NYE reflections: child-free, alcohol-free Christmas

I opted to have a hysterectomy with removal of the ovaries aged 35 due to PMDD nearly 2 years ago, and I no longer suffer from cyclical monthly depression. This is a wonderful positive change and I do not regret the operation. I created this site to share what I’ve learnt, and the responses I’ve received have made it a very rewarding experience. To date, this blog has received nearly 35,000 ‘views’.

I’m feeling reflective as it’s New Year’s Eve..

I’ve found Christmas to be a time of year that is getting more difficult each year due to loneliness.

  • I’m both child and alcohol free, which is isolating in the town in which I currently live. It’s a town ideally suited to raising a family, and unsuited to child-free life (my location is something for me to weigh up in 2014).
  • Friends with children naturally spend more and more time with their families at Christmas.
  • There are only so many parties I can face as a non-drinker / non-party drug user.
  • Half of my extended family live overseas and are very expensive to get to, this saddens me more as I get older.
  • I don’t regret not having children, but this time of year is so over romanticised as family time, that it’s hard.

It’s very clear that for the sake of my mental health, I’m going to need to take myself to a non-Christian country for Christmas 2014 and beyond.

Professionally, it’s been the most interesting year of my life by far. For the first time, I was invited to work outside of England, and I made 3 separate trips. I felt extremely happy and content on these trips, like I was born to do this. So in 2014 I’m working towards doing more work-related travelling.

I worked flat out for months leading/directing a big commission this year, I put everything I had into it, and led a team of professional collaborators and volunteers. My boyfriend of over 4 years commented that it was the longest consistent good mood he had ever known me to have. I loved being completely immersed in the project, and shutting everything and everyone else out. The project was a success, and it was my choice to work that hard. I wouldn’t have been able to work like that with PMDD.

However, my mood crashed after I’d delivered the project, due to burn-out, and I’ve felt intermittently low for 3 months now. I need to be more careful next time to not do this to myself when I accept a commission. It may be that my HRT implants have run out early. I’ve resorted to my stock of the anti-depressant Citalopram (10mg) at times, which does help, as does my SAD lamp, going for brisk walks, and forcing myself to socialise a little.

I’ve felt embarrassed about this particular slump, as in some people’s eyes I am “successful”, and they have no idea about my battles with my mood and feelings of isolation. With the close friends who know about the operation, I’ve felt embarrassed about admitting that it hasn’t completely removed the depression.

I (still) feel like I don’t know who I am sexually any more, as my sex life was messed up before the operation due to my PMDD symptoms. I’m only 37, and feel sad and embarrassed about this. My partner and I just spent our 5th Christmas together. We’re in a rut, and came close to breaking up in 2013, but other aspects of our relationship are positive, he’s very kind, and makes me laugh. We’re spending NYE apart as we have different friends and music tastes. I know that this limbo-like state contributes to the loneliness.

In the excellent book Women’s Moods: What Every Woman Must Know About Hormones the authors say that once the brain has experienced a significant depression, it will always be more vulnerable to it in the future, so one needs to take extra care to look after it, I suspect this is true in my case. I’ve found this post on depression by coach Alison Gresik comforting and helpful: http://www.gresik.ca/2012/03/10-signs-of-walking-depression/. I’ll soon read Ruby Wax’s book Sane New World, particularly the chapter on Mindfulness.

And as always, writing this post has been therapeutic. I have a great deal to be thankful for, including more lifestyle choices than my great-grandmothers could have imagined. I enter 2014 with a greater understanding of myself.

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