Tis the season to be jolly

Or not.

I had a bad night and today hasn’t been much better but I’m getting my head sorted. The things that were worritting at me have been dealt with, and now I’m trying not to focus on them until they are resolved. I’ve done my part and I can’t control the rest.
I sound surprisingly rational, don’t I? It’s taken all day, several conversations with my sister, friends and colleagues, naps and plenty of medication.

One of my friends commented that the pressure to be ‘cheery’ can’t be helpful. I’d mentioned that the winter can be difficult for me, with the long nights, lack of light, and seasonal diseases going round, in addition to my mental health conditions.

It’s true, at least for me, that the added ‘be cheery’ factor, the pressure to have a busy, sociable holiday, with Christmas and New Year being the highlights of the year, is oppressive. I’m not very good at this stuff; when I’m feeling rough because I have a never ending cold, not sleeping because I ruminate, can’t see sunlight or get fresh air because I’m stuck in an office from 8:45 to 17:45 (if I’m on a long call), all I want to do on my mandatory days off – because the centre closes bank holidays – is hide, maybe go for a solitary walk with the dogs. I need time between being sociable. The extra pressure, on top of everything else and an emotionally intense job, is too much.

I’ll be honest, the last few weeks have been hard. The new job is intense, I speak to people in complex situations and some customers are…difficult…yes, that’s the most polite description I can use. There are less polite words but I can’t use them in public. I’ve been ill, a really nasty cold I picked up at the office, and which everyone else has got. It’s left me drained, physically and emotionally. For all that, I do enjoy the job; I like helping people.

But it has left me vulnerable to episodes of anxiety, increasing periods of depression and a general skittishness about life.

And now the festive season is in full swing. I’m trying to ration myself, to control how much interaction I have with other people, to give myself time to rest before the New Year ‘rush’ but it isn’t easy. Tomorrow is our last day at work before Christmas and some of my colleagues, people well on the way to being friends, want to go out after work. I want to join them, and I will, but the pressure to stay out late and stay with one of them, instead of getting the last bus home, is worrying me. I don’t want people to think I’m a spoil sport, and I want to join the fun, but I have obligations – I won’t leave the dogs over night, I have things to do Wednesday morning, I don’t want to be hungover at my family’s Christmas Eve buffet.

Ah, yes the buffet. That should be an interesting mix of fun and anxiety…

Thursday I am finally getting a day to myself, for most of the day at least. I’m going to walk the dogs and visit my dead people, while the pork and apple stew I’ve become very fond of is cooking. In the evening I’m going to visit  friends for a gaming night. Friday and most of Saturday will be free of other people unless I want to visit relatives, which will depend on my mental state. Then Sunday two friends are coming for tea. I’m back to work Monday.

My holiday won’t be particularly restful, but I should have time to get some writing done. I simply haven’t had time to write, and I’m sure that’s having a detrimental affect on my mental health. Creative writing is my safety valve; I’m about ready to blow. I’ll be taking every chance I can to write, and try to get things out of my system. Alone, I don’t need to pretend I’m cheerful if I’m not feeling it.

So, yeah, everyone have a good holyday season, but try not to blow your lids. Get away from the rush if you need to, don’t neglect alone time or things you enjoy because of pressure to be sociable if you aren’t happy with it. In the long term, it’s better for your mental health than trying to do everything just because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

Good night, I need to get some sleep tonight, I have work in the morning.


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