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Valentine's Day? I'm Just Trying to Get Through Each Day!

February 14, 2013 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Holidays are a difficult time for many people, but are often more difficult for those of us living with a mental illness. Yes, even a sort of silly holiday like Valentine's Day.

Is Valentine's Day Really a Holiday?

It depends how you define a holiday. You don't usually get the day off of work--at least not here in Canada--on the 14th of each February. So it's not exactly defined by a day of leisure and rose petals--unless you are still in the 'honeymoon stage' of a relationship (savor that time!)

It's not like Christmas. We don't feel the pressure, months before, that invades our world. We don't feel the same amount of financial burden. Christmas is a very difficult holiday for those of us recovering from mental illness.

You might wonder, within the vast area of mental health, why I am talking about Valentine's Day. Don't I have more relevant things to talk about? Yes, but I want to focus on the impact this 'holiday' has on our mental health--I believe it is relevant.

A Day Devoted to Love . . . Can Make us Feel Lonely!

For those with mental illness, Valentine's Day, like other holidays can be difficult to get through.
If you connect the words Valentine's Day with the word lonely, it sort of makes sense, don't you think? Perhaps we picture someone who cries themselves to sleep, reads romantic novels and watches The Notebook at least a few times a week (horrid examples, sorry about that!)

When I connect this day to mental health, I view it differently: I see it as a reminder that we might struggle with connecting with people and with our level of self-confidence.

Some of us struggle to develop meaningful romantic relationships for reasons connected to our diagnosis.

Examples:

  • We might feel we do not deserve love
  • Our confidence is shaken once we are diagnosed
  • We feel that few people will ever understand us and so we isolate ourselves.

Side-Note: Valentine's Day lands right in middle of February, a time many of us also struggle with depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It's not really a fun month.

A Few Things to Remember. . .

When I talk about mental health and our response to holidays, what I want to stress is that Valentine's Day is wonderful for many people (yay!), but it's just as lonely for the rest of us.

Now, let's list a few things (slight sarcasm included) that can make this day a little bit easier:

  • Remember: Red roses die--they wilt! They actually depress me. But a lot of things depress me so buy yourself some roses! You deserve it. Or chocolate--perhaps not heart shaped.
  • Watch some movies that do not involve a heck of a lot of intimacy or, on the other end of the spectrum, watch silly romantic movies while eating heart shaped chocolate and watching roses wilt. That's getting in the spirit!
  • Remember that Valentine's Day is primarily a 'Hallmark Holiday' which means, among other things, that stores make a ton of cash selling cards and candy to those who hold hands when walking through the mall. And other fun stuff.

Holidays are often a difficult time when we are recovering from mental illness and it's a great time to just take care of yourself.

PS: for those of you who do receive cards, roses and chocolate, remember how lucky you are. Love is not an easy thing to find--and to keep.

PPS. . . My obligatory, Happy Valentine's Day!

APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2013, February 14). Valentine's Day? I'm Just Trying to Get Through Each Day!, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2013/02/valentines-day-im-just-trying-to-get-through-each-day



Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

carl
February, 19 2013 at 8:31 am

Well said, Natalie. I'm divorced and don't have a girlfriend. Valentine's Day is tough for me. This year two couples invited me to go out to dinner with them, but I declined the invitation and explained why--I feel lonely and left out on Valentine's Day, and being the fifth wheel would just make things worse. (They seemed to understand, which was good.) When in a relationship, Valentine's Day can be fun. But if married or in a relationship, people have anniversaries and other special days to celebrate (the day they met, etc). So is Valentine's Day really necessary?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
February, 19 2013 at 11:36 am

Hi, Carl,
It's not usually much fun hanging around with couples---I think most people would agree! I think of it as a rather silly 'holiday' whether single or hitched. I'm glad it's over:)
Thanks for the comment!
-Natalie

Paul Shtogryn
February, 14 2013 at 1:39 pm

I have a mental health survivor that I speak to on the phone just simply to talk to.I can consider you a friend being a former consumer survivor myself.What's the old saying "It takes one ro know one".So any time you can inbox or text me .I'm hear to listen no matter how depressing & downtrodden things can be.Take care Natalie.

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