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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