*Disclaimer: I’m still not a doctor or mental health expert! If your feelings are overwhelming you, please seek support now: your GP, a counsellor, the Samaritans on 116 123.
This is going to be a niche blog… but it’s one that I would have picked up and read.. probably still would. I trust that for many – the majority even, holidays are longed for, joyous occasions. Whether that be those lazy hazy sunny ones, or the annual festive ones, whatever festival is your go to (mine just happens to be Christmas). I used to have a different experience for a period in my thirties, I did look forward to the prospect of both a get away holiday and also a home festive feast, but I found the closer they got the less I looked forward to them and the more I actually started counting the days down with a growing sense of dread and foreboding.
Holiday meant no work, it meant downtime and for me that meant thinking time. My career had a structure and routine and just happened to be incredibly consuming and well yes “busy”. Between the hours of at least 8am and about 6pm there was very little bandwidth available for my internal spirals of self-destruction and anxiety. I was able to function in the work environment and outwardly appeared (I think!) normal – whatever that is. However, remove that structure, make my time my own and what followed, with predictable regularity was a crash into a deep well of sadness, harsh critical introspection and rage at the unfairness that this was how life treated me.
The fact that really nothing was truly wrong, only fuelled my anger and confusion at how I felt. There was no rationality and as such the path out was obscured from my view. Holidays magnified this so horrifically, the pressure and expectation to have fun, feel happy and contented and to spread this cheer weighed so incredibly heavily on my shoulders. And with those closest, that I as able to be the most honest with, there was the continual gnawing fear that to share would be to disappoint, to worry and to let down. The most awful of feelings to me – that of being the burden and the object of concern. And to spoil this time for them made me feel like a Dementor, sucking any joy from a room as I entered.
It’s an incredibly difficult and complicated place to find yourself and not something that is often spoken about. Feelings of loneliness, anger, sadness and a million other sit uncomfortably alongside mince pies and Santa, or a dazzling sunset by the sea.
So, in the first instance, if this is you, let’s just acknowledge that where you are, is where you are and how you feel is valid – because it’s how you feel. There is a small release in this acknowledgement, the energy saved from desperately fighting the reality can be better used elsewhere.
What can we do then? As the festive jumpers start to appear and invitations start appearing, even if these remain hampered by the very determined virus that remains amongst us. What did I do? Well, there’s the long path and the right now. The long path took me a number of years – that’s not meant to discourage you, I want you to take a strand of hope from it and I want to be real; it takes time, it takes effort. Yes, it takes practice. I had help – from my GP in terms of medication and from therapists, family, friends and latterly as I became ready to move forward, coaches to support me with my new destinations and goals.
I learnt to be honest about what was and was not. I learnt to lower the expectations I placed on myself, especially at these specific times and ultimately, I learnt how to be in the now, so what had previously been a two-week, one week, whatever stretch in time – this huge chasm ahead, actually was only a series of minutes. Right now, to right now, to right now again.
Not only does this feel lighter and more approachable, it also means that when right now is hard, it’s just now, it’s not the whole holiday or forever. If we revisit the Mindfulness analogy that our emotions are like the weather patterns; when we can be aware of them and view them, accept them just as they are right now, we gain the opportunity to watch them as they change around us, as one emotion subtly starts to shift into another. It removes this permanence that can feel so real and so discouraging.
Seek the fun, seek the joy – little things. I have three Minions that sit on top of my kitchen cupboards, bought for me as gifts by my husband, to make me laugh and they do, and they lightened a day that I had predicted was going to be hard and heavy. When we can look about us and count the good, move to accept the place we are at and know that this is, itself, a step forward. The holidays are going to happen regardless, we genuinely do get to choose how we want to experience them.
If you are in a place to move forward and are interested in how I can work with you, you can speak to me directly, you can book a free initial one hour session with me here
You can learn more about me on YouTube https://youtu.be/B9EiOo-N7qI
And I am on Instagram and Facebook @start2thrive where I post nuggets I hope are of help 😊
And remember, if you are overwhelmed, please ask for help – your GP, a therapist, the Samaritans on 116 123. You are not alone.