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Why Depression Makes It Hard to Celebrate New Year's Eve

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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 741741.

I love the symbolism of New Year’s Eve. I love the thought a new year is a new beginning. I love the idea of throwing away the pain and negativity of years past and looking forward to a fresh start. I love the idealism associated with the holiday. It is supposed to be exciting and hopeful. While December 31 may be just another day on the calendar, it represents something greater. For some, it represents hope. For some, it holds a clean slate.

People often take to the holiday with anticipation of a new year and a new season of life. We reflect on all we hope to experience in the coming year. The expectation is what is to come is greater than what we are leaving behind. Whether this year was filled with goodness, tragedy or a mixture of both, the hope is the new year will be better.

I used to look forward to New Year’s Eve. I used to cling to the idea a new year brings new victories. Year after year, I couldn’t wait to leave the passing year behind in anticipation of a better one. I would get some sort of small satisfaction from closing the metaphorical door to the things I no longer wanted to feel.

But it never actually seems to work that way. Every year brings its own unique beauty, but every year also brings its own tragedies. Every year since I was a teenager, I’ve battled depression. Every year for the past several years, I’ve lost more loved ones. Year after year I’ve fought anxiety, racing thoughts, shortness of breath and heart palpitations. Every year, I’ve had to fight to find my will to live. That is where I get stuck. For what feels like most of my life, I’ve lived in this cycle. My headspace is most commonly occupied by darkness and discontentment. My body aches and my soul cries.

There is a fight inside my soul on this holiday. A part of me still wants to believe in the idealism. I desperately want to throw away the pain of this year and hope for peace in the year to come. Sadly, I struggle with the pattern laid out before me. I struggle to believe a new year will hold anything better than the previous ones. For me, this new year will be the first one without my grandmother. From my beginning to her end, she was my only constant in life. I am going into this new year knowing she will be absent in all of my years to come.

This new year is also the one where I’m told my mother’s time runs out. She isn’t expected to make it to the year’s halfway point. I would love to believe the new year will bring with it a renewal in my mental health. But experience tells me I will continue to struggle with grief and depression. I will continue to have to fight to breathe when something so simple shouldn’t be that hard. I will continue to wake up some days wishing that I hadn’t. And that is where the conflict lies.

Every year puts a new spin on my war with depression. The hardest part of New Year’s Eve for me is wanting so desperately to have hope, but being unable to grip it due to the ghosts of New Year’s Past.

Unsplash image by Jamie Street

Originally published: December 17, 2019
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