About a month ago my psychologist asked me if I had anything to look forward to this year, and my only answer was Christmas. As soon as I said it, I realised that I was lying. December is such a full-on time of year. There are so many presents to buy, meals to prepare, parties to attend, family to see and work deadlines to achieve before finishing up for the year.
It’s a hard holiday. I face a huge family dinner table where I am the only one without a partner (unless you count my uncle, who still doesn’t chew with his mouth closed), and – on a more serious note – I face the difficult reality of trying to make the most of the holiday season while feeling crippled by my own mental illness.
Close proximity to extended family can make anyone a little crazy, but for me, the social aspect of the Christmas season can become almost impossible. And as an extra kick in the balls, my emotional incompetence isn’t limited to negative feelings of anxiousness and depression. Being happy is almost exactly as bad as being sad, because when I experience any emotional “high”, a parallel “low” always follows. I live in constant fear that enjoying anything too much might kill me once it’s over.
My depression doesn’t go on a holiday. It follows me to my work Christmas party, and watches my friends exchange dumb Secret Santa gifts. It makes this season unpredictable and difficult for a lot of people. So I think RUOK Day needs a Christmas special. We shouldn't delegate the question to September every year. We should talk about mental illness openly, honestly and often.