My Anxiety Disorder and the New Year

Christmas and New Year is a time of high pressure and anxiety, as well as, depression for many people, whether they have the label of a mental illness or not. It’s a time when we are all expected to be picture perfect festive revellers for weeks and the start of a New Year is terribly daunting, whilst fighting our usual demons. 

For me this time of year exacerbates my anxiety disorder leading me to compensate with my obsessive compulsive survival mechanisms. It always amazes me that the things that others think will stress me, for example my Goodreads Reading Challenge, sending Christmas cards and dealing with relatives do not bother me. The last two I just take in my stride. It’s things that most people don’t think about that stresses me. 

I keep a record of books I read on Goodreads and the reading challenge is something I undertook in 2013 and now, by habit, use the reading challenge as a log. This year I read a total of 235 books. It’s very handy when it comes to choosing my top ten books of the year to have them all laid out on screen with my ratings. I have never at any point in the last two years felt pressured to read, or felt I wasn’t reading fast enough. Reading is still a pleasurable pass time and not a source of anxiety.

My stress is usually about the pressure to be part of the mobbing crowds and feeling down when I can’t face it, dealing with persistent intrusive thoughts or bending to the compulsion to do what I think others want to see me do in 2016. However, this year I have been more self aware and despite suffering from some exacerbation of my OCD, have kept myself grounded. This doesn’t mean I am cured or that I have found the elixir to my particular disorders, but it means I have found the strength, will and reason to hold them off somewhat. However, like a virus my thoughts mutate and find ways to intrusively re-emerge, but I am fortunate enough to have my husband and a group of kindred spirits, who know what it’s like to live with the misery, isolation and pain mental illness brings and in our own way we support each other, whilst seeking our own answers. 

I have managed to keep myself from spiralling down the staircase of depression by giving myself permission to feel negative emotions and well as the positive ones, not feeling obligated to do or feel anything I don’t feel like, having no expectations from others during the season, being creative and mindful using my colouring books and, of course reading.

Overall I have had a relaxed, calm and good Christmas and New Year and am taking a chance in braving the Imax this New Years Weekend. I know it will be crowded but I want to see Star Wars in Imax 3D along with many other fans who have watched the previous films many times over.

There’s a lot of talk about resolutions at this time of year and the compulsion to commit and conform to something I don’t want to do is strong. So I have thought of limiting my resolution to one this year, which is to learn something new. Just one thing that I have never done but always wanted to. Not for anyone other than me. I have a few ideas but I have yet to decide how brave I will be this year, but I am in no rush to force my own hand in deciding yet. Whatever I choose to learn, I will definitely share when I’m ready.

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20 thoughts on “My Anxiety Disorder and the New Year

  1. Anxiety is something that has affected me in the past. I have good practices in place to alleviate or mitigate it, but it also helped me find a place where my purpose became clear to me and following it ever since has helped me in so many ways. Seldom do those unaffected by such conditions understand the torment that happens but there are those that do, and we should treasure them. I hope that you continue to thrive and overcome, you are not your conditions or your demons.

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    • Thank you. I cannot imagine living without anxiety, but the last decade has been a huge journey and the difference in my outlook has changed from night to day. I’m still not at a place where I can feel the worst is behind me, but I’m certainly happier than I have ever been.

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      • We cannot conquer our demons, but we can educate them. God punishes us only for what we cannot imagine. There will be a point where you will scroll back to here and think about how far you’ve come.

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  2. As I was researching books for my 12 and 10 yr old, we were cheering across the house because we found out Rick Riordan has a new book coming out in May. My point being that we love books so much that our lists never end. I never finish my Goodreads challenge but it’s exciting to have a goal. I wish I reviewed more. I think it’s simply doing what you love isn’t it?
    I take my hat off to you for dealing with anxiety the way you do. I love how candid your posts are, you always have my support. I have my own anxieties and this holiday in particular was about taking care of me. I’m at a point where I can actually feel that imbalance and I need to be quick with my coping mechanisms to endure the drop. I didn’t see Star Wars in IMAX but it was superb. It was nice for our generation who were fans of the trilogy 30 yrs ago.
    Now to your coloring – beautiful. Where did you get the metallic colours?

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    • Thank you for your continuing support. Taking care of ourselves becomes eroded so easily; you forego the little things that just add up. It’s just as important to renew yourself as all the other things you do. So very true about reading! I can’t imagine not eagerly awaiting new book releases every year as well as wondering how I managed to miss reading books that suddenly come to my attention years after they have been around. I don’t think any true bookworm reaches the point where they feel they’ve read everything. I set my Goodreads challenges with a contingency in case I get unwell so I don’t feel too stretched if I can’t read for a month. Watching Star Wars in 3D gave me motion sickness, which can happen to a minority of people, apparently we also find reading books in moving cars has the same effect too. Looks like I’m better off with the old fashion 2D cinema experience. The metallic and glitter pens usually come in gel pen sets on Amazon, they are frequently advertised as being used for nail art but work well on my colouring projects.

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      • 2 more things we have in common. I cannot read in a car. Ever. Motion sickness is awful. I could not watch any of the Harry Potter films or Hobbit or LOTR in 3 D. Too much movement. So it is good old 2D for me too.
        What did you think of the film?
        I re- did my Goodreads challenge. Always hopeful and if not, more to read:-)
        Fabulous. My kids have gel pens.. I will use theirs for my art project at school.

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      • I thought the film was very good, it’s hard to live up to hype but it really was great to see a strong objectified female lead. Speculation is rife as to who Rey is related to so the sequel will be intriguing too.

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  3. Congrats on managing to stay grounded and less stressed through the Christmas/New Year’s rush! That’s a huge step; I hope you’re proud of yourself because it is definitely something to be proud of.
    I never make New Year’s resolutions either but this year I broke with my own tradition and promised myself I would make one Christmas/other holiday ornament per month! The last third of 2015 was hard pressed for cash so we were scrambling for Christmas presents until my boyfriend asked if I would make some bracelets and things for one of his sisters, nieces and nephew. I didn’t make the bracelets since my level of expertise wasn’t up to it but I did make some Christmas ornaments and key rings for them :D. I’m hoping to get ahead of this year’s Christmas rush and make them throughout the year instead.
    Here’s hoping we both meet our goal :D.

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    • Thank you. That’s a great idea, I do think making presents is highly underrated. I’m thinking of doing something art and crafts wise for Christmas 2016. I think abandoning expectations this year was paramount in enjoying the festivities for me.

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      • Making presents is most definitely underrated! The people I exchange with would rather have something from the heart than they would from the store so that’s what I’m going to try to stick with this year.
        I’m just learning to bead and do Japanese braiding (Kumihomo) so they aren’t extravagant or anything but it’s fun and they loved what I gave them. Not to mention that for the things I do I only require a couple of hours to complete the project for the most part :D, instead of hours at the mall!

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  4. I’ve only just come across your blog; a great post 🙂 I can really relate to what you’ve discussed. I suffer with anxiety and mild depression. I agree with the resolution. I think having a goal is key in keeping oneself grounded and ‘on track’ Good for you 🙂
    Life inside the Locket

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