Mental Illness Takes a Holiday


The snow is falling, the tree is trimmed and you’ve succeeded in finishing all of your holiday shopping. You go to and fro running your errands the month of December humming along with the tunes blaring throughout the stores. You even managed to pick up an adorable advent calendar. You know the kind, the ones with the little chocolates hiding behind each of those cardboard windows. You chit chat the joys of the season with family and friends. Coworkers enjoy your glee and whimsy this time of year. Your secret Santa even loved her gift. Sure you went a bit above the $20 limit, but no one needs to know because for you this is the time of year for family, friends and giving a little extra, a bit more. Nestled with comfort you sit deeply pleased; for all that you wished to accomplish you’ve managed to do so with ease. Secretly smirking in your house so great, you’re a success; friendly, loved, cozy and warm.

Despite being pleased to see you so joyful; I’m curious how you manage to do so, I assure you I am not spiteful. I simply can’t be the way you appear, for me the holiday season is the most difficult time of year. I sit in fear of all the tasks at hand, for me I see another failure on demand. I desperately wish to be just like you, with your comfort and ease, but I simply do not know what to do. Sitting in silence my mind closing in I wish for St. Nick to just do me in.

Feeling overwhelmed and alone again, I feel the holiday’s consuming me, closing in. My mind is a mess, my emotions are null, I wish to feel for you, but feel nothing at all. I want to be joyous and happy and gay but I cannot all I feel is chaos and dismay. Sitting in my apartment so dim and dark, I hear the phone ring and answer on a lark. It’s you, a family member or friend and you’re wishing me joy and merriment times ten. I listen long and hard, but try as I may, I feel annoying and my guard rising up protecting me with great power. Creeping and quiet sitting alone I can hear and see everyone else not on their own. I struggle and fight but cannot get peace, try as I might I admit my defeat.

Calling again, I know it is you; you’re trying to help me see I should not be blue. For you this is the giving time of year for me all it means is crowds, loud chaos and fear. I know you can’t see what it is that I mean but I wish you could try and attempt to see me. You mean us no harm this truly, I know, and yet here I sit considering what it would be like to freeze to death in the snow. An accident perhaps, everyone knows I’ve had many, I’m a klutz, uncoordinated useless, not funny; but what you don’t notice is I have not the ability to be even the slightest bit giddy. I bother and frustrate you my dear friend, but what you can’t see is my mental illness does not take a break like your kids. Two weeks off of school, perhaps a snow day or two, but for me I’m trapped all year round, drowning, collapsing and crazy. This I know. I wish I could become a happy go lucky freak show for this month of giving but I’m stuck, trapped, and no longer swimming.

I wish I could say all is merry and bright, but for me I’ve noting left not even spite. I wish you and yours well but simply cannot see why it is that you’re so filled with happiness and glee. Where did it come from I get stuck in my head, attempting to figure you people out while I’m stuck in this dread. Why is it me who cannot see why this season brings happiness and glee?  So many can feel it bright and merry for me my dear friend it’s the opposite, quite contrary.

Mental illness does not take a Holiday.


Erika is a freelance photographer from Chicago, IL. She has worked as an entertainment & nightlife writer, as well as a model. Her & her husband now live in Indiana with their ferrets. They are very passionate about animal rescue & rehabilitation. She lives with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) PTSD, Depression & Anxiety. Some of her parts struggle with their own individual mental health problems; an ED & OCD to name two. It took many years but she found her voice and now is actively speaking out against the stigma surrounding mental illness and the lack of assistance for those struggling to reach out. In addition, she also lives with some limiting physical health conditions which unfortunately have made working impossible. For now, she is focused on her writing, speaking engagements, painting and her small family.

You can follow Erika on Twitter.

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