Mental Health & Christmas

Living with any mental health illness makes the most mundane of days difficult.

In the years since I developed PTSD and depression I’ve found the lead up to Christmas and New Year a particularly difficult time to deal with.

The seemingly forced jolly feelings everywhere, the insane shoppers fighting over the sprouts, services closing down for the holidays and disrupted routines seem to exacerbate the already tentative hold on normalcy I have.

The feelings of despair, irrational fears and cloak of sadness seem to crowd ever closer whilst those around me prepare to celebrate.

Losses seem fresh and raw, despite however many years have passed.

Those niggling health worries morph in to something far more serious.

Relationships feel strained to breaking point, and all the while, the world passes by in a flicker of fairy lights and tinsel.

It’s hard, almost impossible, to allow myself to become fully enamoured with all the festivities and joy of the holiday season, but I try, because I owe it to my children to make this, and every Christmas a happy and memorable occasion.

It would be much easier, yet incredibly self harming, to just allow the darkness to descend and swallow me whole, but over the years I’ve realised there are things I can do to stop myself becoming overwhelmed.

mental health and christmas

christmas snowmenIf you take any kind of medication for your mental illness, be it antidepressants, anti anxiety meds or whatever, please please make sure you have more than enough to see you through the festive period. I’ve been in the situation where I’ve run out of drugs and it’s horrid, with the inevitable slowdown of services this time of year don’t be caught out with no meds or a prescription you can’t get filled.

christmas snowmenWhenever possible I get away from everyone and everything, I’m lucky to live right by the coast, beach walks have become my go to self help strategy. Nothing really clears my head like getting away from everything and just enjoying the sound of waves crashing on the beach.

christmas snowmenBeing aware of my triggers is so important, as is avoiding putting myself in a vulnerable position where these triggers are likely to overwhelm me. Big crowds are a definite no no.

christmas snowmenSaying no, it might hurt someone's feelings if I turn down an invite, but my mental health is much more important than hurt feelings, friends and family should understand this.

christmas snowmenLetting go of the small stuff makes a big difference; the house will be messy, the kids super hyper and excited and bed times will disappear, but once the craziness of Christmas is over things will go back to “normal”.

christmas snowmenHaving a good cry. This might sound odd, but sometimes I just need to go with it and getting it all out in one big sob fest will help me feel better.

christmas snowmenKnowing where and who to turn to when or if everything becomes too overwhelming. There are restricted services over the holiday period, knowing who I can turn to or call if necessary is important, not only because I might need them but just knowing there is someone out there to help or listen is sometimes enough.

christmas snowmenBeing grateful, despite all the crap we’ve gone through, I’m so fortunate to still be here, realising and appreciating that is essential.

christmas snowmenTaking after my children and just being silly; sometimes forgetting about all the responsibilities and everyday stresses is essential, no one is better equipped to get me to enjoy life than my children being total goobers!

I realise these ideas wont work for everyone, but if the festive period does start to get to much, take a time out for yourself, talk to someone and most of all, realise you are not alone in not being swept up in the whole goodwill aspect.

Comments

  1. You are an inspiration to many Amanda and I'm sure this will be an incredibly helpful post. Such practical advice and to be honest, I think everyone needs to take some of this on board - getting away from it all and being silly with your kids are two that I will be taking away. Thank you x

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  2. Here's hoping this Christmas is a brilliant one. Happy Christmas to you and the boys x

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