I have successfully navigated Christmas and New Year and have now just got January (officially the most depressing month of the year) to get through before we are well into 2016. High five me. Christmas is always a bit of a weird one. It can be a logistical nightmare, and is hard for various reasons. But it’s like that for everyone; everyone has their Christmas baggage.
If you don’t get stressed at Christmas, I don’t think you’re doing it right. The stress begins in about October and continues until mid-January. Shopping, cards, presents, wrapping, cooking, hosting, visiting, drinking, ploughing through with a hangover, cramming in seeing about 300 people over 4 days… tis the season to be jolly, and also stressed. I’ve spent the last couple of months (and especially the couple of weeks before it) absolutely dreading Christmas! I actually love Christmas, and seeing all my family and friends, but the seemingly never-ending list of Christmassy things that need doing strikes me with actual terror. Also, we were all driving up to my Aunty’s in Yorkshire for Christmas Day which I was a tad worked up about; a long car journey taking me approximately 135 miles away from my comfort zone.
Because I was dreading Christmas, and also very broke, I put off everything. As any book / article / expert on anxiety will tell you, procrastination will not help you feel any better. But I stuck my head in the sand as usual. So I panic internet shopped on about the 20th, still have a few of the cards I wrote (sorry friends) and didn’t pack anything until about an hour before we left and not surprisingly made us late. BUT, actually surprisingly, I was fine. It might have been the lingering effects of some diazepam but I neither freaked out nor cried or anything else that I had (very rationally……..) predicted would happen. We arrived in a very soggy Yorkshire and had a lovely Christmas with (nearly) all the family. Apparently Christmas Dinner got a bit much because I had to put myself in the living room by myself for a while, but who doesn’t feel like that at some point on Christmas Day with 13 other people?!
I was most worried about Boxing Day because we were going out for a meal. And going out for meals isn’t something I’ve done very much of recently (or at all, in the last…6 months). But armed with some diazepam (I made the executive decision not to drink and go for the drugs instead) and shaking like a leaf, we headed to the pub. Surprise surprise, I was fine. Thanks brain, you’re very convincing at times but we were chill. With there now being 19 of us, there was plenty of conversation (and food) to keep me distracted. We left Yorkshire just before the whole place flooded.
I hate the weird bit in between Christmas and New Year, where no one knows what day it is or what to do, so my sisters and I decided to do something constructive (ha) and have a house party to fill the time. It worked well as I lost the day before to cleaning and tidying and lost the 2 days after with a hangover… I did have a small freak out on the day of the party but nothing that a lie down in a quiet room couldn’t fix. The party seemed to be a success, I learnt a lot about Tinder that night and drank my body weight in Gin and had a great time!
Now I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s Eve, there’s too much hype and expectation. So after an early evening strop where I decided I wasn’t going anywhere, I did go to my neighbours who throw a brilliant NYE party every year. I opted for diazepam over alcohol again and offered to drive, and (surprise surprise again) had a lovely evening.
Oh I’d also successfully managed an evening in the pub with all my friends on Christmas Eve – a tradition we have and I really didn’t want to miss. Lesson of Christmas = there is nothing that makes me feel better than a room filled with my family and/or friends! No matter how much I’m dreading it! Other lesson of Christmas = dreading it has no effect on how it all pans out, it just ruins the months leading up to it!
Anxiety wise, I really was dreading Christmas. I was dreading the pressure of needing to get everything done, of having so many people to see, and of needing to put on an ‘I’m normal, I swear’ impression. Anxiety makes it pretty difficult to get excited about anything, even Christmas. Having a party at my house where I feel most comfortable was definitely a good idea as it allowed me to see a lot of people I might not have otherwise seen and took the pressure off having to go out. But spending Christmas Eve in a busy pub and Boxing Day having a meal out were definitely game-changers! The party was hosted by a bottle of Tanqueray Gin (ouch), but the whole of the rest of Christmas and New Year were managed on a grand total of 3 low dose diazepam tablets – a fact that I’m nothing short of really proud of! I’ve definitely noticed that I get a ‘hangover’ from both of those things though. I can feel the diazepam wearing off the next day and I feel more twitchy and anxious than usual, and once the alcohol gets metabolised I can feel my anxiety rocketing, it is a depressant after all… so there’s pros and cons, swings and roundabouts.
Christmas can be a tough time for a lot of people, and even more so for those of us who struggle with social stuff most of the time anyway. But a bit of patience and understanding goes a long way, and I knew my friends and family wouldn’t care if I acted a bit weird in my stressing (actually one of them assured me it was fine because I was mad already) and it’s good to remember that it’s a time to be with family and friends and enjoy a break – so I hope you did what makes you happy, whatever that might be, and remember not to pay too much attention to that little voice telling you that it’ll be awful because it lies.
I hope you had an excellent Christmas and New Year! Wishing you a bright and prosperous 2016, full of good health, love and happiness xx