Bright lights and smiles get me through the holidays

by Paul Buskey

Christmas, birthdays and New Year’s Eve are three hard days for me.

Hardest isn’t quite the right word.  More like I don’t deserve to be happy days. It’s something that’s always been the case since childhood. Those are supposed to be the two best days of the year. I’ve never really given it much thought until now. Since writing experiences down it now comes to the forefront.

Birthdays have always been difficult for me to celebrate. Why? Why would you celebrate me being born? It’s just another day. I don’t deserve a gift. Christmas is the same way. A gift for what?

I can’t get excited about New Year’s Eve either and luckily my wife Angela isn’t a big New Year’s Eve person.  To celebrate a coming year and what it takes is to continue is daunting. Yes I will continue to fight but it’s long, lonely and dark at times. I’m grateful for what I have and who is in my life and continues to be for whatever reason.

My brain tells me, and always has since I remember, that I’m not deserving of your gifts, love and friendship. It tells me, “You’re not a good husband, father and friend and you don’t deserve happiness, a loving wife and family.” It’s always saying this. And after so many decades,  you believe it even though you know rationally, it’s false.

After 35 years, why question it? I just accept it and move on. Maybe not the healthiest decision but it is what it is. Kind of like being diagnosed with Bipolar. It’s something that will always be a part of me. It’s taken me a long time to accept it.  I get tired of fighting with my mind.

Some days I see myself in a favorable light but it’s very short lived. My energy has to be spent on more important arguments that I have with my inner demon. Suicidal and self-harm thoughts take a lot of energy and focus to stave off.

I compensate by trying to make others happy, especially during Christmas by decorating our house. Over the years it’s grown to what it is now.

It’s become a tradition for some to come every year and seeing how much joy it brings others is why it continues. Putting lights up take almost two months but is a welcome distraction at the end of the year. My inner demon voice is just a little quieter than normal.

This year was the hardest to get everything up before Thanksgiving. Many things were on my plate when I started this year which was totally my fault for taking on so much. I had a little mania going on and kept saying yes –which is always the case when I’m like this.

So with the extra stress of installing lights, I was overwhelmed. When I finished, I decided not to do it next year. But when I saw people’s faces and smiles, I changed my mind. Next year, I just need to watch what I decide to say yes to. My mind races with ideas about next year for over two months and I enjoy it.

I know it will come to an end. My mind stops racing about Christmas lights and my distraction is gone for another year. It will be missed because the heart of winter is here and it’s a trying time for me to get through.


Despite my bipolar disorder, I’ve been able to hold down a job

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