Well thank goodness that’s all over. I love my blog but Christmas has such a profound affect me, I have just been too caught up in my OCD, depression and anxiety to even write about it, however I have slowly made it through to the other side with just enough energy to whinge about it now. Hoorah!
Since the age of sixteen I have had what I can only describe as Christmas Seasonal Affective Disorder. What I mean is whilst most people are getting terribly excited about the Christmas period, I become increasingly anxious and develop this over-whelming sense of impending doom and a fear that I am going to die – bluntly put, I know, but it is exactly how the Christmas season makes me feel and the best part is I have absolutely no reason why it affects me this way.
I am in no way downing on the people who do get very excited about Christmas, after all there’s plenty to get excited about. Celebrating the birth of Jesus and time spent with family and friends. For the not so religious, time spent with family and friends, giving and receiving gifts, parties, alcohol, and for some, extended time from work, university, college.
I love all theses things about Christmas and yet this time of year mentally drop-kicks me and renders me emotionall winded.
As previously stated it started when I was sixteen and I do not understand why. I have thankfully never experienced any significant negative events around this time of year that could possibly fill me with dread or sadness and yet the moment I hear Roy Wood singing about some snowman bringing the snow, I start to mentally wig out, in all honesty it’s a complete mystery to me.
The first year it started I was in a relationship, I didn’t live with this guy but I spent most nights there. We were only teens and that year when it came to Christmas Eve, we exchanged our gifts, hugged and kissed goodbye, then off we trot in opposite directions to our families for the Christmas period.
As soon as I got home to mum and dads it started; dread, anxiety and foreboding, and there was no need to feel like this. my family were great to be around but I just wasn’t feeling it at all. Just depression, more depressed than I’d ever felt in my life. I remember it being so gut wrenching and crushing, it scared me. It scared me that I could feel this low for what felt like no reason at all.
I’d become absolutely convinced I was going to die and I’d never see my boyfriend or friends again and that’s when my OCD kicked in and the overwhelming compulsions that came with trying to diffuse these intrusive thoughts, the magical thinking OCD, where by purely having these hideous thoughts of myself and my family dying, would without a doubt cause them to come true.
Christmas was a more drawn out affair when I was a teen and was pretty hard going too, which I think must have added to the feelings of isolation and being disconnected from the life I’d built for myself as a young adult. It was the early nineties and the Christmas week meant a week of very little activity.
Barely any shops opened, buses ran few and far between, there was no internet, FaceTime, no mobile phones or text messaging. We relied on the good old landline that usually remained slap-bang in the centre of the family home.
I’d desperately want to speak to my boyfriend but I couldn’t because it would interrupt all those lovely Christmas specials that granny, grandad, mum, dad, auntie and uncle had been anticipating since the beginning of December! You know the ones where you get a promotional clip of something huge and dramatic that’s going to happen in a certain soap, say ‘Eastenders’ for instance, possibly Ian Beale is being strangled with a turkey leg by an unknown assailant! You would be given these little snippets of minimal plot revelations all destined to reach fruition from Christmas Eve onwards, certainly not enough to give the game away but sure enough that your entire family couldn’t wait to find out who the turkey leg killer was!
Okay, Ian Beale getting strangled by a turkey never happened but you get the idea right?…
Anyway, I digress., I’d be desperate to speak to my boyfriend or best mate but couldn’t make such a personal phone call in the middle of the lounge in case you ruined all the turkey leg murdering drama for your loved ones, and to be fair I didn’t particularly want to have these conversations in front of the family because I couldn’t have privacy, swear, talk about ‘off the record’ topics and mainly because I’d feel like a dick saying “I love you and I miss you” in front of a live audience, just so my dad could take the piss and my grandparents would say “ahh, ain’t love grand!” And so the telephone with its long chord and no means of moving it from that room (we were a working-class family that couldn’t stretch to a cordless) had to wait a good three to four days to get it alone. The phone knew this as well, it would stare seductively at me and whisper ‘you know you want me, come and get me!’ Lolz that was probably the Christmas booze and medication mixing, causing me to hallucinate!
There was also a tradition where I’d go with my two best friends (who were sisters) to their grandmothers house on the 28th and we’d have a buffet. I always loved this but this particular year I felt nauseous with anxiety and panic, I remember believing that I was going to have a brain haemorrhage, completely bizarre as OCD often is, but I remember being sat their believing that every little twinge, ache or pain meant something serious, where in reality it was hangover pains and for the most part, psychological. With hindsight I can see clearly now that it was the beginnings of a rather debilitating Health Anxiety OCD.
Obviously now as an alleged proper grown-up with my own family, most of this stuff as in conversations in front of family doesn’t bother me anymore, but when you’re sixteen no fucking way am I saying that kind of shit in front of the fam. I just wish I could say that the OCD doesn’t bother me anymore.
Yet despite my life being completely different, having a landline that moves around the house, a mobile phone and internet that I can use whenever I want to speak to my boyfriend, but don’t need to because I live with my husband, and Ian Beale can’t meet an untimely death twice with a turkey leg (that would make a great Bond film btw, ‘You only get turkey-legged twice!’) I still do get this awful Christmas depression and OCD.
So what happens these days? Well basically I become very depressed, clingy to my loved ones and my OCD goes spiralling out of control. I develop a number of compulsions, overt and covert and I cannot ever get on top of them. What has remained a poignant theme throughout my CSAD is the obsessional thoughts about myself or my family members dying, however I never reach a point whilst performing these rituals where I feel I have diffused the obsession or worry and this loss of control over my OCD leads to me eventually giving up trying due to sheer mental exhaustion and spend most of the Christmas period suffering bad depression, anxieties over my families well-being and tears.
Since it is my OCD that goes in to overdrive during this time I’m assuming it is some sort of OCD variant that I have yet to learn about. Yes I do write a blog which is centred around OCD issues, but I am by no means an expert, at one point I thought I did know all there was to know about the this horrid condition, but that was a long time ago and I’m now all too aware that OCD exists on so many levels that still after all these years of setting up permanent residence in my head, it still has the ability to surprise me.
But why Christmas? Why so sudden?
If anybody else out there has a similar experience or has any information or insight into why I might go into mental shutdown over Christmas, then please share with me. I’m genuinely interested in what could be triggering my OCD to react in such a way and of course curious of ways to eliminate this.
Thank you for reading my first post of 2017 and Happy New Year!