What My Depression Needs This Holiday Season
Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.
As I sat down for Thanksgiving dinner, I had only one thought which ran through my head on replay throughout the whole night. I’m sure everyone could tell — though physically there — I was mentally absent from the table for the majority of the night. They passed bowls over and around me and celebrated touchdowns while I just sat passively, my mind still repeating that one thought over and over and over…
“It’s Thanksgiving. You lived to Thanksgiving. Oh, my… shit! I lived to Thanksgiving!”
Seems like an odd thought, right? Definitely not something I would bring up as the family announces their own thanksgivings for the year.
I’m not going to lie: I’m proud of myself for surviving to the holiday homestretch of 2017. This year encompassed too much more down than it did up. Just in this past month alone, I attempted suicide twice, received my first inpatient mental health treatment, and have just been struggling. I feel bad, going on a spiral so close to the time when we are supposed to be happy and joyous, but I just can’t.
After I was hospitalized, my parents had asked me why I made the decisions I had regarding attempting to take my own life. As a private person, it took a lot from me. I wrote my mom the following note about me, but more importantly, about the struggle of the holiday season:
I love you. Thank you for offering to be by my side in the hospital every day. Thank you for not being hurt when I declined that offer, preferring to have time to work on myself. Thank you for not being mad when the social worker told you about the attempts I had taken on my life. Thank you, Mum. Thank you most of all for asking why — for caring — for asking what I needed going forward.
I know I struggled to find my voice back when you asked this, but now I’ve found it, I really want to let the family in on some things I will need this holiday season:
1. I will need to be loved.
Sometimes, it’s easy to assume that because I’m sad, I don’t want to be hugged. I do. I want to be hugged so tight and told “I love you” so many times that I really start to believe in the sensation it builds. I need to believe you are there — that you love me.
2. I will need not to be understood or fixed.
I have depression. I don’t think that is a secret anymore. I am sick, just like someone with any other chronic illness. You cannot fix me. I’m going to repeat that again: you cannot fix me. I know it breaks your heart to see me struggle, but I need you to understand I am doing the best I can with what I have. I can’t “just forget about it” because it’s the holidays — if anything, it gets worse around the holidays. I don’t need you to understand my struggles this year; I just need to feel validated in them.
3. I may need extra support or some extra space, and I need you to know that’s OK.
The holidays are hard. I live 365 days with an illness that pummels me around, telling me everyone would be better off without my existence; then, in the last 40 days of that, I’m expected not to feel, or at least express that I feel, any of that hurt. The reality is: the holidays are tough. There is not one single piece of me that has an honest desire to deal with the jolliness of the season; and, yes, sometimes that leads to making similar decisions to the ones I made about a month ago. Just because it’s the holidays, it doesn’t mean my illnesses go away — though I wish it were the way it worked — so my illness will continue on. I will have good days and bad days. I may make poor decisions, or decisions that will save me from making ones that would be worse. I need you to know I’m doing these things because this is hard, and I need the support to get through. These cries for support mean I’m trying. I’m trying to stay alive.
I know it’s hard to have to watch your daughter struggle day-in and day-out. Thank you for being there anyhow. Thank you for supporting a fight you know little about. Thank you, Mum. I love you and I am fighting to get through the holidays and beyond. I am fighting. I will never stop fighting.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.
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