Create Your Christmas Happy

I am admittedly a recovering Scrooge.

For years, Christmas was not the beautiful, happy time that it is for most people. It’s not that I didn’t want it to be all of those magical words that usually accompany Christmastime—I wanted it more than anything. But Christmastime can be a really hard time of year for those who struggle with anxiety and depression. For me it was just another reminder that one more year had gone by and I still wasn’t well. It was also another reminder, or so I thought, that everyone else was happy except for me. I would ask myself, “What is wrong with me? I have everything I could ever want—why do I still struggle to maintain emotional equilibrium?” I learned to inwardly dread the holidays.

Wishing Christmas to be peaceful for one who suffers from mental illness is kind of like wishing someone with a broken leg will have fun running a marathon—it’s just not very likely. But, someone with a broken leg can enjoy sitting in a park watching the runners IF they make some changes on what they do while they are there. Here are a few things that I did to make the holidays happy for me, and not just for “everyone else.”

* I made new holiday traditions for my family that gave it a fresh feel. We started a Christmas Eve pajama dance party! Flannel covered bums are hilarious to watch jam out!

* I turned off the Christmas music if it was reminding me of anxious years past and replaced it with my new favorites.

* I said “no” to Christmas parties and events that I felt coerced or guilted into attending. This brought empowerment and a sense of control instead of being controlled.

* My husband and I talked with his side of the family several years ago and together we decided to not do any presents and to instead use that money for service. Less presents to buy brought less stress.

* We used to go to everyone’s house that we could possibly be related to every Christmas Eve and Day, but now we celebrate with a fancy dinner for just our little family and leave the extended family parties for earlier in the month. This is my kids’ favorite day—presents from each other, fancy food (even crab legs some years), and seeing Dad dance in his pajamas! Doesn’t get better than that!

Although a Christmas may not be perfect when dealing with a brain that is ill in any way, remember that to choose your way in life is really living. Get creative and you may find that there will be moments of joy in your Christmas holiday this year. Never lose hope in a full healing. He truly delivered me. I am completely whole now, and if He can do it for me, I know He can do it for you!

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