Planning, preparation can make the holidays much more jolly for all

LGBTs often deal with stress, depression during the holiday season due to family issues

Candy Marcum

Candy Marcum

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Many people have such high expectations for the holidays that they get depressed when those expectations aren’t met. And in the LGBT community, dealing with family issues is often painful.

Counselor Candy Marcum said that holiday depression is the gap between how you think your life should work and how it is working.

“If you think Christmas should be family and love and laughter and you’re having trouble paying the rent and your family rejects you, then work to lessen the gap,” Marcum said.
She suggested changing the idea of how the holiday should be.

Marcum said that many people come out to family during the holidays because that’s when families get together.

And coming out in person is usually better than over the phone.

But, Marcum said, making a big announcement at the dinner table might not be the best way to do it.
Counselor Randy Martin said that anyone intending to come out to family over the holiday needs to plan and prepare beforehand.

“Find someone to bounce it off of,” such as a friend or sibling, he said. “Like a dry run.”

But when to spring the news? Each family is different, Martin said.

In some families, it’s best to talk about big news in pairs.

In others, groups are fine.

If a family has an expectation of how holiday dinner should be, interrupting it with this sort of news might not be the best idea. But in some families it could be the perfect setting, Martin suggested said.

Going home for the holidays and introducing a new partner is another stressful situation. Even the fully accepting family may react awkwardly to the new situation.

Randy-Martin-photo

Randy Martin

Marcum suggests staying in a nearby hotel might be the answer to avoiding family conflict. That avoids the embarrassing question of sleeping arrangements.

Or talk to family ahead of time. Staying with a sibling or other relative might work also.

Martin agreed that a hotel stay could be a perfect alternative for a couple during a holiday visit: “Maybe Grandpa smokes and one of you can’t tolerate it, or your family gets up much earlier than you do,” he said.

He added that any number of situations could make it simpler all the way around not to stay with one’s parents.

Marcum said another uncomfortable situation is visiting family after a breakup. While you might have moved on, everyone else could be feeling the loss for the first time, she said.

“Now you’ve got a new one [partner],” Marcum said. “That’s awkward at best.”

Martin agreed. “The family already has a pattern down. Do what you can to let everyone else catch up,” he said.

Loneliness is another common problem many people in the LGBT community face during the holidays.

Happy childhood memories of the holidays can bring on a bout of depression when those expectations will not be met because of family rejection, Marcum said.

Others are alone for the holidays simply because of distance, cost of travel or having to work.

Martin suggested doing some extra preparation for the holidays, especially if that time of year tends to be difficult. While many people spend quite a bit of time going to parties and shopping for everyone else, he suggested spending time making plans for yourself.

“Loneliness is real,” Martin said. “We’re hard-wired to be connected. Make plans.”

And he said make back-up plans in case other plans fall through. Think of whom to contact if you’re alone — maybe someone to go with to a movie.
Marcum agreed, adding, “Be good to yourself.”

“Make a plan that pleases you,” she said. “Whatever gives you joy.”

She suggested going to church, volunteering in a soup kitchen or having friends or neighbors over.

“Buy yourself something,” she suggested. “Wrap it up and put it under the tree.”

She said that when sadness around the holiday is a result bad family relations, keep the door open.

“Take the high road with your family,” Marcum said. “Continue to reach out.”

That includes inviting them to visit, and calling or sending cards and emails to keep in touch.

Martin’s general advice is to stay connected. He said that if exercise is part of your regular routine, make time to get in a workout. He said to not let all the parties and shopping and pressure from the holiday become overwhelming.

And Marcum gives a word of warning about drinking during the holiday “Watch your alcohol intake,” she said. “Alcohol is a depressant.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Starvoice • 06.24.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY18.haggard.gi.afp

Ted Haggard turns 55 on Monday. Haggard was prominent in anti-gay conservative religious groups such as the National Association of Evangelicals until his gay sex and crystal meth scandal in 2006. He has since tried ex-gay therapy, but earlier this year, he came out to GQ magazine identifying as bisexual.

THIS WEEK

With the sun making a T-square to Uranus and Pluto, big scary changes can lead us to take ourselves too seriously. Venus is in Gemini to remind you that playful flirtations can open up creativity and solutions.

……………………………

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
Your best inspirations are the most challenging and rebellious ones. Huge changes are necessary. If your bosses can’t see you offering the key to their survival you may need to relocate.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
Work more behind-the-scenes and in committee with others. Your personality and accomplishments will shine through stronger. An open mind gets you further than an open mouth.

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Don’t worry about getting the notice you deserve. Count on your friends to support you. Trying to be clever and creative will ruin everything. Trust your partner’s advice.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
Your partner’s ideas to help you get ahead create more troubles than solutions. Those notions are a springboard to helpful strategies. A colleague helps put that fertilizer to good use.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
Sudden outspokenness gets you into big trouble. Having a safe, playful outlet could open up some useful, constructive ideas. Just remember: There’s a time and a place for everything.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
Retail is not therapy. Examining your roots is. You are feeling the crisis of values and can offer a lot of insight. Get creative. Your best resource is your connectedness, not your money.

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
If you need to choose between your partner and your family you need to reevaluate some thngs. A sibling or close friend has helpful insight. Work also helps to lend perspective.

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Think and speak carefully to open up secrets. A creative telling may be more effective than a literal exposure. The most important consideration: What’s most important and effective?

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
Too many friends? It’s about quality, not quantity.  Some are just a drag on your resources. Spend time with the few who are beneficial to your spirit. Ask who you really enjoy playing with.

ARIES Mar 20-Apr 19
Stress at home makes you explode on all fronts. A neighbor helps alleviate the problem. At least have someone you can talk with. Take time out as you need it.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
Friends’ efforts to assuage your financial worries backfire, but provoke you to think constructively. New ideas are helpful but need careful consideration. Don’t do anything impulsively.

GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Charm and beauty are your strong cards to highlight your assets. A little self-promotion goes a long way. Overplaying it just makes you look slutty. Not the right time for that now.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 24, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas