Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Christmas survival kit!

Christmas is fast approaching
I swear I blinked and this whole year went by
For me
Christmas is a double edged sword
Part of me loves it
The lights
The atmosphere
The Christmas spirit
Wrapping up in woolly clothes
Snuggling up beside the fire
Going for walks in the crisp winter air
But like a lot of people 
I can really struggle with the holiday too
They don't call it the silly season for nothing 
Christmas in this country seems to be about two things
And food 
Both of which I have issues with 
I remember back to my teens and early twenties 
Christmas was all about the pub
I can remember going to the pub after school
Changing out of my uniform in the bathroom
On a Friday the pub staff ordered boxes of chicken wings for the punters 
Oh to be able to eat chicken wings without my ED in my head
I can get nostalgic around this time of year 
And there is nothing more Christmassy than a hot toddy
Or a glass of brandy
I just can't drink 
And neither do most of my family 
Now a days we have a strictly alcohol free house for the holidays 
We have learned the hard way that my family and alcohol just do not mix
I can remember growing up
Followed by dinner
Followed by more drinks
Followed by huge family argument
No drink is worth the peace of mind that we have now

How do we get through the holidays 
Stay sane 
And not harm ourselves or anyone else?
It's tricky 
Christmas time often means spending much time with family and people you don't usually see from one end of the year to the other 
It means being cooped up inside for 24 hours straight 
Putting on a happy face when you unwrap your gifts and see that auntie Margaret has given you lavender soap yet again 
It means eating to the point that you feel
Positively ill
Watching the Christmas movie
And promptly falling asleep on the couch
While your nephew draws on your face

Try not to let the idea of Christmas dictate the days and weeks leading up to it
And try not to anticipate what the day itself will be like 
For the eating disordered 
Christmas can be tough 
The build up to the holidays
Being out of your usual routine
All the emphasis on food and drink
The socialising 
Expectations for the perfect day can all contribute to stress, pressure and anxiety
And things generally being out of sorts for a couple of weeks 
I guess the first thing to do is not to panic 
Take deep breathes 
And remember that Christmas is just one day 
24 hours 
Our routine may be all over the place
But one day is manageable 
We can get through it
For me 
It's important to stay busy 
I usually bring the dogs to the beach on Christmas morning
And watch the charity swim
Then I go to mass with some of my family 
Get home
And get stuck in to helping with the dinner
Staying busy gives me less chance for my mind to wander and become anxious 
I know it seems like food is everywhere at this time of year 
But remember 
If you eat more than usual on the day
It's ok 
In fact it's normal 
Everyone does it 
So don't panic 
Don't beat yourself up
It's completely natural to eat a little bit extra sometimes 
Everything in moderation
Including moderation 

The thing I find the toughest about Christmas is all the socialising 
Our house is the main focus of our family
So there are a lot of visitors over the holidays 
A constant stream of people in and out
It's more the thought of all this activity
When it's actually happening 
It's not too bad 
It's more the thoughts of it
And the anxiety that goes with that
Over Christmas 
It's important to remember to look after yourself
To be kind to yourself 
And not to put yourself under too much pressure 
Do what you feel you can do 
Be that a little or a lot 
No one expects you to be Wonder Woman
Although we seem to expect that of ourselves 
Take some time out for yourself if you need to
Take half an hour on your own to recharge your batteries 
Practise mindfulness
Or get out for a walk 
To clear your head 
And take a breath
Listen to music 
Read a book
Something I have to be wary of 
Is all or nothing thinking
Eating none of the food
Or all of the food 
Thinking because one thing goes wrong
Everything is ruined 
One good idea 
Is to have a buddy on stand by 
Someone you can give a quick ring of things become too much 
You can also be someone else's buddy 
Having a voice of reason
To bring you back down to earth can be invaluable 
Of course support is a two way thing
So both of you will benefit 
Be mindful of isolating over the holidays 
Stay in touch with your supports 
Beware of all or nothing thinking that leads to unrealistic and rigid expectations
It's about listening to you and your body 
And knowing that it's ok to have what you want 
Remembering that it is just one day and nothing awful will happen if you change the rules
Reminding yourself thdt Christmas is not only about food
Food is just one part of it
And may need some planning to work for you 

With all that said
Remember it's Christmas
It's to be enjoyed 
Yes, we will struggle 
And our EDs often don't want us to enjoy ourselves 
Especially around anorexia 
It's all about being strict and regimented 
And punishment can feature too
Because you know what guys?
We are far too hard on ourselves
We are the first ones to bring ourselves down 
We bully ourselves 
Verbally and physically
We deserve a break
We deserve to enjoy our Christmas 
In whatever form that may take 
God knows we are dealing with enough every other day of the year
Eating disorders 
Mental illness 
Self harm
We deserve at least one day to relax
To enjoy ourselves 
Whether you are in the midst of your illness
Or embarking on recovery 
We all deserve to smile
To laugh 
To throw some shapes on the dance floor 
To let our hair down
Because when else can we get the chance to do that?

