Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What happens after Christmas?

I wonder if after Christmas everything goes back to normal. I wonder if it has changed us at all. I mean for a lot of us Christmas is hard. We dread big family gathering and memories of people not joining us this Christmas season. I knew someone who was so concerned about how people would be hypocrites at Christmas. You know she had distaste for Christmas because of those only going to church on Christmas and Easter? My friend told me what happens the rest of time. I mean really where does God go? And she also felt that people were only nice at Christmas. My friend also wanted to know what was up with the rest of the year? Well, guess what? Her sister invited her to Christmas and she walked in the door and cried! Not just cried, but cried for a good ten minutes. I think the spirit of Christmas got to her, seeing her brothers and sister, nieces and nephews, and her dying mother. So what happens now?

Are some of us relieved that Christmas is over? Not more putting on a face and looking good. Are we sad because the spirit of Christmas touched us and now all we have is a little tree in our living room that needs to be taken down? I wonder is it different for people that believe it’s Christ’s birth? We are now ready to celebrate His death. We got more out of Christmas service than opening Uncle Buck’s present. Or is it harder because we don’t have the glory all around us, the promise of something new.

For me it has always been a little smoother transition from Christmas to ordinary time. The reason being is my birthday always falls twenty – seven days from the holiday. This year I am going to be thirty years old! I can’t believe it. However, today I got my first birthday card and I have to admit my tree is still up! It motivated me to take it down and to get ready for the third decade of my life. I can honestly say that I am looking forward to thirty. I heard it once said that mental illness gets better as you get older, but I don’t think it has to do with being older. It’s really the maturity that comes with age. I know several people “in the system” who have never matured and are still stuck in dark periods of the soul.

Living with a mental illness is about learning about yourself. It’s about knowing when your body is a little off. Did you know that you can physically feel something wrong with you before you actually experience a symptom mentally? I was taught to listen to my belly because that’s where I store my stress. When my belly feels all tight and like I am going to puke, I start some deep breathing. Others feel tightness in their neck, aching in their back, or tingling in their legs. Also it’s about heading off symptoms before they get worse. I remember being twenty – one going through my second schizophrenic break and now I know I could have stopped it. I had symptoms before, but didn’t tell anyone because I was afraid of going back in the hospital. I remember the first time I was responsible enough to say, “Hey everyone there is something wrong with me!” In 2006 I was feeling really depressed, I was twenty – six., I told my parents I wanted to go to the ER and I told the crisis nurse that I wanted to be admitted into the unit. It felt really good to be in control of my symptom and I didn’t hear any voices or see any eyeballs.

There comes time in everyone’s mental illness where you learn to manage your symptoms and know your body. I know some ready my blog have gotten a mental illness later in life so maybe at thirty you don’t know your symptoms. However, it’s the same principle with time, and the age that comes with time, you will. Christmas is over, but dealing with the real world isn’t. Let’s not be hypocrites and let's go out there and take care of ourselves. I know my New Year’s resolution was to take better care of myself!


  1. I agree with you, 'living with a mental illness is about learning more about you.' Great post, this gives me something to meditate on for the rest of the day. Happy Birthday!

  2. I am glad you could relate, Valash. Thanks for the "Happy Birthday."

  3. "Living with a mental illness is about learning about yourself."

    Even though Valash quoted this, I'm reinforcing what she said. We learn to live with our illness, just like an amputee or a blind person does.

    You might be interested in a post I just put up, Lady A.:

    The Town Square

  4. I definitely relate to storing stress in the belly area, and I agree Amanda, we can often "see" our mental illness symptoms through physical manifestations. Great post! Congrats on the big 30 when it arrives (:

  5. Charlie, Thanks for the reforcement. You are right about learning just like a blind person or a amputee. A mentall illness is simply a disablity. I am glad that you liked my post and I will check out your.

    I am glad Borderline Lil that you identify with my post. I went to a day treamtent faciilty from 2004 to 2006 and that's where I learned that you can "see" your symptoms first. That's interesting you hold your stress in the same area as I do.

    Thanks Charlie and Lil.