‘Tis The Season
So it’s official. We’re in December and the countdown to Christmas has begun. It’s okay to start playing Christmas music and put up your tree (even if I still think it’s too early!). The chaos of shopping is well underway. It should be all jolly and bright, right? Unfortunately, no. For some it’s not. This time of year can be hard, the dark mornings and early evenings can exacerbate S.A.D, the almost enforced jolliness and pressure can make anxiety and depression worse. If you suffer with mental health issues it can be incredibly lonely and isolating at this time of year. So I wanted to give you a little gift if you are a sufferer, the light of hope.
So, okay at this point you probably think I’ve lost it completely. But let me explain. We’ve just finished our Very Mental Christmas week, our aim being to share hints and tips to help mental health sufferers through the Christmas period. I do advise you check it out if you haven’t already! But one thing that has come out is how fearful some of these sufferers are of the holidays. I know that fear. I feel it too. It looms up like a huge dark cloud; the endless what ifs, the pressure of perfection, the stresses of finances, family squabbles over whose turn it is to host. Instead of being a time of peace and goodwill it becomes a monster waiting to rip us to shreds. When you are already struggling it feels utterly overwhelming.
From Darkness to Light
One thing that many people don’t realize is that Christmas day was designated as 25th December to coincide with the old pagan festivals of the winter solstice. In a bid to win over new believers to the Christian faith, some of the pagan traditions were carried over. One of the most recognizable is the Christmas tree, originally a green bough dragged into the home and burnt to bring light to the dark. An offering to the gods with the hope that winter would end soon and warmth and light would return to the people.
Sometimes when you are battling with depression, your mind can feel like it’s stuck in an eternal, long winter. It’s cold and dark and feels relentless. It’s why that little bit of light, that glimmer of hope is so important. Someday the sun will return, it might not be tomorrow but it will come back. We just have to hold on to hope.
The Light of Hope
So, to all of you. Don’t try for the ‘perfect’ Christmas. Just have your Christmas, your way. Make time for your self-care, even if you have to be selfish to get it. Go easy on yourself. It’s ok not to be okay and if you need some encouragement, you can find some here. Hope can be a powerful thing, and while things may not be good now, it can get better. On Christmas night I’m going to light a candle as reminder of the light of hope: the hope that the darkness in my head will fade, that the new year will be better. That even though it’s winter now, it won’t be forever.
I’ll just leave you with this. It’s from one of my favourite Christmas songs and it’s my hope for the coming year.
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