PTSD: How to finally enjoy the “most wonderful time of the year”.
by Maya Bassude
The Christmas season is here and what many will call the most wonderful time of the year also acts as the worst for others. For myself, the holidays mean family time, and as someone who suffered abuse because of family it brings back many memories of being in danger that I’d much rather avoid.
My birthday also falls on Christmas Eve and when I turned 17 years old, I spent the day being sexually assaulted by my partner at the same before going home to my family who teased me for not being present.
For the past couple of years enjoying the holidays and my birthday has been almost impossible (with the exception of a few people going out of their way to make it special) but this year I believe I’ve unlocked the key to breaking free from these memories and finally enjoying myself. I hope that in reading this, others who have a difficult time celebrating because of memories can find a way to enjoy them this time around as well.
It’s easy for people who have not experienced PTSD to say “just stop living in the past”. If it was that easy I promise I would do it! I’ve come to realize that my brain replays the most intense memories that I have. Unfortunately for me most of them have been traumatic ones. Lately, I’ve been trying something new by creating intense good memories for my brain to go back to so that it can finally stop going back to the bad ones. So far it’s been working really well.
By avoiding celebrating the holidays or my birthday, I’ve actually been robbing myself of the opportunity to make new memories to look back on. The longer I continue to do this the longer my mind continues to go back to the darker times when it hears the words Christmas or birthday. This year I’m going to try something new and I’d like to encourage anybody who is having a tough time these season to join me.
Make this season the best season you’ve ever had. Go out of your way to create amazing memories this year that will last you a long, long time. This holiday season, you need to put your happiness first. If enjoying the holidays this year means skipping out on family time and going to the spa on your own then do it! If it means reading your favourite book while relaxing on your own, or spending your time doing something extravagant with someone new then do it! It’s got to be something that scares you just a little bit but also gives you joy. Something big enough that every time you look back on the holiday season you remember that year you put yourself first and actually had a good time and felt happy for once.
This year I’m not completely sure what I want to do, but I plan to surround myself with people who genuinely make me feel loved and happy. I plan to visit new places, and explore new things that I don’t already have a memory with so that I can have a fresh start when it comes to making new memories.
For the first time in a long time I’m very excited for the holiday season. I’m even listening to Christmas music again! Not that you have to take it that far, but be open to the possibilities and take a leap of faith that putting in the extra effort this year to make brand new, better memories may be worth while.
If you try this out for yourself, I’d love to hear from you! Shoot me a message and let me know how it works out!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours and I hope you finally get the season you deserve.
About the writer
Spoken word artist Maya “ MayaSpoken” Basudde began writing at a very young age and competed in her first poetry slam at the City of Ottawa Youth Showcase in 2015 where she placed first. Since then, she has featured for Urban Legends and performed her poetry at events such as the 2015 Black History Month Show for the Senate and the 2015 Global Community Alliance’s Gala and Award Ceremony. Maya has always had a love for words and enjoys using them to create positive and inspiring messages for others.