Holidays aren’t happy for everyone: Dealing with Holiday Depression

It’s the most “wonderful time of the year”. At least that’s what the song says. Sorry Andy, I’d have to firmly disagree. Starting around Thanksgiving and lasting until post Valentines day, I tend to get a little down in the dumps. Since I’m in the middle of an episode, I thought it was as good as time as any to address dealing with holiday depression.

Blog Graphic

Holiday depression isn’t the same as chronic illness depression. As much as I’d love to blame my funk on my chronic illness, I can’t. I can recall feeling subtle twinges during my teenage years (well before my diagnosis) but now I find myself dealing with yearly holiday depression.

Back in the day

Things were so much simpler when I was a kid. The holidays truly were magical. Everything seemed so grand and memorable: the excitement of everyone coming together and sharing laughs and memories; the delicious food; serving as the official taste tester; staying up until midnight and opening gifts surrounded by my cousins. The vibes were everything the holidays “should be” or so I thought.

The older I get, the less exciting the holidays seem to be. I was probably around 13 or 14 when the mystique started dissipating. I started paying attention to the semantics and the nuances. As an introvert sitting back and watching situations play out is kind of my thing.

Not to put our business out there but the tensions in the air my my family gatherings were quite thick. We all came together and put on good faces but I don’t know I questioned if truly enjoy each others company. Drama party of 12 would be an understatement. It gets old after a while.

holiday depression photo

via unsplash.com

Loss

In general the loss of a loved one is difficult. The holidays tend to intensify that loss, especially if you have favorite traditions and memories with that person. Sometimes the pain dulls but that persons absence is still felt.

About 5 years ago the family at the family gatherings started getting smaller and smaller. It hit me about 4 years ago that it’s because my grandmother had passed. Some people are like the family nucleus: the center of the beast, the glue that keeps it all together. Without the matriarch, people started branching off and doing their own things. I can remember every room of the house being full of people. Now if five people are at the gathering, I’d say thats a big turnout. The vibes simply are not the same.

Expectations

I think the biggest joy stealer during the holidays is expectations. These could be expectations we have of ourselves, or that others have on us or that we have of the holidays. As a teenager, I was stressed out because I didn’t have enough money to buy extravagant gifts to give my family or I was forced to decide which side of my family I was going to spend which holiday with.

Whether or not I put those expectations of myself or my family instilled them in me, is water under the bridge. Of course no one expected me at 16 to buy Cartier watches, but I wanted to. And because I couldn’t I felt like I was letting everyone down.

How to Cope

I’m not a therapist and I don’t play one on TV. So don’t look to me for a certified prescription to dealing with holiday depression or chronic illness depression. But I’ve been trying different things to help pull me out of the darkness.

In My Feelings Mood Tracker and Stickers

First I started tracking my moods. I created a mood tracker and named it In My Feelings. This makes it easier to tell if I’m just having a bad day or if it’s an endless string of bad days. Second I started daily journaling and meditation again. Sorry to report that I fell off a bit from that.

Third, I released myself from all social obligations and expectations. The pressure of choosing houses to visit, and what to buy folks and where to spend which holiday is overwhelming. Lastly, I give myself permission to feel my feelings. Trying to suppress my feelings never works. If I feel sad or antisocial, I feel it un-apologetically. But I try not to stew. Instead I do self-reflection and try to uncover the root of the emotion (which is mad hard).

Oh and I’m definitely going to look into finding a new therapist. The last one didn’t work out but that’s another story for another day. My hope is that these things will keep me out of the darkness. Now I don’t want to wish depression on anyone else but I’m hard pressed to think I’m alone in my plight. Can anyone else relate? Have you ever fallen victim to the winter blues? What are some of your tools for dealing with holiday depression?

Oh and if you wanna try my tracker you can download it. Hope it helps you.

Did you enjoy this post? Subscribe below and never miss a beat!

Follow:
Morg
Morg

Morgan Greene is a Maryland chronic illness and holistic wellness lifestyle blogger. After years of struggling with her autoimmune disease diagnosis, Myasthenia Gravis, she decided to combine two of her favorite things…writing and informing others

IsWasWillBe.com was created to have unfiltered discussions about having a chronic illness. It has since become a place to inspire and create a sense of community among women with autoimmune diseases. Morgan loves trying new things and sharing with other spoonies how to live an ill life on their terms.

When she’s not blogging she is probably reading a book, drinking a Coke Slurpee or listening to music.

8 Comments

  1. Charlene
    January 11, 2020 / 1:12 pm

    Thanks for being to transparent in your post! More people need this.

  2. January 14, 2020 / 3:59 pm

    I think this is more common than people realize. I know so many people in my family that have difficulties during the holidays. In most of my family’s case I think is a direct result from loosing my mom to cancer as a kid.

    • Morg
      Author
      January 14, 2020 / 9:38 pm

      Thanks for reading Sarah!!! Sorry to hear about the loss of your mom. I didn’t really know I was affected until I started trying to figure out why I was so not in the “spirit”.

  3. January 14, 2020 / 8:59 pm

    Thanks for bringing awareness to this topic.
    I’ve experienced many of the points you make, the holidays were always a stressful time.
    This past year I lost my husband so now celebrating Christmas with my children is a whole different experience. Mostly I just try and get through.

    • Morg
      Author
      January 14, 2020 / 9:35 pm

      Sorry for your loss. Thankfully you and your children have each other to lean on during this time. Have the traditions changed or jus the “spirit” feels different? Thank you for reading.

    • Morg
      Author
      January 14, 2020 / 9:35 pm

      Sorry for your loss. Thankfully you and your children have each other to lean on during this time. Have the traditions changed or jus the “spirit” feels different? Thank you for reading.

      • January 15, 2020 / 2:08 pm

        I thought it was important to maintain as many traditions with my children as I could but I’ve learned that didn’t work for us and we will be trying some new things next year.

  4. jentowkaniuk
    January 16, 2020 / 11:03 am

    You definitely are NOT alone when it comes to holiday depression. Thanks for this real look and tips to get through the holidays in one happy piece!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Looking for Something?