Wednesday 23 December 2015

Ghosts of Christmas Past

With less than 48 hours to go, Christmas 2015 is looking like my first properly mental-illness-free festive period in my adult life. 
*Touch Wood*

I don't know if this counts as seasonal affective disorder, but for whatever reason my mood never fails to dip towards the end of autumn, just in time for full-blown depression for December 25th.  Merry Christmas!

Ways I have spent Christmases past: 
- in tears 
- in debt (having overspent on credit cards on loved ones' presents, to make up for my horrendous moods)
- in a state of numbness 
- in a mess (unable to summon the enthusiasm to wear something festive, or blow dry my hair, on slap on some make-up).

December 2012 shook all that up: I was on home leave from psychiatric hospital, my eight week old son in tow.  I was just grateful to be alive, to be lucid, to be a person in the world, to not be in hell any more.  Those few hours spent at home cemented in me what was important: health and happiness. Family and friends. Sanity.  Nothing else mattered.  Not the presents I bought, the clothes I wore, the smiles I offered. 

The following year, we relished the chance to be properly together, just the three of us.  It was low-key, but special.  I was still somewhat fragile, but on an even keel.  We got a tree, we cooked a big roast with all the trimmings, we lovingly prepared a stocking for The Boy.

The year after that, I was recovering from a spell of acute anxiety.  I had taken on perhaps one or two too many commitments over the summer and early autumn, which led to one or two restless nights, which led to a real fear of becoming psychotic again. This "relapse" shook me to my core, and I spent Christmas 2014 still reeling from it.

But this year - 2015 - I can honestly appraise myself as being OK.  I've been busy, for sure, but with The Boy now at nursery I finally have some regular "Me time".  I can tell very quickly when I'm becoming a bit over-anxious, or irritable, hypomanic, or down.  I have the tools (some of which learnt on Mental Health First Aid, some just through experience) to self-correct and stay on track.

So, this Christmas, I will be raising a glass to Good Health and giving thanks for what has been by all accounts a great year.  I'm grateful for every day of good health I have.  But with a super-excited three year old in the house, I am especially grateful for a happy and healthy Christmas day.

❄️ Merry Christmas! ❄️

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