Why Christmas Makes Me Really Anxious
Christmas isn't so merry for everyone
Leanne Brookes shares her personal story of why the time of year makes her so anxious
If you are struggling with any of the issues raised in this article, you can find a therapist here
Every year I gear myself up for the ‘perfect’ day and it never comes to be. The pressure that I have put on myself over my twenty-nine years is unrealistic, emotionally damaging and discouraging. This isn’t just the thirty-one days in December, this is every day. I have made it my daily mission to make a conscious effort to better my mental health little by little. This is a relatively new concept for me but now Christmas has reared it’s ugly head it has brought a totally new challenge my way.
I like Christmas, I love it in fact. It’s just a scary time when you’re on the road to recovery.
I like Christmas, I love it in fact. It’s just a scary time when you’re on the road to recovery. I tend to become a bit of a recluse so I don’t have to venture into large crowds. The very thought of the meat aisle at Tesco on Christmas Eve is enough to bring me out in a cold anxious sweat. When it comes to Christmas nights out, I either don’t go or I really have to force myself as I can become self-conscious to the point that if a stranger raises their voice or directly looks at me in the eye, it leaves me fearful, which then activates my very vivid imagination. I currently have an ‘all or nothing’ mentality, which can negatively impact my experience while purchasing gifts for family and friends. I say currently, because it’s a characteristic that I am desperate to change. I have really grand ideas when it comes to gifts that are usually extremely personal, creative and time consuming to see through until the end. I will spend hours slumped in front of my Macbook researching and (almost) purchasing until I get so fed up with my indecisiveness that I give up and end up leaving everything until the last minute, which I then beat myself up over and brand myself as ‘good for nothing’.
Society has taught us that Christmas is a joyful time for everyone, that even if you are a person who has depressive or anxious tendencies, this magical holiday can surely keep those emotions at bay. Carve a turkey, pull a cracker and watch the John Lewis advert and all will be ok. Everything about this season is telling me how I should feel, from the greetings in Christmas cards to the colour of my coffee cup. This time of year heightens and magnifies emotions, not all bad, but for a person who is attempting to be mindful and self reflective, it can be discovery overload. I don’t want a fairytale, I’m not asking for chestnuts roasting on an open fire, I don’t even need chestnuts or a fire for that matter. I just want a Christmas that I can get through without a ten tonne weight dragging down my shoulders, disappointment around every corner and headaches brought on by anxiety. Christmas isn’t going to make me happy, only I can do that.