Yes, it’s that time of year again. When, if like myself, you’re in charge of mini-people, you prepare to take a deep inhalation of breath as you squeeze through the toy aisles only to be shafted by the manufacturers who seem to affix prices with the randomness of the FA cup draw.
The season when I’m bound to step in a puddle when I have my Alanis Morissette boots on; one hole under my big toe, and the other one’s in the heel of my penguin socks and when regardless of the time allocated to the task, my tree will always droop as though recently groped by the neighbours’ cat!
That said I believe there’s more to Christmas than bulk buying enough Twiglets and Match Sticks to last you until next spring and accidentally ripping off half your eyebrow with sellotape in a wrapping frenzy. It’s about the care we donate to those around us, not just the sum we devote to a singular item.
Behind the 2 for 1 offers and the bombardment of Elf on the Shelf pictures, lies the knowledge that another year is winding to a close.
For most people the only issue New Year conjures is how many shots of Sambuca they must neck before they’re ready to re-train as a Barista. I’m not averse to the odd tipple mind, Barcardi and Coke being the namesake of my best assets, but living with depression I find the festive season bittersweet.
My Tarantino suited illness Mr Grey (who now has a fondness for pocket watches thanks to my obsession with Peaky Blinders; the auto text changed it to Pesky Blonders once which could be an interesting pitch for a spin-off with Tommy Shelby bumping off Tango coloured vejazzled Essex types) remains omnipresent in winter, loitering in doorways, always hankering for an invite.
There’s just something about the frailty of our mortality, that fine gossamer veil, that plays on my mind in the conclusion of another year. My love for the people in my life never wavers but the ache for the figures glimpsed in half-light haunts me. Depression is an illusive beast, as slippery a serpent as ever there were. People seem to demand a drive through summation of what it is that plagues us. Words can illuminate a mind or corrupt it. How do you find the right words to explain that with the beating of a moth’s wing, a fog has slowly overcome your rationale. That every day you withdraw further into yourself, your mind becoming a marshland. The once familiar landscape now an openly hostile vista you tread with sustained apprehension.
I often hear people discuss recovery as though it were time limited, as if it has a use-by date attached to its terms and conditions. If you encounter a set back this somehow voids the pact you made with yourself to get better and you’re relegated back to the start: do not pass go, do not collect £200.
What tosh. If an alcoholic fell off the wagon you wouldn’t bung them a few notes and point them in the direction of Wetherspoons. If you encounter a hurdle remember it is just that, a temporary obstruction; nothing is insurmountable. Just as we are aware of special privileged relationships such as doctor/patient, solicitor/client, manufacturer/consumer; you owe yourself a continual duty of care to provide yourself with just that – care. Whether that care means locking yourself in the bathroom for a hot soak while you raid the tub of celebrations for all those special Malteser ones (Miley was right – forget the haters only god can judge ya), or exercising the gremlins with some healthy pain. Do what works for you, and don’t feel guilty about it. Take the care and the time you need.
For me recovery has meant learning to be a friend to myself, rather than my own worst enemy and finding ways to anchor myself through the storms.
However, there are times when you need more than yourself, when you can feel the narrow waist of the hourglass pressing against your own as you plummet to sand. If you’re sinking speak up. Don’t be shackled by the chains of Marley and Marley. It doesn’t make you Scrooge if you’re struggling to rejoice this festive season, you’re not doomed for all time; just poorly. Unfortunately it’s a hurt that can’t be fixed with a mince pie and Baileys but there is help out there.
Remember love starts within, show yourself some and take care.
Nurse every inch.