“How can you be sad? It’s Christmas!” Possibly the most infuriating phrase I’ve EVER heard.. and yet it pops up every year.
November to early February are hard months for me, (due to a traumatic event that happened ten years ago.. long story). My anxiety flares up and my moods plummet in response.
Anyone with a mental health condition will know that such feelings or symptoms are not a ‘choice’ – well, no more than a headache or diarrhea is a choice! But it’s easy to forget this, and instead presume that you can force yourself to feel better, which in any other situation would be ludicrous. Can you imagine? – “Oh come on..don’t have the shits, it’s Christmas!”
Sometimes the pressure to be happy, or at least look happy is crushing.
I’m an introvert, so being around lots of people for extended periods of time is draining for me. Mainly because I have to be ‘on’ all of time, if that makes sense? I can’t day dream, be silent or go for a walk.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a moody cow who wants to sit alone in a corner. I just sometimes need fifteen minutes of ‘down time’ to recharge. It’s not a personality trait that I like, but I’ve learned to accept it now. That’s just the way I am.
I’m fortunate enough to have a supportive family who understand that I can find Christmas overwhelming at times. So when I’m at home, I’ll simply go upstairs and have a lie down for a while or listen to some music. But, if we’re visiting extended family or indeed Dan’s family, then disappearing isn’t an option and that’s when the trouble starts. I retreat into myself, suppress everything and then it all explodes in an emotional outburst. (I blame it on alcohol, but that’s rarely the case).
So here’s a message for all my mental warriors out there – IT’S OK NOT TO FEEL HAPPY AT CHRISTMAS. It doesn’t make you a bad person, a scrooge or indeed selfish. You’re human and can’t control everything. Do what you need to do without guilty, (easier said than done I know), but at least try.
Let’s get the negative stuff out of the way first. Here are a list of things that I HATE about Christmas:
- The TV adverts – OH DEAR GOD “I love you to the stars… and back” – I’ve seen that monstrosity every day for the last three months!
- The music – ok White Christmas and the other old stuff is good, but every time I hear; “I Wish it could be Christmas Everyday” or in general, anything by Slade, George Michael or Mariah Carey – I just want to smash my head against a wall. Seriously they fill me with rage, it’s weird. Although, that could having something to do with working at Debenhams as a teen. The songs were played on repeat every shift.
- Secret Santa – seriously who really wants to do it? But then who can be the one to say so because.. well they’ll be the miserable sod at work. So on it goes!
- Christmas jumpers – it was nice the first year, but now it’s got out of hand. Don’t force me to wear one!
- Any forced fun in general.
- Taking down the decorations… possibly the most depressing thing ever.
If you personally like any of the above then that’s cool, I won’t judge you (much)! But seriously, I believe that we all celebrate Christmas in our own way.
Here are the things that are important to me:
- Spending time with my family and relaxing.
- Running around the kitchen trying to convince my mum that dinner will be fine, whilst topping up her wine glass.
- Wearing my pajamas for as long as possible.
- FOOD, oh the glorious food (that I haven’t had to pay for) my parent’s fridge is never empty! For a few days of the year it’s perfectly acceptable to consume more calories than a body builder!
- Playing board games, I freaking love board games!
- Watching TV specials
- Wrapping up and going on nice long walks with Rigby
If like me, you find Christmas tricky then why not take some steps to make yourself more comfortable this year? Maybe be honest with those closest to you and admit that – “I might not be happy all of the time because of my condition, but I still want to be here. So if you could be patient with me it would mean so much.” We all have coping techniques that work for us, so be sure not to neglect yours over the break.
Some of mine are:
- Exercise *yawn I know* – so I’ll be going on daily walks.
- Distractions – at the moment I’m obsessed with knitting, so my kit will be coming back up north with me.
- Honesty – this year I’m finally going to tell people outside my immediate family that I might need some down time. Even if it’s just a ten minute walk. I’ll let them know in advance, so my departure won’t seem odd. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s just who I am.
- Exposure – if I have any panic attacks then so be it. It’s better to let them wash over me, rather than fight.
- Lots of champagne! Woooooooooooooooo.
This post will probably be my last until the new year now, as I plan on being as unproductive as humanly possible.
Sending you all love and I genuinely hope that you have a nice break. If nothing else, use the time to recharge. Stay strong and don’t blame yourself for anything (unless you’ve killed someone… we all know my feelings on that).
Rigby also sends her love. xxxx