A Blue Christmas
I love Christmas. I love the tinsel, the tat, the sense of goodwill to all and mostly, I love the pigs in blankets. I’ve always been fortunate enough to be ensconced within the bosom of loved ones at this time of year, always felt the warm fuzzy glow of giving and generally felt a real happiness as I snuggle into my Christmas jumper.
This year I feel different.
I’ve made no secret of the fact on this ‘ere blog that I struggle with mental illness. That sometimes everything is TOO HARD and I need help and that I take anti-depressants. I’ve always been honest about it, as we should, as talking helps and people shouldn’t be afraid of admitting they’re struggling. And I haven’t written anything about it for ages, because, well, it hasn’t been bad for ages. Sure, there are weeks where I feel it more than others, but nothing that has left me spiralling out of control or unable to make my usual coping strategies work.
But over the last few weeks it’s bad again. I am struggling with colossal mood swings, I’m tearful ALL THE CLUCKING TIME, I feel like I don’t belong in my own skin and everything is clouded by a huge sense of just utter sadness. I’ve also been having the most horrendous nightmares every single night for the last couple of months. And not just like, ‘oh no I’m in public with no clothes on’ type nightmares, these are about the most disturbing things, terrorists, murders, kidnappings, torture etc- it’s really not very pleasant.
And it’s so frustrating because I have nothing to feel sad about. I’m working in a lovely job with a lovely company, I’m hopelessly in love with the most wonderful man I’ve ever met, I’m excited about positive plans for 2017 and my friends and family remain nothing but some of the most glorious humans on the planet. I’m physically healthy, I have a roof over my head and able to put food on the table.
So why do I feel like this?
Well, I can’t work out whether or not it’s got something to do with being moved onto a new contraceptive pill and my hormones are just up and down like they’re on a daytrip to Alton Towers, or whether it’s something deeper. Is it just because I’m working away from home and my loved ones over the festive season and I’m homesick? Or is it just because my broken sleep and my gruelling Christmas performance schedule has taken its toll and I’m absolutely knackered? (shout-out to all other actors doing panto season by the way. I feel you on those 10.30am shows.)
It’s freaking me out a bit because I have just never felt like this at this time of year. I’m desperately trying to feel the festive spirit (cut to me sitting alone in my dressing room eating a Pret Christmas Sandwich) but it’s just not really working. I’m alarmed at how unsociable I feel, how terrified I constantly am (don’t ask me about what, I honestly couldn’t tell you) and how I can now cry at the drop of a hat.
I think part of this whole thing is the frustration I’m feeling at myself for feeling this way. Like, as well as all the things my brain is doing, I’m also beating myself up for being a droopy drawers around my fellow cast-mates, for crying on my boyfriend whenever I see him and whining at my family that I miss them. I feel annoying and pathetic and a huge burden to everyone.
I’m writing this really to try and sort out my own thoughts so I can try and work out WHASS GOIN’ ON but also to stretch out a hand for anyone else who is having a tough time. It’s never easy to experience big swathes of sadness, or paralysing panic attacks in inappropriate place (side note- can now confirm that that the pic n mix wall at Wilko is an inappropriate place to have one.) but at this time of year? Man, it’s particularly tricky to cope with. I’m away from home, it’s a time of year I usually adore and I don’t recognise myself.
But you know, it’s always a good step to be honest about what’s happening and what you’re feeling. If we’re not, then how can we ever hope to feel better, and for others to be able to understand? So, yes, hello, here I am being honest about feeling blue this Christmas. I’m going to continue to take my anti-depressants, and to try and take responsibility for my own mental health. How? Well, by giving myself a bit of self care and downtime when I can, by still putting my trust in my tried and tested coping methods, and by being grateful (I started tweeting with the hashtag #TodayImGrateful, and people joined in and the entire thread is still growing and it’s a wonderful read for a quick warm of the cockles). I am also going to try and ignore the goblin that’s telling me I’m useless, feeble and irritating and continue to lean a bit on my loved ones. Requiring help and support is not a weakness- admitting you need it is in fact a strength.
Lots of love to all of you from the bottom of my pounding little heart.