The holidays are often the worst time of the year for those of us who suffer from depression. Thankfulness, happiness, joy, and celebration are contrary to depression. The memories of sweet holiday traditions and childhood wonderment cause mental anguish. The remembrance of loved ones who are no longer with us is painful. Attending family holiday gatherings have pushed my limits. These gatherings especially hosting the groups open up vulnerable, fear of failure, extreme stress, and anxiety of judgment. Can I pretend to be happy? Can I cover up the pressure? Should I skip it all and lock myself away until January 15th?
I purpose a readiness plan. Overthinking is an element of depression, so let’s put it to work for us. We can start by making a program. (Therapist #6 will be happy with these suggestions.) You have a few days until the holiday so you can take time to write down what you expect. These notes will allow you to think and plan for those expectations. Ask yourself how realistic your expectations are and what you can do to prepare for the worst and rationalize if the worst would happen. If the worst did happen, what would you do to cope with it and make that plan? Look at all of the events that pertain to you and write down expectations, analyze your thoughts, question the validity of those thoughts, and think of how to lovingly treat yourself if you find that the experience pushes your comfort zone more than you can handle. Think of yourself and don’t worry about what others may think.
The holidays are especially difficult for the elderly. Their life situation may be in a nursing home, their families may be far away, they may be in poor health, they may live alone, and in many cases, they are not included in holiday family plans. Our elderly have lost more loved ones, friends, and outside connections than most of us can comprehend. Their depression is profound as they feel so much loss and are faced with the thoughts of the end of their life.
What way would your support and giving cheer to an elderly person make you feel positive about yourself? You may find a dear friend by showing that love. Your loss of a loved one from the past can be made cheerful to you as you show holiday kindness to an elderly person. A kind face, a holiday treat, a special card, a visit, some decorations, or a small gift can make so much difference in their life. Our depression gives us insight into others. Think of ways you can provide yourself with joy by passing some along.
I am thankful for the opportunity this blog has given me to see myself more positively and offer others any tidbits from my journey through depression. Your recovery is in my thoughts. May you find tranquility.