I spent this Thanksgiving Day alone.
I'm not complaining.
(I'm trying not to, I swear.)
It was my decision.
(More or less...)
It's my "norm."
It's what happens every year, as far as I can recall.
My disorder makes things complicated, & the holidays are already complicated & exhausting enough, so I usually just don't get invited.
or when I do I feel like I'm just an obligation, & the paranoia of not truly being welcome causes me to politely decline the invitation.
Either way, it's my own fault for not having a "home for the holidays."
It's my own fault for being "too much."
I get it. I'm not stupid. I really do get where they're coming from, Those normal-brained, lucky humans.
I understand that I am an exhausting person.
(Why do you think it's so easy to get down on myself?)
But it doesn't make it easy to be alone on Thanksgiving Day, even at age twenty-four, when I've been "on my own" for most of the past six years.
Time doesn't magically make the loneliness go away.
It doesn't mean I forget all the holidays spent with loved ones, & how they're having a holiday like that now while I'm here by myself, fighting for my life, battling this incurable illness that no one truly understands.
It doesn't make it easy to feel so different & unwanted & easy to leave behind, so alone while people all around can express such joy as I drown in such sorrow.
It's not that I choose to be ungrateful, either.
I appreciate what I have. Truly, I do.
I am so thankful for a roof over my head, for a bed to sleep on, for medicine to use as needed, for the internet to express myself & learn new things & connect with others...
I'm grateful for my cat, for my truck, for the opportunities modern society offers, for pleasant memories when I am able to recall them, for Colorado sunsets, & for so much more than words could ever convey...
But none of that changes my depression, or dissociation, or post-traumatic stress episodes, or anxiety, or insomnia, or night terrors, or panic attacks, or auditory hallucinations, or derealization, or anhedonia...
Because depression is not sadness, & all of those symptoms are so much more complicated than society is willing to admit.
Choosing to spend Thanksgiving alone doesn't mean I'm ohkay with how things are, that I enjoy spending a holiday of community all by myself. It means that I don't feel comfortable within any community that I know of.
It means that I would rather be alone & feel alone & know how alone I truly am, than risk another awful encounter with loved ones because of the chaos my illness causes.
More than words could ever express... I miss the days before my illness worsened so severely... back when the holidays were something to look forward to & enjoy without anxiety, worry, or fear... when I could "fake it" & just "act normal" for a day, peacefully joining the family like they always wanted me to...
I miss those days, when I could feel like a part of a family without having to completely hide away...
No, it's not easy.
But it's better this way.
Simpler. Easier for everyone. Less painful all around. Less risky, too.
My illness makes life complicated.
I'm complex, & I make EVERYthing complicated.
The holidays have their complexities already, & family has always been a huge trigger for me.
So I avoid them.
I avoid the holidays.
I avoid my family.
I avoid all of the thoughts & feelings & memories associated with family & the holidays.
If I dare to face them, to open that door & allow them to enter, I fear I would break.
So, for now, I avoid them, & I crawl into the shell of my home, & I create my own holiday however I feel is fit in the moment, typically consisting of luxurious relaxation & shameless simple pleasures & afternoon naps with my cat, PookieBear, named after Garfield's teddy bear (from the comics).
This Thanksgiving Day was tough.
Most days are tough, lately, if I'm being perfectly honest.
Not the kind of tough where you go home & you can take a deep breath, do some relaxing activity, & feel some form of relief or even somewhat better about the long, painful, exhausting day you just endured.
Honestly, those days sound dreamy to me.
Instead, these days are more of the type where just surviving the day without self-harming, without starving myself, without writing a suicide note, & without attempting to overdose on some form of drugs is a huge victory; where actually getting out of bed to feed myself & being able to eat the entire meal without getting nauseous is a wildly successful day; where I am not allowed to complain, no matter how big or how small, because the first negative thought I allow into my active thought process leads me to this hell-ish, never-ending stream of tears resulting in me begging for some god to strike me dead, to somehow end this unbearable pain I can't help but feel incessantly.
These days of mine are more than "tough" can accurately convey.
The holidays certainly do not relieve these feelings.
Quite often, they only add to the darkness I experience within, the invisible darkness that others claim must not exist simply because they cannot see it.
Yet the evidence of the darkness, the wreckage of the tornado, is so undeniable, it only makes me feel more insane when people invalidate my pain just because it doesn't make sense to them.
It doesn't make sense to me, but that doesn't make the pain or its consequential effects any less real or harmful or devastating (unfortunately).
So, I spent this Thanksgiving alone, in my apartment where I live alone with my pet cat.
Despite the personal hardships, mental attacks, emotional pain, & spiritual chaos... Despite all the odds I go up against every single day... & Despite the voices telling me not to even try having a good day..., I was able to create a beautiful memory... for this Thanksgiving Day, I was able to celebrate more personal victories than usual.
Take a peek at this video about my Thanksgiving Day.
In this second video, I share my expressions of gratitude
while watching a gorgeous sunset at the park.
This third video shows my emotional support pet, PookieBear the cat, & our time at the nearby park,
with a brief explanation of one way he helps me.