Depressed for the Holidays

Depression.

It’s real, and it does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, where you live, or how hard you fight it, it touches all of us at some point. Especially during this time of year. It is what it is.

Something that I’ve learning about depression is that it’s not something simple like a head cold. Neither is it something that hits you for a few minutes every now and then. No, depression, real depression, is something that once it hits you, you live with to varying degrees every single day. You wake up with it. You spend most of your day with it. You go to bed with it. No matter what you’re doing, you are always aware of it. It’s a rain cloud on your shoulder.

I have battled depression for years now and I still battle it every single day. I’m actually depressed right now, and it’s not because my life sucks, or because I have anything in particular to be upset about. It’s just a rain cloud on my shoulder, and I can’t explain it, nor can I make it go away. It is just there.

SHRUG.

Even when you’re able to grasp a small victory over depression, it’s still there waiting. Waiting to reappear a minute or two after you think you’ll never have to deal with it again. There will be days when you wake up, and feel like you’ve beaten it, but no, depression is never satisfied. Depression is like a cancer of the mind and the spirit, and much like any other type of cancer, there is rarely such a thing as a permanent remission. There is no real treatment for it other than using medication. I tried to self-medicate my depression for years. I would buy things, eat things, drink things, and distract myself as much as possible, but at the end of the day, I was still buried underneath it. Back when I believed it would help, I spent a lot of time and energy praying about it. Every single day. The only relief that I’ve found has been actual medication, and I don’t want to be dramatic, but sometimes I feel like it’s saved my life.

I digress.

It’s not surprising that the holiday season and depression don’t play well together. For me, the problem with the holiday season is that it ends. It can can be such a happy time, but it ends almost as quickly as it begins, and even if the minutes briefly begin to feel like hours, you know that it’s still going to end eventually, and you know that you will have to very quickly (almost abruptly) go back to living life as usual. This can be jarring, and it is not for the faint of heart.

Then again, it’s not a happy time at all for some folks. Sometimes it can be a reminder of the many ways life hasn’t worked out like we hoped it would. Loved ones we’ve lost. Mistakes we’ve made. Relationships that have been forever severed. All of these things seem to swell in our minds during the holiday season, and for good reason. The most cheerful time of year can very quickly become the most lonely time of year.

I’m not here to share any feel-good stories with you. Nor do I have any remedies to help you deal with these things (outside of medicine, which I must recommend). I’m just here to tell you that you’re not alone. You’re never alone, and as broken as you may feel right now, I’m right there with you. Broken, poured out, and buried underneath a million little things that never seemed to matter very much over the years, but that I can’t, for the life of me, seem to pull myself out from under.

So I’m sending my most cheerful, optimistic thoughts to all of the beautiful people who share this struggle with me today.

Life might hurt like hell sometimes, but we’re going to be okay.

Don’t forget that.

Happy holidays, friends.