When I reflect back on the past several Christmas Days, I remember the overwhelming sense of loneliness and isolation. Christmas Day was a sad reminder of just how ill I was. I would spend that special day with my son's Jack Russell, she was a bit of comfort in a very uncomfortable day.
I tried to find some solace by going for a long walk with the dog. All around me were people doing 'Christmassy' things. The excited little children with their brand new shiny bicycles. The friends and families gathered in their cosy homes celebrating the Festive Season. I observed this 'normality' and longed for the Christmas spirit to embrace me. Wandering aimlessly, nobody paid any notice of me, I was the 'invisible man'.
This year I have finally decided that enough is enough. I dreaded the thought of spending Christmas Day, strolling about, going back inside to an all-consuming quiet and discussing the meaning of life with the dog. As my positivity began to grow, I knew I had a choice. I would challenge my solitude, I would try to socialise. Maybe, just maybe, people would accept me and allow me into their lives.
What kept me going during Christmas Day was by trying to have a bit of a laugh about my situation. So Christmas Day became affectionately known as 'Boxing Day Eve'. Oh yeah and before you ask...December 24th is 'Boxing Day Eve, Eve'. So despite Boxing Day Eve being a time of sadness, I did manage to have a chuckle. Even during those times when dark thoughts tried to completely destroy my morale, I just knew that Christmas would eventually be a time of joy. I clung on to that thought, for I would perservere.
I think of all the sad and lonely people, who are only spectators, whilst those around them, rejoice in Christmas celebration. For these sad and lonely people crave social interaction. In this often, all-too-hectic, indifferent world, we can easily overlook the lost souls who need love and understanding. See the tears in their eyes and know that one moment of kindness can mean so very, very much.
I am fortunate, I am blessed. For one Christmas Day, I spent feeding and hopefully comforting the homeless of Stoke on Trent. I witnessed decent people, who through a series of spiralling circumstances, had been sleeping rough. I was truly touched by that experience. For despite my battle with mental illness, I could take comfort in the knowledge that I had a home to go back too. I focus on that Christmas, it has made me more determined to be grateful for what I have.
This 'Boxing Day Eve' will be different. Yes Christmas is tough because my family is so far away in Vancouver. However, I am so thankful, that through challenging my fears of society, I have met people who sincerely care. I respect them, they respect me, and perhaps, most importantly, I respect myself.
May you have a peaceful and positive Christmas.