This blog title is in no means a way of me coming across a scrooge. But living with anxiety and depression, I find Christmas so incredibly stressful and emotionally draining.
It is nearly two years to the day that I was at such a low that I had to see my GP. He told me that I had anxiety and moderate depression. Maybe this plays a part in my view of Christmas. That Christmas two years ago was truly awful. I spent most of the day crying. I was very close to spending the entire day in bed. It took me hours to even get dressed, let alone leave the house.
But it is not just that. Christmas brings so many expectations. Some of these are what society deems to be the perfect Christmas; spending lots of money, drinking copious amounts of alcohol are just some that spring to mind.
But when you have anxiety and depression, social events bring a number of added pressures. For me, there are people I have to spend time with because that is what you do at Christmas. I honestly don’t know why. It all seems so fake and pointless.
I have to spend Christmas Eve with Dave’s parents, sister, her husband and my nieces. I am totally dreading it. My in laws have always made me feel inadequate, make no time for Dave and I feel like I can’t be myself around them. My nieces are 3 and 1. They live hundreds of miles away. I have met the older one a handful of times. The one year old I have met once which was last Christmas. I love kids. But as I don’t feel comfortable with Dave’s family, I feel like they are judging how I am around the girls. It feels like an act. We pretend that we are this close family and it really gets to me.
I experience anxiety every single day for a variety of reasons. My anxiety is heightened when things change. I am a creature of habit which is not necessarily a bad thing. It actually helps keep me feeling well. So the unknown of social situations that take place once a year cranks my anxiety to the max.
The feelings of guilt I have for having anxiety and depression are overwhelming at times. This is even worse during the Christmas period. At times, I have to put on a front during social gatherings. I have no right to spoil other people’s Christmas just because I am really anxious or my mood is really low.
One thing I need to keep well is down time; time for myself to fully relax and to do things that destress me. I find it hard to let people down. I am a people pleaser. I think that because I experience a lot of mental anquish I don’t want the people I care about to feel even a fraction of that. If friends want to spend time with me I will do my best to see them.
Please know that I am so grateful that I have wonderful and supportive friends. I am not for one moment moaning about this. But in the back of my mind, I have a constant fear of having a major relapse if I have to mask how bad my mental state is. The vast majority of people in my life are completely unaware when I am struggling or going through a rough time. I don’t want people to worry.
The funny thing is, I put on such a good front that I must come across as confident, outgoing and self assured in social situations. But for the most part, it is the complete opposite.