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Blue Christmas

 
Last year I wrote about why I passed on the gratitude challenge (you can read it here) and at the end of the post I talked about how the Holiday season can be a struggle for many, and this year I want to expand more on that because y'all - I have been one of those many.
 
The holiday season is a wonderful time of merriment and joy but I feel like there's a lot of pressure. Everyone is posting their happy joyful pics sending the message BE THANKFUL, BE JOYFUL, YOU ARE BLESSED - and yes I typed those in all caps on purpose because sometimes it feels like the world is yelling these things at us. If I'm being perfectly honest 95% of the time I am the person posting the happy, joyful pic but 5% of the time I don't feel thankful or joyful or blessed and then I feel like a complete garbage human for not feeling those things. I haven't had a serious period of depression in over six years but I've spent enough time being depressed that I know it when it happens and I can recognize it for what it is and I think it's something not only important to talk about but it is especially important to talk about this time of year.
 
I can't explain to you what it feels like for everyone and I'm not a doctor or scientist so I won't explain the medical aspects but I will tell you what it feels like when I'm depressed. It feels completely irrational  - it's sitting at dinner with my husband and feeling unloved and lonely even though the person who loves me the most in the world is sitting right there and has done absolutely nothing to make me feel that way. It's taking a slight, or a perceived slight and the voices in my head magnifying it times 100. It feels like someone put emotional blinders on and I can only see the things that are wrong in my life instead of the things that are right. It feels like I'm not enough.

Every holiday season despite my best efforts I go through a mild version of this - between missing a family member, not seeing the sun during the week (or even on the weekends with the weather we've been having lately), the stress of the season, and the pressure to create the perfect Christmas memories some holiday seasons are better for me than others and if I'm being honest this year I'm on the low end of holiday enthusiasm. Once I get out of the house and at a party I wind up having a nice time but it wears me out and it's exhausting just dragging myself there. Right now I still have a few Christmas decorations that aren't completer because I haven't had the motivation to finish and I still need to send my Christmas cards. I'm getting there but this year seems a little harder for some reason. 

I had a nice time at the party where I took this pic but to be honest, I really struggled finding the motivation to get there. It might sdound silly but having a pretty dress helped.

So because I have experience with this myself here's some tips on how you can offer support when you see a love one experiencing the holiday blues:
 
1. Let you loved one vent. When it feels like the world is against you sometimes it helps just to say it out loud to an actually person instead of listening to the voices in ones head. Offer compassion not criticism - for me at least I know that these thoughts are not rational, I don't need you to tell me I'm being foolish / selfish / ungrateful for being upset bout A when I have X, Y and Z in my life. What you can do is say "I'm sorry you're feeling that way" offer a compliment or carefully express concern in a non accusational way.

2. Don't stop inviting them out / to parties no matter how many times they're declined a prior invitation. Sometimes it's just nice to be invited and thought of

3. Write a short personal message on your Christmas card - especially if your card is announcing some sort of milestone in your own life (cough cough I'm looking at you "Married Christmas" card senders). I know it's completely not your intention but when someone is feeling blue your card can come off braggy and a reminder how not perfect their life is. Honestly, I'm not a fan of bragging Christmas cards period but I live in the real world.

4. If you've experienced depression yourself let your loved one know you understand what they're going through. We've come a long way as a society in discussing mental health but there's still such a level of shame associated with it - honestly I feel like I'm taking a pretty big risk in writing this post. But if you don't have your own experience to share please share this post with anyone you think made need to know they are not alone in their feelings.

5. If you are really truly concerned that you loved one is experiencing more than just some holiday blues than let them know that you are there for them and mean it - don't just tell them they can call you anytime if they need anything - call and text them on a regular basis to check in. Let's say you go to lunch with a loved one today and they seem blue - call or text them tomorrow and say hey, I hope today is a better day. When I'm experiencing the blues I tell myself every bad day that tomorrow will be better.

6. If you feel like your loved one is a danger to themselves or to others than encourage them to seek professional help. The suicide prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK

This time of year can be rough on everyone so let's be sure to look out for each other and spread the love this holiday season.


 

Comments

  1. It makes me sad to say this but for the first time in my life, I can totally relate to this kind of post. I've always loved the holiday season, so much so that my friends make fun of me for how much I love this time of year. So many things have happened lately that the joy is gone. Im going through a really hard time and it feels lonely. I actually cant wait for the holidays to go by. Thank you for writing this post, know that you opening up does help people. I truly hope you feel better soon. Much love!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Girl! I'm so sorry to just now be responding but yay, we made it through the holidays! I hope 2019 will be a better year for you. Thinking of you and sending love your way <3

      Delete
  2. It's so important to talk about mental health during this time of year. I love your tips. I have been experiencing a lot of these feelings lately myself as I continue to search for and get rejected from jobs. And it's hard to be deep in the midst of that while also being full of holiday spirit for your family and friends. Glad you are shining a light on this subject, girl! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey girl, I hope the job search is going better in the New Year!

      Delete

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