The holiday season is upon us and its important for all of us to take care of our mental well-being. The amount of stress we can put on ourselves to make everything perfect can be detrimental to our health.
For me the pressure to have matching family Christmas pajamas came at a hefty price. I’m not talking about actual money. This time last year I was on the hunt for the perfect Christmas pajamas. You know, the ones you see in pictures at all the stores and all-over social media.
I fell for the hype and quite honestly it nearly cost me my life.
The failed search for Christmas pajamas led me in a tailspin of negative self-talk. The thoughts came one after another.
I am a failure.
I am a bad mom.
Why can’t I have my act together.
But then my thoughts took a darker turn.
Just crash your car.
They would be better off if you were gone.
You can’t accomplish simple mundane tasks.
Just do it already.
Crash the car, go off a cliff.
All those thoughts came after I couldn’t find matching family Christmas pajamas. And to be completely honest, I almost acted on those thoughts. My suicidal thoughts were so strong that it didn’t matter if I overcame 15+ years of mental health struggles. It didn’t matter that I had a loving husband, two children and tons of family friends who support me.
I was in those thoughts. It’s like they became my being. My depression, anxiety, and the pressures I put on myself almost cost me my life.
The Christmas pajamas were the tip of the iceberg. I was bound to crack. The cookies to be baked, the presents to be bought and wrapped. The pressure of having the ‘perfect’ Christmas card. The profound grief that there was an empty chair at the table. The amount of pressure to accomplish a ‘perfect’ Christmas for my children led me to burnout. I wasn’t using my coping skills. Instead, I was overtired, cranky, not eating properly, not exercising and overall running on empty.
Thankfully, with the support of family, friends, therapy, and antidepressants I dragged myself through the holiday season. I was finally honest with myself. I couldn’t say the words, so I wrote them down instead. After my husband read it, we had an open conversation and came up with a plan of action. Admitting I wasn’t okay allowed me to get the help I needed.
This Christmas, there are no matching family pajamas. I didn’t try to capture the picture-perfect Christmas card. There only a few batches of cookies made and I’m trying to just live in each moment.
I’ve realized that a picture-perfect Christmas doesn’t exist. What is more important is that I am alive and able to celebrate Christmas with my loved ones.
This Christmas, during the hustle and bustle of the season, remember to take care of yourself. Utilize your supports. Talk to your family and friends. Go to a NAMI meeting. Try not to overload yourself with making the holidays perfect. The world needs you here next Christmas.