Monday, 19 November 2018

Feeling lonely at Christmas

Christmas is probably the loneliest time of year for me. I thought this post might be a bit of a lighthouse for anyone else who, like me, struggles as November gets underway and Christmas starts to approach. Last year I only blogged once in the whole month of December and that was when I wrote a short story, stepping away from my personal thoughts and letting the characters speak to you for themselves. As Christmas nears I find it hard to have much to say. Mostly I feel quite low, often getting worse bouts of anxiety and depression. I don't like this time of year and if I'm being honest I just want the season over with. I'm already looking forward to April approaching. It might sound crazy but the lighter days and sunshine make a huge impact on my health. I find my SAD kicks in around this time of year and I don't feel as bright again until around early April time.
I ended up having a bit of a heart to heart the other week with my boyfriend about why I struggle so much with Christmas. There are a number of reasons. The biggest struggle for me are the feelings of loneliness and dread Christmas brings. If you tell someone you don't like Christmas you're treated with disdain, as if you're a miserable bastard who ruins everyone's fun. It just makes it even more isolating. Let's face it, the majority of people seem to love Christmas and the constant hype from August onwards can be overwhelming before the season's even kicked off. I always find it tough admitting I don't like Christmas because in truth you're made to feel like shit by most people about it. I've never really understood this as it doesn't seem to apply to all the other memorable days of the year - Valentine's is considered a commercial farce, Easter is practically overlooked and opinions seem to be split when it comes down to Halloween. No one guilt trips you if you don't enjoy any other holiday, so why should people do so when it comes down to December 25th? Perhaps I'm going off tangent a bit here, but this is a big factor in why I find it so lonely. 

Other things I find hard about Christmas are the constant crowds, our usual haunts becoming overbearingly busy, routines dashed, family gatherings you're guilt tripped into going to. The holiday never feels like "yours" because there always seems to be hassle and debate and rows over who goes where, what day you do what and who wants you to turn up when. Quite frankly, the whole holiday exhausts me. I don't want to feel obliged to go anywhere, thank you very much. I like to do my own thing, and I can't stand being expected to do something I might not want to just for the sake of "festivity". All the "traditional" food people try and force you to eat (sorry but I don't like any of the "traditional" Christmas food so why should I be expected to eat it?) The smells of cold meat and pickled onions turn my stomach. I know these probably all sound like petty reasons to dislike Christmas but it runs deeper too. I find December brings all of my anxiety and depression to the fore, already hard when SAD has usually had a good go on my well-being. I believe my first memories of anxiety come from the Christmas period and often during Christmas/New Year do I find myself feeling this panic/fright/dread that unsettles and scares me. I don't seem to experience this any other time of year and it certainly doesn't help with enjoying the holiday. New Years is the same for me, I just want everything to go back to normal and find the fact that everything shuts down difficult. 

Personally another reason Christmas isn't that special to me is because everyone it's not unique to me. I really believe that days memorable to me are more valuable. Reflecting on the year just gone I think about my own special days; jetting off to Barbados in February for my birthday, visiting the Peggy Porschen parlour for the first time in March with mum, celebrating Graham's birthday with cocktails at Frankie & Benny's in April, breezing through a beautiful butterfly house in May, getting glittered up for a shoot on the beach in June, dreaming up the end of my story in the summer, having afternoon tea with Graham then watching A Midsummer Night's Dream with pasta later on. Every December my mum and I go Christmas shopping with our friend which I really enjoy but that's more down to the company, the enjoyment of the day and the fun we have than the Christmas aspect. Days that are "mine" and not shared with everyone else's celebrations are much more important to me.
Paperchase has helped these past few years with making me feel better about Christmas. Their decorations are made up of glass gumball machines, glitzy unicorns and dolphins extending presents which are right up my street and actually make me enjoying seeing all their displays. This year they seem to have gone a step better and I couldn't resist buying the rainbow cake ornament and the pink "text me" flip mobile phone. Sass central! I've realised you can do Christmas your own way. A few years ago I bought a mini pink Christmas tree which stands in my room all year long purely because it's so gorgeous and makes me happy. Even though I find it difficult hearing a lot of people talk constantly about Christmas over social media, I've embraced Christmas my own way, ignoring things I don't want to hear and enjoying the rainbow decorations in Paperchase. Everyone's Christmas displays on Instagram cheer me up, if anything gets me in the spirit its bright, bold, rainbow and pink decorations! 

