The holidays are a time that are traditionally quite difficult for many people, especially those suffering from anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress, depression, and well, life itself.
It can feel like a tremendous amount of pressure to be "jolly" when that is the farthest thing from how you feel on the inside. There is dread of the holidays approaching, then when they do arrive, the guilt, shame, loneliness, and self-loathing sets in strong.
Know that you aren't alone in feeling that way. Life experiences have a unique way of stripping the love and light out of the things we should be able to enjoy.
I ask that instead of turning on yourselves this Christmas evening, you find one thing that you can be grateful for....maybe it's as simple as few quiet moments to sit and read this, but say out loud to yourself "I feel grateful for....."
You see fear operates differently in the brain than gratefulness, so if we are fearful we cannot be grateful at the same exact time. The brain chemicals simply just don't work that way. It's not how they are designed to operate.
I can hear some of you saying, but I'm not afraid....I'm just depressed. I'm just not jolly. I'm just....well, I don't know how I feel. I'm just not like everyone else."
I hear you, but remember that many times our dread comes from the fear of not being like everyone else; the fear that we will be triggered in some way; the fear that someone might say the wrong thing; the fear that we may not act in a way that is acceptable to others. You see anxiety and PTSD operate from our fear response, not from a place of love, acceptance, and gratefulness. When we are detached from the love we have for ourselves, acceptance of who we truly are, and the gratefulness we have for still being here, the fear sneaks in and tries to take the wheel.
You don't have to understand every ounce of why you feel like you do right now, just take one small step by making one small choice to say "I'm grateful for...." and sit with that statement for a moment; repeat it a few times and see how you feel. Gratefulness changes things. It helps us to come home to ourselves for the holidays.
If you need to express how you feel and there is no one you feel you can talk to, write a letter to yourself. Tell yourself how you are feeling. Follow that with a response letter of support to yourself, as if you were writing to one of your buddies trying to help him/her get through something. What would you tell them? It's time to tell yourself those very things. You're equipped to get through this. There is not a single doubt in my mind that if you've all signed up to serve whether it be law enforcement or the military....you have the courage, the know-how, the skills, the resolve, the resiliency, the might, and the heart to make it through this mission too. No giving up. No giving in. Use your skills, use your strategic minds. You can navigate this. You have support here.