The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy and laughter when we get together with loved ones and enjoy everyone’s company, but what many people still just don’t understand is that for some of us who live with mental illness, this time of year can fill many of us with anxiety and leave us feeling less than festive.
It would seem that as soon as the last week of November comes to a close, the invitations start to arrive for this holiday party or that get together, and don’t get me wrong, I love that you think of us and want to spend time with us, because we want to spend time with you too, but please understand a few things about the holiday season, anxiety and depression:
- The holiday season can be a bad time of year for many of us. During this time of year some of us undergo medication increases or even medication changes that are brought on by shorter daylight hours. A lot of us tend to isolate right now, which is okay for some of us for self-care purposes, but there is a fine line when isolating becomes habitual rather than for self-care purposes and I know that you understand this, and miss us. Anxiety is a cruel trickster, and it is anxiety and depression that keeps many of us isolating. Walking into a mall that is filed with crowds can send the healthiest person into a panic attack; imagine adding anxiety and depression into that as well.
- Holiday parties are a lot to ask of someone if you find that it’s difficult for them to even make it out to meet you for coffee this time of year. If your loved one becomes crippled with anxiety in a Starbucks, please keep in mind that a houseful of people (even people they know) can have this same effect on them. I’m not saying do not send out the invite to your friend or family, all I’m saying is do not make them feel poorly if they are unable to attend.
- Do not under any circumstances feel guilty for enjoying your holiday parties, we don’t want that, and I promise to make it to as many functions as we can, but it may just be for a brief cameo or we may rock it that night and close it down with you, I have no idea. But what I do know is that we do want to spend time with you, but if we’re uncomfortable or that anxiety kicks in, we need to leave, please understand that.
Look, you and your loved ones have been through a lot together and ultimately everyone just wants everyone else to be healthy and happy. I can’t imagine that anyone wants to picture someone alone over the holidays, but a phone call is always a good thing, popping in for a visit is great as well, the holiday party is not always the best way to try to help someone out of their depression or isolation. Sometimes it’s just baby steps.
Go to your party and have a great time, tell your loved one all about it, I’m sure they’d love to hear all of the details, I know I would, because what does help me when I am down is knowing that my loved ones are still having a great time. I’m quite content to spend those evenings curled up with my hot cocoa and a good book and zero anxiety, waiting to hear about how much fun you had. The fact that you didn’t make feel bad for saying no to the invitation really helped as well. And when I am ready to put on my dancing shoes, you’ll be the first to know.
Love and Light.