Christmas anxiety. A wash of feelings, pulling and pushing in opposite directions. I’m a sociable person, I love my friends. Now it’s December and I’m all ‘hopefully we can catch up before Christmas?’
I invite, or accept invitations, with joy, and then approach the days themselves with dread. Will I spend hours on my return, mulling over a throwaway comment I made, seeking malevolence in words that were not meant to hurt? Deliberately sabotaging my own friendships, and my own fragile resilience?
So last year, I stopped saying ‘let’s meet up before Christmas’ and started saying ‘have a lovely Christmas! See you next year.’
To anyone reading this who feels anxious around Christmas, I just want to say: you don’t have to see anyone, if you don’t feel like it. Look after yourself, OK? And I’ll see you next year.
‘You manage your mental health so well!’
I suppose, if I did, I wouldn’t dwell on what was meant as a compliment,
and twist it into an accusation –
a positive equals a negative
a negative of the photograph
that other people see,
my perfect, tinylife.
My calm exterior, my social media cut and pastings: insta-wonderful.
She can’t possibly have mental health problems,
look at her – she’s onstage! Smiling!
Perhaps I tell people I’m a special snowflake
as a way to get attention or
Or I hold onto a former diagnosis
as something that makes me interesting,
marks me out,
gives me an intersectional identity.
I don’t ask to feel this way –
performing one day, then tears all the next –
I don’t ask for meditation and counselling and prescription after prescription.
I manage it well.
Today I have been thinking about…going.
Not across the eternal river, don’t worry. Going, generally, to that party, event, reading, gig; the one you had absolutely decided not to go to after all.
Yesterday, I wasn’t going. The kids were going to go with their Dad. I was going to use the time to work, those elusive hours on a Friday half-day.
But as they donned their outer wear, it pinched at me, so I decided to go. I was glad I did.
A community gathered, sang, celebrated, even selected one of their own for a special mention. My children wove in and out of legs to get the front. I knew everyone there, and I was so happy to see them. Lots of smiles and ‘hellos.’
Sometimes, you can gain so much, from shifting from not-going, to going.