Mood Swings and Mistletoe – Christmas, Counselling and Coping Strategies

After vowing to take baby steps last week, I started my week well. I went for a morning walk and spent the day working in the sanctuary. I ended the day in a good mood and was feeling motivated.

I wondered if it was my cycle, the small changes I have made or a combination of the two. All I knew was I wanted to feel like this again tomorrow, so I would do the same.

When Thursday came around, I decided to give myself a break from the morning walk. I had been working late, my sleep had been up and down, and when I opened the blinds, the thick frost covering the ground affirmed my decision.

I’m not sure whether that decision was the catalyst for my mood taking a slow downward slide, but it took a dip from there. After another late finish at 8 pm, I indulged in a glass of wine. I’d worked hard. I deserved to put my feet up and relax for the evening.

The following day, I woke up ridiculously early. With work on my mind, I took my laptop downstairs and worked from 4 am until 8 am. I had lunch plans that day, and I didn’t want to be thinking about work while I was there.

Lunch was lovely, and after being in all week, it was nice to have a few glasses of wine and socialise with my friends. When I got home, I had a little doze, attempting to catch up on the lost sleep. Later on, when it came to dinner, I mindlessly poured myself a glass of red. It should have come as no surprise to me when I felt deeply depressed on Saturday.

The husband and boys went to football, and I spent the day at home with Toby, trying to distract myself from the negative thoughts. I cleaned, sorted through all the Christmas presents I had bought and did some mundane tasks, but nothing could distract me from the gloom that had me in its icy grip.

I eventually gave in and allowed myself to feel it all. I shed bucketloads of tears for things that were, for things that could have been, and for things that will never be. I have found this time of year increasingly difficult over the last few years, so I did wonder if I could blame this on the alcohol, although I don’t doubt it played its part.

I wanted to talk about it but felt I couldn’t understand it myself. How could I possibly try and explain it to someone else? So I decided to put it all down in writing, and maybe one day, when I have made sense of it, I can share it as I know I won’t be the only one feeling this way.

When I had run out of tears, and my swollen eyes had settled back to some sort of normal level, I collected the husband and boys from the station. I came back and did the one thing I knew wouldn’t help: I finished the bottle of wine I had started. It may not help in the long run, but it would numb the pain in the short term, at least for tonight.

I didn’t expect anything to miraculously change on Sunday, but I did decide to go into Sunday with a more rigorous defence. Keep busy! I worked, I put the Christmas tree up and gave myself more little odd jobs, including writing this post, which ironically brought it all back and made me cry again, although not quite so dramatically.

I began to think I might as well go back to my old habits instead of trying to be healthier, but I knew drinking might only mask the problem, and that’s if it doesn’t magnify it. It’s like Russian roulette. One thing was for sure: I would have a lot to say in my final counselling session of the year on Tuesday.

I woke up on Monday morning, and the first three words that popped into my head were, “I’m sick of.” I decided I didn’t want this negativity swimming around in my head all day, so I made myself an “I’m sick of list”, which I continued adding to throughout my morning walk, but by the time I got back, I felt better. Without realising it, I had begun to put one foot in the other, one baby step at a time, and with each step, the sadness faded slightly.

I went to the shops to do some Christmas shopping, managing not to cry at the Christmas music being played. Why does something that evokes such beautiful memories make me feel so sad? Surely the fact that I am fortunate to have had so many wonderful Christmases to remember should make me smile when I hear them? Everything is just so confusing right now.

On Tuesday, I walked to my counselling session. I had plenty to say, but I really wanted to know the cause of all of this because once I knew that for certain, I could work on resolving it. I didn’t want to blame my hormones for everything mindlessly; they certainly weren’t making things easier, but there had to be more I could do.

I had a bit of an unexpected outburst during my session, where I was talking about one thing and suddenly blurted something out that I hadn’t been aware of. The shock of that realisation brought me to tears but gave me that little piece of string I needed to unravel what was going on.

Of course, this meant more thinking and more work to do. Honestly, I am so sick to death of thinking, of putting in the work. I am exhausted, and I need a break. I don’t want to have to think about a single thing for myself or anyone else.

It feels like there is always something to think about.

What should I make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner today?

Do I need to change the bed sheets?

Do I need to put a wash on?

Do I need to hang clean washing up or put it away?

What do I need to put on the shopping list? That means I need to think about what meal to eat next week.

Have I put my HRT gel on today?

Do I need to take a tablet today?

Have I taken my vitamins?

Do I need to wash my hair?

Have I got any appointments, birthdays or special occasions that I need to buy cards or presents for?

What bills need to be paid?

Do I have enough money in my account?

Do I need petrol in my car?

Have I replied to all my messages?

I must call this person or that person.

I must clean the bedroom/kitchen/bathroom/living room

The list is endless. As soon as I tick one thing off, another five things pop into my head. Then comes the anxiety, an entire library of things to worry about, most of which will likely never happen. Sometimes, anxiety decides to give me a break, and its cousin, sadness will come to visit instead. My head is constantly brimming with all of this. No wonder there isn’t as much excitement and joy in there. There’s no bloody room.

Ugh. It’s no wonder I came home and cried. But up I got, I hung the washing up, did some work, and cooked some lunch. I had planned to spend the evening decorating the tree, writing Christmas cards and wrapping presents, but I was too emotionally exhausted. The cloak of gloom hovered over my head, and I was too tired to fight it off.

I decided to return to my old faithful when it came to life. Reddit. After reading about the experiences of others, watching an informative video and going on the new Stella app. I feel much more positive. I could see possible solutions, and it’s perfectly normal to feel this way, but I, like others, can and will get through it. I can’t wait for that!

Sharing is the best compliment! Don’t keep it to yourself—share with friends!

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