Mental Health Ofrenda: Ways to keep moving pa’lante during the holidays

What do the holidays bring up for you? What are you thinking about and experiencing right now? Quizás this is a time of celebración, champurrado, y de felicidad. Quizás this is a time of quebranto, tristeza, y estrés. Quizás it is a combination of mixed feelings. Get some tips on moving forward this holiday season.

Mis queridos familiares y amistades,

What do the holidays bring up for you? What are you thinking about and experiencing right now? Quizás this is a time of celebración, champurrado, y de felicidad. Quizás this is a time of quebranto, tristeza, y estrés. Quizás it is a combination of mixed feelings.

¿Cómo estoy?

In December, I often struggle. Last December, I was depressed, anxious, and struggling with suicidal ideation. I felt so overwhelmed and guilty because it was supposed to be a season of happiness and peace. Pero mi corazón se sentía trastornado. During this time last year, I was preparing to leave a job that I had not been at for very long and was “supposed to love.” I was getting ready to take a couple of months off for my mental health and was going to lean on my partner financially. I felt naked and vulnerable.

This December, I feel okay. I feel more peace and self-compassion. Sometimes I still wonder why the hell I cannot “just be happy.” I blame myself for having depression or anxiety, as if experiencing these is a choice I made long ago. This season, I am reminded to stop being so mean to myself. My higher self is reminding me: “Please stop being so ashamed of yourself – let it go. Eres suficiente. You are enough.”

As I grow older, I am slowly unlearning stories I once wholeheartedly believed about myself. These stories would often come back up around the holidays and extended family. However, the shame associated with being fat, depressed, queer, not feminine enough, or anything else judged as “unworthy” is different now. It is not fully gone. Maybe it never goes away.

But when that part of me – the ashamed part – shows up, I see it differently. As my therapist gently encourages me to do so, I look at that part of me and welcome it. “Hello, ashamed part. How are you doing? What are you trying to tell me?” Now, I know that that part can show up and yet I do not have to believe the stories I once did. I can experience being with myself in a more peaceful and gentle way. Even if I do not love or fully accept myself every moment of every day, I can treat myself and my inner child with gentleness.

Mi ofrenda para ti

This season, I have some thoughts for you and me, mi gente. Maybe they apply to you, maybe they do not. But here is an offering from me to you:

  • Eres suficiente tal como eres. You are enough just as you are.
  • Eres más que tus pensamientos o sentimientos – todos van y vienen. You are more than your thoughts or feelings – they all come and go.
  • No eres aguafiestas si te sientes triste o mal durante esta temporada. You are not a grinch or wet blanket if you feel sad or bad during this season.
  • No eres mala persona si aumentas de peso, disfrutas comida, o no estás a dieta. You are not a bad person if you gain weight, enjoy food, or are not on a diet.
  • No le debes explicación a nadie sobre quién eres. You do not owe anyone an explanation about who you are.
  • Eres parte de algo grandioso y hermoso; eres parte de nuestro universo inmenso. You are part of something magnificent and beautiful; you are part of our immense universe.

Tómate un chocolate Abuelita y disfruta tus tamales. Sea difícil o no, esta temporada tiene fin. Luego será enero y luego febrero. Te lo dije, la vida es más que una temporada. Es más que un fin.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Magaly Arredondo Lopez (she/ella) was born and raised in the beautiful and ever-changing Austin, Texas. Her raíces trace back to Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, where both of her parents are from. Magaly is a queer, brown mujer who loves to write, be outside with naturaleza, read, and day dream about a world with zero racism, free food, free housing, mental health care for all, badass music and art, and tons of pan dulce.

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