I know I'm a little late with getting this post up, but I thought there might be others that need to read this today ya know? Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy - that word crops up in a ridiculous number of Christmas songs that we're bombarded with at this time of year. We're meant to feel a childlike amount of glee as we sit in our homes snuggled up by the fire and wait on the edge of our seats to open our presents in the morning surrounded by family. But that image doesn't match up with the reality of most of our Christmases, and its okay to feel upset that it doesn't.
Christmas is a time that brings all the family together, and whilst some people adore this, it can be super stressful. From relatives pressuring you with questions about 'what really are you going to do career-wise?' to having the whole family there bar a person that you've lost over the year, these gatherings can be genuinely upsetting and triggering for mental health issues.
It's okay to cry over the Christmas period. Hell, it's okay to cry on Christmas Day. If you need to get it out, then let it out. Let Christmas be a time for healing and acceptance rather than bottling up your pain to deal with in the most miserable month of the year (January, I hate you).It's also okay to let your family know you've cried and you're upset. However, I saw a tweet from a therapist recently that really resonated with me: if you've got issues with your family, don't bring them out over Christmas. Leave the specific issues and discuss them in the future. Everyone's emotions are fraught at this time of year, and it can be really unproductive to bring things out. Wait until you're ready to handle things, and don't let the feelings of the festive season force out festering resentments.
It's okay to grieve over Christmas, and over the feeling of happiness around the season that you've lost. As children, December always used to be the happiest time of year, and it's pretty much expected that as we grow that will stay the same. But as we grow we experience trauma, and become more aware of issues in the world and issues surrounding us. It makes it impossible to go back to that childlike state of pure joy that we're all expected to embody at this time. But it's held up as an idyll of how we're meant to act. And it's okay not to succumb to that. It's okay to change things, and have a more sombre Christmas and to accept that things are different now. It's hard to do, but clinging onto past Christmases can make present Christmases more painful.
It's also okay to be sad because it's almost the end of another year, and you're not where you're meant to be. For the last couple of Christmases I've promised myself that 'next year' I'll be completely financially stable, and in a position to have a dreamy Christmas. It hasn't happened yet. Every year I really struggle to handle this, and feel a crushing wave of disappointment. There's so much pressure to have a wonderful, costly Christmas, and it's okay to be sad that you can't have it. It doesn't mean that you're just concerned with material things, it can mean that you're upset you can't keep your house warm for your family, or give them the presents they deserve.
Christmas can be really detrimental on your mental health, so if you're struggling, remember that you just need to get through the next few days, and it's totally okay to let people know you're finding things tough.