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29 Gifts People With Mental Illness Really Want for the Holidays

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While receiving material goodies during the holidays is fun, we’re more interested in gifts that don’t cost a thing. That’s why we asked people who live with mental illness in our Mighty community what they really want for the holidays this year.

Their answers are powerful.

From acceptance, to more affordable care, to gifts that can’t be given at all, their answers prove there’s a lot more we can do for each other this holidays season than put presents under the tree.

Here’s what these people with mental illness really want this year: 

1. I want to know what it’s like to live without fear and anxiety — a life with no limits!” — Jacklyn Ashley

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2. “I want to live. To actually know what it’s like to have vitality instead of this depressive oppression all day every day.” — Julianne Leow

3. “I want to feel free to be me. To set aside my diagnosis and have fun with my family.” — Sheri Little

4. “To be a stronger advocate for change regarding the stigmas around mental illness.” — Erica Mcclellan

5. “To be understood.” — Juleigh Gray

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6. “I want to enjoy each moment with my family without panic attacks and depression anywhere in sight.” — Michelle Robinson

7. “A quiet day at home.” — Robin Michelle

8. “A day without anxiety and not one panic attack.” — Kathleen Ryan

9. “To be me — not my diagnoses. And for people to understand what that means.” — Kate Lynch O’Neil

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10. “Last year I wanted ‘happiness.’ I’ve learned this year it’s not happiness I need — it’s peace. Peace with the person I am, with where I am in life and with my journey with mental illness.” — Paige Johnson

11. “As a person dealing with mental illness, I’d like to let myself feel. It’s how I manage these emotions and thoughts that will shape me. Not the very fact that they exist.” — Allyssa Enriquez

12. “I have been homeless for over a year with my son. I hope to have a place to live.” — Debera Gatlini Townlini 

13. “I just want to spend time with people I love and try to not think about what’s going on inside my head.” — Sarah Browe 

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14. “Joy. Real joy.” — Debbie Gipe

15. “I want to be able to receive mental health services without being anxious about the debt I’m about to be in.” — Fiona Shannon Bather

16. “My medications are working for depression. It’s the first time I’ve felt free of it in many years. I would like to receive the gift of effective treatments for all people struggling with mental illness.” — Kim Clary

17. “To stop wondering whether I’m in control or whether my depression is. Where do I end and where does it begin?” — Shawn Henfling

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18. “For people to understand mental illness is not a choice.”  — Sara Gebert 

19. “What I want, more than anything, is to end the ridiculous stigma that surrounds mental illness. We all want to be well. This is not a choice.” — Jandj Houston

20. “I want what everyone wants — unconditional love and acceptance.” — Natali Wind

21. “All I want for Christmas is to be in control of my emotions.” — Tina Marie Barker

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22. “I want mental illness to be talked about and destigmatized. I don’t want to feel like I have to fake a smile and hide my feelings in shame and embarrassment.” — Emory Carter Cyrus

23. “I want to feel safe.” — Holly Suzanne

24. “I want people to know this is real. It’s brain chemistry. It’s chemicals. It’s science. It’s not lack of will power. It’s not a choice. It’s not laziness. It’s real. It’s brain chemistry. And it’s OK.” — Jesus Arroyo

25. “I just want to smile for the holidays — and for it be a real smile. Too often I hide behind a phony smile.” — Harley Erica Quinn

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26. “Just for one day, I want a friend to do all my OCD rituals with. Then we can curl up on the couch with my weighted blanket and marathon something on Netflix with no judgment. We’ll never leave the couch except to use the bathroom or get refills of Sprite and Ruffles Original — Ninny Mundt Ryan

27. “A day of internal silence.” — Mandy Seekins Wood

28. “I just want to feel worthy.” — Ashley Centers

29. “I want to believe in myself again.” — Karen Trudel

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*Answers have been edited and shortened.

Related: 9 Priceless Gifts to Give Someone With a Mental Illness

Originally published: December 15, 2015
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