Frosty leaves Free PhotoThis post was painful to write.  I’ve mulled it, hashed it, reworked it many times.  I started it over Thanksgiving, trashed it on the advice of a trusted friend, left it for dead.  Then another friend posted something on facebook that triggered it all again.  So here goes…

Most of you know me as a very calm, positive, and productive dude, with a wry sense of humor and a boisterous laugh you can hear three states over.  I like being that guy.  Actually, I love being that guy.  I look forward to it.  But it’s not always that way with me.

So, I’ve never enjoyed the holidays.  Not even as a kid.  My family jokes about it, but it’s not funny.  This time of year makes me feel sad and lonely, even though I’m lucky enough to spend it surrounded by people I love and who I know love me in return.  I don’t know why, never really understood the seasonal affective thing, but I know my mom suffered from it later in life as well, after surviving her first bought of cancer.  Even then, neither of us could put into words what happens.  The wet shoes, numb fingers, naked trees, the world seems to crawl under its covers of damp leaves and wood smoke to die and I just sort of absorb that through my skin.  And sweet baby Jesus, then there is the peppermint-scented carol-cacophonic circle-of-hell that is shopping in December - the avarice, the incessant advertising, and the wants and entitlements people get for …. well, just things, things that frankly no one needs.  Some days I could wad up December, throw it in the bin, and never miss it.

And this has never really been a problem, I’ve managed to muddle through my 40-or-so holiday seasons on this Earth without ruining it for everyone else.  The real problem began when I started to feel this way about the other 11 months of the year as well.  One year was spectacularly stressful – filled with birth, deaths, job changes, and isolation. 

Then it rolled into a second year….

.…and then on into a third….  I could not get my feet under me before hitting the ground again.  So I stopped trying, to put it briefly.

I eventually worked my way out of it, with a lot of help.  Lots.  Of Help.  It was a bumpy road.  It still is, if I’m being honest.  And the thing is … I’m thankful for all of it.  Every letter in the story – even the parts I cut out at my friend’s review.  Every choice made.  Every second of every minute of every hour that lead up to this moment here, with me writing this sentence and you reading it.  Through it I’ve made strong and earnest friends that I now rely on for daily mental health – some that make me laugh until my cheeks hurt, some that are brutally honest, some that kindle ideas, and some that rightly put me in my place. 

I love them and can’t imagine life without them.

Of course I would rather have skipped a lot of it, but there are lessons you can’t learn without that level of strife, lessons that are simple, universal, and vital, but are so banal and obvious that they require that nuclear explosion to draw your attention.  I’m thankful for these lessons too.

Here, let me share them with you, although the effect won’t be the same:

  • Making things better for yourself mandates effort on your part.  If you don’t feel like you have the energy for it, that’s a serious problem.  It’s time to ask for help.  Being strong is a good thing, but there are weights no person is expected to carry alone - needing help isn’t a weakness; not asking for it is.
  • There is always an option.  I honestly believe the core of depression is rooted in a belief that there is no option available to you.  But this is never true.  There are options you haven’t considered.  You may need to scour for it.  And when you find it you may not like it, it might be scary, or the option might not be what you want.  But it’s your option and you have the power to choose it or not.  You cannot always control what happens to you, but you can always control how you react to it.

So in that vein: thank you, for getting me this far along.  You’re awesome and I hope you have a happy and safe holiday season.

Edit – 09.12.2013

I really appreciate all of the personal comments I’ve received on this post; I’m choosing to not display them, simply because it’s a bit overwhelming to do so.  Like I said, you all are amazing.