I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating. The season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is my favorite time of year, but also seems to be a time when I struggle with my depression and anxiety, and sometimes suicidal ideation, the most. That’s not to say they don’t rear their ugly heads throughout the rest of the year, and that they magically disappear the second week of January each new year, but they seem to be the most difficult to deal with at the end / beginning of each year. I’ve noticed this pattern for about the past 6 plus years… about the time I entered my forties… my fifth decade of life…
Maybe there’s a correlation. Even though I’ve been less fearful, more relaxed and forward-thinking in my forties than in my twenties or thirties, still, my body seems determined to remind me that I am growing older, not getting younger. Perhaps growing older also has more negative affects on our mental health than we’d like to think…
While there’s life, there’s hope
Even with all of the emotional angst that hits me this time of year, I try to remind myself daily that while there’s life, there’s hope. My mother said those words to me many, many moons ago, probably referring to something else, but they have stuck with me these many years, and have become a sort of mantra.
Remember that people, no matter how well-intentioned they are, will let you down. It’s part of the frailty of being human. We are all just a bit selfish, and sometimes – more so that we may wish – our selfishness causes us to be unfeeling toward others who mean the most to us. The best thing to do in this case is remember that you are also guilty of this from time to time, and strive each day to do better, both for yourself and for those you love. Be the best friend, parent, spouse, partner, sibling you can be. You can ALWAYS do better. Relationships take WORK. Everything worth having takes work. And have HOPE that others will also strive to do better.
Whenever I consider the event(s) that led to my mental health issues, it leads me to thinking about the event(s) that resulted in the mental health issues of friends and colleagues. And then I feel a bit of shame for my angst, because some of them endured much worse and/or longer-lasting trauma than I. I mentioned this once several years ago to a colleague. Her response is another that resounded with me: It’s not a competition. Each person’s story and mental health struggle is valid.
Candles in the darkness
The point is, no matter how bad things get inside my head, my brain, I’m still alive, and while I continue to fight the depression and anxiety and suicidal thoughts, I can have HOPE that someday I’ll win the war. Until then, I take my medication like clockwork, try to remember to count my blessings, do something just for me each day, and find at least one thing every day that’s positive.
Some things that have helped me and may help you also:
- Listen to the music that brings you joy.
- Read the book that makes you laugh.
- Dance while no one is watching.
- Call the friend who always loves and encourages you.
- Hug someone who always gives good hugs.
- Take a long nap.
These are all candles in the darkness. They keep me going. One little, tiny candle in the midst of my darkness offers hope that there are more candles nearby, just waiting for life. And they remind me that while there’s life, there’s also hope that things will be better tomorrow.