MENTAL HEALTH AT CHRISTMASTIME

Woman Christmas shopping

I don’t want to go into details, but I have chronic OCD. I am on three different types of depression and anxiety medication for it and I see a psychiatrist. In the most part it’s managed (i.e. I don’t have to go through several daily compulsions or checks) as long as I keep to the restrictions that I’ve had to place on my life. However, if I don’t keep to them, I have panic attacks and get incredibly upset. I suffer the affects of anxiety on a daily basis and more or less have a permanent knot in my stomach. I carry a lot of tension in my shoulders, and as anyone with genuine OCD (and not the kind people joke about) will tell you, my brain races ten to the dozen all day long. If you don’t know what OCD is, or all the different forms it can take, there is a great extensive list of all the ways OCD affects sufferers on the OCD-UK website.

“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.”

Charles Spurgeon

I used to worry and apologise at having to cancel plans or change arrangements, or make what could seem like diva-ish travel plans, but I don’t anymore- now I just simply state what I need or that I can’t do something. The reason I am writing this post today is because my anxiety and OCD gets a lot worse during the festive period. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Christmas but I struggle with making Christmas the perfect day I think it should be and I find New Year incredibly sad. For lots of people, Christmas is not a time of joy and happiness, but it is a time of sadness- whether that is from mental illness, grief or lonliness. If you would like some more information on mental health issues, how common they are and how they can affect people, Benenden Health published an interesting infographic on their site for Mental Health Week with lots of interesting facts on it.

Donuts and milk on table


“…there
are people who have the glass half full and glass half empty, and I’m
afraid the glass is going to break and I’ll cut myself on the shards.”

Scott Stossel

Certain things help me to feel just a little bit better at this time of year, so I wanted to share them with you incase any of them can help you or the ones you love too. I always do a digital detox at this time of year (I wrote about this here yesterday) to keep the intrusions from outside into my life at an absolute minimum. Food is my comfort but it’s also a daily battle I face as I try to keep the weight I have lost off and continue to lose more. At Christmas however, I allow myself 10-12 days of eating exactly what I want. I treat it as a holiday to make this time of year easier and then I get back on the diet track after January 2nd. If you don’t step on the scales, you won’t judge your weight by a number and feel so bad. If you find this time of year hard, you need to give yourself a break and allow yourself things that you might not at any other time. I also try to keep to a regular sleep pattern at night, but allow myself a sleep during the day if I need it too. Basically, I just try to spoil and indulge myself as much as I can. I think the most important thing to remember (something that I struggle to remember myself) is that there is no right or wrong Christmas. A ‘good’ Christmas may have stereotypical components, but in actual fact it can be whatever you want it to be. Don’t compare your day to anyone else’s and focus instead on what matters to you. I do hope that you have a good Christmas, but if not, remind yourself that it really is just another day- maybe the 26th or the 27th will be a happier day for you. 

“A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.”

Aesop

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Photo Credits: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo