Holiday Vs. Seasonal Depression
Holiday depression happens to more people than most realize, not to be confused with seasonal depression (seasonal affective disorder), which deals with changing seasons. Holiday depression can hit hard when traditional structures do not apply to a person, which is my situation. At various times of the year, some celebrations are supposed to help us recognize and appreciate special people and the things in our lives. However, some of us are missing the special people or currently do not identify any reasons to celebrate. For us, the holidays can be a time of great stress, as I experienced this Mother’s Day.
Rarely do I remember Mother’s day in advance. It does not prompt me to remember my birth mother, my mom, or Grams when I do. I do not think about my miscarriages, my furbabies Trinity, or Thaddeus. Nor do I think about my friends who are mothers. However, I often feel deep sadness, resentment, anger, jealousy, self-pity, self-loathing, suicidal ideation, fear, worthlessness, hopelessness, loneliness, and unworthiness, my darkest emotions. It only takes a glance at the calendar for me to realize the genesis of these feelings.
Around almost every holiday for 15+ years, those emotions have bloomed. Currently, that’s my life; those feelings are the undercurrent that runs through my veins. They are weeds that lurk in my garden, waiting for my defenses to fail or falter. Those seeds were planted by trauma, nourished by mental illness, and blossomed from the rays of my skewed perspective.
Actively, I continue to dismantle the effects of my experiences, but that process can be extremely challenging, painful, and disruptive. Digging around in the dirt to find the source of the weeds is exhausting and perilous. There is a risk that I will unearth something which can knock me on my butt and take me out of commission. I have been in a cycle of discovery, acknowledgment, acceptance, and realignment for years. The toll is too much at times, leading me to an alternative coping mechanism.
A therapist once told me that it is not always necessary to resolve a traumatic event. There is a possibility that my mind would not accept it or wrap my mind around it to process it. The event has altered me in a particular and significant way that could lead to a chain reaction of emotional and mental damage. However, they continued by saying it is possible to deal with the behaviors born from the event. To reframe and reshape them, which could, in time, soften the blow to my mental and emotional state if and when I was ready to start digging in the weeds around the issue.
This technique has worked for me beyond the realm of holiday depression. Furthermore, this method is not a substitution for healing or processing trauma but another coping skill in my bag.
Will Things Change?
One of the most brutal truths I had to accept was that not everything would be resolved in a neat package. I may not be able to work it all out and be okay with everything. The reality may be that the best I can expect is acceptance. Acceptance that it happened changed me, and I have to live with it. I can dress it up in ways to make sure it is not wreaking havoc in my life, but it may continue to trigger me forever.
At the end of the day, I may never enjoy the holidays again. Nonetheless, I can learn to live with them peacefully.
Let me know in the comments if you struggle with the holiday depression and how you make it through. While I tend to shine a brighter light on mental health wellness, it is equally meaningful to normalize that the process is not all roses and sunshine. Therefore, I will write more about these things under the personal experience and reflections category.