For those of us who face depression, the holidays can be a real bitch. Lost loved ones seem especially far away. Our bodily systems fighting the drop in sunlight hours (Take your Vitamin D, my brothers and sisters!!!), weight gain from all these social gatherings that we dread (Because, you know, too many people), and the commercialization of the holiday leaving us anxious, frantic, and financially strapped. Makes you want to double your medication and hide out til Spring.
I don’t have a cure. Truthfully, i’m as beaten as you are. The sadness inside masked by the chatter of holiday greetings and special sparkly lip gloss. Oh the power of a good lip gloss! Anyway, most of the time, the holidays feel to me like that scene in Star Wars where they are getting squashed in the nasty trash compactor. Everything is closing in; the stench of stress coming off you like yesterday’s fish sticks; and the inescapable thought of, “Maybe if i close my eyes, it will go away.” (Yes, my non-ICD-10’d friends, this is part of why we sleep so much.)
Now, as my sister reminds me on occasion, decades of therapy merely make me a profitable therapy patient, not a therapist. So i don’t have an actual solution to the problem. I am not even sure if there is one. But i DO know that we can arm ourselves with the occasional bit of pain relief. And it can be found in some unlikely places.
There are some things in life that are just so good, fulfilling, enjoyable that they can make the worst of times seem a thing of the past, even if only a moment. Some of them are obvious: The laugh of a baby, for example. Some are a little more obscure: Seeing that the schmuck who cut you off 2 miles back is now actually stuck at the same light you are. (Was it worth the karma, dude?) These things don’t cure depression. But they can offer a bit of a reprieve, and sometimes, that’s all we need to make it thru another day.
So if you find yourself getting dark when you want yourself to be light, set your heart and thoughts on life’s helium balloons… Those moments that feel really good… And lighten the load for a bit:
Those mornings when you don’t have to set an alarm and can wake to your body clock.
A beautiful holiday song – Close your eyes and listen.
A piece of really good chocolate – Sometimes there is no better way to spend a couple dollars than on a handmade truffle.
A really good poo – I mean, there really is no better feeling.
When someone sends you the perfect meme at the perfect time.
A scalding hot shower on a cold morning, or a hot bath before bed.
Taking your bra off after a long day. (Sorry, guys, there really is no male equivalent.)
Seeing a baby deer walking off the side of a road.
A beautiful sunset or sunrise.
A full moon – And if you see someone fly past it on a broomstick, wave to me 😉
Climbing into a bed with freshly washed sheets.
When you finally get to fart after holding it in forever – Extra points if it is crazy loud!
Homemade mashed potatoes.
Getting the best parking spot, just by happenstance.
The sound of wind rustling thru the trees.
The smell of fresh bread – Worth a visit to a bakery. Usually the smells are free.
When something costs less than you expect.
Hearing from an old friend.
Getting a compliment from your kid – Rarer than a golden goose egg, but also far more valuable.
Hideously gaudy, Griswald-style Christmas lights.
Fresh, hot latkes with applesauce and full-fat sour cream.
A handsome man or beautiful woman in a goofy winter hat.
Hot chocolate with extra marshmallows and stirred with a candy cane. (Make it for yourself. You are worth it.)
A moment of true peace and quiet.
Try remembering these, my friends. I hope they help. It is also worth noting that, while you don’t have to do it all, don’t avoid it all either. Pick one or two things to commit to, and let the rest be up to your mood. Baby steps. Take it one event at a time. Take it just one moment at a time if you have to. And if it isn’t enough, up your game by talking with someone. Find your local crisis center, meet your preacher for coffee, find a support group, message people… You’ll be surprised at how many of us are in the same boat…
And since we are all in the same boat, you don’t have to take it all on yourself… We can take turns rowing. And then we will all get there. Together. Just don’t give up.
You got this. We got this.