This time of year can be very difficult for those of us with mental illness. Holidays can be stressful, changes in season can affect mood. Reactions can be anything from mild to severe. On one end of the spectrum there are many who suffer quietly, without others ever knowing. They can withdraw from social life, standing quietly by at gatherings, or else not going out at all. On the other end there are others throw themselves headlong into any party that comes their way, drinking until they feel nothing.

Some struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder, triggered by changes in the length and quality of sunlight. Others battle with depression that can strike at any time, but can also be triggered seasonally. I have talked before about bipolar, and having to be constantly on guard against my own emotions.

It amazes me when someone has the strength to stand up and talk about their struggle. As a society, we tend to suck at empathy. We grow uncomfortable when people talk about depression, bipolar, and other mental illnesses. We turn away, shake our heads and say ‘Glad that ain’t me’.

Here are blogs by two incredible writers who have battled with depression, and stepped forward to share their experiences. They are emotional pieces, but very important. For those fortunate not to have to deal with these issues, it is illuminating to see how they affect those of us who do. And for those of us who do deal with these issues, it is important to know we are not alone; that other people also feel what we feel, deal with what we deal with.

The Bloggess and Hyperbole and a Half. Please give them a read and share them around.

As for my own issues; the bipolar has mostly slid into the background. The Lamictal is beating it back into remission. I’ve also started a better self-care regimen; 8 hours of sleep (no more, no less), small meals throughout the day rather than nothing all day but coffee followed by an orgy of food and sweets and ice cream all at once before bed. I’m back to walking the dogs every day, and took a nice long hike through the woods yesterday, 3 miles or so. I still have moments, especially when my self-care slips. This past weekend was tough, since we were up very late each nite, and it was hard to find 8 uninterrupted hours to sleep without missing out on a huge chunk of the day. That led to me having a lovely bout of undirected anger, and my keeping my mouth shut all day.

I’ve also finally made the decision to give up drinking. I can’t afford to have it interfering with my medication. I understand that I may slip on occasion, but the intention is clear, and I’ve been good so far.

So: here’s to 2012, and what promises to be a brave new something.