Christmas 2015

Living with Major Recurrent Depression at the Christmas Holiday Season

It crept up. Tearing up, opening floodgates of sadness set amid the bright lights and cheer of family and, yes, even happy memories. Heavy sighs out of nowhere. Head bowed down in folded arms. Troubling thoughts, felt perhaps amid Christmas chaos and exuberance. Hiding the fears and sadness; not wanting what seemed to be another episode of depression to reoccur. Not again, not this holiday. No, not to me and especially not …… to my family.

I’m lucky now. I understand and my family understands recurrent major depression. We pretty much go on as usual at Christmas time, depending on my comfort level and the family’s needs. No one puts the pressure on! That is, the pressure to perform, the pressure to act happy and to make others feel happy. There is a calm unchallenging acceptance of the depression I am experiencing. Flowers, good food, hugs, prayers, kind humor all help. But best of all is that quiet acceptance. No one tries to change me. I can partake in as much of the holiday festivities as I am able with unfettered support. I love my family and they love and unconditionally support me, warts and all. I am lucky.

I am very grateful and thankful.

It is December 27th and our family Christmas celebration is Saturday, January 2nd. As grandma and grandpa, Jim and I will host the special day. Because my depression is peaking in advance, (I think), my husband and I can plan how to lighten the day to make it transpire more easily. I’ll be wrapping the gifts today while listening to the Packers game on the radio (and wearing a number #3 Seahawks football jersey!). What food can be prepared ahead of Saturday will be so done. I’m going to try to replicate my mother’s famous and delicious escalloped potato recipe to serve them with the baked ham. I’ll ask our adult children to bring the appetizers. Whole Foods Market will furnish the salad, rolls and cookies. I’ll make the pies ahead: Tradition plus convenience!!!

Jim is pretty special as he does the cleaning and the outdoor decorations. Together we choose seasonal music we love to play in background while we work and while we entertain.

I feel much better already. It is no coincidence that I do feel better, that is, less helpless and depressed than I did an hour ago. A lesson learned, taking action to counter depression is much better than stewing about it. Writing this has put my mind to use in a very productive way. I like to think that balance was restored to those neurotransmitters by the creative process.

If someone you love suffers from depression during the holidays, please be respectful. Together find out what would work the best for the holiday celebrating that you wish to do.

Thanks and Happy New Year!