I am currently throwing this together on Christmas Eve, with the intention of posting after Christmas. Tomorrow I will be celebrating the holiday with Nee’s family, as I’ve done for nearly 10 years now.

In many ways I am fortunate. I will be spending the holiday with a group of friendly, accepting people who demand nothing of me (nor I of them), who get together simply because it’s pleasant. My meds are making this the easiest December I can remember, which means I will finally get to experience a Christmas without clouds of depression looming directly over my head. I am pleased with this. I find myself actually looking forward to it.

However, even with all of this luck, a holiday means stress for me. It means being around a group of people, and no matter how lovely, a group is still a group. There will be people and noise and lights and a dog and various other things impacting my senses. Additionally, it’s going to screw up my routines. Holidays that happens in the middle of the week always do that, and it’s always a stressor, no matter how good the holiday otherwise is. I depend on my routines, and it’s tough on me when they are disrupted.

So I have a few coping plans for tomorrow.

1. Crafts. My crocheting is a wonderfully socially-acceptable means of stimming, and I always use it at the holidays. And frequently at any group gathering I happen to be at. Sometimes I color.

2. Hiding places. Any time I’m going somewhere and I’m going to be in a group of people, I make sure that I have somewhere I can go hide. And in this case, “hide” means “be alone.” Sometimes it takes the form of a bathroom, sometimes a spare bedroom, once it was a little meditation nook, sometimes it’s just outside. Point is, I always make sure I have somewhere to hide. If there is nowhere to hide, I don’t go.

3. Escape routes. Feeling trapped can make even the most pleasant occasion incredibly stressful. I always give myself permission to duck out if I have to, or even leave outright if it’s just too much. This is more difficult if I am dependent on someone else for a ride, but even then I can usually at least find an outside hiding spot and just hang out alone until my ride is ready to leave.

What sort of strategies do you have to help deal with groups, disruptions in routines, or other such difficulties?

Also, if you celebrated a holiday recently, I hope it was enjoyable for you. ^_^


Filed under personal, social skills

3 responses to “Holidays

  1. Andrew

    Merry Christmas to you too.

    I use hiding places as well, which worked very effectively this year because we had Christmas at home so I could escape by doing something useful. what really gets to me is the noise as people get drunker. I struggle to hear the person I am taking to through it, which makes conversation difficult.

    I’m finding the lack of routine awkward as well. Fortunately I have had a friend invite me interstate for a few days so that will keep me from getting bored. It just brings the nerves of travelling instead.

    I hope you have a good time and see you in the New Year I expect 🙂

  2. At my family gatherings there always seem to be two crowds… the noisy, talky crowd in one room, and the quieter crowd in the other room. I am usually in the quieter place. I also tend to stick near one comfortable spot and let others come to me to mingle, instead of trying to “work the room.”

  3. Dan

    My wife and I (I’m the one with Asperger’s) went to Christmas Eve services at church. Our church is a group of very accepting people and I’m valued there. The volume level is past my comfort zone, but they don’t get offended if I use earplugs (my own private hiding place) for the music. I sit at the end of the row with my wife next to me keeping me from feeling trapped.

    For family get-together, my daughter and her family came over Christmas eve after services, stayed the night, and opened presents in the morning. One grandson is on the spectrum too, so my daughter’s family remains very understanding.

    Over the years, my wife and I have decided to just-not-gather with people that decline to be understanding (iow: decline to be kind). We all make choices about with whom we will spend time; my wife and I changed one criterion from “They gotta be close” to “They gotta be caring.”

    Thanks for the post!