Let’s talk…

… about the holidays.

We all know these tend to be very stressful times; especially for people who deal with anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. But, who are we kidding? Even people that don’t suffer from mental illnesses dread the holidays. They are filled with obnoxious family members, drama (ugh), financial burdens, and way too much food. Y’all know what I am talking about.

Two years ago, I had just gotten out of residential treatment in time for Thanksgiving. I was living at home at the time and I felt that I was ready to conquer a Thanksgiving feast for the first time in a very long time. After all, I had just learned a whole new set of skills on how to cope with the stressors of the holiday season—mainly the stressors of food. Phew, was I wrong. My (then) boyfriend ended up bailing on family dinner at the last minute, which sent me into complete panic mode. Too upset to eat, I barely touched the food on my plate, and to make matters worse, my entire family was watching every move I made. I ended up leaving my aunt’s house drunk and in tears.

Last year, I was finishing up college in a different state and living with my (current) boyfriend. We decided to have Thanksgiving with his family since we were going to spend Christmas with mine. I ended up cooking a HUGE turkey (which turned out fantastic, if I do say so myself) and several side dishes that reminded me of home. Turns out, my boyfriend didn’t coordinate dinner with any of his family members, so it was just me, him, and his dad—with a shit-ton of food. They are both picky eaters and didn’t touch half the dishes I spent so much time making and I was too distraught to eat; most of the food went in the trash. The night ended with us fighting and me in tears (again).

At this point, I hope you’re thinking of some of your dysfunctional holiday moments. It would make me feel a million times better to know I am not the only one who experiences them!

This year, my boyfriend and I are set to head north for the holidays—to be with my family. I’d like to say that I have high hopes, but I know myself and I know the current situation I am in; I can barely force down a normal meal without crying or panicking. Despite my struggles, though, I am hoping for the best. I keep reminding myself that now, more than ever, is the time I should be cherishing these moments with family and friends. We are all getting older and we are not promised tomorrow. With that being said, my challenge for myself and you is to try to enjoy the holiday season as best you can. I am going to sit down to a Thanksgiving feast and remind myself that one big meal will not turn me into a balloon; I am going to put on my winter clothes (even if I feel like a lump) and go Christmas tree hunting with my dad and brothers; I am going to laugh, drink, eat, and be happy. Why? Because I deserve it and so do you.

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