xmas and depression, 2015

caveat: rated R for undiluted cynicism

 

For those of us who have depression, the holiday season, usually from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, can be brutal.  It can be brutally depressing even for those who aren’t depressed otherwise.

I don’t really care to elaborate too much.  Suffice to say, it’s not hard to see why.  numerous reasons.  Maybe xmas time is a time we, if only thanks to abundant movies and marketing, we expect the general public to be kinder than normal, raised expectations.  and when they act as usual, we are disappointed with the juxtaposition.

or, the general public is actually meaner, etc., during this time.  be it the capitalism, the shopping frenzy the businesses program us to have to maximize their pockets, the stress over preparation, family stress etc.  still… no need to fight some other random stranger for some random thing, but, after all, that’s the season, right?

or, and a big one, the family thing.  Maybe most of us go the whole year able to successfully avoid the people we can’t stand but are told by society we must like.  and then you force all these people into close quarters for a short stress-filled time, to find out just how little everyone gets along.  some older generation is racist or anti-gay or whatever, some younger generation is rude and impertinent, some vain people complain about their gifts, others stress about spending too much time cooking, or whatever, and always the constant subconscious idea that everything must be perfect and Norman Rockwell-like.  (never mind that maybe his paintings were escapism.  I read recently that Norman Rockwell himself did not have a Norman Rockwell life, that his wife was in a mental institution.)  and when it isn’t perfect.  …all of a sudden, your daughter can’t make it, or another daughter is bringing a dubious new boyfriend or you and your husband are getting a divorce, or so and so has an illness or is dying or has died…whatever…we must all shove it under the rug and fake smile and what all.

I once read an article on the link between perfectionism and depression.

anyways, a million reasons.  it could literally be the lack of daylight.  as they now call seasonal affective disorder.  decreased time outside, due to cold, decreased exposure to sunlight, and thus increased melatonin, which correlates with tiredness and sleep and the like, or something like that.

and then, for some, xmas time is simply a time of poverty, which makes things more stressful.  farmers are not working, either they had enough to make it through the winter, or they didn’t.  construction workers are out of work.  retail people won’t get any special treatment and get to deal with the frantic shoppers.  for many, xmas means one day where you can’t come in to work, so you have to take a hit in pay.

and even if you try your hardest to make it seem like just another day, it isn’t.  because every damn thing is closed.  the grocery stores, the shops, the businesses, the bars.

lastly, and mostly, I think it’s the loneliness. the sheer unrelenting loneliness.  Maybe you are always alone and you know it, but, most days, you limp by.  work distracts. or whatever.  but, around xmas and New Year’s, it seems every single person, society, movies, everything, is rubbing your nose in it.  This is a time for family and friends.  Family, friends, romantic partners, loved ones.  again, while all those things, when pushed, may be incredibly stressful and negative, just imagine what it’s like without.  yes, parents can be irritating and disapproving, but what if yours are dead or estranged.  yes, a home can be overly decked out or annoyingly over-tinseled, but what if you are homeless.

and even if you are relieved that you can just be alone and humbug to it all, appreciating your peace and quiet.  then there’s the movies.  It’s a Wonderful Life.  No man is poor who has friends.  Well, what if you don’t have any.

If you are childless and single and alone.  of course, you were before xmas and you will be after xmas.  But xmas makes you feel especially bad because of it.

One of the best pieces of advice I once heard, for people like me, was, especially regarding New Year’s, just try to think of it not as a holiday, but as just any other day.

and I have tried.  you can even overcompensate by being as non-christmassy as possible.  I don’t know, put on a horror film and eat McDonald’s.  or just do what you do every day, the day before, the day after.

but, try as I might to pretend the whole xmas thing is just a day like any other day.  it isn’t.  even if I think it, breathe it – for example, any retail worker abhors xmas carols, as they might start hearing them in October and are sick of it by the time December starts, plus they live and breathe the overcommercialism and general meanness of people, they may have to work on xmas eve and on the 26th, they may get no holiday pay… life goes on.  postal workers have to deliver.  gas stations and hospitals and a plethora of things keep on going.  but even if you are absolutely convinced there is no magic, just some other day, damn near everyone else makes it special…even if you do live under a rock.

 

and so, at the end of the day, you feel alone.  your aloneness is amplified.

 

and there is no where to run from it.

this is a time to celebrate how much you belong and how much you love your friends and family.  so, when you feel you have none, when you feel you don’t belong, it’s a time that points that out.  plus, end of the year, and summing up your life and all.  taking stock.

anyways… a stupid angry rant for an overcharged emotional time, sent out to the void.

silver lining? finding some measure of dark humor in the whole thing?

I liked Jim Carrey’s Grinch.

and on juxtaposition and awkwardness:

anyways…

maybe one idea is to not think large (as in, the big picture of my life), but think small – if only distraction.  There are holiday themed movies that do touch on despair and give it credit.  hence the broad and continuous appeal of A Christmas Carol.  I think most people, though they may not consciously admit it, deeply relate to Scrooge.  and it is an endearing and hopeful message.  never too late, and all.

 

hell, maybe I’ll put in Jim Carrey’s Grinch or Muppet’s Christmas Carol.

still.

one of my stupid little points is that some people hate this time of year, and, for the lonely, it makes them feel more isolated.  I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade.  I don’t want to bring anyone else down.  and I know I am being self-absorbed and I don’t want that either.

anyways, one of my thoughts with this blog was the idea to truly be honest and open about depression and my experience with it.  if it can help decrease the stigma.  if it can start a dialogue.  if it can in some way help me to tell other people that they may not be alone in it.  my pledge after Robin Williams’ death.  or something.

 

anyways, I’ll probably regret writing and posting this.  but I want to try and keep to it.

 

 

 

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