As a society we are conditioned to wish people ‘a good day’, ‘a happy birthday’, ‘a merry Christmas’, ‘a happy new year’ etc. Most times it’s great to receive, and to give, these good wishes, however there are times when some sensitivity around these throwaway comments would be advised. An individual may not be in a position to embrace positivity and joy just because of seasonal expectations or because they happen to end up at Little Miss (ray of flipping) Sunshine’s checkout at the supermarket.
A not especially merry Christmas
Since my cancer diagnosis in 2014 I haven’t been able to generate any enthusiasm for Christmas. I had hoped, given time, that a glimmer of festive joy may emerge but thus far that spark remains extinguished and smouldering in the dark pit of my soul.
For me Christmas is tangled up with and smothered by my cancer emotions.
Which kind of sucks.
If only that were all, I guess I’d cope somehow, but I also have my very own PTSD demon who likes to come out and play when I have to go to the hospital and cancer centre for my annual reviews which are, you guessed it, around Christmas and New Year. He turns up mid-November, uninvited and hangs around like a tinsel strewn gremlin casting gloom throughout December and on into January…
And then there’s depression adding it’s very own anti-Christmas vibe. So, as you can see Christmas for me is not especially ‘merry’, ‘happy’ or ‘joyous’.
What is a good day?
Another thing those with mental health problems struggle with is the concept of a good day. What seems like a good day to one person can be pure hell for another.
Anniversaries can be good or bad, eliciting memories which may trigger uncomfortable thoughts and emotions. Anxiety about upcoming events fuelled by well intentioned conversation; when are you back at work/school/the hospital? Not long until your exams. Good luck for your interview. Every reminder serves to magnify worries and fears.
Unique to the person are numerous interwoven factors which influence how they perceive the day. Ultimately, all that matters is that we get through, be it good, indifferent, or extremely challenging, as tomorrow is a new day.