I know it’s Christmas time because of the calendar but otherwise? Not so much. Christmas does have a feeling associated with it, I think we can all recognise that so why don’t I feel it? There are lots of reasons. Spare a thought for the unemployed, mentally unwell.
1. I don’t have a job
No job means no works Christmas party. It means no secret Santa or Christmas jumper day. No cards. No Christmas lunch. No tubs of Christmas chocolates.
2. I am socially isolated
No meeting up with friends for Christmas nights out (or in). No need to buy any of the special Christmas party clothes in the shops. Sparkly tops and skirts and dresses. No point. Again no presents or cards. No guests to entertain and nowhere to go. The few people I do interact with are inevitably more busy with it being Christmas so the isolation is even more than usual.
3. I am disconnected from my family
I won’t be getting any visits from my origin family and nor will I be visiting them. Maybe I’ll get a card, or maybe I won’t. There will be no talk of Christmases past. Memories like returning home from midnight mass to our presents with my alcoholic mum slurring all over us will stay as my private burden. It won’t be talked about but I will think about it and feel the sadness.
4. PTSD Triggers
I know that actually many, many people find the deigned festive time difficult for all kinds of reasons eg bereavement. With PTSD the sadness is triggered pretty much daily. They play the same songs each year, so many of the lyrics are about family. Food traditions – what if you don’t have any because you grew up with uncertainty? My brain constantly revisits the past, like being threatened that she would destroy Christmas, destroy all of my brothers presents and blame me… if I told that she’d bought vodka at the shop. Stuff like that sticks and weaves it’s way into your day. Time travel made all the easier by spending so much time alone. Of course, this means that blocking out Christmas can help block out the ghost of Christmases past. The numbness is a necessary protection. It helps stop the bad but also blocks the good. Seems I can’t feel one without the other.
5. I’ve just moved house
I have no TV or Internet. This essentially means that the endless barrage of TV ads and programs promoting Christmas are non-existent in my world. Generally that’s a good thing as I don’t really like the whole ‘make this Christmas BIGGER! MORE!’ message. My house is littered with boxes so I’m trying to unpack but also put up decorations ‘n’ stuff. Thing is, it kind of feels like the husband and kids aren’t really arsed but I’m insisting on trying – even when it involves the stubborn stupidity of wasting 3 hours of my life cutting a tree with a junior hacksaw.
6. Money is issue
I don’t go mad with spending at Christmas but at the minute the budget feels so tight that I find the prospect of buying stuff actually a bit scary…what if we run out of money?
Bearing all that in mind it seems pretty obvious that I’d be extra vulnerable right now. I fight though. I try and enjoy moments with the kids. I try and make Christmas a time of closeness, love and fun. I will cuddle them on the sofa whilst watching a film (we have DVDs!) I try and focus on my present, my Christmas present, being here now. I try new things in the hope that together, as a family, we will make our own traditions – like Christmas Day parkrun. I don’t buy into the perfect Christmas hype and keep those unrelenting standards in check.
People say it’s only one day but it isn’t. It’s a whole season looking back at a whole lifetime which is why, instead of feeling festive, I’d have to say I’m feeling depresstive and that’s ok.