This time of year I feel like we’re all being flooded with content about how Christmas is the absolute best and *sings* most wonderful time of the year. Some people have this amazing ability, that I am genuinely in awe (and very envious) of, where they are able to put aside their worries and stresses and just enjoy the season. But for some of us, feeling happy during the Yuletide just seems like such a foreign concept. And being honest, it’s quite an ostracising feeling to have.
People tend to stare at you in bewilderment when you say you’re just not that into Christmas. You’re called a Grinch, a Scrooge, and people genuinely believe there’s something a bit wrong with you. Because how could you not love food and gifts surrounded by your friends and family?! It really is an alien concept to a lot of people. And yet, the holidays can be the loneliest and most heartbreaking time for many of us, and there are many many reasons for it.
I’ve been quite vocal about my struggles with my mental health online, and Christmas can just feel like one big panic attack waiting to happen. Social events make me anxious on a normal day, before you even add the pressure of everyone feeling like they absolutely MUST enjoy themselves and have a wonderful time on Christmas Day. Sometimes it can genuinely be too much for my mental health to cope with. Personally, a big part of my mental health struggle is with perfectionism, which I feel can be fuelled by the idea of Christmas. You must look perfect, have the perfect dinner, set your table perfectly, and everyone you spend it with must have an absolutely perfect time. And setting up that many expectations can just lead to disappointment and anxiety.
Ever since I was very young, I always felt very sad at Christmas. Even when I was very small and still enthralled by the magical element of Christmas, there was always a certain underlying sadness. I constantly felt reminded of the people who weren’t with us. I have experienced my fair share of death in my young life, and Christmas forever reminds me of the people who we love but who can’t be with us. Christmas can be so hard if you’ve recently lost someone close to you, and I find that sometimes people can be ignorant of the sadness, loneliness and heartbreak Christmas can bring some people.
I guess what I’m trying to get across is that not all of us are coping. Not everyone is bursting with joy and festive cheer this Christmas, no matter how much they’d like to be. Believe me, I’d love nothing more than to be one of those always happy and cheerful people who always seem to have just crawled out of Santa’s Grotto and are cheerfully prancing around singing Christmas songs all the time. For years I tried so hard to be one of those people and failed miserably.
Check in with people. Ask them how they’re doing. Ask them if they’re coping. And if they need you, be there for them if you can be. Try to help people in whatever way you can. There are some people really struggling this Christmas time… mentally and financially it can be devastating for some people.
All we can really do is spread awareness and kindness.