‘Tis the Season to Be Merry and Bright: An Oversight?

Turning the spotlight away from the dull shadows of Winter

You know it took me two full years before I finally (and secretly) watched the movie “The Dark Knight?”

During those two years EVERYONE -for lack of a better phrase- couldn’t shut the f&%$ up about the damn movie.

It wasn’t until the weight of expectation passed that I actually was able to allow myself to enjoy the movie and appreciate it. Holidays are similar for me.

Did you know that the more you tell people they should be happy because “it’s the holiday season” the more they want to do the opposite? I liken it to the terrible handling of depression in the form of, “how could you be depressed, there’s so much to be happy about!”

Oh, well since you put it that way *shuts down blog about mental health* I’M CURED. I would love for the magic of snow and hot cocoa to absolve me of my mental health condition.

There’s great discovery and maturity that can unveil itself when you allow people to feel their own emotions. I hate to burst your snow globe of happiness, but for a large group of people the holidays just…kinda suck? Maybe they feel “meh?” Sometimes they become triggers themselves and so people just would *rather not.*

The sneaky expectation that we should all be happy during the season seems to blow in with the cooler temperatures. It’s not that other peoples’ happiness makes me miserable, it’s more the guilt that I’m not happy myself.

For those with mental illness there is an adjacent passenger I call “sadness guilt.” Most of us with depression in particular feel guilty about being a weight/charcoal cloud, decreasing the want to mingle with friends and go out in public. You’re painfully aware that you might bring the mood down with your neutral attitude, so you avoid it for the sake of other people. You don’t wanna be the emotional equivalent of that ONE GUY who claps off beat in an audience of togetherness.

I call this season my hibernation season. Thanksgiving is another day that I get to eat a lot of food with a group of friends or family members. Christmas is a holiday I just stay away from altogether. I see people delicately hang Christmas decorations and my head tilts to one side in curiosity. I feel a tug toward the Christmas spirit; this magical feeling of awe and wonder that hugs you like that weighted blanket you got on Black Friday.

But to be honest, Christmas sucks. There is so much anticipation from the people around me. I watch them click up the roller coaster of the holiday season and their faces grow more and more excited. I’m on the swings, spinning comfortably without any thrilling twists and turns along the way. My level of excitement is pretty much nonexistent for my own person reasons, and I’ve come to like that. I enjoy going to see a movie on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day. I like casually buying whatever food for dinner and hanging out inside by myself or just having a drink with other orphaned friends who float far from home and family.

My acceptance leaves plenty of room to be supportive and excited by other peoples’ excitement for the holidays. I see the satisfaction and warmth when a coworker hangs decorations. I radiate that because of their feelings, not the idea the tinsel and trees represent. And I appreciate that fact much more.

Just because I didn’t watch “The Dark Knight” with you when it came out doesn’t mean I don’t know how to relax and enjoy movies. Just because I tell people I don’t celebrate Christmas and shrug casually, doesn’t mean I’m not gonna go see some twinkle lights with you or help you set up decorations.

There’s comfort to be found under the dark, long nights of Winter. For some people the string lights provide warmth, but maybe for others it’s like laying on the grass in the earliest morning hours and looking at the sky: a feeling of distance while your breath rises up but never reaches those tiny twinkles of expected joy.

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