*this article contains spoilers. head to your local movie theatre to see Last Christmas today!

I am a massive fan of holiday films. There’s nothing quite like cuddling up on a couch with hot chocolate (extra marshmallows, please!), a comfy sweater, and a movie. Okay, okay- maybe this season was made for me. There’s just something about holiday films; they have the ability to make viewers feel nostalgic, cheerful, and at peace. Trust me, I haven’t seen a holiday movie that didn’t make me experience pure joy. Afterwards, it’s difficult for my friends to wipe the smile off of my face. All my troubles can melt away in an hour or so.

This holiday season has been slightly different for me. In years past, I could always feel happiness and excitement flowing through my body. My overly cheerful mood annoyed many, except the students I work with. They loved that Ms Marisa, I did too. This year, that happiness and excitement are nonexistent.

I am pretty vocal about my journey with anxiety and depression. More often than not, my depression makes it difficult for me to function. I have to force myself to get out of bed in the morning, get ready, and plaster a smile on my face. I go through the motions of my day with a dark cloud hanging over my head. But, no one would be able to tell. I keep that smile on my face all day long.

No one truly knows what I experience: the negative thoughts that plague me 24/7. The deep sadness that squeezes my chest and makes it hard for me to breathe. The struggle to get where I’m meant to be in life. The desire to be more and do more. The feeling of not being good enough. Constantly comparing myself to other people and where they are in life. Because I should be where they are, correct? It’s exhausting. This season it has been weighing me down. I cry every day. I’m lonely and alone. So, I turned to the movies for an escape.

I wanted to see Last Christmas the moment I saw the trailer. I mean, who doesn’t love Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson (she co-wrote the screenplay!), and Michelle Yeoh? Who doesn’t love George Michael’s music? I knew this film would be excellent. However, I didn’t expect this movie to be so personal, to resonate with me, and to heal me.

I immediately connected with Katarina “Kate” (Emilia Clarke) the movie’s protagonist. My connection arose through a variety of ways. First was Kate’s ability to pretend that everything is fine, when in fact, it is not. She masks her feelings with a smile, a shrug of the shoulder, alcohol, and a witty comment. Sometimes she deflects. Sometimes she simply tells people to bugger off. I feel that I’ve become a professional in this field. Perhaps I should put in on my resume? Oh, don’t forget to smile.

I also connected with Kate through her ability to self-sabotage because she believes that she is not good enough, she is not wanted now that she’s healthy, and she cannot find her purpose in life. Who is she, now that she isn’t ill? Kate develops this nonchalant attitude. She doesn’t care about what happens to her. She ignores what her family expects of her. She does whatever she wants. I have a habit of self-sabotaging or running away from the good things in my life because I believe that I am not good enough. I am not wanted, and I cannot find my purpose in life. While I watched this film, I saw myself in Kate.

Lastly, I connected to Kate through her painful, albeit, humorous bad luck. From accidentally killing her friend’s fish to being kicked out of her friends’ flats, and to fall in a pile of rubbish; Kate never gets a break from life’s misfortunes. My life can be a disaster at times, and I frankly blame bad luck.

Not only did this film personally resonate with me, but it also healed me. Kate’s journey leads her to accountability, selflessness, and happiness. She also discovers her purpose in life and learns that family is important. Her transformation brought me to tears. The message: “Life gets better,” rang true. After watching this film, I realized that I can find my happiness and my purpose just like Kate did. My life will get better. I was healed.

I highly recommend this film to any film lover or holiday lover. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will restore your ability to hope again, and it will heal you. Last Christmas is truly the holiday film we all need this season.