Monday 21 December 2015

The ghost of Christmas past

For a while there I thought I would escape this year. I boasted to everyone who would listen (i.e. my husband) that I had once and for all exorcised my demons, got rid of my old baggage, and was at peace and a-okay.

Yeah, right. 

It took a near-death experience to rudely jolt me out of this pleasant fantasy, and to make me realize:
My ghost did find me after all.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's backtrack and start at the beginning: I'm not the hugest Christmas fan. As a child I obviously loved it, but in my early adulthood it lost its magic, being replaced with stress and worry instead. It's a shitty trade-off, but life is like that sometimes.
Nevertheless, every year I'm determined to make the best of it, and not get caught up in the holiday frenzy.
Every year, I fail. This time around I got closer than ever: Until last Friday I was doing swimmingly, not having had a single meltdown or hissy-fit in all of December.

I realize now it was all going a little too well. There is a saying in German that goes something like this: "If the donkey feels too good, he goes out on ice." Which is an awkward translation, but the saying is awkward in German as well, which must mean I nailed it.
In case you're confused about what I'm trying to say here (I don't blame you), it's that when everything is going really great, we may be tempted to do something stupid just to shake things up.
My act of stupidity was feeling way too smug about having life figured out and having it all under control.
Especially my big nemesis: My personal ghost, depression.

It hadn't shown its ugly face in so long, I felt quite self-satisfied about how things were going. More than once I boasted to Richard about my new-found serenity and peace of mind.
Then three days ago, my so-called peace came crashing down around me.
I woke up in a slightly hyper, yet still somewhat normal mood.

[FORESHADOWING: It wouldn't stay that way for long.
Dum - dum - duuuuuuuumm.]

I did normal at-home things, like walking the dogs, yoga, getting my bangs trimmed, drinking lots of coffee, and feeling anxious.
Huh? Why did I feel anxious? I had been looking forward to that day, to getting dressed up and going out at night. This was supposed to be a happy day, filled with sparkle, laughter, and two parties.
I was a social butterfly! Life was good! What the hell was I anxious about?

But I couldn't help it: the more the day progressed, the more apprehensive I became. I felt edgy and restless, and got more and more worked up. What about? Something I could barely put into words, but if I would have been forced to, would be along the lines of  "I really want to have an EXCELLENT time and be NORMAL and RELAXED, but I start to feel like NOT GOING OUT AT ALL and I don't always want to be the weirdo who cancels everything last minute so I will have FUN, DAMMIT!"

A little piece of advice: That's not an ideal mindset to go out and have fun.

Nothing worked out according to my carefully laid plan: I thought we would leave by 5pm, stay one hour to 90 minutes at our first party, then drive to the second to be there right at 7pm.
Instead, we didn't get out of the house until almost 6:30pm, because my husband doesn't know the meaning of time and has no respect for my neurotic OCD-tendencies.

Here is the thing: The first party was great. The people were fun, the atmosphere was festive, and the dinner was turkey. What's better than turkey? Not much, my friend.
But I wasn't living in the moment, enjoying it for what it was; I kept glancing at the clock, worried about leaving on time. So stupid.
I blame it all on my ghost, depression/slight anxiety, whichever one was present at the time.

Anyway, by the time we left I was thoroughly flustered. I was the DD, stone-cold sober, but I was driving like I was drunk. After first heading into the right direction, I took a wrong turn. Richard, in a cheerful mood, opened his mouth to let me know that I was headed the wrong way, but I interrupted him testily and told him that I was the driver and he should let me drive, without constantly giving advice. He closed his mouth again.
After about two minutes, he asked me: "Where exactly are we going?" I told him.
"You know that you are driving in the opposite direction, don't you?" I didn't.

Angrily I slammed on the brakes and turned around. "Great, we are already late, now we'll be even later", I muttered. Reluctantly, I asked where to go, and he directed me towards the highway.

That's when it almost happened.

I completely neglected to see the big semi driving up beside me as I was pulling into the same lane. It wasn't until I was in the lane that I saw the blinding lights in the rear view mirror and swerved to the right to avoid being hit from behind. I had been literally blinded by my emotions mental disorder.

The rest of the sad tale is told quickly: We had a huge fight in the car because Richard objected to being almost killed, even though I pointed out that it was an accident. I was completely numb, all my emotions drained out of me. We arrived safely at our second destination, and tried - unsuccessfully - to act like nothing had happened.

I have taken several lessons from this experience:
Depression kills (luckily for us, not this time). Because I'm blaming my temporary blindness on it.
I have a strong suspicion that antibiotics mess with antidepressants.
Christmas will never be my friend, and I'm over it by now.
The importance of living (and driving) in the moment cannot be emphasized enough.

All is well again, but I'm appropriately chastised by my ghost and more humble than I was before.
Turns out, I haven't quite mastered all my demons just yet.



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