Four Year’s ago, I was sitting at a table in a locked psychiatric unit drawing non-stop, wishing desperately that tomorrow would be just any normal day and not a holiday that had driven me to suicidality. The how’s and why’s of that are a whole post of their own though. That year I would spend Christmas among twenty or thirty other patients, a handful of staff members and a “special” hospital food feast. It was glum and depressing and while the staff went above and beyond to make it as decent as they possibly could, receiving a wrapped weekly planner didn’t do much to brighten my mood. Seriously though, the staff was amazing. They even gave me a small wrapped gift to give my partner that day so I would get to give her something. The point I’m trying to drive home though is how bleak and hopeless things felt at that time in my life and how powerless I felt to confront that.
It has been a long four years filled with growth, progress and set-backs but this Christmas is starkly different. This year, for the first time in 17 years, I am traveling to celebrate Christmas with the older of my two younger sisters. I’m not sure who out of the two of us is more excited. For weeks I’ve been shipping little stocking stuffers to her house because that is a family tradition that she’s kept. We’re arriving in California slightly after 10 PM on Christmas Eve since that was significantly less money than flying out earlier in the week. Tomorrow I’ll wake up and we’ll unpack stockings that I can’t wait to fill tonight and go play DND with my sister’s friends and I’ll get to spend the day with her, rather than an hour away from home, inpatient and suicidal like I did in 2013.
There are a lot of things that I attribute this change to. A shit ton of hard trauma therapy for one. Different meds. Some repairing of family relationships. Some healing wounds. I don’t think any of just one of these things would have made all the difference without the others alongside it. I feel pretty damn grateful for my partner, my supportive friends, my mental health team.
I have a lot to be thankful for this year and as we head into 2018, I’m trying to retain a sense of hope that the challenges I’ll face in the upcoming year will be things familiar enough that I can cope to overcome them. It different enough that I still grow as a person. The state of the world feels pretty bleak and I’m easily overwhelmed if I read too many news stories, but I’m hoping things can still change if we don’t give up. Even if it sometimes feels like I gave up a long time ago. This year I’m celebrating Christmas with my sister in California. That’s pretty hard to top.