… And a Happy New Year?
It is common knowledge that the holidays season can be strenuous for anyone, but especially someone with mental health issues. My holiday season was a rollercoaster, in which as was oscillating at high speed between the sensation that I was going to die, the will the run away, and the calming feeling that I was finally at home.
Maybe the hardest part of the holiday season is the expection you set for them. You always expect a home where you feel surrounded by love, as if it were a warm blanket wrapped around your shoulder. You expect eating food that is both a delight for the eyes and for the tastebuds. You expect a meal that lasts hours, not because you keep on eating, but because you do not want to leave the company of the people at the table. And then you expect the opening of presents or the new year wishes as a firework of positive emotions, love, gratitude, and hope. But the expectations never match the reality, and I felt self-deceived of the nth time. My Christmas was far from being one of those that we see in those Hallmark movies, and my New Year’s Eve was far from being that spectacular party that we see in all those romantic comedies.
Do not get me wrong, my Christmas and New Year’s were great. I ate my favourite Chinese food with one of my best friend and my mom, watched some replica of a horror movie, binge watched Big Mouth for the rest of the night, before going for a very nice brunch the next morning. My New Year’s Eve was festive: Chinese hot pot, sparkling wine, cake, and drunken declaration of love… All of this in downtown Manhattan. My holiday season was full of occasion that would make me feel special, loved, appreciated, and hopeful for the future.
The problem is that my depression remains stronger than all of this. Self-doubt, self-loathing, anxiety, school-related stress… All of this came to taint the mirth I had been hoping for when my Fall semester ended. While surrounded by tipsy (or even drunk) friends and family, I could not help thinking that people would have had a better time without me. I wanted to run away in my heels, in the cold, be alone, and then just stay there until the cold would close my eyes. I had that weird sensation that I was going to die that night. That 2017, in a show of grand, dramatic mercy, would end the mild agony I was experiencing. I would have been grateful if that had happened at the time. But at the same time I am grateful that my life continued to be that banal succession of banal episodes.
And then the usual happened. I ended up being swormed by the love of the drunk people surrounding me. My friend’s mother drunkenly telling me how worth of love I was, how intelligent and beautiful I was. It was an inspiring pep talk, honestly. But it was painfully awkward. I do not like hearing that. I tend to handle critiques better than compliment. Tell me how annoying or dramatic or pathetic I am, and I will either agree with you but shrug my shoulders because I cannot do anything about it, or I will do my best to remedy the problem. But hearing compliments, it is something I poorly deal with. The only thing this pep talk did was to reveal how much I love that person, and how grateful I was to having the chance to know her. But I guess it is a step forward, as usually, I keep on telling myself that this is a bunch of BS, and that, if they were to get to know me better, these people would hate me as much as I hate myself. Gratefulness and thankfulness for the people in my life is, I think, at step towards embracing reality beyond my depression.
This is why, despite my depression making me feel miserable in all kinds of way, I am, for the first time, hopeful for the future. I am starting sports therapy to finally get rid of the pain in my shoulder; I am starting a low-FODMAP diet next week to alleviate the symptoms of my IBS; I am finally able to sleep decently and more than five hours; I am looking at many professional opportunities in the upcoming months; I am finalizing my preliminary work on my thesis…. Objectively speaking, 2018 looks like it is going to be a positive year for me. I know the struggle will not disappear. I am still sick, I still have depression, and it is an ailment with which I will live for the rest of my life. But I am hopeful that embracing it, being open about it with myself as much as I am open about it when I talk to others, and dealing with the lowest points with the most self-compassion possible. I can make a difference for myself.
On the same note, I wish you all a happy new year. May all the best happen to you. Thank you for putting up with me, and let’s hope that 2018 will bring all of us better times.