The absence of family or friends on certain celebrations can be difficult. For example, this week was Eid. For many of my ex-Muslim friends (closeted and none closeted) this is a day they still spend with family. They enjoy the cultural elements, being around family and of course, all the food!
Eid for me now is very different, in that it is non-existent. In fact, I didn’t know Eid was coming up until about 3 days earlier a work colleague mentioned it. We might all be different in the sense that days which I find difficult, you might not, and vice versa. For example, whilst I don’t feel strongly about Eid, my birthday is coming up soon and this is always a difficult time for me. I used to not plan anything and spend the whole week at home crying by myself, because it is a day that I used to spend with certain family members.
So how do I cope with these things? Whether it is a religious festive, your birthday, their birthday or any other significant day, there are certain things that can help you feel prepared, so I wanted to share with you some of the things that I am doing for my birthday this year.
Firstly, I have accepted it will be difficult. As much as I would like to pretend it’s not coming up, or that I will be fine, I know from previous years this isn’t the case. The more I try to push away distressing emotions, the more I feel them as I fight with myself to feel ‘okay’. So instead I am accepting that for a few days I might be feeling down as I reminisce on old birthdays, and I am allowing myself the time I need to feel this way.
I have also arranged to see a friend and go for a meal. This will mean that even though I have may have a few difficult days, there will be a time where I have the opportunity to have fun. This is important, because in past years, I have refused to make any plans and told myself I will stay home. This just led to me feeling down for longer than I might have had I made plans. I didn’t make any plans and therefore I didn’t give myself the chance to see if I might be able to have a good time, even if only for a few hours.
Last year was the first year I gave myself this chance and I arranged to see a few friends – I spent the day at home feeling upset and felt rubbish even on the way there. However, once I was there, I had a good time. This year I almost fell into the same trap as I have before and was going to spend the day at home by myself. However, I know that what we do (our behaviours), has a huge impact on how we feel. So, by making plans, getting up and going out for a few hours, I will be breaking the cycle of doing nothing but thinking about old times, which makes me feel sad, and instead will be doing something that might help me feel a bit better.
If you notice yourself falling into cycles of low mood or anxiety, but you aren’t sure what to do about it, please contact us at After Faith for support.