I wish you and yours
A very happy and peaceful Christmas
I hope you get to spend time with the ones you Iove
Hold them close
Hug them tight
Cherish every moment with them
Because they are the ones that matter
They are the ones who hold our hands
Who pick up the pieces when it all falls apart
This year I  especially grateful to have my family around me
With everyone in good health 
We have much to celebrate this year
I hope you do too...


  1. I'll remember this; I will need it. It's only one day, and only for a few hours.

    1. I'm glad CP
      By the way
      Popped a card in the post for you today x

  2. One of my favourite things about recovery is being able to really enjoy all the Christmas foods again. I know I put on weight over the holidays, but I honestly don't care anymore. I don't eat like that all the time, so after the season is over, my weight just settles back down again.

    I can however get caught up in the mindset of one thing goes wrong = everything is a total failure. My mother and I tend to have at least one verbal brawl on Christmas Day. Perhaps we can break that pattern this year.

    Hope you are enjoying your Christmas season!! I miss Christmas in Ireland so much, it always felt like coming home. Not the same without Granny.

    1. Yes it's really lovely here at Christmas
      I'm looking forward to it this year
      As it will just be the six of us
      And yes
      There will be a few smart comments back and forth
      But now that we don't drink
      It doesn't escalate in to anything more than that

      Wishing you a very happy holiday too
      I popped your card in the post today x

  3. I have a close relative of mine watching me like a hawk when I stay at my Mum's for xmas. She watches what I eat and don't eat, and how much, and makes sarcastic comments about my eating. No one ever tells her where to get off ( including me ),so that we can keep the peace. One time, a few years back she took her young son and left when we were about to sit down for a meal because I was giving him a bad example of how people eat. So that's what I've got to look forward to.... She will be there for xmas dinner, and maybe a few other meals, but I always feel that she disapproves of me and avoids me if she can.

    1. Gosh that's really tough
      I can't believe how cruel that is
      And it's really not fair to have to put up with that
      It's really passive aggressive too
      Sounds like she has a problem though
      Not you
      She has no right to make you feel
      So uncomfortable
      Can you juggle things so you don't have to sit near her?
      Or maybe even ask this person to refrain from making comments
      Maybe she doesn't realise how much this gets to you

      Families are tricky things
      I hope your Christmas goes well this year
      Let me know how you get on x

  4. Yes I will...I hope everything goes well for you and your family as well. Such a tough time for us...

  5. You know, when my parents were together my mom tried to kill herself on Christmas day. She and my dad had a fight, he didn't want her to go to his mom's, so she stayed home and took a lot of pills. She had a lot untreated mental illness at the time but I look back and she'll say she doesn't like the holidays, but I do now because I'm joy starving myself and we've come through a lot as a family. I don't know why we had to start looking at the holidays like it was a terrible time. I know people don't get along with each other and I know that food can be hard but j think of it as a time to feel blessed by the growth we all made. Don't get me wrong, the diet makes me cringe but a piece of pie is going to make me happier than if I didn't. :)

  6. I swear I only just finished packing up from last Christmas!

    I'm the only one who drinks here. I think my brother had a drink after he got home last night, but that's the first I've seen him drink since we went out to dinner at the start of the year. Mum used to have a little glass of wine once a week or so, but not for some years.

    I've got a fridge magnet, from my Pa (he always enjoyed a tipple, even in the nursing home, unfortunately he passed on Boxing Day when I was 15) - "I love cooking with wine. Sometimes, I even put it in the food."

    "And promptly falling asleep on the couch
    While your nephew draws on your face"
    LOL! Who needs alcohol when you have a nephew like yours? ;)


  7. ha bella i so know what you mean, try to comment on your blog but am anon so don't think will work, think you lovely xx jo sorry using your blog ruby just have wanted talk bella for while xx

    1. Hi Jo :)

      I've seen your comments around for a while now. I know I'm a pain with disabling anon comments, but please feel free to reach out and contact me! I'm on Facebook and email at:

      (Also, since I've seen you around a bit, I thought I'd let you know you can sign up for a Blogger profile without actually creating a blog, so you can have all the blogs you read in one place, as well as commenting on anon blogs, if that'd interest you)

      Sorry for hijacking your comments, Ruby! :P



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