It’s the holiday time of year… which means a time of celebrations, gatherings, and over indulging on favorite foods.
For a lot of people the holiday season brings out some the best moments of happiness, joy, love, and memories. At least for most of us, we hope it is this way… but really it’s what we tell ourselves as a society to believe as true. Unfortunately, for many us this is not the truth of the matter. Holidays bring on a period of extra stress, anxiety, and at times depression. Why?
The holidays are not a time of celebration, gathering, and happy moments. They’re lonely, tiring, financially difficult, stressful, and full of miserable social gatherings where you are expected to present yourself as “happy.” There… I said it. Honestly, holidays don’t mean, hold the same value, nor are they celebrated the same way they once were. At one time holidays were truly about being grateful for family, friends, and the time we have together. Nowadays it’s more about the gifts under the tree, keeping up with the Jones, and expectations. Holidays have manifested into a retailer’s dream.
Traditional Christmas was more of a spiritual experience and less of a commercial one; when people generally cared about your well-being and good will. As time has evolved we have lost the real joy in the holiday experiences; reasoning’s for what makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside. That’s why it is so easy to become sad during this time of the year.
Christmas to me has always been about family… which is why it makes me so sad. The lack of family is very sobering. I have two children who have no relationship nor know their family. We don’t have big family dinners or celebrations; not during the holidays or any other time of the year for that matter. The feelings of disconnection from the people who surround me, in this moving world become unavoidable. In fact, when my children are with their father during this time of the year… the isolation becomes – well, horrible. It’s a jealously and sadness of seeing people spending time with family and friends. All the while secretly, wondering why can’t I have that? For the reminding fact, that I’m divorced and the feelings that are associated with that failure. When you find yourself alone without any kind of invitation during the holidays, loneliness has a way of making you extremely uncomfortable with silence. Yet, in a room full of people… the reality of this kind of loneliness is unbearable.
Others who have family… a major source of their holiday stress is their family. The dinners, obligations, and family traditions that conflict with other plans that are preferred. Maybe toxic relatives, conflicts or stresses with certain relationships with family members.
The expectations and pressures of being able to “give.” When you are a single mother working two jobs to support your children and you can’t give them everything they want. When you are already just doing the best you can, to provide them with what they need. Christmas, is disappointing and makes you feel like a failure as parent. Holidays can engage in an excessive self-reflection criticism and can make a lot of people feel inadequate.
Some people are grieving during the holidays… when they are keenly aware that there is an absence of someone they love. A lot of elderly people are depressed during holidays because they have lost a lot of their family and friends. Elderly people in nursing homes and even at their own homes are already lonely when they begin to feel forgotten and unloved because their loved ones are busy living. We feel guilty about not making the time to get over there to see them and tell ourselves we will go… (Insert whatever time frame you want here) and sadly we just don’t.
Regardless, of your reasons for fighting with depression and anxiety during the holiday seasons remember this… Forget about perfection! There is no such thing. Pat yourself on the back for making it through each day through the rest of the year that nobody talks about. The holidays aren’t about gifts… please don’t place so much value on material items that can come and go just as easily. Instead realize that nowadays, the cost of living is hard enough to manage through without adding extra burden. Remember that the holiday… Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the New Year only last for 24 hours!! Focus on the bigger picture and less on the demands of what our society has turned the holiday season into. Cope through the day… even if you are just pushing.
*Please I encourage anyone who is suffering with depression to please seek professional help if you need it. A good provider will put you on a health plan that involves more than just medication. There is nothing wrong with asking for help!