Speaking from behind the filters has always been my goal with this blog and Christmas is one of the most filtered times of the year. Wherever we look people are celebrating with friends in idyllic settings, buying designer goods for their multitude of gorgeous friends, and attending perfectly Dickensian markets. But that’s not reality for everyone (or anyone, let’s face it, that’s Instagram not real life!).
Although Christmas, with all its usual imperfections, is largely a happy time it can be quite the opposite. It’s shocking but mental illness and loneliness don’t take the day off for the birth of baby Jesus.
People without family can find themselves feeling alone and the pressure to appear happy and socialise can be the perfect breeding ground for metal illness.
A lot of people (myself included) use Christmas as a marking stone or deadline for having their lives sorted. “I must have this done before Christmas,” is a phrase we all use. Family and friends can unknowingly exacerbate this by asking all those ‘checklist’ questions. When you feel like you’re exiting the year with less than you entered someone asking a simple question like “what are you up to now?” can send your thoughts on a downward spiral.
Not only that but as I mentioned in my budget gift guide people who don’t have a lot of money can feel low from seeing others splashing the cash. They can feel the need to spend more than they can afford to avoid this, or else spend Christmas feeling rubbish (or is this just me?).
I need to also mention, as someone who has spent most of her life working in customer service and comes from a police family, not everyone who celebrates gets the day off. The emergency services still work all day and night around Christmas and more shops than ever are remaining open. Be nice to those working Christmas. It’s their Christmas too. Don’t be a dick.
Christmas is a wonderful time, but just like during the rest of the year, you need to look after your mental health so you don’t exit Christmas burnt out.
I’m not writing any of this to be a Scrooge or to tell you to not enjoy Christmas. Instead, I want you to be aware of those around you who might not be enjoying the festive season as much as others. To be vigilant to signs of mental illness and to help where you can.
If you’re feeling alone this Christmas period an event on Twitter called #JoinIn is run by comedian Sarah Millican all through Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve (perfect for introverts). Also don’t be afraid to reach out to friends—I for one would be happy to answer DMs or comment from people feeling less than their best on Christmas.
Just remember, whatever your feelings are this Christmas, they are worthy. You are worthy. Look after yourselves, folks!
(Quick note: to all the people who’ve read and followed this blog in 2018, I appreciate you all more than you know *cheesy wink*!)