22 Dec

Image and text by Rick McVicar

Time rushes ahead into a holiday/ That reminds me of a terrible time/ When my dreadful illness began/ To descend upon my life.

I went careening through a world/ Full of myriad moods with/ Highs of messianic swoons/ And thoughts of dreadful doom. 

A painting of two red angry men staring at each other.

At times I wanted to take my life / I no longer know why./ I just wanted to curl up and die. / Holidays give me a heavy sigh.

 “To be or not to be,”/ Hamlet said it best./ I am not sure why/ I don’t think like all the rest.

Psychosis is such an ugly word/ That visits me now and then./ A word that preys upon my mind. /Thankfully, I now have sanity as my friend.          

  My mental illness began a week before Christmas while I was a student at Vanderbilt University Divinity School. I was preparing to write a term paper when I began hearing voices that launched me into my first psychosis. I spent that year's Christmas in a hospital. That event completely changed how I would navigate through life. It certainly changed the meaning of Christmas for me.

  Christmas has since become a time to pay particular attention to my own brain health. I talk with professionals to make a few adjustments to medications, as I need to put all hands on deck to guard against depression. I try to limit my celebration to one special day rather than celebrating an entire season. That means I turn off the radio so I don't hear Christmas songs and bells. 

  To celebrate this year, I attended an online Blue Christmas worship service designed for people who are grieving or feel down near the time of Christmas. The preaching was excellent and the music was spectacular. The service was provided by Woodland Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. It was really helpful and provided the comfort I needed.