The Holidays Are Here
Everyone is traveling. People are shopping. Family members are exchanging texts, sharing recipes and looking forward to a break from work and school. It’s Thanksgiving, time to be thankful and look at all the blessings that surround you, but there is a problem. You aren’t thankful at all, for anything. What you would be thankful for the most, is if someone would dig a big hole in the ground that you could crawl into.
Life right now is just blah. You like the cooler weather and rain but hate that the holidays are coming. You aren’t into it this year, at all. You just wish you could fast forward to after New Years. All the happiness. All the celebrations. All that “being grateful” crap. It’s just one of those seasons.
Maybe you just had a miscarriage after years of fertility problems. A family or close friend recently passed away. Your job is being threatened, or you have been laid off again. You’re in a toxic relationship. Your child just got a diagnosis of autism, and you are scared to death. You have an addiction that you can’t break. Your loved one has an addiction, and there is nothing you can do about it except watch them spiral out of control. You’re keeping a secret that if found out would cost you everything. You are considering divorce. Your child’s behavior is getting worse and worse, and you have no support. You’re a single mom and barely able to keep it together. You are managing physical pain or deterioration from a chronic disease.
You Cant Quite Put Your Finger On What It Is
Maybe it’s nothing like that at all. Maybe on the surface, your life is perfect. You have everything you have always wanted, and there isn’t a real reason to complain. You’re healthy and have a good job. You’re married to a really good guy. Your family loves you, and you have good friends. But you have a deep emptiness in your heart.
You find yourself getting snappy and short-tempered and you yell at your kids or hurt everyone’s feelings. You have become distant and cold and quiet and emotionally shut down. Everyone around you pisses you off. You resent everyone who is doing life better than you. They are all doing it better than you. You can’t put your finger on why but you live every day with a background feeling of discontent and longing for something more. You want to change, but you don’t know what you need to change. You live with guilt or shame or feelings of inadequacy. You keep falling short on everything you do, and you have no control over anything. You are angry and resentful. You’re overwhelmed, overworked, stressed and anxious. Your life is not where it’s supposed to be. You got off course somewhere and don’t know how to get back on. You wonder how in the world you ended up here.
You look around at all your coworkers and friends and family, they are all excited about the Thanksgiving dinner and traveling and getting time off work. You watch the commercials with the cheery holiday excitement. You see all the Christmas decorations at Target and Costco. People are planning holiday parties and all you want to do fast forward through it all. You have depression during the holidays.
Depression During the Holidays
You will do the holiday, you will play along, you will go to that event or exchange that gift, but you are dying on the inside. You are angry at the alarm clock because it means you have to get out of bed and do life. You have to wake up because everyone is counting on you. You are the one who is supposed to hold it all together, and you resent that. You don’t want to do life; life is just too hard. Now you have to show up. Show up for work, show up for your kids show up for your responsibilities. You scroll through Facebook and see all the posts of what everyone is “thankful” for. You roll your eyes, or you have a hint of jealousy. You’re jealous of their happiness. You want a piece of it, but that’s impossible because it doesn’t really exist, not for you anyway. Everyone else’s joy and happiness just makes you feel worse. You are depressed.
I Can’t Take It Anymore
Last year during Thanksgiving, I was anything but thankful.
At that time, I had just spent the last several months dealing with Remy’s weekly seizure clusters. I was fighting with the school district to get services that Remy needed for preschool. I was processing the autism diagnosis and knee deep in an intense parenting autism training. My boys were starting middle and high school, and they had their own set of school meetings and programs to figure out. Every time there was hope for an opportunity for a night away or a break, seizures would come back, and we would have to cancel our plans. I was tired, overwhelmed and utterly depleted.
A Trip To Turn Everything Around
I decided enough was enough; I needed something to be excited about. I needed to do something that would pick me up and boost my spirits. I decided that a trip for Thanksgiving was precisely what I needed. I planned a week-long trip for our family, Zach’s siblings and parents to spend Thanksgiving break in Oregon. We rented a gorgeous house on a lake. It was peaceful and beautiful and serene. A vacation was undoubtedly the way to give me the pick me up that I was seeking. Everyone in the family got work off which wasn’t easy, and we were set to spend a relaxing week cooking and visiting and having some fun. It was going to be magical.