Last year was a turning point for me when it came to Christmas. I'd say last Christmas was my favourite I've had in 28 years. Graham and I went to our little "home from home", my mum's friends' lovely house which she kindly let's us stay in when she's away. Just us, away from everything doing things we love like ordering pizza and watching films, going to the cinema locally, getting cocktails and reading. That kind of Christmas was perfect to me because we actually got alone time and privacy. Living at home is difficult, there has been no escape or privacy during all of our Christmases which has been one of the hardest things to deal with. Even going to our usual shopping centre and sitting in Starbucks felt like a safety aspect which I enjoyed as it was familiar and comforting. On Christmas Eve I wore a summery maxi skirt and crop top, determined to let my summer soul shine through. Everyone thought I was bonkers but dressing so summery gave me such a lift. Graham and I went to one of our favourite haunts, and our other local branch of Starbucks gave me a brownie heated up with chocolate sauce and cream and even though they probably didn't realise it, their kind gesture actually made me feel comforted and like Christmas might be okay to get through. We went to Pizza Hut which was lovely and comforting as it's not "traditional" at all but was perfect. I put on a sparkly gold face mask later on and watched Footballers Wives. It felt for the first time like Christmas was how I wanted it. A much better improvement on the Christmas before last, where I had a god awful chest infection that wouldn't shift for months!

Most importantly of all, I think it's vital to acknowledge Christmas can be a lonely time for a lot of people. It's kind to be kind. Especially as we never know what someone is going through behind closed doors. 

Don't guilt trip people by saying things like:
  • Everyone loves Christmas!!!! 
  • How can you not love Christmas!!! 
  • Don't you like getting presents!!! 
  • What is wrong with you!!! 
  • You scrooge!!! 
I know this post isn't particularly happy or upbeat but it was playing on my mind for a while and I felt it needed to be written and out in the open. I try and be as positive as possible on my blog but as a friend told me recently "it's okay for a cloud to fall over your rainbow from time to time". I hope if you're out there and find Christmas a struggle like I then this post can help you, even if it's just a little ♥︎


26 comments:

  1. Sophie, you touched a subject that I donot tsk about. I learned over the year to let go of tradition and do what makes me happy in that time of the year. I am also not big when it comes to family party and I believe of quality not quantity . I would rather have it me and my husband alone away from the crowd than people who might donot want to see. So think of it as any other holiday and do what you feel you want at the moment .
    All love ,
    Www.chez-Rama.com

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  2. So glad that you wrote this post, I know that you'd mentioned before about this time of year being hard for you. As you know with me, I used to dread Christmas because of negative people but when I got my own place with my other half, we did Christmas our way and now we love it!

    If you want to have a summery Christmas, you go girl! It's much better when you do things your own way with nobody to spoil it!

    I remember you telling me about the Christmas tree and I totally love it! I can understand why you have it in your room all year round.

    Love the post and the pics as usual queen : ) x

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  3. I really enjoyed reading this post! It's like you took the words right out of my mind. I don't care for Christmas as much as I used to when I was younger. As a matter of fact, I start getting a bit depressed around this time because I lost a lot of immediate family members around this time. The most I do now is just travel or treat it as a regular day. If someone invites me over to their house for dinner then I'll accept the invite, otherwise I usually spend the holidays alone.

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  4. Sorry to hear about the Christmas struggle Sophie, I had no idea. Sharing that helps you process too, so it's a really great thing that you opened up about it. To me I love it because I see family that I don't get to spend time with all the time, I get out of town sometimes and enjoy free time at least. Glad it got better for you last year and maybe even better this year if you're doing what you love. A free sweet treat from Starbucks sound so good!! Love Starbucks and at one time I ate from Pizza Hut all the time, lol :)) The warmest of wishes from Los Angeles to you beautiful friend!
    xoxo,
    Tania
    https://inspiremyfancy.com/

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  5. I know this is a hard time of year for you but I so hope you can find something to enjoy in the season, and I hope like last year, you can make it personal and special to you! ♥ I don't think I've ever seen the Paperchase decorations before but they look lovely and bright! I will try to make sure to look at their display this year :) Lots of love! ♥

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  6. This was such an important post and well done to you for writing it, I hope it helps others that struggle feel less in the minority, I never thought about how hard the festive season is for those who don't enjoy it, I've always been a bubble of excitement but I tend to get excited at all times of the year because I have no actual filter!
    I love that you indulged in footballer's wives! It's an absolute favourite of mine! And Pizza is perfect at Christmas time so keep doing anything you can that helps you through the season and roll on April!

