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I might have mentioned (once or twice) that I love Christmas. It’s actually the time of year when I’m at my happiest. But it’s not hard to see why some people sometimes struggle.
Christmas and depression often go hand in hand
There’s a lot of pressure on everyone at Christmas, right? There’s pressure to make sure that everything is perfect – the perfect gifts, the perfect food, the perfect decorations.
Maybe that last one is just me. I know I worry a lot more than is truly necessary over making my tree look perfect. I don’t really believe that it’s important. Obviously, I know that no one cares about what my tree looks like except me. But I worry about it anyway.
And I worry about whether the gifts I’ve bought will be good enough, or whether they’ll look pretty enough when I’ve wrapped them. Yep, you read that right. There really is no limit to the bizarre things I worry about.
I love cooking a big Christmas dinner
And I much prefer cooking for a big group of people, rather than just our little family of four. So we always have family over on Christmas Day. But I stress out over making sure that it’s perfect – making sure the turkey isn’t dry and the veg is cooked right. I go over the top and try to please everyone – desperate for their approval. Why else would I allow myself to get elbow deep under the skin of a turkey, covered in butter on Christmas Eve??
I’d probably be much more relaxed and enjoy myself a lot more if I stopped trying to please everyone. But there’s nothing I love more than being complimented at Christmas. Seriously. I do a little happy dance every time someone tells me my tree is pretty. Or when someone says something nice about something crafty that I’ve made. I especially love it when people tell me how amazing my Christmas dinner was, because I’m definitely more of a baker than a chef, usually.
For some people, that stress might be too much
Christmas is supposed to be a time of happiness and celebration. But it’s not like that for everyone and I don’t think it’s hard to see why some people struggle.
Part of me thrives on the pressure I put myself under at Christmas. I love all the preparation and I love the results of my hard work. But it is pressure that I put on myself. I could stop making such a big deal of Christmas, if I wanted to. Mr Becca wouldn’t care. The twins wouldn’t even notice. Everything I do at Christmas is for me, really. And that’s not the case for everyone.
And it’s not just about the pressure of a perfect Christmas
Christmas is full of financial worry, too. As much as we talk about not going over the top, the fact is that most of us do and not everyone can actually afford it. Seeing posts on social media (for example) about how much everyone else has, when you have very little, can be very difficult.
At Christmas, we’re reminded of the people who we’ve lost and who can’t be there to celebrate with us. And we feel their loss more keenly, because everyone around us is over the top happy.
It can be a very lonely time for some people, and it can feel like everyone else is too busy to notice. Or maybe those of us who struggle are just too good at hiding how they’re feeling, because it’s easier to hide behind a mask than it is to be honest. Maybe they feel like they should be happy, because everyone else is. Maybe they don’t want to bring their friends and family down with them.
Be kind to yourself
Remember that Christmas is just one day and doesn’t have to be perfect. The world won’t end if your tree is wonky or your turkey is dry. Most people are too polite to tell you if the gift you bought them isn’t exactly what they wanted (although it’s probably lovely!). Remember that it’s your Christmas, too – allow yourself a moment to breathe. Be kind to yourself.
Please don’t suffer alone
If you’re one of those people who struggle with Christmas and depression, please talk to someone. If you feel like you don’t have anyone – you do. My inbox is always open and I am always willing to talk to anyone who needs someone to listen.
And if you know someone who’s struggling, please reach out to them. I know that Christmas is a busy time, but there are more important things, and your friends and family are right at the top of the list.