Mum of two and mental health blogger, Naomi Barr, shares her latest musings on the run-up to the festive period and offers advice on how to cope.
“Life is soon to take a turn for the more stressful. After autumn comes the harsh winter and with it comes Christmas. I hate to be uttering this word yet, but I feel it’s important to highlight the real turmoil this time of year can cause.
Thinking about the real problem of eating disorders, from my own past experience I have found Christmas to be a living nightmare. There is so much food on offer at all times and if you suffer from an eating disorder, all the laughter (food) and joy, can actually make you feel isolated. And alone, very alone, because what you’re experiencing is alien to those around you.
I would consider this time of year triggering for all sorts of reasons. I personally worry a lot about the financial aspect which I’m sure many do, and especially more so this year with the economy in its current state. I’m not sure I have the right advice for navigating your way though this, but I would say try to live each day as it comes. Don’t project into the future, certainly don’t dwell on the past, and be in the present always.
Dwelling on the past is something I’m privy to. I find it difficult to move on with my life sometimes. A little bit about me; I trained as a professional classical ballet dancer. I left home aged 11 and went off to England. So much happened to me in the time I spent away from home, and I learned a lot of unhealthy behaviors for trying to deal with the pain and angst I was feeling. Ballet is a cut-throat world. It demands so much discipline and ironically, it demands respect of the human body. I had no respect for my body. I spent a lifetime punishing it for the things it couldn’t do, for its size and shape, and for its limitations. I trained until the age of 19 before entering the world of competition and job hunting. I went to many auditions, but the pressure was just too much for me to shoulder.
So, I came home. I still look back and wonder where I’d be, what I’d be doing if I hadn’t given up. Then I look at the life I have, the children I have brought into this world and I can in some way make peace with myself. It’s taken a long time, but I finally feel like I’m learning to leave the past behind me.
All that aside, I am concentrating on what’s happening in life for me now. The girls have a better social life than I do, we’ve had Halloween parties, birthdays and play dates all filling me with joy. The girls are also, according to their teachers doing very well at school, so I am also filled with a sense of pride.
There isn’t much going on for me now that causes too much stress, however the symptoms of anxiety forever lurk in the corners. I worry that I’m not doing enough for everyone, that I’m falling short in some way. I realize that these feelings belong to me and that the people around me don’t think of me as falling short but it goes hand in hand with what I expect from myself. We often expect too much of ourselves. Especially I think when we have children and are trying to juggle a million little things.
So how do I round this blog post off? Accept what is realistic to achieve and let go of your irrational expectations. Take stock of the here and now, trying not to think too far forward or too far back. And recognize your achievements no matter how small you think they are. If it’s managing to get up in time to make the pack lunches for school, or getting the shopping done, or cleaning a room in your house, then mark it as you are winning today.”