I hope you are all excited and looking forward to Christmas. However I know it can be a dark and lonely time for many. Apart from the weight of expectation around financial & societal pressures to have the perfect, joyous family time we see on TV- there are also more hidden pressures when we’re suffering with our mental health.

Perhaps you are suffering from depression and can’t think of anything worse than pretending to feel festive & cheerful. Perhaps you struggle with an eating disorder or are a recovering alcoholic. Perhaps you have suffered bereavement, grief or loss, and this time of year is a particularly painful reminder.

Then there is the mental health maze of family dynamics. Christmas throws up all sorts of family issues. There is the pressure to spend time with family members you don’t like- or worse- who have hurt you in the past. It can be particularly difficult to return to your hometown after time away, to find yourself thrown back into the role you had growing up. Suddenly you are 7 years old again and the one no one listens to. Or 10 years old and the one who is judged and criticised. Or 14 years old and the one who is belittled and bullied. It is so hard not to revert back to how we felt & reacted back then. The triggers are suddenly everywhere and it can be extremely unsettling and distressing.

I don’t have any answers but if you do find yourself feeling overwhelmed I want to remind you that:

– You have always been enough & you are still enough, just the way you are
– Your life experiences are real and the way you feel is valid. People that tell you otherwise don’t understand but the good news is they don’t matter either
– Try and have some compassion for yourself, you are amazing for having survived everything you have been through so far
– Christmas will pass soon, and the reminders & triggers will lessen, it won’t always feel this raw
– If you struggle with your mental health, remember it has to come first. Get to your 12 step meetings, take your meds, go to your mental health appointments, don’t worry about standing back from toxic people. Don’t feel guilty for taking time to yourself, it’s a necessity not a luxury.

Above all remember you are not alone, there are lots of us who “get” you & who understand the way you feel.

Stay safe ?