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You Aren't a 'Bad Person' If You Want to Skip Thanksgiving This Year

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Thanksgiving can be extremely difficult, especially if you have a strained relationship with your family or struggle with an eating disorder. You may feel pressure to attend Thanksgiving, especially when others don’t understand your health conditions, but no matter what people say, you’re not a bad person for wanting to skip Thanksgiving this year.

You may feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of people you’ll speak to and wish you could be anywhere else. You might know that if you’re expected to remain in a crowded room for too long, the noise, the lighting and the bustling energy will send your body and mind into overdrive. You may just want to prevent your heart from racing and your mind from feeling the need to escape your surroundings for a while. But if you struggle with anxiety or overstimulation, you have every right not to want to attend Thanksgiving with a crowd of family and friends.

You may have a complicated relationship with your family and wish you could escape your triggers. You may know that your family invalidates your experiences or discusses topics that provoke your symptoms, or you may be in the presence of family members who have played a role in your trauma. You may just want to be around people who make you feel safe this Thanksgiving or spend some quiet time alone. But if your family dynamic is complicated or triggering, it’s OK if you don’t want to sit around the Thanksgiving table with all of your relatives.

You may struggle with your relationship with food or body image and worry that you won’t be able to safely eat your Thanksgiving dinner. You may be in the throes of eating disorder behaviors and not want to confront your deepest fears while pretending that you’re enjoying your meal. You might worry about how the food you eat on Thanksgiving will affect you later and ruminate over your fears for days in advance. You may just want to engage with food in a way that works for you — away from those who don’t know your struggle. But if a full Thanksgiving feast feels like too much to handle, especially with others around, you aren’t wrong for wanting to skip Thanksgiving.

No matter how your health condition affects your relationship with Thanksgiving, you’re not a bad person for wanting to skip Thanksgiving this year. If you can, celebrate Thanksgiving in a way that resonates with you and preserves your health — Thanksgiving can be a great time to connect with others, but your health comes first.

Getty image by Ivan Nadaski

Originally published: November 23, 2021
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