The depression Grinch who stole Christmas

Guillaume Jaillet

Growing up, I absolutely loved Christmas. The tree, the traditional Christmas baking and other yummy treats, Christmas carols, the excitement of Christmas morning, turkey dinner… the list went on and on. As I grew into adulthood, some of the sparkle faded to more of a soft happy glow, but there was a new form of sparkle in things like rum and eggnog and ice wine.

My first non-Christmas, or Christmas that wasn’t, happened in 2008, when my partner at the time was in ICU following a suicide attempt. My Christmas dinner that year was a hotdog from 7-Eleven, because nothing else was open near the hospital. My next non-Christmas was in 2012, when I was locked up in the psych ward. My family chose to have Christmas at my parents’ place in another city, which I understood but couldn’t help but feel some resentment over.

Depression next stole Christmas away from me last year. I was completely indifferent, and joined a friend for turkey dinner more because I thought it would satisfy her than out of any desire on my own part to celebrate Christmas. This year seems to be headed toward another indifferent Christmas. The large collection of Christmas tree ornaments that are a mix of childhood favourites and new additions is tucked away in my closet, and I haven’t felt any desire to fire up my old ritual of Christmas tree decorating accompanied by carols and eggnog.

While I don’t feel much of anything about Christmas itself, I do feel a sense of loss that something I used to care about and enjoy so much now means nothing. Maybe if I forced myself to follow the rituals anyway the Christmas spirit would sneak back into my life. Or maybe it would all just feel like a farce and remind me that I am broken.

I have a small family, and our Christmases have always been intimate affairs rather than a chaotic bustle. My parents almost always host Christmas, and they live 4 hours away, so I have the options of just not going. They haven’t said anything about it yet, and I know they’re worried that if I feel pressured it will scare me off. I probably “should” go home for Christmas, but shoulds just don’t really hold water with me these days.

I suppose what I have to accept is that my depression makes it almost impossible for me to enjoy anything at this point. Whether I put up a tree or not that isn’t going to change. But that doesn’t mean some rum and eggnog and butter tarts can’t lighten things up a little bit.

Clem Onojeghuo


Originally published at mentalhealthathome.wordpress.com on December 3, 2017.