If Halloween is your favorite holiday, does that make you mentally unstable?

I’ve recently seen several Instagram reels of people who joke that you’re mentally unstable if your favorite holiday is Halloween (see below for an example). While this may be a broad generalization, I can attest, for me personally, that yes – this is very much correct!

So, if you’re mentally unstable, is Halloween really more likely to be your favorite holiday? I’m not sure, but I do know that most of my friends who I’ve bonded with over our kindred mental illnesses have also bonded with me about our mutual love of Halloween.

For me, Halloween is my favorite holiday because it’s the one holiday when you don’t have to think about others. You don’t have to get anybody gifts or prepare an elaborate turkey dinner or squeeze in all the family get togethers. Instead, Halloween time is just about dressing up as someone else for the day, pigging out on sweets, drinking cider, and watching spooky movies. 

Maybe that sounds selfish. But, as an anxious person, I think about others all the time, sometimes to a fault. My anxiety disorder has helped me be a very empathic person. But it’s also made me always terrified, for no reason, that people are mad at me, and it’s made me really bad at saying “No,” even when it harms my own mental health.

So, yeah, Christmas is a stressful time of year for me. Stressing out about getting the perfect gift for everyone. Stressing out about who I should get a gift for – if I bought a gift for everyone who bought me a gift or not. Stressing out if I forgot anyone or I’m going to make anyone mad – even more than usual. Stressing out about money. Stressing out about fitting everything in that I need to do. 

But, during Halloween, I don’t have to worry about any of that. I only have to think about doing what I want to do (and, since Christmas is my fiancé’s favorite holiday, I get full reign over what we do on my favorite holiday – it’s only fair).

In October, I can dress up in a ridiculous outfit – like a tutu and a clown wig and too much eyeliner – and no one will judge me. And as someone with anxiety, it’s comforting to have a holiday where you’re celebrated for being weird.

Also, this time of year, instead of cheesy romantic holiday movies (no shade to these flicks though), I can watch movies that make me feel amazing about my life and my problems by comparison (although, who am I kidding – I watch these movies all year round). While I may have panic attacks on the regular, with horror movies, it’s nice to put in prospective that at least I’m not being chased by Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees. 

Arash Javanbakht and Linda Saab, assistant professors of psychiatry at Wayne State University, gave another reason why people like me hold a particular fondness to the holiday. It’s because Halloween allows us to engage with dangerous things in a safe space and redirect our fear into excitement.

“Our studies and clinical interactions suggest that a major factor in how we experience fear has to do with the context. When our ‘thinking’ brain gives feedback to our ‘emotional’ brain and we perceive ourselves as being in a safe space, we can then quickly shift the way we experience that high arousal state, going from one of fear to one of enjoyment or excitement,” they write in the online magazine Inverse.

“Fear (also) creates distraction, which can be a positive experience. When something scary happens, in that moment, we are on high alert and not preoccupied with other things that might be on our mind, which brings us to the here and now.”

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