Christmas Day felt so strange. The whole lead up to Christmas has felt ‘dishevelled’ to me. It’s always been a time of great excitement and enthusiasm, with the tree and decorations put up on December 1. But not in 2016.
My daughter Jessie had told her Nanna 6 weeks or so ago that she didn’t want anything for Christmas. Not only that she did not even want to celebrate the occasion this year. She remained adamant about that, insisting there was nothing she wanted. But how can we celebrate Christmas and not have anything for the only child/grandchild/niece in the family? It just doesn’t sit right! So, as Mum, I put a couple of things on her wish list.
Initially I suggested the rest of us volunteer on the day, and not do presents. Dad wasn’t keen on that idea! He wanted presents! My reaction was that I didn’t want to celebrate without Jessie. I wanted to boycott too! So Mum did all the research, and we decided on our charity, The Exodus Foundation. They are a fantastic organisation who provide support for the homeless and disadvantaged. Certificates for working with children were required so we put our applications in. Mine took over a fortnight to be approved. Consequently, by that time we’d missed out on positions that didn’t require specific qualifications. A working with hazardous materials certificate was even required to be a volunteer cleaner! With knowledge, we’ll be better prepared if it looks like Chrissie is a no-goer again with Jessie in 2017.
Going full circle, we decided we would have our family lunch after all, and celebrate with gifts. I continued to hope Jessie would change her mind, but it wasn’t to be.
It was a little sad leaving for Christmas lunch at my parents’ place. Jessie was asleep, and tired when I woke her, so I left her present on the end of her bed. I missed the joy and anticipation of previous years. I really had to suck it up, and not let myself get upset.
The psychology behind Jessie’s choice I don’t understand, so I cannot shed any light as to how a teenager could refuse Christmas. I have read many articles on what can make this time of year difficult for bipolar adults. Reasons include over-indulgence, finances, relatives and stress – understandable for adults at this time of year! In researching the issue in kids or teens, I have been unsuccessful.
Although we don’t understand, my family have been so supportive of Jessie which I am incredibly grateful for.
It can be difficult not to take Jessie’s ‘rejection’ personally. Surely if she loved the family she would want to see them – right? It’s not that cut and dry with bipolar or with Jessie. This is about her, not about any of us. Jessie is finding the outside world too confronting. People scare her – they can really hurt her, and she feels safest in her room. Still, it does affect us all. my family misses her, and we all worry about her.