It’s started to build over the last few weeks. A mixture of excitement, anticipation and anxiety. The big day is looming ever nearer, and I’ve started to wake frequently at night and become more and more frantic during the day. This has been exasperated by severe PMT and a nasty cold…not a good mix for anxiety sufferers.
Prior to becoming a Mum, Christmas was basically a time of getting pissed with my mates, stuffing my face and getting even more pissed later on. Waking up with a hangover was one of life’s joys back then as I could just wolf down a bacon sarnie and go back to bed. My, how times have changed!
Don’t get me wrong, Christmas has a whole new meaning now, and it is wonderful. I’ve bought & wrapped all her presents, we’re watching Christmas movies every day, counting down the days on the advent calendar, and seeing the excitement on Molly’s face when we talk about Santa coming is priceless. But then the old anxiety creeps in – what if something bad happens over Christmas?
What if she comes down with a horrible illness on Christmas Eve?
What if we have a car accident when we’re driving home to Wales?
We’ll never be able to celebrate Christmas again!
Normally I don’t dwell on these thoughts as I know they are just a product of my over-worried brain, but they seem so much worse at this time of year.
We all just want Christmas to be perfect for our kids don’t we, and therein lies the problem…perfection doesn’t exist! My main worry is over illness. I struggle a lot with health anxiety, particularly with my daughter. She suffered months of ear infections last year, so much so that we were referred to the ENT department at our local children’s hospital. She was discharged in June after a 3 month course of antibiotics, but last week she had another ear infection out of the blue. This also meant that I had to rearrange her Meningitis B vaccination that I had booked privately for her to have done. My anxiety level is now through the roof! In part because I don’t want this ear infection to be a recurring one like last year, and also because I happened to see a link on Facebook about the rising cases of meningitis in children over the Christmas period (thanks Facebook 😱).
When I’m ‘locked in’ as I call it (in a state of panic) all normal thoughts go out of the window. I had convinced myself that Molly will now contract meningitis because of missing her vaccination. I even had a thought that we will all get norovirus and be sick all over Christmas as I was reading someone’s blog post about it at the time. Gotta love the bat shit craziness of anxiety sometimes!
Luckily the rational side of my brain overrules the panicky side 9 times out of 10 these days, and I know that everything will turn out fine as it always does. Even if something did happen I know that we will deal with it as it comes, and I am not on my own.
My anxiety levels are a clear indicator that I need to stick to my coping techniques vehemently at the moment. I’m upping the exercise, eating well and trying to get as much sleep as I can (not easy with a pre-6am wake up call each day)! I’m also not logging into Facebook as much as it seems there is a constant torrent of awful news stories and relentless scaremongering. Twitter is a much nicer place to hang out in!
Christmas can be a very stressful and overwhelming time for anyone who suffers from a mental illness, and it is so important to take some time out to recharge and relax. Here’s my self care plan for the duration of the festive period:
- Exercise every other day
- Take 10 minutes out each day to use the Headspace app
- Make sure I eat fruit & veg each day and try not to overindulge on all the Christmas food/drink
- Write down negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones
- Enjoy spending time with my family
- Relax, smile, enjoy the little moments and above all, be grateful!
This Christmas will be hard for myself and my family as it is the first one without my lovely Nanna who passed away suddenly in October. This is probably another reason why I’m so anxious.
Despite this I am actually really looking forward to it, as we are all getting together and having Christmas dinner out in our local pub, which means there is no pressure on anyone to cook, and we can all relax, have a drink and enjoy ourselves. I’ll probably never want it to end!
Happy Christmas everyone, hope you all have a good one, see you in 2017 😊