It’s (not) the most wonderful time of the year

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. 

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12 thoughts on “It’s (not) the most wonderful time of the year

  1. I agree and understand so much of what you are writing about. You are definitely not alone…as I read this my head kept nodding in agreement. 🙂 As someone who also suffers from anxiety and depression you are so spot on with the added pressures of the holidays. I also know it’s hard not to beat yourself up for feeling this way, I do it as well. BUT, I think it’s better to be honest and understand your true emotions than trying to cover them up. At the same time I say that, I always feel like a hypocrite as I wear multiple masks depending on which family member I’m around. I feel like I’m selling out sometimes, but after 15 years of marriage I look at it now as I’m trying to create peace so that my wife can enjoy time with her family (many who I’m embarrassed to even be around and make me so angry). Your statement above, “there are people I have to spend time with because that is what you do at Christmas” is 100% spot on!
    I’m not sure if I’m handling things the right way or not, but I do know that it seems to create less Xmas arguments between me and my wife which is great! 🙂 I wish you peace through the holidays and hope you can find comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your conflicting emotions. Dang brain chemistry! 🙂

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    • wow, that’s the last time I try and leave a comment on my phone! What I was going to say was this is so relatable! I especially find days spent with my family difficult, as sometimes there is not the opportunity to take yourself off and have a break. You have to be “on”

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      • this is not my day. as I was saying, you have to be “on” all the time, and I find that to be very draining. Luckily, this year I am skipping Christmas because I’m away, though I’ll probably have to make up for it when I’m back in the UK. Side note, really enjoying your posts this week. I’m now going to go crawl back under my rock, as it’s obvious I don’t know how the internet works. Sorry for all the comments 😛

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      • Thanks for the lovely comments. Haha don’t crawl back under your rock. Really enjoying your posts about life in China. How long are you going to be there for? x

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  2. I think that’s part of the problem of having a mental health condition. That often people can’t tell and have no idea how you’re suffering. They don’t get it. I hid my anxiety and panic attacks for years, and no one knew. The holidays can be super stressful. I hope you get through them smoothly this year! Jenny

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  3. My sister and i share bipolar disorder and i remember many a time when we would celebrate xmas at The Extended Family’s house and about one hour in of playing pretend we’d find her sleeping in the room where everyone put their coats lol

    I laugh at this memory because i know now there was nothing much she could do about that, and we love her anyway.

    Maybe it’s ok to say, “im not my best self today” and allow yourself respite in the coat room. Because even though she wasnt present, everyone still loves her and wanted her there, sleeping or not.

    My advice: escape. Take the 3 year old and go off on an adventure. Play a board game with no one around. Kids can be a great distractor from your depression n anxiety. They often just want to talk about themselves n have u listen n all the attention will be on them n not you anyway.

    Remember that you’ll get through it regardless because u are strong. And you might just find out there’s one or two people in your in-law’s fam that hates this time just as much as you. Sometimes we think of those folks as having their shit together, but being honest about your own shit may just open up a window for another to express their own fears n worries.

    Your husband loves you n accepts u how u are. Thats all that matters. Let their impression of u be what it is, u cant change their impression of you anyway.

    Be yourself n also, take a drive or sleep in the coat room when u need to. At least u made an effort…

    Good luck. It will all be january soon anyway 😊

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  4. sixymama says:

    Chin up. Hope it’s as stress less as possible. I know that’s practically impossible. But good luck x

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