My anxiety creeps in around the holiday season because it is the one time of year when everyone is expected to smile and sing and possess a better mood than usual. I do not like that sort of pressure. When I am supposed to be happy, it is harder for me to find true happiness. The holidays make me feel pressured to fake a good mood.
I don’t want to disappoint my loved ones by being a grinch so I keep my problems to myself.
I try not to complain about how hard it is for me to walk through the mall with the extra large holiday crowds pushing and shoving their way to the front of lines.
I try not to complain about how overwhelming it is to go straight from doing absolutely nothing after work hours for eleven months of the year to being invited to several parties within a two week span where I am expected to bring desserts and presents and an upbeat attitude.
I try not to bring up the fact that the happiest time of the year is the time when I am forced to see toxic relatives who raise my blood pressure, who intensify my insecurities, who make me even more fidgety than usual.
I try not to ruin everyone’s good mood with my overthinking, but it’s hard to fake excitement when I am unraveling on the inside. It’s hard to act like everything is fine when I am having trouble with my breathing.
Around the holidays, there is an added pressure to be in a serious relationship. There is an added pressure to spend money. There is an added pressure to be in a good mood. There is an added pressure to spend time with family. There is an added pressure to love your life.
As much as I enjoy stringing lights across tree limbs and listening to carols and sharing hot cocoa beneath blankets, I am not always going to be in the holiday spirit.
There are times when I might leave a party early. Or escape to the backyard by myself in order to catch my breath. It does not mean I am unappreciative of the people in my world. It is not meant as an insult to them.
My anxiety cannot handle such a large amount of social stimulation at one time. It is too much for me. It takes me out of my comfort zone.
Around the holidays, my anxiety always acts up, but I am lucky enough to have a strong support system.
The people who matter the most to me try their hardest to accept what I am going through even when they cannot understand it. They do not judge me. They do not think less of me. They give me the space I need and never accuse me of being a grinch for getting anxious around this time of year.
Those people are my favorite part of the holidays. They are the presents I am most grateful to have.