Anxiety + The Holidays = Dear God Why

Well, first there’s Thanksgiving.

My aunt has fairly bad anxiety, and for some reason entirely unbeknownst to me, she hosts family Thanksgiving every year. I honestly think she hates hosting it, and by the end of the night she’s absolutely thrilled to have everyone out of there. The thing is, when other people are anxious around me, it rubs off on me and I in turn feel anxious.

I don’t know what it is, maybe call it anxious empathy or something. Whatever my problem is, I can usually avoid it—I don’t know a lot of people with anxiety issues, and the few I know that do usually hide it fairly well. It just so happens that a lot of people in my family have anxiety, and no one is really that big a fan of anyone else. Add all that together and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Thankfully, this year I made it through thanksgiving alive and well.

Next up is Hannukah. I always celebrate Hannukah with my cousins at my Grandma’s house. It used to never be a source of anxiety for me. Now…well…

My grandma, as far as I know, has never washed her hands a day in her life. Seriously, when we were younger she would change my now-four-year-old cousin in the middle of making us dinner. That woman, as much as I love her, is incredibly unsanitary.

Now, obviously, my anxiety is fairly mild—I obviously don’t have OCD (at least not severe OCD, I really haven’t done a whole ton of research on it so I wouldn’t know) because if I did I wouldn’t even be able to eat what my grandma makes. Seriously, that woman has not owned a dishwasher her whole life and boy, does it show. There are flecks of food on those plates that have been there longer than I’ve been alive.

Anyway. I have to be really wary of the food my grandma makes. Dirtiness or mess do not make me anxious; the things they bring with them do. Namely, vermin. Although I don’t stress much about it while I’m eating my grandma’s food, I’ve literally been kept up at night with the thought of getting pinworms or a tapeworm.

(((If you do not know what pin or tape worms are, this is one of the few times I will beg you DO NOT EDUCATE YOURSELF. Seriously, they were created by the devil himself.)))

It used to not be a problem, back when I was little and washing my hands was something I only did when my mom made me. Now? I’m seriously horrified at the thought of any type of bug, parasite, or cousin thereof. If dust mites were visible, I would not be able to function.

After Thanksgiving and Hannukah comes Christmas (which my family celebrates as a secular holiday).

I would really love Christmas, except for the fact that, well, my brother is an asshole.

Now, I love my little brother. I really do. But he almost ruined last year’s Christmas for me. My mom and I spend a lot of time setting up and getting ready for Christmas and my brother absolutely refuses to help (he’d rather play videogames than help to decorate the tree, the little butt) and instead insists on getting underfoot.

I get that he’s only eleven so maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on him, but for real. He caused me to almost have a panic attack last Christmas. While I was busy trying to keep myself sane, he was literally attempting to beat the crap out of me. I’m hoping this year will be better.

Last year, I gave him his present (even though I was planning on not giving it to him at all) and I hoped it would be one of those TV-show moments where we looked at each other and realized our love for each other and realized the true meaning of Christmas. Instead, he opened the present, looked at it, and threw it at me.

What do you do for the holidays? How do you cope with the stress of having your entire family in the same room together? Let me know in the comments.

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