Next weekend is “the most wonderful time of the year” according to a famed Christmas song. Christmas Eve and the first night of Hanukkah fall on the same day this year. The “Holidays”, Winter Break, you know, that time of year, the part that’s supposed to be full of giving and cheer?
Why don’t I feel cheerful? I hate this time of year. It’s awkward when people wish me “Happy Holidays” and I am thinking “what’s happy”, because I don’t know anymore. Last blog I said I want to believe that everything is going to be fine. I do. But there is a difference between fine and happy. Fine means I can function and get through the day; fine can be my baseline.
I have mentioned this prolonged mixed state I am in a few times before, and this mixed state has also involved some rapid cycling. I am stuck in this loop of moods and emotions and feelings. I had a moment at work last week where I thought I was going to bawl my eyes out if anyone talked to me and I felt myself tear up and had to start drinking water and immediately put on my “Feel Better Mix” to calm down. Not long after I was anxious, then I was having these thoughts where I question everything, i.e. “Am I where I am supposed to be in life”, those type of thoughts. After having lunch out of the office, I was fine, and my mood changed to a more elated one, and by the time I got home and saw my husband, I was in a hypomanic, very hard to calm down state. I couldn’t stop talking. I couldn’t eat dinner. I had all these ideas and the thoughts and words could not get out of my head.
Why do I hate this time of year? To be honest, a few years ago, I was in a terrible state of mind at this time, having just left a job where things had turned sour and I felt lost (I hadn’t yet started my current job), I was in one of my most painful depressive states and I felt like I didn’t want to be here. I was not fine. I was not anywhere close to fine. I don’t know how I got through it, but I did (because the best way out is always through as I mentioned in my previous post).
My anxiety seems to take over my memory and makes me remember how I felt then, or tries to make me remember. I will became anxious and wonder why, and then remember the time of year and try to remind myself that I am in a better environment now, things are different now, but nope, anxiety takes on a life of its own. It makes me feel sensations I don’t want to feel and takes away my qualify of life. I want to reign it in. I deserve better than this. I try to think about all the things I have been able to do in spite of/despite having anxiety, how panic attacks pass and how I know how to get through them.
I saw a quote the other week that I really like:
“Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it. Don’t wait for it. Just let it happen.” – Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks
A present doesn’t have to be something material; it can be anything. Maybe your favourite episode of a show you really like is on and you let yourself watch it. Maybe you allow yourself time to read and enjoy a book. Maybe you allow yourself some down time to relax however you want. Something that is just for you.
So what could a daily present be? Today, I gave myself the present of being able to focus. I was able to focus so I can write this blog post. I was also able to do laundry, fold the clothes, hang them up, put them away (which usually doesn’t happen). I was able to cook this afternoon to get ahead for the week (also a rarity). I have given myself a present, because being able to focus gives me hope that my brain and mind are trying to calm down, and are not letting anxiety rule.
Tomorrow, the day after, the day after that? I have no idea what I will give myself. I’ll just let it happen.
About Melanie Luxenberg
My name is Melanie Luxenberg and I am finally ready to live openly with mental illness. I was first diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in 2003, which I still experience. At the same time, I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety (which I also still experience), and then briefly experienced Agoraphobia. I have had depression on and off since I was 13 years old. In July 2010 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II. Shortly after it was realized that I experienced rapid cycling. I can experience multiple cycles in a week. Despite my diagnosis, I completed a university degree and then a college program. I have always held stable employment, regularly taken my medication and regularly attended my doctor’s appointments. There have been times of hopelessness, but I have always found support from my family, husband and 3 dogs. I am a law clerk, social media/content writer and of course, mental health advocate. My Twitter feed is full of mental health advocacy messages. I hope one day to see the end of stigma towards mental illness, because stigma has to stop!