Frozen Feelings: Navigating the Holidays
For many people, the Holiday season is a time for excitement and happiness. This is when families are “supposed” to join together and enjoy the warmth and comfort of being surrounded with love. However, for many people, this “family love” is not so warm and comfy.
There are other people who look at the Holidays as a stressed-filled time full of disappointment, anxiety, and sadness. But why? If we are typically encircled by family and friends during this festive time of year, why would some people feel depressed? Oh, the reasons are endless.
What Exactly is Depression?
Let’s start out with the basics. We all become sad sometimes. We all have bad days. However, if you find yourself crying constantly, unable to climb out of bed in the morning, and thinking unpleasant thoughts of suicide for more than two weeks, you may have depression-along with millions of others.
1. Dreams vs. Reality
When some folks think of the Holidays, they tend to glorify them. They envisions a large family crowding around a beautiful, well-lit Christmas tree, singing melodic carols and taking long, lazy sips of spiked eggnog. Close by, a warm fire crackles and falling snow can be seen through the bay window. This is their dream-the trademark Christmas.
So, when their dysfunctional family of four shows up with nary a present in tow, refuses to sing carols because one light on your Christmas tree burnt out, and now the entire tree is dim, and the spiked eggnog is saved for another day because Uncle Bob is an alcoholic-they become disillusioned by the whole affair. Also, the fact that your sister has given you the silent treatment every year because you stole her seventh-grade boyfriend doesn’t help, either. Ah, reality.
Coping Method: Realize that your family is not perfect. Try to set realistic goals for yourself when they visit. For example, do not expect to talk into the wee hours of the night with the sister who you are not close with. Instead, plan to be courteous, and welcome her into your home. Then, just be yourself. If a conversation ensues, wonderful! If it does not, do not feel saddened. Holidays do not automatically mean that you will renew lost relationships. Just try to leave those old feelings of bitterness behind you, and see what this season brings.
2. One Is the Loneliest Number
If our family is “crazy” we want to be alone, but when we are alone, we just want a “crazy” family. Being alone during the Holidays causes depression in many people. Without loved ones to help decorate the tree or light the Menorah, many people feel lonely and sad. They see all of the sappy Christmas specials on TV that show how wonderful the Holidays can be when shared with others, but they have no one to share their Holidays with. Just because it is “the time to be merry,” it does not expel the loneliness.
Coping Method: If you are alone this Holiday season, you do not have to be. Volunteer at a local homeless shelter, or spend Christmas Eve answering Help Lines. Do something for someone else to take your mind off of yourself. Spend the Holidays with other caring individuals, and you will not feel so alone.