How to Cope With Mental Illness During the Holidays

Amy Pilkington

New Years HealthJanuary and February have always been the hardest time of the year for me to manage my symptoms, which can range from severe depression tomania. One year was particularly difficult, however. My father passed away on New Year’s Day in 2008.

He was very ill throughout the holidays and we all knew his death was imminent. As the eldest child, I took on all the funeral planning and felt I had to be the rock for everyone else. I completely ignored my own needs because I thought I had to be strong for the rest of the family.

It all blew up in my face. By mid-January, I was having bouts of psychosis that included hearing my father’s voice urging me to commit suicide. I hadn’t allowed myself to grieve for him, and I was also overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the holidays. While trying to be there for others, I had inadvertently set myself up for disaster.

Since then, the holiday season tends to make me anxious. I’m working on putting myself first, but I have a habit of doing the exact opposite—and it’s a habit that’s proving hard to break.

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Will Savage

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