As work has slowed down going into the holiday season, it has given me a chance to reflect on the past year. Despite being very grateful looking back at 2022, I can’t help to think of people who are struggling this time of year. Maybe it’s your first holiday season without a loved one. Maybe you’re struggling financially and trying to make ends meet to create a joyful environment for your family. Or maybe the past several years of stress, isolation, and everything on a macro and micro level are wearing on your mental health. What I want to tell you is this: “you have had enough power to make it here today and you will have the power to get through your struggles.” I applaud you for being here.
I think the word “power” is a good word for this year. I think it represents the grit that people have had to strap themselves with to get through the year. While the end of the year isn’t a finite barrier between struggle and comfort, I hope it gives you a spark of optimism to get you to a more comfortable state.
The one thing that I learned, from my own experience facing a mental health challenge 3 years ago, is that your words of encouragement might not register the way you want it to in a struggling person’s state of mind. “Why?” you ask. I compare severe worry and anxiety to being locked in a room, a broken record player repeating, and volume being turned up to 11. You feel stuck. You want to get out of the room, but you can’t. No one else knows how you feel and, therefore, their advice can be misinterpreted. You continue to search for the things that will remove the needle from the record player and the key that will unlock that door. For me it was doctors ruling a lot of stuff out from tests and getting on medication short-term to sleep. For you, it may be therapy, getting out of your normal environment, or learning to adapt to those changes. You need something to give you the remove the needle from the record player and run out the door. You’ll find that power, even if it takes some time.
This year brought challenges to a lot of people I care about. Four people who are close to me or my family went through cancer treatment this year. That takes a lot of courage, perseverance, and power to keep going and to come out on the other end of it. Some friends and family dealt with the loss of loved ones over the past year. To learn to adapt to that void in your life takes a lot of power. Friends or friends’ family members were in the hospital with different ailments. That takes power to get through those challenging moments to return to the comfort of your own home. Some friends and family dealt with a combination of these and, somehow, someway, they’ve had the power to stand here today.
I’m sorry that you all have had to fight hard all of this to get to a more stable state. I hope that you can use these lessons to your benefit the next time life might fall into the negative again. You are here and I’m glad you are here.
For me, the year was about powering through. Supporting loved ones that were going through the shitter was top priority for me. Whether it involved driving someone to an appointment, powering through more work than we’ve ever taken on to meet deadlines, or even just giving people space, I hope you know that I care. I am grateful to work with people who take mental health seriously and understand that you work to support your life, you don’t live to work.
To those of you who are just powering through trying to make it to another new year, keep doing what you’re doing to try and give yourself a breather. Don’t feel bad that you haven’t done this or that. The important thing is that you take care of yourself before worrying about extracurriculars. The older I get, the more I realize that life can throw a lot of negative your way. Hold onto the positive stuff when it does come, though, because that’ll help get you through the tumultuous times.
I’m wishing you all the positivity and power in the world this holiday season and beyond. Cherish the good moments you do have with family and friends. I hope you all have a happy and healthy end of the year and continue that into 2023. Be human. Be kind. And take good care of yourselves.