The countdown to Christmas is on and it is such a busy time of year for everyone. I think it can be easy to forget about people who struggle with any form of mental health. I know I struggle at this time of year as there is so much happiness everywhere and a lot of pressure to keep up with it. But it is important to remember you don’t need to be happy all of the time.
I personally struggle with Christmas as it is a time all of the family comes together and for my family, there is always a person missing at the table. Christmas before we lost my mum was always spent at home, just the four of us and my grandad but now we go to see family. Which is lovely, but it isn’t the same. It isn’t the Christmas I was raised with.
The calendar is always full and there isn’t much time to just take a breather and relax which makes my anxiety flare and I panic in case I’m not going to be able to cope with it. But I know I can it is just my brain running away with me. It is a learning process that should get easier with time, which doesn’t necessarily make it easier during the present.
Christmas is a time to be surrounded by love and festivities and it is hard when you do feel there is an element of love missing. It is ok not to be ok and ask for support and some extra love. It is not out of the ordinary for everyone to feel overwhelmed at Christmas.
The last few years I have felt quite bitter at Christmas time and not enjoyed it as much as it is “expected”. But why should you be “expected” to be happy for the whole of December. It’s been drummed into us from a young age with Christmas songs and adverts etc. that you SHOULD be overly happy and excited. When you are not feeling like this it amplifies the feelings of sadness.
For me, Christmas is now a time of reflection of the happiness and love I have been shown ever since my first Christmas. I remind myself that just because my mum is missing from the table, that doesn’t cancel out the love that I still have around it from my dad, sister and rest of my family. I am lucky to have them.
I have registered my mums name to the Celebrate a Life scheme her hospital run at Christmas time which means her name has been etched onto a star to be hung on the Christmas tree at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea, where she received her treatment. This is celebrated in a carol ceremony and Christmas light turn on next week. I will be going and singing along and remembering that a loss doesn’t have to be sad. I will be surrounded by those who have also lost someone and it will be a beautiful evening for my beautiful mum (and so many others.) She definitely will shine like the beautiful star she is on that tree.
I also wanted to write about how you can put things in place to make yourself feel better throughout December. You need to remember to make time for yourself, have a movie day with hot chocolate, cosy pjs and a loved one – whether that be your bestie, sister, partner, whatever! Factor in time for YOU.
Don’t overbook or over estimate what you can handle. It is easy to get carried away and try and fit everything in but sometimes it isn’t possible and can be more damaging to your health to do this. Be true to yourself with the load you can deal with.
Keep yourself grounded, take a walk, have a bath, allow yourself to cry. It is okay.
If you feel yourself cutting yourself off and experiencing disassociative feelings TELL SOMEONE. Someone cares. It may not always be the person you want to speak too but it is always the way. Don’t be ungrateful in the sense you aren’t appreciative of those who actually make the effort with you because they care. This may sound peculiar but those who have experienced this will know what I mean.
A really good YouTube video to watch is Maddie Bruce – Mental Health Christmas Essentials. She also has lots of other self love videos that would be amazing for anyone to watch this time of year.
Always carry water with you when you are out as everywhere is busier at this time of year. Trains are busier. Streets are busier. Bars are busier. Always ensure you have a clear route out in case an anxiety attack creeps up on you. Get some fresh air and breathe. Breathing is such a under estimated thing but by focusing on your breathing you block out everything else going on around you.
If you are feeling lonely at Christmas remember there are people that care. I am one of them and am only ever one message away.
Merry Christmas Angels.