As Christmas approaches, the Grohol community has been sharing feelings, stories and traditions of the holidays in several different forums throughout the site.
An ongoing holiday poll being taken in the General forum indicates that a two-thirds majority of members have increased depression as the holiday closes in. According to janniebug, "I get a bit more depressed because I know that holidays make my dad crazy, therefore grumpy and it's hard to be around him at this time of year." kimmydawn says, "I get depressed over the holidays I think because my anxiety gets so high and stays there, then I get into a depression after so long."
Bptoo, one of our administrators, stated that, "what depresses me at this time of year is that without fail, we always have a money crisis and can barely afford to get our kids a little something, let alone our family or friends. I know Christmas isn't about giving presents to people, but it makes me feel good inside to give to others." Nerak's sentiment was, "the hard part for me is not being able to go home and be with family due to my job. I do have my husband and that is wonderful, but there is nothing like being with everyone on the holidays. Both my hubby and I get a little down this time of year; he is able to handle it much better than I."
There are some members, however, who feel only the joy of the season without any additional depression. "I just love Christmas .everything about it .I get positively goofy about the holiday." remarked moderator mj14. She went on to elaborate with, "I bake cookies non-stop from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I put all kinds of decorations up outside, I get a big tree to hold the hundreds of ornaments I've collected over the years." Rapunzel stated that she thinks, "The holidays help a lot to combat SAD." SweetCrusader's viewpoint is, "I don't get depressed around the holidays. I never have. I enjoy them because I'm a student, and the holidays are when I get a break from school!"
Whether suffering from additional depression or simply enjoying the celebrations, the holidays impact us all in some way. One very hopeful veteran member, Jonalexa, had this to say, "I have always listened to the voices that reminded me of all my different failures over the years during the holidays. My biggest fear is of being alone, and while this year I may be without a relationship in my life, I know that I am not alone. So, while in the past the holidays have always brought up so much regret; I have vowed that I will be more selfless and think more of others this season. I'm excited that I will stop feeling sorry for myself for the things I have lost in my life and be truly thankful for what I am so richly blessed with."
In the Question of the Week forum, Doctor John Grohol asked members to express in their own words what the holidays mean to us. Heartfelt replies were expressed by many sharing a little part of themselves with each other. Nothemama said, "Oh, it means so many things to us, first the littles like all the glitter and presents. To my hubby and me it means going to Mass, remembering the religious aspect, and fixing dinner for our support group here." Mars replied to the question by saying, "to me the holidays are the worst
times. Christmas has been a time of deep depression for me since I was a child. Starting with Halloween, I get more and more depressed until sometime in mid March."
According to one anonymous member, "The holidays to me is just a period of time when
you try to please everyone, try to put on a happy face, try not to eat too much, but always do, and try to get through the days just to make it to the New Year." Magnate member, PlanningtoExist, expressed a joyful thought by saying, "I pay more attention to Christmas, but the holidays mean joy on my son's face when he is happy, when he laughs. It means watching his eyes light up when I'm able to do something special for him or give him the gift he wants most."
The Psychotherapy forum hosts an interesting topic entitled Holiday Gifts. The thread was initiated by Lauren1214 with, "I was just wondering if anyone else felt self-conscious about giving gifts to their therapist." In the following you will find various members' views on the giving of gifts to our therapists. "Every mental health professional I've worked with, psychiatrists, therapists, whatever, have been very uncomfortable accepting gifts from clients they still have a therapeutic relationship with," stated Candybear.
ErinBear had a different point of view stating, "Yes, sometimes I have given my counselor small gifts, and he is okay about that. Usually I have given him something I have made, because then it is essentially free, costs nothing, and it's just a gift of my time. That seems okay to me. Occasionally, I have given him something small if it is Christmas or his birthday." Emwell remarked, "It is funny. Never have I ever considered giving my doctor a gift. It just never dawned on me. I think I would be way too uncomfortable with it."
My personal experience with Christmas as a child echoes the same sentiment as PlanningtoExist who reminisced, "I remember Christmas when I was growing up. My brother always had to try to destroy the mood, but I had my flashlight and we'd creep through the house in the middle of the night to see what we had gotten from Santa. The anticipation was wonderful. I had good holidays when I was young." My wish for everyone is to make it through the holidays with as little stress and pain as possible. Hopefully we all have some joy from our childhood that we can focus on if our current state of depression prevents us from celebrating. I'll see you all again in the New Year!
Susan J. King (aka "Ozzie") is a retired Mother of four. At one time she was the Office Manager of the local newspaper where she wrote articles and poems as well as doing page layout and typesetting. She has been a moderator at PsychCentral.com for approximately one year.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Dec 2004
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Let me listen to me and not to them.
-- Gertrude Stein