I have always loved Christmas. I didn’t matter whether I was a child, teenager or adult. I loved it.
Having my little boy has only increased my love for it. It’s magical. It’s exciting. It’s happy.
Well, that’s the idea anyway.
I guess I have always wanted it to be like this. That perfect Christmas where all of your family and friends gather, exchanging gifts, smiles and laughter. Honest, true happiness. But life isn’t like a film.
For a lot of us this Christmas will be spent wearing masks. Trying desperately to enjoy the merriment but fighting a battle at every moment.
To be honest my memories of Christmas haven’t always been that great. In fact, some have been downright awful. But that’s never stopped me being excited for it and aspiring for that truly magical day.
In the past I always got annoyed, no – downright pissed off – when I came across people that really didn’t like Christmas. People who wanted Christmas to be over as soon as possible and would never been seen dead in a sparkly Christmas jumper.
I have since changed my view on those people.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love Christmas, but two Christmas’s ago things for me were very different. I was extremely unwell and in hospital. I was being allowed out to spend the Christmas with my family, but to be honest, at that time I would much rather have stayed in!
Having mental health issues has made me think and feel very differently about the festive period. I can now understand how some people can feel very un-Christmassy.
First of all there’s that immediate pressure to be happy, jolly and cheerful all of the time. What if you don’t feel like it? What if depression has set in and taken over and you can’t summon the strength chat, laugh and enjoy the festivities? What then? You are then seen as Scourge. People greet you with “Baa Humbug!” It’s hard! You want to keep everyone happy but is it worth exhausting yourself with fake smiles just to keep others happy?
Next you have the food! Now this is a huge thing for me. Or anyone with an eating disorder.
There is so much food!
When you are struggling with an eating disorder – anorexia in my case – it’s so effing hard to be around so much food! People give you double portions. 3 course meals and sweets and chocolate are everywhere! People even keep giving them as gifts!
If you don’t except said food, then people think you are rude or you get the ‘look’!
It’s terrifying in all honesty, being surrounded by so much temptation. I find myself avoiding people and places quite often. If I do eat to appease people then I am plunged into self hatred, guilt and depression.
If I don’t eat then I’m left being the rude, difficult one and more often than not it causes some kind of scene or argument!
Many of my past Christmas’s have involved arguments. And big ones at that. I HATE confrontation. It makes me extremely anxious and on edge. The thought that a get together is possibly going to result in a big confrontation makes me so nervous. My heart is pounding just thinking about it!
I am a perfectionist. I know that. I am also an ‘all or nothing’ ‘black or white’ kind of person – thanks BPD! So when it comes to buying gifts I will always put myself under huge amounts of pressure to get the most perfect thing. I will not rest until I know that gift is the best thing that I can find. I will often buy way too much just to make sure they get that perfect Christmas gift!
And that’s not even including the wrapping! That too must be perfect. Neat and tidy. Ribbons and tags. Not to mention the handmade Christmas cards!
Last year I felt so guilty about being poorly the year before I overcompensated hugely! I went overboard at every opportunity! The decorations and lights for the house and I spent an embarrassing amount of money on gifts for my little boy. It took him days just to open the gifts we got him! It was ridiculous!
I know it probably seems like I am bringing this all on myself – I have been told that on more than one occasion – which I guess is true. My mind is a part of me, but certainly given the choice, I would not chose every Christmas to feel this stressful, frightening and anxious.
My point is Christmas is different for everyone. Please don’t push people if they seem like they want to take a step back. Don’t expect everyone to feel the same way about Christmas as you do. We are all different. We are all fighting our own battles.
Lots of love,