Christmas. You expect to have a perfect time full of love, joy and cosy evenings by the fire. You are surrounded by images of jolly elves, smiling children and tables laden with food and drink. Family. Friends. Laughing, smiling and enjoying each other’s company. Parties, quiet days at home and festive play dates. An expectation to have fun.
It’s fair to say that Christmas is not made for depressed people. Or rather, if you’re depressed at Christmas, the only thing you can guarantee is feeling rubbish. This was me last year when I wrote the following on Facebook:
“Today has been challenging.
Baby Edward – very unsettled, cranky and clingy (developmental leap apparently). Plus still projectile vomiting at irregular feeds (been checked by doctor nothing serious).
Jessica hyperactive, excited and exhausted from her recent cold.
Me crippled by my illness – hate the current version of me when it means I can’t enjoy special days like this.
Paul putting up with the 3 of us and still managing to cook an awesome Christmas lunch.
Other highlights were seeing my brother and his girlfriend, my mums hand on my shoulder on a day I needed it most, pure joy on Jessica’s face on more than one occasion, my lovely present and finally finding the courage to share these thoughts here. “
Last Christmas is still incredibly vivid in my mind. The despair I felt. The tears I cried. The pain I woke with. The anger boiling inside of me. The thought of spending two weeks with two kids whilst being ill was terrifying. In reality it was horrendous.
Surrounded by people wishing me a ‘merry Christmas’ when I felt anything but. And posting photos of Edwards first Christmas but feeling absolutely no joy from sharing those times. My husband at work – stressed out with both his job and his wife. Arguments with family over not much when really I wanted their love and support.
I didn’t know it then but this horrible time was the start of my recovery. In a time of ‘let’s show everyone how happy we are’ on Facebook, I plucked up the courage to tell people I wasn’t having such a good time. My close friends and family already knew. But I needed everyone to know so they could help me get better.
And my goodness did they rally around me. Acquaintances become very special friends through a mutual understanding of the pain I was experiencing. I formed a small but incredibly close network of friends who helped me through the stormy waters to the other side.
And Let me tell you about the other side as this Christmas I’ve found it. It’s beautiful. It’s full of love, laughter and joy. Pure joy that I can hand on heart say I have had the most wonderful Christmas. I’ve been relaxed, happy and excited for each day. I’ve filled my house with people I love and want to spend time with. I’ve played Lego until my eyes were blurry with sleep. I’ve danced with my daughter in our PJs when we found the magic dust in the garden. I went on a play date to the woods with two kids by myself. I hosted a party. In my house. I took my accident prone daughter ice skating. I enjoyed being with my family.
These things are epic. To me. They tell me how much better I am. How well I’m doing. How loved I am. How lucky I am. And I’ve cried tears this year too. But for the reasons above which frankly is worth it’s weight in gold. The best Christmas present. Ever.
Just one thing, please spare a thought for those people who are struggling this Christmas. They may not talk about their pain but it’s there in their eyes. Take time to listen. Take time to learn. Take time to love.