    Rosy | Sparkles of Light Blog


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  7. I totally get you, when I was 9, the day before Christmas I had a fire accident - thanks to the drunk dude that left a candle on a sofa in a basement and he set fire since then I'm scared of spending time at my grandma's home and I've got PTSD so spending Christmas with my family got super tiring lately - year ago my grandma has an accident, I almost got scammed - long story but it's typical in Poland, someone from your family gets to the hospital? They'll check their family and call you telling you that your bank account is in danger and they are from police and you should send them money, obviously I'm not that stupid to get scammed but I decided to inform police about it, hopefully they got caught but the whole situation was stressful + my grandma talking all the time about dying and my aunt acting like she doesn't drink when no one sees it was super depressing. That's why I prefer to spend Christmas alone or spend it with my friends especially that Christmas here takes 3 days and for 3 days you're stuck with your family. I want to enjoy Christmas but I get I'll only enjoy the fairy lights and all the cute decorations while taking photos and oversleep the actual Christmas or just take a trip to a hotel in some place with snow and enjoy it.

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  8. Thanks for sharing, although for me Christmas is so special because all of my family is dispersed throughout the world and it usually is literally the only time a year we can actually see each other all at once, which is why I love it. I don't like crowds, either but it's also good to read about your thoughts on Christmas. It means different things to people. I have a friend of who dislikes it because his girlfriend passed before Christmas but he is slowly opening up to enjoying it again.
    FASHION TALES

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  9. I'm glad you managed to have an enjoyable Christmas last year, that's wonderful. I think as that proves though, it's a mindset really. I used to hate Christmas, I had reasons to dislike it growing up and I found it lonely and boring etc as well, but over the last couple of years I've tried to get into the festivities. I love the music, the fun knitwear, the lights, decorations etc, so I focus on that! And on Christmas day I enjoy games and the shows on TV. I think it's important to remember that everyone is different, like you're portraying, but if you can try to find a few good things you like about Christmas, that will be good. It's always good to focus on the positives instead of the negatives. I'm also with you on the crowds, we have a world famous market here for 3 weeks and it's torture to venture anywhere near it!
    Raindrops of Sapphire

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  10. I have gone through periods where I did not like Christmas. Mostly I like it but it does have some negative connections for me as my up bringing was not good. It was violent and abusive, which of course was all year round but it also put a damper on Christmas. We were also poor much of the time so it was a struggle with that as well (my father had 3 wives and 14 children non of whom he supported as he never worked on a regular basis) but there were some happy moments as only Christmas can bring to children.

    When I got older in my early twenties I went through a phase of not liking it but have come to terms so now I do not mind it. In your case if you have SAD if could be this. When I lived in Seattle this was the fist time I experienced SAD and November and December were the worst. I dreaded November. I don't have a problem with this in NY as it is much further south. But Seattle and the UK are on similar longitutdes so similar darkness issues. St Johns Wort helps but it does make you more photo sensitive including your eyes. So need to take precautions. I am in pre-cataract stages at a fairtly young age b/c I took it and did not protect my eyes.

    Allie of
    www.allienyc.com

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  11. I also hate the constant crowd, and also people pretending to be happy.
    We're human, after all :)

    Federica
    www.federicadinardo.com

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  12. Brilliant post. I've just written something very similar myself. I don't know if it's Christmas I hate or because I suffer with SAD that makes me hate Christmas.

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  13. I'm sure many people can relate to your feelings about the holidays babe, particularly the crowds. I really hope this year is better for you though Sophie and one that is filled with pink sparkle, good views and plenty of happy moments with your partner and family! :)

    aglassofice.com x

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  14. There are times I struggle with Christmas but I usually find sonetsome that lightens my mood. I enjoyed your blog.

