Today, I am thankful that thoughts of suicide aren’t running rampant through my mind, for the first time in about a month. I’m thankful that I didn’t act on those thoughts when they were the loudest. I’m thankful for the medications that I take that work against the brain chemistry that happens in my mind that tells me that dying is my only escape from the pain and suffering that I feel.
I’m thankful for the friends and family that have willingly crawled down into the hole I’ve fallen into and been there with me, to let me know that I’m not alone. For those that didn’t abandon me in my time of need and instead sat silently beside me. I’m thankful for my psychiatrist who reassured me that there’s a plan in place for me should I need to access those supports. I’m thankful for all of the skills and therapy that I’ve gained over the last 10 years that have allowed me to get through these moments.
For someone like me who lives with the crippling symptoms of mental illness, it can be difficult on days like today to find things to be grateful for. Seeing “perfect happy moments” plastered all over social media trigger feelings of grief and loss in so many ways that it will have to be a day of tuning out the world.
If you love someone with a mental illness, please be compassionate and gentle with them on days like today. They may be experiencing high anxiety and trying to cope with incredible stress. Allow them to be who they need to be today. Let them know you love them and you understand.
Holidays and family gatherings are often huge triggers for people struggling to cope with mental illness. I know they are for me. I’m fortunate that I have a husband who understands that there’s no turkey or stuffing this year and he’s fine with that. Explaining it to others has been a little more challenging. Everyone always looks a bit confused when you say, “I’m not celebrating this year”.
It actually feels freeing to not do it and I’m planning to skip Christmas this year as well. No dinners, no gifts – just sneaking away to be alone on Christmas Day. I’m not going to stress myself out for the next six weeks looking for the perfect gifts or planning the ultimate feast – instead I’m going to focus on what I want. Peace and tranquility and to be away from it all.
I was too ashamed to say that out loud before because I thought people would judge me, but to quote Rhett Butler, “Frankly, my dear, I just don’t give a damn!”.