and downs, is absolutely normal and oh so good!!
Thank God I'm healthy enough to be tired.

And, as I typed this, another pilgrim lady lost her head.
Heaven help Mrs Claus.
PS-- I wanted to say something funny about chocolate being a good antidote for PTHD, and I do think chocolate helps, but truly what I really want when I'm down is a big gulp of healthy.  For me, it is a glass of vitamins, a plate of kale, a green smoothie, fresh apples and natural peanut butter.  I'm hungry, tired, and excited to "sharpen my saw."  Christmas is coming...

My phone therapy friend said she is exercising and it's amazing!!  Oh- I know I need to return to the land of exercise.  Soon.  

Thanks for reading this silly blog!!
Onward friends!!  
Life is grand!!


Angela Vach said...

Yes very much a PTHD phenomonom is happening at our house as well. And I did a fraction of what you did! Holidays are stressful. I was just telling my mother today that I need to simplify everything about my life right now. One foot in front of the other....that's how we keep moving forward. :)

Melanie said...

Thank you, I needed a good chuckle today. Now I have a name for it, PTHD! You are right, take time for rest, nutrition, exercise and chocolate. Not necessarily in that order;) As for the pilgrims and Mrs. Claus, super glue works wonders. My husband and I joke that we should of bought stock in diapers and super glue. We are out of the diaper phase but with our oldest in college and youngest not quite eight we haven't yet ended the season of super glue.

Marie said...

PTHD.... Thank you, Jen! I feel better already just knowing what the heck is happening to me! Ha! :)

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