This may take me a couple of days to write, because of the reason why I’m writing it.
Thanksgiving to Christmas, aka The Holidays, can be a lot of fun. But they are also crazy stressful, and for those of us who struggle with mental illness, even those in recovery, it can be crazy hard.
Let’s put together a scenario: take someone for whom life is made difficult by mental illness. This is difficult by itself, but often gives itself the fun presents of unemployability, strained/destructive/dysfunctional personal relationships, poor personal circumstances (diet, exercise, hygiene, shelter) and other health problems. Now add on to that the decreased daylight (which has been shown in many, many studies to increase symptoms of depression and other mental health issues, in the ‘mentally ill’ and ‘normal’ alike) and harsh weather, including injuries, stress, and risks that sometimes come with the weather. On top of this, put family get togethers (remember the strained/destructive/dysfunctional personal relationships part?), financial stress, and societal pressure for the holidays. It’s a wonder any of us survive this season at all.
Me, I’ve been slowly degrading for about a month now, as we get further into holiday pressure season and the days get shorter. Able to do less. More and more tired. Finding it more difficult to socialize. More irritable. Slipping a bit more into escapist behaviors. The getting less done (though I swear I am trying to do less than last year but I say this every year and why can I NEVER KEEP UP) makes me crankier and feel more stress and guilt, which can lead to more escapist behaviors if I let it, but since I know that increases the guilt and stress, I consciously fight it.
Though I am the first to admit that my fighting is not so effective around this time of year.
I am grateful at times like these for the help I have received and the skills I have learned, because I choose to fight. It doesn’t take it away. But it does help me get through it. So even as the floor falls away beneath my feet, and the scales of my emotional armor are buffeted and some are blown away by the storm, I survive, because the sturdy rock of my faith and my skills keep me above that black pit, battered and hanging though I am.
Though that Invincibility Star on the top of our Christmas tree might be nice. Just to get me through this part of the course.