Holiday Fears And Gratitudes
by Erin Honor
First and foremost I would like to say Happy Thanksgiving to all of you Americans/those who celebrate. I woke up this morning with a strong desire to write. I miss blogging (though can you miss something that you never did consistently?), but, as I have written about previously, the words just don’t seem to come to me anymore. But today is different.
I think a lot about what I want this blog to be. There is a part of me that wants to treat this as some sort of online journal where I spew out my thoughts and feeling for the whole world to see; and there is a part of me that wants this blog to be something clean, professional, marketable.
I have eluded to some of my struggles with mental illness over the course of my (few) posts on here, but I don’t know if have ever said it outright.
Hey there. I’m Erin. I have an eating disorder
I have fought myself so long on whether I should say that one sentence right there – “I have an eating disorder.” Why? It’s not because I’m ashamed or because I don’t want people to know. It’s because I fear that, if people know that I struggle with an eating disorder, they will not want to listen to what I have to say. But why is that? Does having a mental illness make me any less of a person? Does it make my thoughts and feelings less valid? Does it cancel out any knowledge I have on certain topics?
Does it make me no longer a person but, instead, a diagnosis?
I truly think that the reason that I find myself lacking the motivation to write is because I have been desperately trying to hide a part of myself from the world. It is true that I am not my diagnosis (though it is not uncommon to begin to see your mental illness as your identity) but that does not change the fact that it is a part of me. A lot of who I am today is a result of my lifelong battle with anorexia and EDNOS.
I so desperately want there to be a place where there can be an open and honest conversation about mental illness. I want there to be a place where nothing has to be so precious. I want there to be a place where people are unafraid to talk about the darkest parts of their minds without fearing judgment or the possibility of being scolded for being “triggering” (a post on trigger-warnings and my feelings about them will soon be n the works). I want there to be a place where mental illness is just a piece of a much larger story, not the center point of it.
Now that I let the cat out of the bag about my struggles with anorexia, lets talk about one of the scariest days of the year for those who struggle with this illness – Thanksgiving.
Even if you don’t struggle with an eating disorder (or any mental illness for that matter), the holidays can be an immensely hard time. They are a time where money is tight, stress levels are high, stores are crowded. It can all be very hard to deal with. If you feel this way, know that you are not alone in this. I know that this fact seems like common knowledge, but it is so easy to get swept up in just how “full of holiday cheer” everyone is and then beat yourself up because you are not as “happy as you are supposed to be.”
You are allowed to feel the way that you feel. Even during the holidays.
I don’t think it is a stretch to say that if you have even the slightest bit of understanding of the way that eating disorders work that you know that Thanksgiving is an especially tough day. The holiday is centered around food and food, or the control of it, is the way that you express your illness. Eating disorders exist in an endless amount of forms so it would be silly of me to try and lay out exactly how those who struggle will handle this day. The best that I can do is take my own personal experiences and feelings and lay them out for you to either resonate with or not.
Something that I want to do, and that I encourage you do as well, is create a “Fears and Loves” list. Admittedly, I am stealing this idea from the absolutely incredible podcast “The Mental Illness Happy Hour.” I encourage you all, no matter what your mental state is going into today, to create one of these lists. Sometimes, it takes putting it in writing to actually know how you are feeling.
Please remember that these fears come from a place of… well… fear and that this place is not rational. Fears don’t need to be rational to be valid. If something scares you, it is worth discussing, even if it seems silly to you or others.
My Thanksgiving Fears
- I fear that I will eat too much.
- I fear that I will gain weight.
- I fear that I will let my eating disorder ruin my holiday.
- I fear that I will let my eating disorder ruin my family’s holiday.
- I fear that my I will exhibit disordered behaviors at the dinner table.
- I fear that I will make my family feel uncomfortable.
- I fear that having so many people in my home with cause me to have a panic attack
- I fear that said panic attack will lead to my family thinking I am either rude or crazy.
- I fear that every holiday for the rest of my life will be like this.
My Thanksgiving Loves
- I love listening to my grandpa tell stories of the days long ago while he sits at the table talking with his brother.
- I love being in a room with all of the people that I love most in the world.
- I love that I have such a big and close-knit family. I am very lucky.
- I love that I am about to go for a long run and that I will get to see other runners, happy and excited for the day, out doing their own Thanksgiving miles.
- I love the house smelling like rosemary from all of the Thanksgiving cooking.
- I love the way that apple pie looks when it first comes out of the oven.
- I love that, while I still struggle, that I can sit and joke and laugh with my family while we eat Thanksgiving dinner today. Even last year, this was near impossible.
- I love that I am lucky enough to live in a nice warm house with people that love me.
- I love that I am lucky enough to live on this planet that, every day, I am so in awe of.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
What are some of your fears and loves today?