Schizophrenia and Celebrating the Holidays

December 1, 2015 Elizabeth Caudy

With schizophrenia, celebrating the holidays can be torture. But knowing yourself and preventing stress can help people with schizophrenia cope. Find out how.

Having schizophrenia is bad enough but having schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia during the holidays can be daunting. It’s simply terrible that these illnesses often strip us of our ability to enjoy times that are supposed to be joyous occasions, times like the holidays. All the shopping in crowded malls and all the parties crowded with people can be torture (Mental Illness Can Overstimulate your Brain). Here are some tips on celebrating the holidays even with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.

I Try to Enjoy the Holidays, Even With Schizophrenia

One holiday season, I bought a toy elf that laughs when you squeeze him. I named him Crumpet, after a David Sedaris short story about Christmas. (David Sedaris gets a job as a Christmas elf at Macy’s, and Crumpet is his elf name.) That year I deWith schizophrenia, the holidays can be torture. But setting boundaries can help people with schizophrenia cope. Find out how. Read thisclared, “I’m happy about Christmas for the elves!” Well, it didn’t work. It didn’t help that Crumpet’s laugh slowly started to seem mirthless and maniacal.

It also doesn’t help that I’m a perfectionist who has to get everyone the perfect gift. (Thank you, generalized anxiety disorder.) I used to have a tradition of going shopping on Black Friday with my sister to buy each other a present, but it got way too overwhelming. All the crowds, all the people yelling and rushing around, the stressed out salespeople – no thank you. Now my sister and I give the present of our love -- throughout the year -- we talk to each other every Sunday evening on the phone.

This Year, My Schizophrenia Isn’t Stopping Me from Enjoying the Holidays

Strangely, even with schizoaffective disorder, I’m not stressing out about the holidays this year (Planning Ahead for Mental Illness During the Holidays). First of all, all my shopping is done – well, I still have to get something for my parents’ cat. I think a lot of my serene attitude has to do with the fact that I’ve been exercising, which seems to help my schizoaffective disorder. I’ve been going out running every morning.

The real test will be the actual holidays. As of this writing, Thanksgiving is coming up. It will have passed by the time this posts. My husband and I often have to leave my parents’ house before dessert on Thanksgiving and Christmas because I become overwhelmed by all the revelry. But, I have a feeling that since I haven’t been stressing out about shopping, maybe I won’t stress out on the actual celebrations. I’ll be with “safe” people who love me and who know what I’m going through.

A lot of people have trouble during the holidays, not just people with mental illness. A lot of people don’t have anyone with whom to spend the holidays. I’m thankful that I have family and friends to buy presents for and people to celebrate with, even if it sometimes all gets to be too much. You can celebrate the holidays even with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.

Photo of elf by Elizabeth Caudy.

Find Elizabeth on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and her personal blog.

APA Reference
Caudy, E. (2015, December 1). Schizophrenia and Celebrating the Holidays, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Author: Elizabeth Caudy

Elizabeth Caudy was born in 1979 to a writer and a photographer. She has been writing since she was five years old. She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, Tom. Find Elizabeth on Google+ and on her personal blog.

December, 23 2018 at 4:54 am

don't always have to be perfect, dwell on the days that follow Christmas and the time will pass. Try and keep most of your routine happening and hug someone if you are able to , or if you have a special someone. If not, remember there is someone for everyone in this world, and sometimes different people at different stages of your life. Make your own family, with people who love you. Like John (above ) says, don't worry about the jerks.

April, 22 2017 at 3:14 pm

There is definately a lot to learn about this subject.
I really like all the points you've made.

December, 3 2015 at 4:18 am

I'm always in awe of posts like this. I can't imagine my son ever being able to do these things, let alone write about it. He is just too ill right now. I have tried to get him to at least look at this site but he can't. But I always have hope! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and have a wonderful holiday!

December, 2 2015 at 6:39 am

As the saying goes, 'You have just one life to live'...on earth anyway{emphasis mine]. I suffer from paranoia, anxiety, depression, and often, beer drinking. I finally decided to just let go. Many people are good; many are assholes. I have chosen to live and to be with the good. I don't cater or apologize to the assholes anymore. I actually let them know they are assholes. Be yourself and don't worry. Give to the even less fortunate. I don't have to look far to find someone far less fortunate than me. I am lucky. Be yourself and the holidays will be great.

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