Christmas is a bloody awful time of year.
*Disclaimer.* I am NOT a ‘Scrooge.’ Quite the opposite. I’m the first person to play Mariah Carey far too loud, wear ugly Christmas sweaters and get overly excited at the thought of Christmas food…(PIBs FTW) but for me, Christmas is also an exhaustingly long period of thinking about the people who should be here, celebrating.
It took me until Christmas eve 2020, sitting on my couch, and bursting into big old ugly tears, to realise that I was NOT ok. Looking back, I realise that I’d been dealing with panic attacks almost daily since November, kidding myself that, because I wasn’t stereotypically hyperventilating, whilst rocking back and forth in a ball under the table, that it wasn’t a big deal. The reality was that I was functioning (barely) around them. Sitting in the MONIN studio in December, mind racing at a million miles an hour and trying to talk in normal sentences whilst wrapping lovely bows around lovely bottles to send out to clients (a task that would usually be quite chilled out) was not the dream, yet I convinced myself that I was coping.
Christmas eve, I decided that enough was enough, and compartmentalisation was no longer my friend. I rang the GP and had a shaky conversation about going back onto Sertraline: an Anti-Anxiety/ Anti Depressant which I’ve had a love/hate relationship with for the last few years.
This time around though, the nurse gave me a number to ring for counselling, something I’d always said no to, after mistakenly thinking that NHS counselling was too generic to help with PTSD, (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) a condition I acquired after my parents’ deaths a few years ago. After one last failed attempt at refusing counselling, reeling off my classic line of ‘By the time I start taking the tablets again, I’m sure I’ll be fine…’ I finally agreed to set up a phone call with a counsellor. (Touché nurse…)
The day I went to pick up the sertraline, was the day I decided to truly start taking care of my mental wellbeing. Anyone who knows the nature of these tablets will know the delicious array of side effects that occur for the first few weeks of taking them, including nausea, vomiting, headaches, sleepiness & insomnia. (These bad boys make it possible to feel impossibly tired and still not be able to sleep.)
I started to keep a diary of daily side effects. The worse they were, the better I felt about taking them. (This sounds incredibly masochistic, but the determination to feel better was a driving force through it all).
I had my first counselling session a few weeks ago. That half an hour phone call did more good than I could have ever imagined. After a short analysis, I was referred to an organisation that deals specifically with PTSD.
This is still very much the beginning. There’s still a long way to go, with this only being a small part of my wellbeing journey, but taking that first step, and entering 2021 feeling more like myself than I have done for a long time… definitely worth it.