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Thanksgiving is one week away. I don’t know how it happened, but the holidays are here, and the stress of the holidays is about to go into fifth gear. The goal of anyone with a mental illness should be to keep it in neutral and coast down the hill to the New Year without anxiety, depression, paranoia, psychosis, or any other symptom (all of which can be made worse by stress).

As we move into the most stressful, and for many people depressing, time of the year please take care of yourself. No matter which holidays you celebrate (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, The New Year), remember what the meaning behind these holidays are – gratefulness, hope, joy, peace, love, new beginnings, etc.) .  Try to focus on the bigger picture and not on the little things.

There have been many years when I have bought the most beautiful holiday cards, and I didn’t address or send one of those cards. I had the best intentions, but I failed at completing the task.

There have been many years when I bought all the ingredients to make five to ten holiday cookies to give out to coworkers and friends, and by the next holiday, I ended up throwing all the ingredients away.

There have been many years when I thought I would buy all my friends a holiday gift, but it ended up being too expensive to get them anything that wasn’t going to end up in the trash.

For people with a mental illness, the holidays can seem overwhelming and filled with high hopes, and big failures. These failures can end up making us feel worse about ourselves. All of this coupled with the social events or gatherings with family and friends that are not pleasant for everyone. Not everyone has good family relationships, and for all of us, extra people and social interactions mean added stress.

My holiday wish list for you:

That you will know you are enough with or without gifts.

That you will remember that taking care of yourself is a loving act.

That you will find joy in the little things like candy canes, mocha, or eggnog.

That you will remind yourself of all the things you have to be thankful for.

That you will know that at least one other person is thankful for you.

That you will feel the magic of the season in someone’s smile, or small act of kindness.

That you will feel like sharing part of what you have with someone less fortunate.

That your heart will grow bigger with compassion, empathy, and love for you fellow human beings.

I wish you the best holiday season you have ever had and I pray that means you are symptom free so you can enjoy some of the best ideas that life has to offer – joy, peace, hope, love.

I will be here on A Journey with You if you need me.