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"The Most Wonderful Time of the Year"? Well actually... no! Not for a lot of people.
So many people find the festive season one of the hardest things to deal with in life, for a boatload of different reasons.
Some people may have lost a loved one, and may be facing their first Christmas Season without them—can you imagine that? Every time someone gives you a gift, or writes you a Christmas card, rather than it bringing a smile to your face, it punches you like a freight train to the gut because it's not been signed from them.
There are a multitude of people who suffer in silence with a mental illness, who are constantly being instructed to "Have a Happy Christmas," when all that does is trigger the demon head voice on repeat; "I fucking doubt it."
Not to mention the festive PRESSURE. Everyone has to be happy at Christmas, right? WRONG.
I was sat with some friends the other evening, and all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, this depression cloud just started raining over me. As soon as I noticed it, I tried to combat it. This made me anxious, which in turn made me feel even more depressed. The people I was with started trying to cheer me up, but the cuddles were suffocating, the laughter was deafening, and the pressure of this bad mood coming at the wrong time was debilitating.
Could you imagine having a broken leg, and everyone is yelling at you to dance? And if the fact you couldn't didn't make you feel shitty enough, a tsunami of guilt then attacks because you're anxious about ruining the mood, or being a "Scrooge" or Grinch 2.0.
Another big side effect of feeling blue is not wanting to be social. At Christmas time, we often end up being forced into the company of people we don't really know, whether that's Auntie Joan's best friend whose family is away for Christmas or your Mom's brother's cousin's son, who you haven't seen in fifteen years.
A great cure for depression can be the company of those you are most comfortable around. The people who respect and understand your silence. Having to regurgitate what's gone on in your life in recent years to strangers who for some bizarre reason are all getting drunk in your sanctuary can be really quite damaging. Not to mention the mindless small talk—what a way to increase anxiety!
Christmas can be a really wonderful time, and to the fortunate in this world, it really is. But if you are one of those people this year, who can't find it in your soul to be merry, that's okay! Don't beat yourself up about it. Your brain is doing that enough for you. And if on Christmas Day, you can't fight any longer, then grab a blanket and go the hell back to sleep. If people don't like it then, fuck them, you are fighting a battle that most people unfortunately cannot see and don't understand.
Be kind to yourself, communicate with your loved ones. Let them know you are not feeling your best and then turn your phone off. Be you. Love you, and do whatever it takes to reignite that fire inside you.
A constant battery from the outside world will not do this for you.
Do whatever it takes to feel okay this Christmas, and if you have to let a few people down then so be it, because you have to take care of you.
Be safe, be honest with yourself and those around you, and if all the happiness you get this 25th December is a tiny glimmer, then hang on to that and don't lose sight of it. Because that glimmer is your hope. That is the tiny flame that will reignite the fire in your belly.
There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.