View profile

The Darker Side of Thanksgiving (A Story)

You know, Thanksgiving isn't always the best day for everyone. For me, 11 years ago, it was one of th
The Darker Side of Thanksgiving (A Story)
You know, Thanksgiving isn’t always the best day for everyone.
For me, 11 years ago, it was one of the worst days of my life.
Because, on that day, I forced my mom to go to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
On that day, I had to tell her I would have to call the police if she tried to leave.
Thankfully, it all worked out, and she’s back to her old self now.
But it was a terrible, terrible day that stretched into the early morning of the next day while waiting for the on-call psychiatrists and social workers who would rotate through the space where me and my family were waiting for answers.
Think about this strange fact: Thanksgiving in the United States is a day when media and corporations almost force you to be happy and spend time with others.
But, that’s not always how everyone feels about the holiday.
Let’s explore the reason why I’m writing this and what you could learn from a mistake I made.

There isn't only one experience of Thanksgiving and holidays.
There isn't only one experience of Thanksgiving and holidays.
My Wife Convinced Me to Write This
I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t know this.
I’ve read books like A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. I try to educate myself about different people’s perspectives. I’m a social worker, for crying out loud.
I’ve worked in places like the Blackfeet Reservation, and, before he passed away, I considered someone who lived in Browning, Montana on the reservation my long-lost brother.
But I still didn’t even stop to think this year about how Thanksgiving is perceived for a large percentage of the population in this country.
Thanksgiving is not exactly the wonderful, Kumbaya experience that U.S. schools want you to believe. Thanksgiving, for many people in this country, is a visceral reminder of a removal of a people from their land, of forced migrations to other areas, and of a legacy of government boarding schools and government-sanctioned physical and sexual abuse.
And believe me, this is NOT something that is old news. This is an everyday experience for many people. I was shocked to hear how often elders’ boarding school experiences came up in conversation when I worked on the Blackfeet Reservation. It horrified me how much pain they were still experiencing.
But I want to be careful here.
I, in no way, want to say how entire groups of people are feeling. My friends and colleagues have educated me that there is no one, universal tribal experience.
That would be generalizing, and there are diverse experiences between groups and within groups.
I consider myself multiracial, but my experience is very different from someone who grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood.
But for many, many people, their stories are not heard, seen, or even expressed by national-level media outlets and businesses.
And this gets to the root of serious mental health issues.
What Happens When You Don’t See What Others See
And so I think of some of the people my wife has worked with in her jobs.
And I think of some of the friends I’ve made who have lived on various reservations in Montana.
And I think about how it’s embarrassing that I haven’t given much thought at all to their interpretation of Thanksgiving in the United States.
You know, my wife is right. I did need to write an issue about this.
Because it’s one thing when people know about your experiences but don’t want to discuss them.
It’s another thing entirely when you’re so invisible that people don’t even know anything about your experiences in the first place.
And being invisible can have extremely damaging effects on a person’s mental health.
What’s the Thanksgiving Takeaway Here?
I hope you don’t come away from this thinking you’re a bad person if you don’t think about certain things.
I’ll admit, I felt like that at first.
My hope is that this Mental Health Update encourages you to consider ideas, experiences, and people you may not have considered at all before.
Thanksgiving is not this monolithic thing. It’s not a one-size-fits-all experience.
It was one of my favorite holidays as a kid, but a serious mental health crisis changed that for me.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Because I think part of growing up involves a growing in, a deepening of heart and spirit.
The older we get, the more we experience.
We can choose to embrace what mass media and businesses want us to feel.
Or we can decide for ourselves.
The second path is the tougher one.
But in the end, I believe it’s the much more meaningful of the two.
Let's walk alongside one another. We'll learn more that way.
Let's walk alongside one another. We'll learn more that way.
Whether you’re having a holiday or not, whether you’re taking a break or not, I hope you are doing well. I really love connecting with you here, and I hope you get the same kind of joy out of it.

Jordan

P.S. If you aren’t feeling great this holiday season, please reach out. To me, to a close friend or family member, to anyone. How you feel is valid, and you’re allowed to say if you’re struggling.

Did someone forward this to you? They must think highly of you. If you liked what you read, you can sign up for the weekly newsletter here.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Become a member for $10 per month
Don’t miss out on the other issues by Jordan Brown - Mental Health Newsletter Writer, Poet, Social Worker, and Advocate
Jordan Brown - Mental Health Newsletter Writer, Poet, Social Worker, and Advocate

The Mental Health Update provides you with authentic mental health articles that make mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and OCD meaningful AND accessible.

This is different from typical mental health newsletters and articles.

It's not just an Anxiety Email Newsletter or a Depression Email Newsletter - It's three weekly articles packed with timeless mental health wisdom and inspiration to start your day in a thoughtful, uplifting way.

I was tired of other newsletters blasting out generic lists of links and articles. And I was especially tired of them not focusing on the everyday reality of mental health issues.

So I decided to come up with something I wanted to read.

This health newsletter is like a caring friend that just wants you to feel better.

Mental health awareness articles don't need to be all doom and gloom and filled with jargon.

With The Mental Health Update, you'll get practical mental health information, tips, and new ways to view the world. Especially now, with people reeling from the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic, we need trusted voices telling it like it is.

We discuss topics like anxiety, depression, OCD, the mental health to mental illness spectrum, social and communication skills, and much, much more.

This is what a few subscribers had to say about The Mental Health Update:

"If you haven't yet subscribed to Jordan's mental health newsletter, you absolutely should. It's chock full of good stuff to read and will help make your day better. Not unlike a daily vitamin for your mental health and soul..." - JR

"Encouragement from someone who has “been there” when it comes to mental health struggles. Comes in the form of stories and simple, actionable tips for reframing and working with - and through - your issues. One of the few newsletters that has survived my ruthless inbox decluttering sprees. Highly recommended!" - Kelila

"Jordan's mental health update is a welcomed email in my inbox. It often provides me with a chance to break from the mundane tasks of working in an office and take a moment for myself to hear his thoughtful and well put together thoughts on many aspects of mental health. As someone who works in the psychology field it's often a nice reminder and way of grounding myself to all the great work that's going on and the journey we all must take in supporting mental health. Thank you Jordan!" - Rob

I take my no-spam policy very seriously. I consider it a mental health obligation to not abuse your trust.

Newsletter articles sent on Monday and Wednesday.

Members receive detailed information from those articles on Tuesday and Thursday AND an exclusive Friday email as well.

You can manage your subscription here
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Powered by Revue
Missoula, MT