Christmas can be a challenging time, for those who struggle with mental health issues.
It’s supposed to be a time of joy, goodwill to all men, fun, love, and all the “nice” things we are supposed to feel.
I love Christmas because my children enjoy the festivities, the gift giving, and seeing friends and family. I enjoy a bit of that too, but normally Christmas brings out overwhelming feelings of anxiety, in me, that can make it a time that I really just want to be over as quickly as possible. I love cooking and looking after people, but the emotions, expectations and change in routine can make things seem much harder and trigger feelings and thoughts that I normally am able to keep in check.
Two years ago, I spent Christmas in a medicated haze. I was feeling very broken, and struggling to keep my head above water. I might have looked calm and under control, but like a duck in fast current, looking ok on the surface, but underneath my feet were paddling frantically and my heart was racing. I was still trying to find a new normal after the mental breakdown that I suffered in the months prior!
Last year, we went away, which frankly, was just what the doctor ordered. We spent time in the sunshine and warmth of Bangkok, I didn’t have to cook, clean or entertain anyone for two weeks, and my Dad and his partner were there to help with the children and look after us. Sadly, budget and practicalities mean that we can’t repeat that, as much as I would like to this year.
This year, we are home, and it’s a low key Christmas. There are things happening, but because, frankly we are exhausted and also LSH has work commitments, we are mostly keeping a lower profile and we are good with that.
Strangely, I feel numb. I don’t feel anxious. There have been things that have caused flashes of anger, anxiety, and emotion, over the past few weeks, and I have broken down and had a good cry and vent about some things going on in my head and around me, but mostly I feel numb. It’s like I have been medicated, although I haven’t been on any medications for nearly 18 months. I don’t know why. I don’t know if it’s a good thing. I don’t know if my mind has decided that in order to protect myself, it needs to stop feeling, just for a bit, to get me through. I hope it’s just temporary. I wonder if my mind knows that Christmas is a break point for me, and has just shut down a lot of the feelings to help me get through. There are memories (my mother died on Boxing Day) and present emotions mixed with expectations and needs of family that when combined, are a complicated cocktail, and perhaps it’s better to not be feeling much. It’s a strange place to be. I don’t normally like “numb”, because it feels a little bit beyond my control, and normally I want to control everything. I am going with it. It’s not normal, but I have a feeling that it will be the best way for me to get through the next few days and weeks until life goes back to normal and the Christmas decorations come down for another year. The things that would normally trigger anxiety attacks just seem to float past me, and don’t send me down the road of panic and frantic need to explain, appease, control, and apologize and justify being myself.
Numb, a new emotion, in my Christmas stocking, whether I asked for it to be there, or not…