Once a year.

Once a year Christmas day happens (it also feels like I only post once a year). Despite not being a Christian, not being religious at all in fact,my family gets together and plays stupid games and eats a butt load of food and usually end up playing mah jong. It’s a time of year that freaks me out a huge amount.

It’s the time of year where I’m reminded how little my family understand how strange my mind is and how complicated my mental illnesses are. Okay, so I’m writing this after having a midnight argument with my brother which has set off my anxiety a huge amount but I’m going to try my hardest not to let that affect how I write (he was trying to do something nice for my mum but it’s another thing that makes me ridiculously anxious which I now feel really bad about resisting!).

I’m extremely different from my family and have always felt like a black sheep. I’m the only one who’s working in my particular sector. I’m the only one who travels up and down the country to visit people. I’m the only one that’s into performing and music. The only one interested in technology. The only one that’s into comic books. I’m a nerd. And I feel very very English.

My family are very unaware and resistant to the idea that mental illness exists and because of that don’t quite understand mental health and how it can affect people. They don’t understand that almost everything to do with Christmas makes me anxious. I’m going to list a few things that I love and loathe about Christmas. It’s not all bad but it’s certainly not simple either.

Things I love about Christmas:

Christmas music. (I flipping love Christmas music)
People seem happy.
Writing cards for people.
Giving gifts.
Food.
Cheesy Christmas TV and films.

Things that make me anxious at Christmas:

Having a full day with a huge group of my family with no escape. (lots of people that come I only know as a passing acquaintance).
Not being able to have my own personal space.
Not being able to be musical at home.
Finances being drained by gifts.
Shopping for gifts.
The strange expectation that I have to celebrate Christmas despite not being religious.
New years eve.
Having to stay happy throughout the day even once anxiety kicks in so as not to ruin everyone else’s day.
Immeasurable guilt that I’ve not sent Christmas cards and gifts to everyone I know.
Irrational fear that I’m already running Christmas some way.
Feeling extremely alone even though I’m surrounded by people.

Anyway. This list could go on pretty much forever. This year, due to various factors and my mind not being the healthiest, everything feels amplified. But as always, I’ll knuckle under and get through it. I’m very fortunate to even have a family to feel awkward around.

All I ask is that today, this week, this season, where suicides rates are high, is for you all to look after your brains. Look out for other people’s brains too. Be understanding and compassionate. Be a little bit selfish too. Give yourself ten minutes to yourself if you need it. God knows that I’ll be doing that a lot.

Christmas can be a very stressful, lonely time for a lot of people. Lots of us think about all the things we’ve not achieved this year. We think about how we could have been better. Let’s try to help each other see all the good stuff we’ve achieved this year. As individuals, communities, society and the planet as a whole.

A

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