It’s been a while. Just a really quick post from me.
I am so happy, like the happiest I’ve been in a long time. Right now, I’m writing this post having finished all my christmas shopping and wrapping, and am cosied up under a fluffy blanket. Christmas is a hard time of year for a lot of people, and I’m sure you’ll have seen posts surrounding this theme on social media. I suppose for the past few years I have been one of those people that has found Christmas difficult. I feel so incredibly selfish even writing that I find Christmas hard, because on the surface I have had absolutely no reason to find it hard at all. I have a perfect, loving family. I have food on the table and a roof over my head. I loath myself for dreading Christmas when others have it so much worse.
The reason I found (I’m so glad I can use the past tense now) Christmas difficult is not because I lacked anything that Christmas is all about. Well no actually, I did. I lacked happiness and contentment that is expected at Christmas. The simple fact that I had everything I could ever need at Christmas; my family, friends and love, and still felt empty is exactly what made me dread this time of year.
Christmas music, Christmas adverts on telly, in supermarkets, in magazines. All pushing for ‘Christmas Joy’ and the ‘Christmas Spirit’. I almost found myself trying to hide from anything to do with Christmas, because I was just not happy and I couldnt understand why I was so unhappy at a time that is solely for joy and love. I now know that I was unwell. I had depression that clouded my view of anything positive. As a result, the depression flipped what should be a period of excitement and laughter, into a period of numbness, resentment (towards those who seemed to be content) and a deep depression that I could not escape. I’d turn off Christmas music, I’d avoid Christmas cheer, I’d try to fake happiness when around people, but more often than not I just took myself off to be alone. Some other factors which contributed to my misery around Christmas derived from emetophobia. Winter = vomiting bugs. This prospect remained at the back of mind for the entire of the winter period, consequently tainting any contentment I began to feel with thoughts of sickness that could potentially arise at any given moment. Essentially, I dreaded Christmas because I could not feel happy in the same way that others appeared to be. I could not remove the angst surrounding norovirus that is so prominent over the Christmas period, and I struggled to overcome the anxieties that so often seeped into my head during festivities and family events.
This year, something is different. I have downloaded a christmas album onto my phone. That sounds trivial, but I would have never actively pursued Christmas music this time last year. I have wrapped all my presents and I am so excited to share them with those I love. I am counting down the days till Christmas day. I have watched Christmas films, I have embraced the Christmas feel that surrounds the city. Basically, I am content, and to be content at Christmas is a feeling I have long forgotten. So this year I am excited, and I’m determined not to let any anxieties surface during this period. This year is different.
So for me, victory. However for some of you reading this, or for someone you may know, Christmas is the worst time of the year. There are a copious amount of reasons that some may struggle with Christmas, but here I am referrring specifically to the impact of mental illness. It is a time where the lack of happiness felt is so much more prominent. If this is you, I am so sorry. I am so sorry that you feel the opposite to the way Christmas intends. If you reach feelings of despair, there are people to help:
- Samaritans: 116 123
- Mind.org.uk 0300 123 3393
- No Panic 0844 967 4848
- Anxiety UK 08444 775 774
- Your family. Your friends. Me? If you want to talk to someone that maybe understands, please give me a message – or comment on this post and I will send you my email address so we can chat. No pressure, no judgment, just someone who gets it.