The other day, I sat on my comfortable couch eating a cupcake and reading a research article on the prevalence rate of Hispanic drug users when it hit me: Since I do my best to keep up with the latest research on addiction/depression/anxiety, it can often seem to me that the whole world is composed of those pathologies. It’s rare that I read anything other than mental health topics and so I have to sometimes step back and remind myself that not everyone is afflicted with addiction/depression/anxiety.
Still, especially around the holidays, I have a hard time forgetting those who are in fact struggling with these disorders. I consider myself richly blessed and I am grateful for all of the love I have in my life. Yet, my heart goes out to those who suffer. For them, life isn’t a simple matter of sitting down on a comfortable couch and eating a cupcake now and then. Life is a struggle for each breath stolen from their insidious diseases. I know because there was a time in my life when I didn’t feel much like leaving my bed to celebrate anything. I understand how hard it can be to socialize when just the thought of engaging seemingly “normal” people who don’t “get it” can trigger a panic attack. I empathize with those who can’t remember the last time they had a decent night’s rest; not because of my training or because of the all the treatment manuals I read, but because I went through months and years of trying to avoid the oncoming night time.
In spite of my past struggles, I also know that those people who don’t understand how addiction/depression/anxiety work can become frustrated by those of us who may not be as capable of celebrating holidays or birthdays as they are. I get that the lack of understanding leads to anger and confusion and I believe that this anger and confusion leads to hatred. But, I ask those who don’t understand to read something that can help come to a place of empathy for those who struggle. As long as we all walk in our own proverbial shoes and don’t try anyone else’s on for size, we will continue to extend the power that addiction/depression/anxiety have over our humanity. While many do suffer, I don’t believe that it’s the only course for a life. I think that humanity is supposed to live free from suffering, but things have gotten way out of balance.
So, the next time you sit down to eat a cupcake, I hope you see it as a blessing and a privilege. So many of our loved ones are struggling and the holidays can make it a lot worse. If you know someone who is struggling with addiction/depression/anxiety, try to understand that their condition is the result of emotional, physical, and spiritual diseases. Also, try to see that their condition doesn’t make them unworthy of love. They are. There was never a time when I wasn’t loved, but I didn’t always see it and those around me didn’t know that I didn’t see it.
I’m going to sit down and eat another cupcake now and as I do, I send love and light to all those who can’t right now. I promise them: There will be a day when you do.