23 December 2018

'Tis the Season to Be SOPHIE



...or Susan, or Sandra, or whatever name your wonderful self possesses. If you want to go by Princess Consuela Banana Hammock and have your friends call you Valerie, let the world be your Oyster Salamander (Potterheads will know what I'm talking about)! In short, it's time to put the PERSON before the PRESSURE POLICE. And the present, because that's the true spirit of christmas. 

There are so many wonderful things about this time of year. Give me Muppets,  Millie MOOSE coats and a sprinkle of HP Magic... I'm as happy as a Niffler in a Tolkein Mountain - minus Balrogs and fire-breathing Dragons, obviously. On the other hand, with the adverts all yelling and everyone telling you "JUST BE JOLLY", it can be the most worrisome time of the year too. 

Historically, it's been a time where I've confronted the ghosts of Christmases Past; that being said, last year  I managed to turn this on its head and see the silver linings, so Messrs Marley and Marley have been relatively quiet this year. I can't say I've missed them! Yet even without the Dickensian ghosts, Christmas is still a catalyst for anxiety. In a recent instagram post, I talked about its impact on Perfectionism and, specifically, my longterm-Scrooge Mr NOA (negative-over-analysis)

Over the past month, I've had the usual flurry of questions: Is this the right gift? Who do I send my Christmas Cards to? Am I doing enough with my Etsy Store? Do I go to this social event? They arrive every year, as reliable as Millie's bark when the postman comes calling. If only every day in December was a Sunday, we would not be having this problem! Suffice to say, it's a mental-marathon and you don't even get a medal The Nifflers are NOT impressed...
... more importantly, nor am! As a result, I’ve consciously tried to question these thoughts. Perhaps the Nifflers have something to do with it, but I more suspect that the nargles CBT is behind my new outlook. Old readers of my blog (hello my lovely ones) will know that I did CBT in 2017 and it's definitely made a lasting impression. Specifically, I've learnt to differentiate thoughts from actions; to challenge the point between behaviour and belief. Just because 'I feel I should' do something, doesn't mean 'I should and, therefore, I will'. 

When we think of Christmas Pressures, it's easy to think of external influences. Don't get me wrong there are certain societal expectations this time of year and, while I am fortunate to have a very empathetic family, I know that others may not have this. Nonetheless, CBT taught me that that the greatest pressures comes from my own head. I can’t control events around me, but I can choose how I respond. I could provide so many examples of this but, in the name of 'operation: stop rambling', I'll stick to one. 

Earlier this month, I experienced the bus journey from hell coming back from school (volunteering). 
We had family friends over and the planned to visit the Christmas market before dinner; given that the school day finishes at 3:15pm and is only 3 miles from our house, I should have been home with hours to spare but, sadly First Buses didn't seem to agree. In fact, I eventually gave up on them and got the airport bus instead, arriving home at 6:15pm with frozen feet, racing heart and a low blood sugar to top it off. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have run, but that's self-imposed pressure for you! 
Beyond getting home ASAP, the “pressure police” were in full force with what to do about the rest of the evening: "just suck it up and smile and join in" was the general consensus; Sophie, on the other hand, knew that she needed a warm drink, something to bring her blood sugar up and cuddles with her favourite fluffball. In Christmases past, I would gone trawling through the streets of Bath and my family wouldn't have even known about the low blood sugar. What's more, I would'n't have taken anything for it.

2018 was quite different. As I stepped through that door, I listened to Sophie. Five minutes and three glucotabs later, I was on the sofa with a cup of mint tea and Millie Moo beside me. My decision hadn't prevented anyone else from enjoying the market, but I had protected myself from the pressure police. by my I popped on my Friday favourite of “Fantastic Geeks and Where to Find them” - aka the most Magical podcast in the Muggle World - and closed my eyes to listen. I didn’t even pick up my crochet hook, which is a sign of how exhausted I was! 

My decision was all-the-more-important, given events earlier that day. In an effort to help the class teacher, I spent most of my lunch hour in the playground, covering as an extra playground monitor. While I see my willingness to help as a good characteristic, it shouldn't be in detriment to my own health. I didn’t have time to eat my usual lunch sides and was also running around (literally), so the 'emergency' snack-pack of nuts I had after my sandwich probably wasn't what my body needed.

(When you’re negotiating Anorexia Recovery alongside diabetes, it isn’t as simple as “just eat”; I have too ensure that my body gets a certain level of glucose at certain times, particularly as I no longer use an insulin pump... but that’s a story for another day!)
In hindsight, earlier events had probably contributed to the low blood sugar I was currently experiencing. As I sat on sofa with my hug-in-mug, listening to Tessa and Brizzy’s review of 'Crimes of Grindelwald', I realised that I was exactly where I needed to be. After all, if it was the 'Crimes of People-Pleasing' that prompted this low blood sugar, what would gallivanting the streets of Bath have achieved? A mental prison-sentence to rival any Wizarding World villain, that's what.

(What's more, it wouldn't have been much fun for everyone else going, as low blood sugar + socialising are not a happy pear - unlike Sophie and Happy Pear Beetroot Houmous, which is my winner-winner Christmas-Eve Dinner) 

Long ramble short, I'm slowly learning that 'Tis the season, above all, to BE ME. If that means Crochet over Cocktails, that's okay. If I'd rather visit the market on a midweek morning - as I did this year - that is the road I will travel... even if it's not the one society - or the pressure-police - would have me take. After all, as Albus Dumbeldore so wisely says:

"It is our choices that 
show who we truly are"

  For more MH support this Christmas, I Siriusly recommend...   

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