anecdotes and reflections on life with depression and anxiety
It's mid-October as I walk through the sliding doors at Michael's, a chain craft store near the mall. I'm surprised to see everything I'm looking for -- the fall-themed decorations, adorned with pumpkins and turkeys, and all the rest -- right in front of me. I find Thanksgiving place cards almost immediately and peruse the rest of the seasonal items before walking the aisles, just browsing. (I'm out! On my own! Doing happy seasonal things! This is a victory all by itself.)
Already the Halloween things are relegated to a lonely corner of the store, marked at a steep discount. A huge table sits in the center of the widest aisle, covered with nothing but white, cottony, glittery "snow," as an employee rolls up with a cart overflowing with ornaments, greenery, wreath-making supplies and more.
The holiday season is officially upon us.
I can tell that the holidays are coming, though, without even leaving my house. I can tell because I'm in a recipe-hunting frenzy, I've stocked up on baking supplies, and my annual, epic "THANKSGIVING GAME PLAN" Google doc is up and running.
Because, you see, in addition to being a person with mental illness and an introvert and a reader and a cat person, I am also a person who likes to entertain. And over the past few years, as luck would have it, the Thanksgiving dinner hostess baton has been handed off to me.
As I write this it sounds crazy. I think back to several years ago, when I wasn't as well as I am now, and wonder how the hell I pulled off a turkey and stuffing and all the fixings of a Thanksgiving meal. How does a person with depression manage to get up the energy and the motivation to host a big holiday meal for 12 people? How does a person with anxiety (compounded by very related streaks of perfectionism and people-pleasing) do it without losing her mind over whether the food will be done on time, and taste okay, and get on the table hot, and whether the table is set nicely enough, and if the lighting is okay, and on and on and on?
So I poke back through my past few years' worth of recipe links and lists, and prep lists, and decoration ideas, and I remember: this is something I love to do. My mental illnesses have made me learn to do it in my own way, and that's a good thing. That's what we call coping. That's a joyful and a healthy thing, to cling to something I love and manage to keep on clinging, to silence the depression making me wonder whether I can and to keep the anxiety from telling me I won't.
So I make my lists and I repeat my plans to my husband and my mother and my in-laws and anyone else who might listen. I get excited about signature cocktails and a new apple pie recipe. I shop for cute napkins and count the water glasses to make sure I have enough. Because I am many things, and while the mental illness I write about here is one of them, it is not the only one, and it's not the most important, either.
Later this week I'll post some reflections on what kind of planning, ways of thinking and practical steps allow me to do some of the entertaining I love to do this time of year. Check back soon -- or follow me on social media @gowhereithurts for updates. You can also add your email address to the email subscription box on the right hand side of this page. Cheers!
oh, hey --
My name is Lauren. I'm thirty-something, and I like to take naps and read good books and watch bad television. I love my husband and I love my cat, and I live with depression and anxiety, which is mostly what you'll read about here.