January is a great month for looking back and reflecting on the year gone by. I know we’re kind of supposed to do that in December, but who has the time when there’s so much cheese to be eaten and wine to be drank? Anyway so far this January I’ve caught myself reflecting on Christmas a lot. Maybe because Christmas can be such a difficult time for anyone who’s dealing with mental health issues. I know that my first suicidal thoughts began at Christmas time (2015) and that’s probably not a coimcidemce. Being reunited with family really does bring out every little insecurity and every old resentment that we may have thought was burried deep down. In my family, it’s all about competing with my cousins for respect and admiration, or at least it used to be for me. So I thought what better way to reflect on Christmas 2017 than with an aul blog post!
I’m glad to say that this Christmas was different. This Christmas I felt very relaxed and comfortable around the fam. I won’t say that I didn’t feel even the teeny tiniest bit insecure, of course I did at times. My career is still a source of embarassment for me sometimes. My cousins are all very successful or on their way to success in their respective fields, whereas I’m really still pretty clueless as to what I want to be when I grow up. The usual questions came up in the usual conversations. “So what have you been up to”? “What are you doing with yourself these days”? And yeah I’d rather have not had those conversations. Being forced to validate and justify everything you’ve done in the past twelve months is uncomfortable, especially if you’re less than happy with your answer. I still don’t really know what to say. On the whole though, I felt significantly less insecure than I have done in years gone by.
In terms of body confidence, I felt great this year. On St Stephens night in particular, I wore a very tight gold velvet dress that left pretty much nothing to the imagination. Last year I wouldn’t have been caught dead in that dress, never mind sat through a long night of dinner and drinks with my entire family in it. I felt amazing, and that felt amazing. In previous years I’d have been so wrapped up in my self conciousness that I couldn’t relax and enjoy my night. I’d be constantly thinking about my posture, the way my clothes were sitting on me, my hair, touching up my make up every ten minutes, hiding from photographs and lurking around the perimeter of the room, too afraid of being seen to get involced in the fun. But this year, I was the total opposite. I was still the fattest person in the room by a long shot, but this time that didn’t make me feel ashamed of my body. I felt proud of my body. It was a Christmas miracle!!!
I think one of the best things about this Christmas was the fact that, for the first time, I didn’t let myself give in to the pressure to be prancing about full of festive cheer 24/7. Just because it’s Christmas we’re all expected to be positively joyful at every moment of every day. As if all of our problems just dissappear on December 1st. The truth is, we’re never as broke as we are at Christmas. We’re never as stressed, or as body conscious, or as run down. The weather plays havoc with the moods of most people. Loneliness and the loss of loved ones is never more intense and painful as it is at Christmas. And we’re forced to spend time with the people we love, but don’t particularly like. It’s a bit shit really. So it’s only natural thar most people struggle to get into the Christmas spirit and festive cheer from time to time. I think what was great about my Christmas was that I was ok with not feeling merry 24/7. I wasn’t depressed, my mental health has never been so strong as it is right now. But even the most mentally healthy people experience lows every now and then. So allowing myself to have bad days, giving myself permission to cry when I was upset, and (probably the most important thing of all) letting myself say no to doing the things I just didn’t want to do was refreshing, liberating, and definitely self loving.
All in all… a great, imperfect, fun filled, exhausting Christmas was had. I drank all the wine and ate all the cheese and rolled my eyes at my family and danced with my friends and wore clothes that I love. Thank Christ it’s over!
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