It’s that time of year again. Pre-Christmas. What used to be known in America as Thanksgiving.
In our minds, and maybe for some families–and traditionally, my own–Thanksgiving has always meant coming together around a big, fatty meal full of turkey, gravy, and all the fixings. There’s usually a prayer, some “What are you thankful for?” type conversation, and mostly just catching up on the year so far.
That’s a pretty warm and comforting picture, isn’t it? Sure it is.
Unfortunately, the holidays can start wearing on a lot of us, especially when a mental illness gets in the way. No matter how joyous a holiday is in the end, the stress can turn our mental health against us, so we need to make sure we are self-monitoring.
Because we moved to Texas last fall, it was my very first holiday away from home. Instead of cooking my traditional turkey dinner, we picked up Boston Market. Sure, I didn’t fall asleep as soon as lunch as over (since I am used to being awake all night cooking)…but I very much missed my family. I vowed that we would have friends by this year, and I WOULD be making my turkey.
And then I broke my foot. I have been pretty determined this whole time that I was still going to cook. After all, I invited 4.5 people over for dinner (one’s a toddler)! I couldn’t just NOT cook. And it’s Thanksgiving! See Norman Rockwall painting above. I grew up with very much that traditional white middle-class background, so it’s hard to deviate from those expectations sometimes.
But the longer I’ve been in this cast, the harder it’s been. And the other night, my anxiety got the better of me. Or maybe I should say…the worst. No matter what the doctor tells me today, I am just not myself right now, and there’s no way I am going to be able to lug a brining bucket up and down the stairs this week, and then manhandle a turkey on Thursday. It’s just not rational. And so, we’ve ordered a perfectly delicious, mostly premade dinner from my husband’s grocery store.
You know what? My friends are going to come over, drink lots of wine, eat lots of food, play lots of cards, and everything is going to be ok. No one is REALLY going to care that I didn’t spend 4 days making THE PERFECT TURKEY.
Except me and my anxiety.
So I need to manage my expectations. And listen to my husband, and my friend–who thankfully also has anxiety and knows what I’m going through right now.
Speaking of being thankful–that’s really supposed to be the focus of this whole thing, isn’t it? Not the turkey, or the big fancy dinner I’m not cooking. I survived my depression. I’m still surviving. I did not cut off my cast this week, even though I really really wanted to. I have 4.5 friends coming for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, two of whom I did not know at all before we moved to Dallas. My husband has been nothing short of incredible throughout my depression and now my injury. And my illness brought me much closer to my family, even from 14 hours away.
Everything is going to be ok, for me and for you. This has been a horrible November, I know. I haven’t written yet about current events because I can’t even wrap my mind around what is happening. For those of you who are in it–I’m thinking of you. And it makes me very thankful for my life and those who are in it.
And to any of you who are still dreading those stressful, perfect American meals with family, for whatever reason…just remember–there’s always Adele.