Despite it being my absolute favorite time of year, the holidays have always been a really tough time for me. I love the shopping, gift giving, and of course…seeing all the decorations around my house. But, the emotions that I feel throughout the season are quite difficult to process. I often get down and depressed as the weeks go by, and it doesn’t really let up until about the first week of the new year. This year hasn’t been any exception to that, but I was able to feel a lot more joy this year than in years before.
For many of us that cope with depression and/or anxiety, this time of year can be very hard. From the hustle and bustle to the constant interactions with others for parties and gatherings, it can be overwhelming. It can also be a very lonely time for many. There’s a lot of people missing loved ones that have gone too soon, and many that just don’t have family or friends around to enjoy the holidays with. I sometimes feel terrible for feeling as badly as I do this time of year, because I am blessed to be surrounded by a house full of kids and do have a large extended family that I could probably be closer too if there wasn’t so much drama in the mix. But despite all of that, I do still feel the emotions of being alone and sad during this time.
I’ve tried to figure it all out over the years and see why I feel this way. For a while I thought that it was because I was being selfish and was just disappointed by the fact that I do for everyone and no one ever did for me…especially at Christmas. And by that, I am referring to the fact that I was a single mom and sometimes had to rob Peter to pay Paul just to make Christmas happen for my kids, so it would have been nice if someone would have stepped up and helped my kids just get me something small or make me something so that there was something at Christmas for me too. That created a lot of resentment in me, especially towards my ex’s. But that really wasn’t it. I then thought that it was the fact that I was alone during the holidays. A time when you celebrate with loved ones, and yet I have never been fortunate to have someone that I truly loved and loved me back, there to celebrate with. Yes, I have my amazing children to share it all with, but I have lacked that someone special for so long. Someone to kiss under the mistletoe, someone to cuddle with on the sofa as the kids unwrapped their gifts, someone to make memories with. There have been may years where I swore I’d give up ever getting another gift if I could just have my forever someone.
I eventually came to realize that it for sure was the latter of these things that have caused my emotions to soar during the holidays, and that is because the emotions would always roll into the new year. I’ve always had a hard time being alone on New Years Eve. It creates an ache within in me that is even greater than any of the other emotions I feel on Christmas or Thanksgiving. In fact, I’ve always done whatever possible to not be alone on New Years. I’d go to friends’ parties stag, just to not be home alone, thinking about being alone. I’ve traveled to see out of town friends on New Years Eve. I’ve also taken sleeping pills and slept through New Years Eve, just to not deal with being alone at the stroke of midnight. But, at the end of the day (night), I was still alone and I knew it. I felt it. It sucked. There was no running from it.
I’ve never dealt with my emotions effectively or in a healthy manner. I push them down or I’ve often taken things out on people around me, and especially those I love and/or care about the most. This is because when we hurt, we often hurt those that we know love us the most and won’t hate us for it. The holiday season hurt that stems from my endless emotions are not exempt from the cyclone that sometimes spins around me. This year, I had many down moments. I was very emotional at times, and even encountered my first real argument with my (guy) friend after eleven months of dating. All because I let something that normally wouldn’t bother me so much, intertwine with these crazy holiday emotions, as well as emotions about my past. I could have potentially lost someone so special to me because of that. Thankfully I didn’t. In fact, my birthday and Christmas were actually really great this year, and a large part of that had to do with him being a part of it. I will tell you though, having someone to share those times with, didn’t make it all better, as I always thought it would. I realized that the emotions are going to come on as our minds allow them to, and the only solution is that we have to find ways to work through them and not band-aid them or ignore them.
If you have ever felt this way too, then you’ve probably endured people telling you to cheer up, that everything is ok. Or to not feel lonely, you’re surrounded by people who care about you. Or my favorite, how can you feel lonely with a house full of kids? Loneliness has nothing to do with being physically alone and those that don’t have to cope with these emotions, will likely never understand this. As someone that does, I want to tell you that your emotions are valid and you are allowed to feel this way. Do not let anyone discredit your emotions. Holiday blues or otherwise. What you are feeling is okay to feel, but you have to find a way to cope and even heal, if needed. Emotions can be a rollercoaster ride, especially with depression and anxiety. Feel them. Express them. But don’t take up residence in that state. That is not where you want to be unpacking your bags and living. Like all the others, loneliness is an emotion and it too will pass. Even if it lasts a season, it ends. Maybe not forever, but it ends.
Something I have been trying the last few weeks to help with my roller coaster of emotions, is finding something to look forward to rather than being stuck in the wave. Thanksgiving got me down with not having someone special to sit at that family table with, so after I dried the first round of tears and went through a lot of ammo shooting up targets out on my dad’s property, I decided to focus the next two weeks on planning every second of my birthday trip with my guy. Which paid off and we had a much needed, relaxing long weekend at a cabin in the mountains together. We were away from everyone and anything that could burst that joyful bubble around us. After that, I looked forward to my actual birthday, which I normally don’t do well with either; but this year, it was great. Then there were work parties to attend and help keep my mind off of the dreaded Christmas emotions. Then, finally it was time for Christmas with my family and guy, and there were a few moments that I felt it coming on, but overall, it was an amazing day. Now, I just have to try to remain positive through New Years and look forward to another great weekend with family and friends alike.
I’m not sure if just looking forward to things is going to be a cure for my emotions, but I definitely feel like it’s working for now; and not necessarily just band-aiding it as other things have done in the past. I feel like it encourages me to stay positive and to get out of my own head. It is promoting me to live in the now, and finding the next good thing to look forward to is the onward goal. If that next thing happens to fall through, we can’t get upset or deterred. Everything happens for a reason. Isn’t the saying that sometimes things fall apart so better things can come together? So, what’s next to come together for you? It may not be something that is directly for you either. It could be a friend’s wedding or baby shower, a concert, or attending a work event, graduation, or even a kid’s birthday party. There is always something to look forward to and someone to be happy for. You just have to find it! That is what I challenge you to do today. Go find something coming up and look forward to it. Plan it and embrace it. Take your mind off of the years of sadness, anxiety and stress that the holidays may bring and find joy in something that is to come. Make new memories and live life to the fullest.
I for one am looking forward to sharing more with you in the New Year. Until then, I am wishing each of you a safe and happy New Years!
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