New Year Grinch

I’m not really sure why, but for myself… I’ve never thought much to New Year. Even as a young child I remember finding it overwhelmingly saddening. I didn’t know that I was on the autistic spectrum until I was diagnosed a couple years or so ago, but maybe that’s part of the reason? I think I became attached to the year & didn’t like the fact that it was changing… almost as though I was going to lose the year & be unable to retrieve the memories or something? As I’ve gotten older, I’ve disliked it due to the pressure.. like, New Year should amount to something? It’s as though you should be having the best night of your life on NYE, but for me… I honestly couldn’t think of many things worse than to spend the night in a crowded bar with people shouting & entering my personal space (though nobody in the UK is currently ‘allowed’ to do that anyway at the moment thanks to this pandemic), but society has told me that’s what I ‘should’ have been wanting to do from at least the age of 18. I guess I disliked it more because it made me feel even more abnormal for disliking what many others my age seemed to enjoy.

I also became mentally unwell at 13 – that’s when my eating disorder began & so New Year has since reminded me of how disordered society is re:diet culture. It puts pressure on you to lose weight (because God forbid you’d aim to gain weight 🤦‍♀️) with all the diet industry/diet culture shit around – it’s on your Google ads without even having to search for anything, it’s on social media news feeds, it’s on TV advertisements & radio ads too, it’s on posters that are pinned up in the streets & the biggest one I hate the most are the leaflets that are damn well posted through your letterbox! So even if I turn the technology off for the month or avoid leaving the house… some prat can still have the audacity to post it through my own front door!

Diets are everywhere come new year & people begin to set themselves all of these unrealistic & often unattainable goals & it makes you feel as though you also need to be joining in & setting your own targets. I don’t set my own. I recognise how unhelpful it is. I also recognise how the 1st of January every year isn’t the only time in life where you can make changes & set goals. It’s ridiculous! Nonetheless… it still impacts me.

Just because I don’t get involved with the New Year crap directy… it triggers me & this can mean that I indirectly make unhelpful changes. Whether you decisively action partaking in New Year diet culture or not… it doesn’t mean that it isn’t still plastered everywhere & it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t bother me or trigger the ED thoughts off… it’s that in your face that it makes fighting those thoughts off even more challenging, so yeah… it’s far more difficult to not get sucked into the propaganda.

So, I admit… I find New Year tough! There are more reasons that I could list & discuss for disliking it so much, but I won’t (except for the most important reason in a moment). I guess that you could call me the NY version of ‘The Grinch’.

The main reason I find NYD challenging in particular is actually to do with my Grandad. On the 1st of January 2015, we were woken up by a phone call from my Nana Mary not long after 7 in the morning & the start of that year was one that was filled with heartache. We rushed to get dressed because we were told that my Grandad was being taken by ambulance to the hospital – my Nana sounding distressed & crying into the phone.

It wasn’t in any way a positive start, especially when we arrived at A&E. My grandad was laying in resus with wires connected to himself & the monitors. He was cannulated, he’d received the last dose of adrenaline they could administer & the worst part was how he laid there so motionless & intubated as he couldn’t breathe by himself. I want to study medicine, so naturally… I’ve read a lot about things & although that, of course, makes me in no way a doctor in any sense of the word… I’ve read enough to have been completely aware in that moment that all of his stats on those monitors weren’t in any way good & that a positive outlook would only happen by absolute miracle. My heart totally sunk. I could see the pain in my family, but I could also feel their longing for hope, but sadly… the stats I understood meant that I couldn’t hold onto any sense of hope, but I equally couldn’t bring myself to tell them how bad things were looking.

My nana was absolutely heartbroken, crying at my Grandad not to leave her. It was one of the single most, worst moments of my life. We didn’t want anything more than to leave that hospital with my grandad in tow… or at least some news of a recovery, but sadly… that wasn’t how the story ends because instead… that was where Grandad’s story did end.

The only consolation we get from back then, was that prior to that day my Grandad was exactly how we knew him & had a great quality of life (especially for an 87 year old). He had a double heart attack, but I at least take some solace in knowing that he didn’t suffer & that we had a great Christmas with him & my Nana.

Having a photographic memory can be helpful at times, but when it comes to distressing moments… you have flashbacks to real life nightmares like these… you have flashbacks in so much detail that it feels real all over again – you can’t just visualise it in your head, but you can hear it too, you can remember the smell & you can even feel those exact emotions again.

As a family, we spend NYD thinking of the happy memories we had with my Grandad & of course we have many of them to smile about, but each NYD morning… my brain won’t not flashback to that morning with all of the painful details. There’s never a right time to lose a loved one, but if it happens on a public holiday or some kind of significant, memorable date… it’s difficult not to focus on it more. It seems as though everybody else is having a good time & you’re expected to also feel that way, but what’s someone else’s celebration is sometimes another’s grievance.

I don’t fare too well NYE/NYD, because my mood struggles despite my efforts to boost it. Instead of trying to reject how I feel though… I now accept them. I realised that there are things that I can do to help myself & that that’s okay… I can try to help myself, but it’s also okay if I still feel crappy about the date. I realised that I don’t have to stay up until midnight just to make others feel better, so each year now… I go to bed earlier to avoid the heavy depression the NY countdown brings. I realised that I don’t have to vocally wish people a Happy New Year if I don’t want to (of course I wish them health & happiness, but I wish that for them throughout the entire year not just for January & not just in empty words). I also realised that it’s perfectly my right to politely ask others not to wish me a happy NY or to make it quite as significant as it is. I’m not saying that I’ll always hate NY & perhaps in the future I’ll feel differently, but my current way of helping myself through it is to recognise what feels best for me at the time.

The best thing I did to bring 2020 to an end was to enter a Zopi-coma (aka Zopiclone coma 🙊) to avoid the NY countdown I annually detest. I’m not advocating sleeping pills at all, but I’m allowed just a few days worth at a time as a PRN & I only have one when I haven’t slept well for a while (or on occasions such as NYE) – I certainly wouldn’t encourage anybody to use them on a regular basis & personally for me… they’re only something I have one night every several weeks & these are things I rarely request & things that I am reviewed on. I slept for 11 hours straight NYE/NYD & I was really thankful for it. NYD was pretty much just another day (especially with the restrictions in place atm anyway). I’ll be glad for things to start returning to normal again now the holidays are coming to an end (or at least as normal as it can be considering the country is pretty much in a state of lockdown again anyway).

I do hope that 2021 brings more happiness to the world & I hope this pandemic begins to come to an end, but I’m also not naïve enough to believe that it’s the end of it just yet. All we can do is hold on to hope & hope for the best. I particularly enjoy the motto; ‘Expect the worst & hope for the best’. 😆 I suppose it sounds a lil bit negative at first, but it’s also positive at the same time.. it’s a more realistic way of thinking though. It’s a motto I like to take a lot from & one that I’ll be bearing in mind in the coming months with the pandemic around – I can hold onto hope & be optimistic about the future & the things we can all look forward to planning & doing again that we’d previously taken for granted, but until the end of it is near I also have to do what I can to remain well & keep others well both physically & mentally whilst this virus is still around.

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