Christmas is known as the most wonderful time of the year.
There are gatherings with friends and parties with family. All of which are full of joy, laughter and love.
However, for some, christmas is a sad time.
For those experiencing grief or loneliness or an illness of any kind, christmas can be sad and tiring. For those facing any sort of separation from family or a divorce it can be tough. For all these people christmas can be the opposite of the norm.
For me, christmas makes everything twice as sad.
In my thirties, a victim and survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I have no happy christmas memories to cherish. I remember nothing of my childhood except the abuse.
I have no happy memories of sitting around a christmas tree with twinkling lights filling the room. I remember nothing of the toys and gifts I would receive other than knowing that I would “owe” my abuser for my presents.
The only memories I have of christmas are of being a scared, frightened little girl who knew, that at least once over the christmas holidays, he would rape me. That was my christmas. Every. Single. Year.
Now as an adult and a sufferer of mental illness christmas terrifies me.
I try so hard to be excited. I really do. But the depression and anxiety take control. The closer christmas gets the more my PTSD flares up and the more bad memories I remember. Rape. Abuse. Loneliness. Fear. Pain. Sadness.
One moment I can be excited. Happy about the presents under the tree and the cards on the counter. Proud of my decorations and the way the tinsel projects pretty colours around the room.
Then in an instant I am consumed by sadness. Overwhelmed by the loss of my childhood and the pain my abusers have caused me. I have no control over it. The EUPD makes sure of that.
I am either extremely excited and happy or completely consumed and overwhelmed. That terrifies me. I have no control.
What if I cannot keep my emotions in check over christmas?
Even now at least one person every week tells me to be grateful for what I have and to focus on the positives.
If I could do that do they not think I would? Do they think I want to feel this pain and misery everyday?
I do not want to fear christmas. I want to be excited and enjoy the time with my husband and my friends. I am grateful for what I have but that doesn’t make my illnesses go away. It doesn’t make the holidays any easier.
It takes all my strength to make it through each day right now and I can tell you it is exhausting. Every day I fight the urge to stay in bed all day and to let the sadness take over. I am exhausted physically and mentally.
And yet, here approaches christmas day. A day for families, love and laughter.
A day that reminds me of my stolen childhood. A day that reminds me of the abuse and neglect I suffered at the hands of my parents. A day that reminds me how every single family member has turned their backs on me to support my rapist.
Yet people want me to celebrate. They want me to forget. They want me to control my mental illnesses.
Well I can’t.
Yes I will do my best to enjoy christmas for the sake of my husband, his family and our friends but fighting the urges to just give in and stay in bed and pretend christmas isn’t happening will take all my strength.
I don’t know if I will make it though the holidays without breaking down but if I do breakdown then that will be OK.
Society expects the norm. Society expects the holidays to be the most wonderful time of the year.
But society isn’t an abuse victim. Society isn’t a sufferer of mental illness.
So no, for me, the holidays are not the most wonderful time of the year. Infact they are the worst. And right now that is OK.
So on christmas day when you are sat around your christmas tree opening all your presents, or when you are laughing with your family over christmas dinner, take a moment to think of those less fortunate than you.
Take a moment to think of those who are struggling this christmas time and remember, that sometimes, christmas is not the most wonderful time of the year.
Thanks for reading.
**Image courtesy of Google Images**