Holiday Blues

It’s Christmas, but it doesn’t really feel like it.

It’s too warm and rainy, for one thing. I could maybe cope with the warm, but the lack of sunlight is definitely getting to me.

I’ve been struggling the past couple of weeks. Maybe it’s the weather – I think I’ve seen the sun once in two weeks. Maybe it’s the fact that my back has spent the past week giving me grief (for the second time in a month). Maybe it’s continued frustration with my family, or the fact that a lot of people I care deeply about are having an especially rough time right now. Maybe it’s just that I’m on the depressed end of a Bipolar cycle. It’s probably a combination of all of the above.

The chronic-ness of my longstanding back issues has been hitting close to home in ways it hasn’t in a while. I am acutely aware of the fact that I am facing a drastic decline in mobility if things don’t change, and am struggling with a lot of emotions surrounding that – I have this horrible fear that if I lose my ability to be a strong physical presence (helping friends move, shielding friends from harassment, things that have apparently become more ingrained in my identity than my gender ever was, because they’re proving harder to let go), I will stop being useful…and maybe, in some way, stop being me. I recognize that this is a problematic, able-ist mindset (even if it is almost entirely self-directed), which adds a whole extra layer of complexity to what’s going on in my head right now. I am not coping at all gracefully. I have been feeling angry and whiny and ungrateful and overwhelmed and selfish. There is a very large part of me that has spent a large portion of the last week wanting to throw a major temper tantrum (complete with screaming and throwing myself on the floor, which I would pound with fists and feet).

Still, despite my tendency to be particularly cynical and growly these days, there is a part of me that is evidently an eternal optimist, and that part insists that I find something less sad to end this post with. So here are three things I want everyone I know who is struggling to make it through this holiday season to hear:

  1. Regardless of whether you, your coworkers, your family, or strangers on the street can see it right now, I want you to know that I believe you have value. Even if you think that’s not possible, that you’re too broken to be worth anything to anyone, please try to at least entertain the thought for a moment that the simple fact of your humanity, in all of its complexity and confusion and rough edges, makes you beautiful and gives your life value. My life would be less without you in it.
  2. I was reading Terry Pratchett’s Feet of Clay this week, and at the end of the book, one of the characters declares, “Either all days are holy, or none of them are. I haven’t decided yet.” I found this idea immensely comforting. In the end, a holiday is just another day. It doesn’t have to be any more or less than that for you unless you want it to be. No, that doesn’t remove societal pressure, but perhaps it will alleviate some of the pressure in your own mind.
  3. I can’t see the future, so I can’t promise when (or if) things will get better. I do know, though, that holidays can be a special sort of hell, and that it can be much easier to breathe on the far side of them. I came across the sound advice a few days ago that one should never make important decisions during the holidays. Hang on for the clarity on the other side.

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