Photographer of Families, Small People and Delightful Places. Travel and Lifestyle Writer and Blogger. Lives in Newcastle, Loves the North, Often Accompanied By A Beagle Named Holly Bobbins

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Surviving Christmas, mental health in the festive season

Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year, the magic, the promise... The general overwhelm, the anxiety, welcome to Christmas with a mental health challenge.

Christmas isn't just one day anymore, it starts in October and runs through to January, the festive period is more like a festive quarter now.  Don't get me wrong, I am the Northern answer to Mrs Christmas having developed my love of all things festive over many a year but as someone with bipolar, anxiety and who is on the autistic spectrum, Christmas can be a tricky time.  I cry more at Christmas than at any other time of the year because my emotions are heightened to stratospheric levels.  Charity adverts, small children doing sign language to Christmas carols, brass bands, they're my niche triggers, they may sound amusing but when you find yourself sobbing your heart out because of the latest Dogs Trust advert, it's really not that funny. 

Over the years I've written a few articles about managing your Christmas mental health and really I do practice all of the things I mention but I still find the whole period a challenge.  This year I was due to be on my own on Christmas Day because I didn't want to bother anyone else with my depression and I acknowledged that the potential of spending my first Christmas alone would be overwhelming but I've since said I'll go out with Harriet and her parents, people who thankfully have no expectations of me.

Good self-care is the most important thing with any kind of mental health challenge, I know from other bipolar friends how much our sleeping patterns can be disturbed by this time of year even when on the outside we might feel okay, last night, for example, I went to bed at 10, was awake between 1 and 2.30 and then I managed to sleep until half seven which is pretty good in comparison to previous years where I've ended up with mild hypomania and barely slept for the last couple of weeks before Christmas.

There is no easy way to deal with Christmas, all you can do is take precautions so if there's a family relationship that's troubling don't go and spend time in that situation.  If you are lonely, try and accept company and really, I know how much easier it is to just shut yourself away but that's kind of counterintuitive.

Next year I need to work on my current state of self-loathing, I need to work on changing my body and my mind, this year hasn't been the easiest with health issues I still haven't got to the bottom of but I plan to overhaul my life and my body come January when the cheeseboard season is over.

In just over 2 weeks time we get a whole new year, a whole new decade and jeez, I hope it's gentler than the last one, I do know one thing though, at least I have my freedom now, something 10 years ago it was still so far away it would take me another 5 years to escape to, it's cost me a lot, in some cases it's cost me everything but I'd never give it up again.


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