Christmas is a wonderful, happy time but when you’re suffering with mental illness, it can be difficult to feel joyous. Mental illness does not take a day off. It does not care about your feelings, or what you may be celebrating. It does not care about Christmas Day, or your birthday. It does not want you to feel happy. It does not want you to feel joy.
There are some mental illnesses that make Christmas even more stressful. For example, Christmas can cause severe triggers for eating disorders. Last Christmas, I was so irritated. Everything was about food. Breakfast whilst opening presents, a big Christmas dinner and pudding, and a Christmas buffet at night. By the end of the evening, my stomach felt so bloated and the smell and thought of food made me want to heave so much that I had to go sit in the bathroom with the lights off for over an hour.
It’s not only Christmas that can trigger and make worse mental illnesses, but new year too. With a new year comes a new, older age. With a new year comes new things, new changes and new situations that can cause anxiety. With new year comes new year’s resolutions…which can be severely dangerous for those in recovery for eating disorders. Today, I have been in recovery for around 11 months. During this time I have relapsed 3 times with 1 relapse being severe. With new year’s resolutions comes weight loss targets and people complaining about their bodies. It’s extremely difficult to talk about weight and diets when you’re suffering with eating disorders. You may be in recovery, but you never recover. This year, I feel so fragile. I feel close to the edge of relapsing in the new year. I feel close to restricting food and severely exercising. I feel close to feeling disgusted again by food. I don’t want to get dressed because of the disgust I have for my body.
Please, be mindful to all those with mental illnesses today and during the new year period even if they seem to be coping well. You can hide a lot behind a smile.