The holidays are supposed to carry a warmth with them, a sense of comfort, or cheer, or outright joy. It can be easy for anyone to get caught up in trying to fulfill all of these expectations, but as Kesha points out in a poignant new essay, this is especially true for those who struggle with mental illness.
“The holiday season is supposed to be the most festive and fun time of the year,” she writes in an essay for Time published on Thursday (November 30), “but sometimes it can…become a stressful and emotional time.”
She points out that the holidays disrupt routine, which for many is inherently stressful:
“Sometimes, you’re forced to spend time with family you rarely see and don’t always get along with. Or maybe you’re alone when everyone else is with family. Or you are off from work, with more time to think troubling thoughts. Or you are at work and can’t be with those you love. Or you are thrust into party situations that tempt your demons. Or you aren’t invited to those tempting parties.”
The Grammy-nominated singer then gets candid about her own experiences with “mental struggles” and the holidays.
“When that routine is broken, it can trigger things you may not be ready to face. I know it has for me,” she writes. “It was during the holidays when I hit a low moment and with the help of my mother decided to seek help for my eating disorder.”
Along with the sense of expectation placed upon oneself, there is also a creeping obligation to be there for everyone else: “Around the holidays, I often feel like I’m supposed to be everywhere, with everyone — all with the added guilt that it’s the season of giving. To fight this, I’ve developed a mantra: It’s not selfish to take time for yourself.”
“It’s not your responsibility to try to make the whole world happy,” she closes. “Most importantly just remember to give yourself a break!”
Kesha has spoken out about mental health before; in a letter to herself published over the summer she admitted that she “nearly killed [her]self on the road to success, fueled by fear of failure, crippling anxiety and insecurity,” and struggled with bulimia and anorexia for years.
With anxiety disorders affecting more than 18 percent of adults in the U.S. and millions more suffering from depression, Kesha’s words are both timely and necessary.