good tidings

Happy holidays and hopefully good mental health to whoever stops by here. That sounds like Dr. Frasier Crane, doesn’t it? Eh, whatever.

I used to love Christmas, then I hated it, then I loved it again, and now we have a mutual understanding. At the moment I’m tired of the music and the commercialism, although I’m being a little hypocritical. I bought stuff for Black Friday just like everyone else. Mrs. Fish love-love-loves Christmas and decorations and lights and music and the Cheesy Christmas Movies™ that run 24/7 on the Hallmark Channel.

Besides, what’s a good atheist to do for Christmas? It would be weird if I observed Jewish or Islamic traditions, so I shouldn’t observe Christian traditions either. How do I celebrate a secular Christmas – or is that an oxymoron? Are Christmas and Christianity inseparable? Should I give up and force the family to buy a Festivus pole? I haven’t given this a lot of thought … maybe next year.

I started joining a group of humanists and atheists for monthly coffee talks to socialize and discuss current events and liberal issues. I guess it is going well, although sometimes I feel like I’m not smart or witty or well-read enough to keep up with them. I know that’s just my insecurities talking. I fit in pretty well, although when the topic of humanism comes up I realize I haven’t thought much about atheism or humanism as a philosophy. I don’t believe in any religion, but what do I believe in, and how should I live my life as a result? What gives my life meaning? Questions for future study, I guess.

My mental health is doing okay. I’ve been a little stressed at work, but nothing like I was earlier this year, and I have not had the same level of depression after adding the bupropion. I don’t really have a seasonal component to my bipolar, so I don’t think that is affecting me.

Nicole is not doing well. Her doctor had her go back to the partial day program again, but then kicked her out because she kept missing days due to “needing a mental health day”. I don’t agree with that decision by the doctor, but I don’t really have any input there. Mrs. Fish has been struggling with anxiety and depression and won’t admit it, but maybe – finally – might be entertaining the possibility of seeing someone about it. She is too stubborn to take cold medicine, but I think an occasional benzo would do her a lot of good.

Finally: I was telling a family member that even though bipolar can be managed, it is still trying to kill you, and the best outcome is to die of something else before the bipolar kills you. They were a little shocked by that statement. Was I being overdramatic? I truly feel that way, because if I were to stop managing my bipolar, I have no doubt I would become very unstable very quickly. That path doesn’t end in a peaceful end.

family christmas

[Fishrobber Classic – 12/18/2011]

Most people get more sentimental during the holidays. I’ve always thought it is strange to put such an emphasis on family and giving and feasting during this time, when the rest of the year should be equally important. Of course so many people have bad memories, or just sadness; maybe that just proves that most families are more messed up than people want to admit.

When I was little, my Christmases were pretty good compared to many people. I got lots of presents, not knowing or caring at the time how much of a financial strain it was for A-Mom. When I realized how much she sacrificed to save up the money to buy me things, it became a lot less fun. That, and the Old Bitch screaming insults and telling us how everything we did was shit, and dodging the 20-year stacks of newspapers that couldn’t be moved.

The biggest thing missing for me was the fact I had no brothers or sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins, not even a dad to share Christmas with. All we had was our dysfunctional fighting unit: me, A-Mom, and the OB (no one wanted her, especially her family). I wanted to have a house filled with warmth and love and lots of family, not bitterness and hate and anxiety.

Fast forward to age 16, Christmas Eve. My best friend Lisa (not girlfriend, that’s another post) invited me to come over to her house for the evening, and A-Mom let me go (because she liked Lisa too). It was like something out of a dream for me: a warm fire, lots of family in the house, music, games, happiness, love, no anger or yelling or fighting. They made me feel like part of the family for the evening.

I was almost overwhelmed, and a little emotional. Lisa took me to her room to talk about it, and I tried to explain how it was just what I had wanted for so long, and it all seemed so perfect. “Perfect,” she laughed, “you think this is perfect?” She said that both grandparents and her mom were already drunk off their ass as usual, her dad had broken something in anger in the garage, and her brother was pissed off at dad and spending the night at someone else’s house. I didn’t care, I told her, and it was true.

The first girl I ever loved saved Christmas for me.