But there was one problem. I brought my misery with me. I packed my anger and frustration and resentment in my suitcase and drove it all the way across California into Oregon. The whole family had the time of their lives. The kids got to play, the adults got to visit and we all got to relax. Except I was going to bed early every night and emotionally checked out. I didn’t want to participate; I didn’t want to visit, I didn’t want to do anything.
My Aha Moment
On Thanksgiving morning, as I was looking out of the master bedroom window onto the still and quiet Oregon lake, I realized something. I was depressed. It occurred to me that even though I had created the perfect scenario of happiness and peace, I was miserable. I couldn’t escape the negative thoughts that occupied my mind all the time. I knew that if I had depression during the holidays, what chance did I have at peace and joy anywhere else? I now couldn’t blame my inner emptiness on external factors nor could I fix them with external ones either. I also knew that nothing in my life was going to change. Remy wasn’t going be cured of seizures, the autism wasn’t going away, and nothing was going to get easier. If there was any hope for peace and joy, I was going to have to change from the inside out.
This recognition wasn’t pretty and didn’t feel good, I didn’t want to have depression during the holidays but I did. I had become so consumed with how out of control my life felt that all of my thoughts were negative and seemed to never stop talking. There was no room for appreciation, gratitude, peace, joy or enjoyment. It was all being taken up by hopelessness, defeat, sadness, and anger.
Does This Sound Familiar?
If you are in a dark season and having depression during the holidays, understand that everything is going to be ok. You will get through this. There is light at the end of a tunnel; you just can’t see that light yet because it is tucked around a corner.
If this resonates with you, there are two ways to lift some of the heaviness and help you get through depression during the holidays. Depression isn’t something that you can just turn off but just like many other illnesses, there are ways to treat it and heal, with time. I want to share with you two steps to follow to begin to turn your life around and get through the holiday season.
Ready Set Action
Acknowledging depression is vital. It sounds so simple, but for some reason, when you are in a season of misery, you don’t always recognize it for what it is. Had I realized that I was depressed sooner, I wouldn’t have thought that a beautiful vacation would fix my feelings of emptiness. So instead of recognizing and acknowledging it, I felt I could escape having depression during the holidays, by going on a trip. What a waste of a beautiful vacation. Acknowledgment is essential because you cannot fix what you don’t recognize.
If you don’t acknowledge depression, you may end up masking it with external substances that only help short term but will only make things worse. Drugs, alcohol, obsessive TV watching, food, shopping, gambling, porn addiction, withdrawal from your normal activities. The list goes on and on. If you acknowledge depression, you can put space around it and realize that this is just a season of your life, it isn’t your whole life.
Stop Shoulding On Yourself.
Your family is all together for the holidays, you “should” be excited. Your kids aren’t fighting, you “should” be thankful. Your child isn’t in the hospital, you “should” count your blessings. The fact is, you should you should you should, but you’re not, you’re not, you’re not. Acceptance doesn’t mean that you are inviting depression in to stay. It only means that you accept that this is how you are feeling at this moment in time. If you do not accept that this is what is happening, you cannot invite real change to take place.
Depression Has It’s Place
Whether you see this or not, depression is playing a vital role on your path to wellbeing. It is part of the growth process that makes us evolve as human beings. We are all here on this planet for a purpose. We are all here to give something to the world. Believe it or not, depression is part of that puzzle piece. It gives you contrast to life. Having depression during the holidays is really hard, but with a little awareness and acceptance, you can get through it.
Last year on my trip to Oregon, acknowledging and accepting that I had depression was the best thing that I could have done. I am grateful that i was able to heal what was broken It lead to healing what was broken in me and for that I am grateful for it. Acknowledgement and acceptance got me through the holidays because, for the first time, I had hope again.
It Will All Be Ok
If you find yourself with depression during the holidays, take a breathe and give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling. Get help if you need it, tell a friend or loved one, give yourself grace and take one step at a time. Your health is important, your wellbeing is important, your our life matters and you are worth it.
I want to share with you some of my favorite videos that I used as tools to turn my state of depression around. I spent hundreds of hours watching videos, reading books, studying blogs and practicing self-reflection this past year. It’s hard to believe that just a year ago, I was in an entirely different place. I put all these Motivational Videos together for you to watch. I know they will bring you some inspiration and motivation to keep moving forward. They will show you that you are a special person with a unique gift to share with the world, you just have to get through some things first.
Live well and Happy Thanksgiving