We’ve reached the most wonderful time of the year, a time to spend with loved ones, a time to eat excessive amounts of food and a time in which everyone is happy, right?
Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is my absolute favourite time of the year and it is usually a time of great joy for most people. But what about those who have unfortunately lost a loved one around Christmas or are spending their first December without someone? Or what about those of us suffering with Eating Disorders and Depression? I don’t mean to put a downer on your Festive spirit by any means, in fact this will be my first Christmas in a long time ED free. However Mental Health at Christmas is something I wish more people would understand and that’s why I felt obliged to write about it... or bore you all with another blog post, if that’s how you see it.
Following that Christmas came 2013, I talked about 2013 as a year in my last blog post about Bulimia and so I won’t go into too much detail. But to put it simply I was 15/16 and putting enormous amounts of pressure on myself to do well in my GCSEs. I was either binging and purging or under eating - I struggled quite a lot that year. However in that same blog post I skipped a few months and didn’t go into detail about, how to this day, I still consider the Winter of 2013 to be one of the worst times in my life - particularly Christmas. If by any chance my Sister is reading this I can see her getting frustrated about me saying that, because my Nephew was born in November 2013... It’s not like it was all bad, he was definitely the biggest joy in quite a hard time.
Depression is one of those awful things you can’t really explain, you don’t quite understand it yourself and you’re desperate to ‘snap out of it’ like everyone keeps telling you to. But it doesn’t work like that and it’s hard and so frustrating that some people can’t understand that you’re not choosing to be sad. When I think about THAT Christmas I can just remember feeling alone. It was the first Christmas we spent with my late Great Aunt Nan in which she had just started suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. This made it hard to be around her and was something that got harder for the next few Christmases, simply because she wasn’t herself anymore. She passed away this October and even though she wasn’t physically with us on Christmas Day for the last two years, this’ll be out first Christmas without her at all. I’ve got wonderful memories of my Great Aunt at Christmas, she used to bring me brilliant presents and tell us stories about her amazing travels that year. I wasn’t as close with her as my sisters were but spending Christmas without a loved one is hard regardless. Thinking back now, I do genuinely believe this is one of the reasons I struggled so much In 2013. It was becoming apparent that we didn’t have many Christmas Days left with her, but also as she sat there with us, she didn’t say much or tell us too many stories because she couldn’t necessarily remember much... I’d also just gone through my first breakup, which I mean is hilarious now, considering I was 16 and felt like I was suffering the biggest heartbreak ever. But I genuinely was quite heartbroken at the time considering I had spent Christmas 2011 and 2012 with him. I don’t know, it’s really hard to pick what it was that made that Christmas hard, that’s one of the difficult things about this illness because you can’t give a reason as to why you’re depressed but this continued to happen for the next four Christmases.
But, that brings us to Christmas 2018....
I’ve talked about beating my Eating Disorder this year and I’ve discussed how I’m managing my Mental Heath generally. I’m not saying I’m absolutely fine now by any means because I do still struggle with my weight and my insecurity, but this is my first ED free Christmas *pops party popper*.
If you’re suffering this year, I can genuinely say, I know how you feel and I’ve been there and lived it. I know how it feels to sit in a room full of family members and still feel lonely. I know how it feels not wanting to eat a thing, but wanting to eat everything at the same time that you feel disgusted with yourself. I know exactly how it feels to feel empty and hate yourself for it, because “it’s Christmas”. I know how frustrating it is that people can’t understand why you’d be sad when you could just listen to Shakin’ Stevens constantly. I also know the heartbreak of losing a loved one around this time of year and doing Christmas without them for the first time. It’s hard to give advice on this topic because everyone’s Mental Health is so different. I’ve not necessarily had it worse or easier than anyone because we suffer in such different ways. I just ask that you please take it easy on yourself this Christmas - you’re not alone and this does get easier. Four years ago, I couldn’t have seen this far into the future - I probably didn’t think I’d ever have a Bulimia free Christmas. But here I am, genuinely happy, and even on days when I feel I’m putting on weight or getting urges to make myself sick, I wouldn’t dare.
This Christmas is my first unemployed Christmas in three years and that probably sounds terrifying to some people. But being a student and finishing my first semester with three 1sts and a 2:1, being able to have a proper Christmas holiday with my very wonderful family and equally as wonderful boyfriend is the best present ever.
I wrote this mostly for people that don’t understand Mental Health and are getting irritated with a suffering family member, or because they don’t know what to say to them. I can’t make you understand Mental Health, I do my best to educate people when I can but I’m literally 21 and don’t understand my own illness sometimes... But please, you don’t know what people are going through this time of year. Stop being so nasty to everyone, especially retail assistants and people in the food industry, I mean you shouldn’t be doing that anyway, EVER. But you really don’t know if that ‘slow’ waitress is suffering from an Eating Disorder this Christmas, or if the ‘sad’ Shop Manager is spending his first Christmas without his late wife. I know the holidays are stressful but please, “in a world where you can be anything, be kind”. You have no idea how appreciated your kindness is to some people at this time of year. If you are spending Christmas with someone who is recovering from and ED, don’t sit and stare at them whilst they eat, don’t call them out for leaving food... There is only so much you can do, but your love and support will help them through. This goes for people with Depression too, be patient with them and be kind.
Mental Health doesn’t just go away at Christmas and that’s okay... You’re doing your best and that’s good enough. There are so many people you can speak too, including myself, if you’re having a particularly low time throughout the Festivities. I promise it’s going to get better the minute you allow yourself to get help. It is the strongest thing you can do and considering you’re already dealing with a Mental Health issue, you’re already a pretty tough badass.
I’m going to leave a website link down below with all the numbers you can call if you’re suffering this Christmas.
Be kind to others and be kind to yourselves, I hope I haven’t bored you too much.
Have a wonderfully Merry Christmas everyone and a very Happy New Year.