And so the season of enforced socialisation and merriment has rolled around again.
And there is a reason this is a difficult time of year for many, not just the depressed and the psychologically ill. We return home to our families, are put in situations which many find difficult and drink liquid depression and eat way to much.
Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love and adore Christmas and all it brings. But there are parts that I do find unendurable, and in past years have just dreaded. Luckily now as an adult I am in control of what Christmas entails, and I can partake (or not) as much as I want. But this isn’t about my love of tat and adorning my house with a large plastic plant covered in garish colours, gorging guilt free on chocolate and free things, this is about how to get through what is one large, glittered trigger. And get through with good grace and love for those I surround myself with.
So to any one who may stumble over this. Here’s to an action plan!
Firstly, if returning home to the family is one that fills you with dread, or even just a mild anxiety, then youre probably just like countless others. Returning home to the family is a misnomer. Look at is as visiting relations. There is this societal view that home is where we grew up surrounded by people attached to us by no more than shared genetics. I know for me, home is not where I grew up. Where I grew up is a place filled with unhappy memories, where I felt alone, its a permanent reminder of many things I’d rather forget. Home to me, is where my children, husband and friends are. So try this: accept that your family are your friends, not the people who you share DNA with. I have first hand experience of knowing that blood actually means sweet fuck all in the reality of life. Family should be the people with whom we share our joy and sadness, our fear and hope, and all those other emotions. Not the people who we are told they are. So your family are actually your friends, maybe even some of your bloodline. So in essence, your family are the people you choose to have around you, not the people whom you occasionally call out of duty, not out of choice. Home is where you are happy and secure. Where you feel you belong.
Secondly, don’t feel you have to partake in anything you don’t want to. For me personally, I don’t want to drink to excess, or have forced jollity, or watch crap t.v. I want to drink as and when I choose (this has been an issue in the past with people thinking I was being unsociable by not partaking) enjoy the bits I choose to (cooking for my family, presents with the children, cuddles with husband), seeing the family at times I choose for example, and watch good t.v (hello black mirror!) So decide what you want to do, and do it. Even if it’s just for half an hour a day, even just 30 minutes of doing what you want will help you keep a grasp on a good mental state. If that half an hour is just sitting in a dark room on your own thats OK!
Thirdly, look after yourself. This time of year we eat too much, of unhealthy food, sleep brokenly and too little and skip our routine. I know for me this is the hardest bit. I don’t cope with change or with broken routine. So I’m going to keep some routine. Just the bits I know I can manage, I’m going to take time to do my make up, I’m going to listen to music, paint my nails and eat something healthy at some point. This will help me keep my mind focussed and not drift off into the very very dangerous ether. Look after number 1 (or three in my case!) and take some time out to treat your body and mind well.
Thats it pretty much. Seems simple doesn’t it? But I’m not a qualified person. If times get really hard, contact the samaritans, reach out to someone. Even if just by text or email if you can’t face talking vocally. Don’t feel youre alone or stuck doing things you don’t want to do. You’re allowed to say no, and you’re allowed to not feel guilty.
Take care of yourselves. Be kind to yourself. And if you have to do something you really don’t want to do, to preserve the feelings of someone you genuinely care about, when it’s done come back and be extra kind to yourself and reach out to someone.