Champagne, the count down, celebrate, resolutions, kissing family and friends at midnight, the ball in Times Square, hope and promise …
I have been thinking a great deal about this annual milestone and reflecting on feelings of sadness and loss. Living with mental illness has a funny way of changing one’s perspective on everyday experiences and expectations. This is especially true for holidays.
For years now New Year’s Eve has been a very difficult milestone for Ben, now 13 years old. He can’t tell you what he had for dinner an hour ago, however, he can replay in this head every time he got angry, swore, sabotage a family outing, hit his brother, or destroyed a favorite book. Ben is also very aware of his challenges and has a good sense of what he is missing – sleepovers, birthday parties, playing soccer, attending his favorite school, and visiting with friends.
Leading up to Christmas we deal with anxiety. The week between Christmas and New Year’s brings on a depressive episode which lasts past the first of the year. Ben expresses a dislike for himself. He tends to sleep a lot during the day and has little energy. There is talk of not deserving to be in the family and wanting to end his life. Today there is no intent behind the words, however, as his parents we worry about his future.
As for me, and being brutally honest, I too struggle with this time of year. All of the excitement and festivities during this holiday season highlight how isolating and limiting our world really is. And the talk of New Year’s resolutions, hum … this is a tough one for me.
Instead of resolutions, I have hopes for the New Year …
- I hope I stay healthy and continue to have the strength to advocate for my kids with passion, grace, and humor
- I hope I continue to have perspective and a sense of gratitude for all that is good in our lives
- I hope Ben can start to appreciate his incredible heart, his intelligent noggin, and his many accomplishments
- I hope Jack accepts his brother for who he is and is at peace with being adopted
- I hope my husband and I don’t lose sight of our relationship and we continue to make time for us
“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” — Author Unknown
Here’s to our books being filled with stories of love, strength, and humor! Here’s to 2017 being a little easier and a lot less isolating! Cheers!