How I make the holidays work for me
Christmas isn’t wonderful for everyone, Phil who’s in his late 40s has struggled with his mental health since childhood, and shared his experience of how he copes with the holidays.
I remember one Christmas where I was with a whole bunch of people at a family gathering and everyone was talking. I felt almost as if I wasn’t there. I was really trying to be in the moment, but I wasn’t. I felt so alone. That was the worst.
This made me realised that I was forcing myself to do things that weren’t working for me. It was making me dread social events like that. And it was always on my mind, because there would always be another one coming up, whether that was a family gathering or the Easter holidays.
“If it's not right for me, then I just don't do it, whatever that is, and I try to find something that does work for me.”
So I decided to put things in place to help me cope with the holidays. If it's not right for me, then I just don't do it, whatever that is, and I try to find something that does work for me. A lot of the time, this meant spending time with other people that maybe were in a similar situation or friends that invited me into their home to get away from it all.
I was a little disappointed that some people didn’t support the fact that I just needed to get away from all of these ‘must do’ events. People would call me and ask why I wasn’t going to a gathering and trying to talk me into going. But I’ve had to move away from “Ok, I have to do this.” to understanding that I don’t have to.
“My wife understands mental health and it helps being able to talk to her. We watch films, cook, and go for walks.”
My holiday celebrations now are just my wife and I. And that’s perfect. She understands mental health and it helps being able to talk to her. We watch films, cook, go for a walk and just spend time together.
It only took 30 years to get here, but it’s really helped. I still socialise. I still see the people I’m more comfortable seeing and being around now, but I no longer feel that pressure and dread.
If you’re worried about your mental health over Christmas, or any period, talk to someone who understands mental health. Talk to your friends, or family or call Mind.
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