This time of year makes me crazy. No, scratch that, I’m pretty crazy all the time. But, this time of year really brings it out in me.
All the lights and trees and adorable snowmen make me happy. I like Christmas, I like the winter season and everything it brings. I like celebrating with family and friends. I like getting gifts, and even more, I like giving them.
But, there’s something about a year drawing to a close that gets me down. There’s a lot of pressure to make the next year better. To become a better version of yourself. And, I like to think every year will be a better year. Except…what’s coming my way? Will it be good or bad? Will it be scary? Will I be able to handle it?
Having recently been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), it all makes complete sense to me now. All those unexplained Christmas crying spells when I was a kid, sitting alone in the living room with only the Christmas tree lighting the room. All that holing myself up in my room all winter as a teen, instead of being with friends. All that relief I felt when school would start again in January, and I had less time on my hands to think. I get myself in trouble when I think.
As a part of my GAD, I also have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). A disorder that affects people specifically during this time of year. It is attributed to the lack of sunlight and shorter, darker days. So, it’s like adding fuel to already very raging fire. I’ve been told that “SAD is a bunch of crap.” I say, tell that to someone who suffers from it.
It helps to have kids. There’s nothing more magical than a kid at Christmastime. The wonder and excitement in their eyes as they dream about what Santa will bring. My kids don’t know the beauty of snow, and truthfully I never really liked the stuff. But, every year when the first flakes fly, it’s very magical and exciting. And the pure, unfettered happiness when they see a house all decorated with lights and wreaths and a big, shiny tree. With their help, I can see beauty in this time of year.
This year, armed with the knowledge that all my sadness and anxiety are due to chemical imbalances in my brain, I can relax and enjoy life a little more. When I start getting sad or panicky, I can recognize it for what it is and calm down. I have found ways to make life easier on myself–minimizing Christmas shopping, keeping the decorations at a minimum, keeping the gifts simple and heartfelt, keeping get-togethers small.
There’s also the fact that 2015 was about as low of a year as one can have for me. While my anxiety still has me on edge about what 2016 has in store for me, I’m also very happy to welcome it with open arms. A whole new year, a whole new, blank slate for me to fill with happy things, new challenges, new adventures. 2015 is in the past, and that feels good.
I feel like holding hands with all of you, in one giant circle, and stepping into 2016 together. We can do this together. It feels less scary when I allow other people in, and work together to make things happen.
So, have a wonderful holiday season, and come with me to 2016. May it be the best year any of us have seen yet. No pressure though.