Can I be blunt for a second? I dread the holidays.
I love spending time with friends and family, buying gifts that I know those people will love, and attending themed gatherings, but the holidays bring an extra level of stress and obligation. Sometimes I wonder if that’s a common feeling that no one wants to talk about or if I primarily feel that way because I have an eating disorder (ED). As we all know, from Halloween to Thanksgiving to the religious holidays many of us celebrate to New Years Day, there are a multitude of social gatherings, and with them often comes a big emphasis on food.
So, as someone who has been in the depths of my ED in recent holidays seasons and as someone who now manages much better around food, I have some tips for supporting a loved one during this stressful time of year!
My mom died of depression. It was always there but it got so much worse over the years until she eventually became a shadow of her former self. She recognized this all too well but she felt powerless to stop it.
I understand what it feels like to be on this side of suicide…as the survivor dealing with a complex grief, dueling emotions and countless “what ifs.” But I don’t understand but it feels like for the person on the other side… the one suffering with mental illness.
I don’t understand what it feels like to have a “total loss of zest for life” or to have a “weird or improper wiring in my brain.” These were my mom’s exact words in a 2013 email she sent to me trying to describe the depression that was tightening its grip on her.
Pictured are Andrea Forsyth (R) and i understand founder, Vonnie Woodrick (L).
At the age of 55, Kate decided to make the tragic decision to end her life. When I initially heard about the circumstances of Kate’s death, I couldn’t believe it; I couldn’t believe how such a poised and successful woman could die by suicide. The answer came quick when I remembered the death of actor Robin Williams, the death of musical genius Avicii, the death of my own dad, and countless others who have lost their battle to mental illness. No one will ever know. No one will ever be able to understand the extent of one’s own mind; no one will ever understand what battle everyone is facing on a daily basis. There is one thing that we can do to help our loved ones that may be suffering. We can work to understand.
It’s hard to believe we’ve celebrated 15 of his birthdays without him; the kids have had more years without him than with him, and our hearts are still broken.
Today, I’m able to recognize what he left behind, and the gifts we've received in light of our loss. Because of him we are less judging, we understand unconditional love, we talk and share, and we have brought understanding to something so misunderstood through i understand. We also have friends whose hearts we’ve touched, but they have touched ours much more. These are all beautiful gifts that often go unrecognized.
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