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  15. My dear Sophie, this is something I can relate to. My interest in Christmas decreases year in and year out. I don't know whether it has got to do with age or just lost interest. Ha!! I'm just grateful for the gift of life each year. Don't feel pressured at all. Do you my beautiful lady. :-)
    Have a lovely weekend!

    https://www.missymayification.co.uk

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  16. I find that it's especially lonely around Christmas time if you don't celebrate Christmas - because there's so little representation for other winter holidays like the Solstice or Hanukkah - that we can feel a bit left out and like our celebrations and traditions are a bit over-shadowed by all the "Holly Jolly Christmas" adverts and the constant spamming of gift guide posts.

    Since most of my family and friends are into Christmas, I feel kind of obligated to celebrate, be merry, and do the gift-exchange thing. Even though I feel I'd rather not and just focus on my Solstice festivities.

    Oh well.

    I hope you enjoy your glittery, pink, and sassy holiday decor! :)

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  17. How you feel about Christmas is completely normal. I agree with you that people sometimes make "huge" thing about it, buying and exchanging gifts come to crazy level and sometimes I think that spirit of Christmas is lose trying make perfect picture of it. For me Christmas is family and love, and I don't need anything else to be happy.

    Blog - http://www.exclusivebeautydiary.com/search/label/en
    YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1w25mLbLIs

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  18. I can totally relate to you even though I love Xmas! I live miles away from my family and every year we celebrate Xmas separately so of cource knowing that everyone else is together with their beloved ones makes me feel sad, lovely and a bit jealous. I hope this Xmas is better for you!!!

    xo
    Anastasia
    http://www.natbees.com/

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  19. Even though I love Christmas and think it is the best time of year - I can completely see where you are coming from. I hate the large crowds of people everywhere and tend to find myself hiding away in my room ordering everything online. I think its great that you are able to express your opinions on Christmas - not following the picture everyone tries to show. I loved reading this post!
    Abbs xo
    https://itsjustabbsxo.wordpress.com/

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  20. You should not feel pressure that you have to like Christmas or any other holidays. There was time in my life when I used to feel very lonely on holidays.. so I totally understand you. xx

    Nina's Style Blog

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  21. Hello babe, well last year I spent Christmas alone I went away as I started my journey of divorce. It was lovely to do things I love like photography and sightseeing as my ex-husband took the kids to his family I thought I would be sad but no I was not sad I had a great time doing things I love not having to interact with people who are not genuine This year I will spend Christmas with my dog and my children and nobody else so again it will be great. Do what makes you happy, I hate being around a lot of people I was forced too many times to spend time with people I knew did not like me it was absolutely dreadful, I could tell how they pretended to like me I felt uncomfortable. Do what you love, do not worry about pleasing others believe me it is not worth learn to say no. Escape, Christmas is about love and happiness so love yourself, do what you want and be happy. xoxo Cris

    https://photosbycris.blogspot.com/2018/11/tiosebon-shoes-that-fit-my-lifestyle.html

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  22. Hey sweetheart, thanks for sharing! Yes Christmas can be a very "trying" time for many people out there, thanks for sharing your thoughts and perspectives. Jetting off to Barbados sounds fabulous dear, looks like you did alot of glam things this year, can't wait to see what you have planned! Sending you hugs! http://marciabtravels.blogspot.com/2018/11/holiday-gift-guide-for-traveling.html

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  23. Sorry to hear that Christmas isn't a magical time of year for you! I know the feeling with crowds - I don't do well in crowds so I get all my Christmas shopping out of the day to avoid the need to be anywhere near the shops in December! I end went and bought extra wrapping paper and tape when I finsihed my CHristmas shopping, as I always run out, and I want to avoid the crazy Christmas crush!

    I hope that this year you have a lovely day relaxing and doing whatever you want :) I'm hosting Christmas this year so it will be filled with food and family and the things that make the day special for me - I hope that you don't get judged any differently for doing the same thing in a less 'standard' way. We are all different and like different things!

    Hope that you have a nice weekend ahead of you! The heatwave is really intense this weekend so we have been having some quiet time at home.

    Away From The Blue Blog

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  24. We all have some bad feelings about Christmas. We also deal with them differently. We are human. Be blessed.

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  25. I agree. I can find Christmas quite lonely and this year I'm not looking forward to it. I'm in third year at uni and I have 12000 words to write in the next 3 weeks, but when I try to explain I can't come to X christmas party all of a sudden you're ruining fun. It's difficult. Plus I'm in a long distance relationship and I have to spend Christmas at home rather than with my boyfriend, which can be upsetting.

    www.lizziescorner.co.uk

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