I belong to several Facebook groups relating to mental health issues, addiction (AA, Alanon, ACA), Codependency, Complex PTSD, and the like. I’ve been pretty active in these groups for about the last week because I seem to be struggling more than normal with the things I battle (depression, codependency, complex ptsd) I think those are all my big players, and of course each one comes with a million different symptoms that make living a regular functional life a bit more complicated. Members of these groups come together to seek advice from other members on how they deal with certain situations and/or emotions. Members come together in these groups for understanding because so many times we have no one to go to who can understand or relate to what we are experiencing. Members are heard in groups, they are given a voice, what they say matters, they find comfort in knowing they aren’t alone in what they are going through. They find comfort in the encouragement they are given, in the value they are given, in the kind words offered to them. Since we all have same or similar backgrounds, mental health issues, and meds in these groups it doesn’t take long to relate to just about everyone in these groups. The kindness, compassion, genuine concern, and empathy found in these groups is absolutely amazing. We are all strangers, who basically have one thing in common..somewhere along the way in this life we’ve all been broken in one way or another and we are trying to figure out how to put the pieces back together on a stronger healthier foundation. This is what brings us together, this is what connects us all in these groups; being broken and learning to rebuild ourselves on tiny piece at a time.
As I mentioned, I’ve been more active than normal in these groups over the last week or so. Whether I am posting something myself or just commenting on someone else’s post, I seem to be participating in discussions all of the time. In the last several hours I noticed a common theme throughout all of the groups (approximately 5 different groups total). So many people have mentioned how they have been having a really tough time in the last week. Their symptoms are less manageable. They are more depressed than usual. Anxiety is through the roof with some of them (so much so that they are throwing up and their bodies are sore for several days after a panic attack). It’s like an ER room on the night of a full moon. Everyone is telling about how they feel so much worse than normal and seeking advice. When people respond to give advice, the response 9 times out of 10 start with “I can relate” or “I am having the same struggle” or “Me too! Sorry I can’t help but if you figure out something that works let me know”.
And then it hit me…
We are in the month of December and have been for about the last week. Coincidence? I think not. This is exactly what I was talking about in my Tis the Season post. Many of us are out there just trying to get through the day, the week, the holiday without completely breaking down. There are many days when we fight just to function on the most basic level.
Weekends are my bad days. I don’t have to work; so there is nothing that I NEED to do, so I do nothing. At first I tell myself that it’s the weekend, I can take a day to just relax. Whatever needs to be done around the house can be done on Saturday. Then Saturday roles around, I drink my coffee mess around on the computer “if I even bother to turn it on”, turn on my TV star up Netflix, and before I know it it’s mid-late afternoon. No sense in getting ready to do anything now. The day is pretty much done. Might as well mindlessly watch more stuff on Netflix. Saturday night, I’m hungry but I don’t wanna make anything. Odds are pretty good I haven’t eaten anything since I got home from work Friday morning. I know I should eat something, but the amount of effort that would take is just unfathomable at this point. I think I have a sleeve of crackers I can grab quick to eat, other than getting up it’s relatively effortless. While I’m up I might as well go to the bathroom, I don’t really have to go, but I will sooner or later and that will result in having to get up again, best to just try since I’m already up getting my dinner (sleeve of crackers). Here we are Sunday morning. I’ve stayed up all night Saturday night so I can sleep all day Sunday and be ready for work Sunday night. Going to the bathroom has become an exhausting task that I wish I didn’t have to deal with. Eating, HA! There will be time for that later, when I have no choice but to get up for work, assuming I allow myself enough time to eat.Once I’m up getting ready for work, it’s like the function switch flipped on. It’s time to put up my “I’ve got my shit together” front and get through the week and start this cycle all over again.
Sadly, this is reality for many of us. Some of us can’t even muster up enough to bother with putting on a front. This isn’t our holiday season reality, this is our every season reality. The holiday season reality is like our every season reality on steroids.
There are people who can’t understand what this kind of reality feels like. How powerless we feel under it. And there is no way that you could imagine what it is like unless you’ve experienced it for yourself. The closest thing I can relate it to is losing a loved one. Someone you were close with..a parent, grandparent, spouse, child…That deep feeling of sorrow, the excruciating numbness that has taken root deep in your soul. The dreadful feeling of knowing you will never see that loved one again, at least not in this life. And that overwhelming powerless feeling because there is absolutely nothing you can do to change this. If you can relate to what I’ve just described then you have an idea of what people who suffer with clinical depression, and a multitude of other disorders, go through on a very regular basis. Granted we don’t lose a loved one on a regular basis, but if you can remove the loss of a loved one from what I’ve described and focus only on the emotions that are attached to it, then you can begin to understand the reality many of us live with.
When I shared my Tis the Season post n my social media sites last week, I asked a favor of my friends and family. I asked for them to share it on their social media sites so that the message could reach as many people as possible. So that people who don’t battle mental health disorders can gain an awareness of those who do, and how hard the holiday season is for many of. The simple act of eye contact and a smile could make someone’s day. To some this may seem like nothing but to many this tiny little act of kindness means they’ve been seen. They’ve been acknowledged. They matter enough to be noticed by a stranger. Yes, this is the reality for many, and no I am not exaggerating.
I have bared my soul to all of you. I have let you peak behind the curtain of a very personal part of my life. I didn’t do this as a means to ask for help, pity or attention (in fact I ask that no one give me any of those things). I let you see this very personal part of my life in hopes that maybe it would help you to relate, to empathize with other people, strangers. I wanted to bring personal awareness to all of the people who know me, in hopes that having a personal connection to mental illness might urge you to not just read this post but to pass it on.
I will ask again..will my friends, family, readers do me the favor of sharing this with your friends and family. The link to my original Tis the Season post is in this post 3 times so you just have to share this post and others can navigate their way to the original post via this one.
The message I am trying to spread is a valuable one. It brings an awareness to the people fortunate enough to not battle mental illness and in turn gives them the opportunity to show kindness to people they may not otherwise have even noticed. It also sends the message to people who do battle mental illness that they are not alone in this extraordinary time of suffering. I cannot express enough the comfort that comes from knowing and feeling that you are not alone.
With Loving-Kindness ♥