You Don't Have to Feel ok Just Because it's Christmas


Listening to my brother playing Mud's 'Lonely This Christmas' from his adjacent room as I sit in bed drinking my morning tea and scrolling through my camera roll right back to the start of 2017, it occurred to me that I'm not the happiest this Christmas. It's true, I've never been super enthusiastic about Christmas in general (call me the Grinch), but usually the lights on the Christmas tree in the evening or the bitter chill of winter air hitting my fingertips as they're wrapped around a cup of hot chocolate is enough to put a smile on my face. Sadly this year these basic festivities have been practiced to no avail. 

There seems to be an obligation for us all to be happy on Christmas because of how lucky we are. The majority of us are so privileged to be able to receive gifts, eat Christmas dinner, and even things we take for granted like having a warm bed to sleep in. I am so grateful for the life I live and the opportunities I have had because of this privilege, but it's important to remember this Christmas that gratefulness does not equate to happiness. I am more than grateful for my ability to enjoy all the traditional things that come along with Christmas day that so many others do not have the opportunity to enjoy and, yes, these things should make me happy as well as grateful, but our brains don't always work that way. 

So often people are ashamed to be unhappy at Christmas. We may feel there is something wrong with us. I mean, we're receiving all these beautiful presents and eating all this delicious food, so why are we not completely and utterly ecstatic at "the most wonderful time of the year"? 

Our brains are not immune to sadness on Christmas day. Our brains are not immune to the feelings of unhappiness, guilt, depression, anxiety, or grief all because it is Christmas. As much as we may wish it to be, Christmas is no different to any other day on the calendar.  

This Christmas time I'm not my happiest because I'm going through a break-up, I have university deadline stress, and a few other personal things here and there. These things, naturally, wouldn't put me in the most cheery mood and the stress and upset that comes along with them does not disappear from the back of my mind just because the date on my phone reads 'December 25th'. Thinking about this made me realise that there must be so many people out there that feel the same. There are people suffering with severe mental illnesses this Christmas, people heading home for the holidays to abusive or toxic environments, people that are confused about their sexuality/gender, people that are being bullied or hurt. No matter what we're going through, whether that be the tough stuff life tends to hit us all with like me or even tougher challenges to face like overcoming a mental illness, it's important to remember that so many of us are not ok this Christmas and that in itself is ok. There is no shame in it and we are not alone.

I want this post to reach anyone who feels ashamed about the way they feel on Christmas. We may be scared to seem ungrateful to others because we don't have a giant grin on our faces. We're afraid to head to our rooms for an hour to recuperate for fear of being perceived as unsociable. We are expected to slap on a smile and act joyful all day because it's Christmas, but once again, our brains don't work like that.

This post is to anyone that feels this way on Christmas: your emotions are valid. Do not feel ashamed or upset with yourself because you couldn't 'pull it together for just one day'. All you can do is try your best, but if you're feeling down then you're feeling down - you can't help it and that is ok. You are entitled to feel what you feel without shame. 

This post is also to parents, friends and family of these affected people: Do not glare. Do not roll your eyes. Do not insinuate we are 'seeking attention' or 'ungrateful'. Do not huff and puff or swear and yell. Be patient, be kind. No one can change the way they feel like a light switch turning on and off. No one's brain works that way. 

20 comments

  1. Great post, thanks for sharing.
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  2. Very well written, I agree that gratitude does not necessarily equate to happiness!

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  3. Your words are so true and well spoken. Especially on "happy Christmas" but also all year around, we're all suposed to make a happy face, because society requires of us to be easy and anything other than happy is considered a difficult personality. Thank you so much for raising awareness

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  4. What an incredibly raw and honest post my lovely! I can relate to SO much of this! Thanks for raising awareness <3 x Imogen

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  5. It is so lovely to actually see this post! I've not been the happiest over the last few days and have felt extremely guilty for that alone, it is so refreshing to read this, and give myself a little reminder that it is completely fine!

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  6. I’m totally with you on this. Although these days I’m pretty indifferent to Christmas, after my first major breakup Christmastime actually made me feel far more lonely and worse than I normally would, which is when I started not liking it at all, whereas before that I quite enjoyed it. It’s really ironic that it’s supposed to be such a wonderful, happy time for everyone and that we’re all expected to have a smile on our faces. Of course you’re right that we should all acknowledge and be grateful for all the privileges that we enjoy, especially at this time of year, but there really shouldn’t be any pressure on people to enjoy Christmas when we all live in such different circumstances and it doesn’t automatically mean happiness for everyone.

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  7. It always makes me sad to know there are people who aren't happy at Christmas, but I've been there too so I know what it's like. I think it would be nice if people could be a lot more understanding. I hope next Christmas will be a much happier time for you x
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  8. I adore this post and it's so true! People need to understand that it's just a day and you can't change because of it!

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