wE'Re AlL mAd HeRe

Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Panic… and the rest!

Santa ain’t ma shrink!

“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

Rigby Crimbo

 

 

Categories: Advice for care givers, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety

16 replies

  1. Thanks Claire. Your posts really help, I’ve had G.A.D for a long long time. My parents, who Im going home to at Christmas, do not get why or whats wrong with me. I tend to try to act perfectly fine so to avoid the issue.

    • Thanks for sharing Kate. I can understand why you try & act normal, as it just makes things easier. Make sure you take care of YOU though. Maybe if they don’t understand you could print off some info on GAD for them to read? Sometimes people respond better to this. Plus, they can read it in their own time & come to you with any questions.
      I hope you have a nice break. Sending you my love xx

  2. Great post, couldn’t have put it better myself! I feel the exact same about Christmas. Looking forward to relaxing & having some time out & like you plenty🍾🍾🍾. Hope you have a peaceful and restorative break.
    Love Michelle x

  3. I love Rigby’s moustache 😊

  4. Merry Christmas! I don’t think I realised until the last year or two that Christmas does bring its anxieties, even though I am so in love with this time of year. This year I have been trying not to get too overwhelmed by it too soon, take it all as it comes and, like you, focus on what I feel is important to enjoy – without being sucked into the advert-like “perfect” Christmas. All these little pressures add to a feeling of failure should anything go remotely wrong and it’s all self-induced stress! Keep up the good work, Clare 🙂

  5. Thank you for the great post and sharing your thoughts! Those could be my exact words. I’m an introvert (with Asperger’s) and need lots of time just for myself. Being with other people just makes me feel uncomfortable and nervous. I think the worst thing is that during the holidays everything should be perfect, people happy and worry-free. I know I’m going to have hard time with my relatives, there are so many things I don’t agree with them and we are spending the Christmas days in a cottage in the middle of nowhere… sigh. I think I’m going to grab a big bottle of red wine to comfort myself during those long days of Christmas 🙂 Anyway, I hope you have a relaxing Christmas time!

    • Thanks so much for Elviira – OMG I’m exactly the same! Perfection becomes an obsession & then I end up exhausted & not enjoying it. Sending you strength! Be sure to take care of yourself xx

  6. All I’m going to say is “Happy Christmas ” and thanks for taking all the time to keep this thing up.
    Even after my brief experience (which was awesome), I’m not sure how you do it. But just be aware of how many people you are helping out and give yourself a pat on the back. Oh yeah…”Happy Christmas”.. It was supposed ro be a brief one for once. 🙂

  7. My wife suffers this time of the year. Cold, dreary weather, end of the year, too much time to just sit and think. Holidays are here and family are doing other things with their lives.

  8. I just stumbled upon your blog. I just had to comment because so many of the things you mentioned resonated with me. For a long time, I assumed I could think myself out of my anxiety, but now I have realized, like you mentioned, it is not a “choice.” I find that it is something that a lot of people don’t understand about anxiety. I mean, if we could stop ourselves from thinking the way we do, I think most of us would try, but it is not that simple. On the other hand, I think knowing that it isn’t a choice, comforts me sometimes, because then I can stop blaming myself all the time. Plus, yes, I hate Christmas for all the reasons you have mentioned.

    Also, John Green, the author, suffers from OCD and he mentioned on one of his podcasts that he often has to tell himself that his brain is lying to himself to alleviate his anxieties. I use that thought sometimes now too.

    • Thanks for sharing. I agree, it’s like a vicious cycle.. some days I accept that my anxiety isn’t a choice and some days I’m harder on myself.. but I think that’s normal to a certain extent.
      I had the pleasure to meet John Green when I worked at Penguin. He was so honest about his issues with anxiety, which was very refreshing. 🙂

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