When Depression Takes No Holiday Breaks
With all these busy streets and lantern lights draped at our housefronts, we can’t deny that Christmas is really just around the corner. But under these bright lights and decor lies the ugly truth that for some people, it’s nothing but another season of anxiety and stress. With the overwhelming demand of social commitments and financial pressure, holidays can be a huge trigger to our mental health. Moreover, gatherings can be especially hard to endure when you are away from your family — the people you’d want to celebrate with the most. There can be feelings of envy, isolation and despair. So if you’re one of these people who wish Christmas ends before it even starts, here are some validating reminders that will comfort you during the holidays. You are not obliged to join the parade. Imagine this: while your friends are getting drunk in the merriness of this season, you’re alone sitting on the couch, desperately finding a way to escape the party. Before saying yes to an invitation, it is important that you don’t feel any pressure. You can’t throw yourself in a gathering and mingle with lots of people if it feels like a chore for you, or if it’s going to trigger you more to a path of self destruction. Remember, don’t take on what you can’t handle. Avoid whatever can trigger you. Celebrations can come in big or small parties, like maybe you and your best friend in pajamas... with a glass of wine or hot chocolate (if wine is actually the problem)? Doesn’t matter. Your comfort should always come first. The idea is to avoid the triggers but not isolate. Your sad feelings are still valid – and will always be.
Whether it be the Christmas season, your birthday or graduation, depression can come knocking even at life’s supposed joyful moments. Do not feel burdened with everyone’s joy on TV, social media or even those around you. You are entitled to your feelings. Suppressing them can lead to more harmful thoughts. If you have someone you trust, talk to them and tell them how you feel. With technology, even distant family can offer you support. Being open to yourself and to others is always a good step. All seasons end. Holidays may have brought some heightened stress and anxiety with it, but find comfort in the fact that as with everything, it will also end. You will realize that you have endured the slightest to the biggest trigger that has put you in discomfort this season. You will realize that the true essence of Christmas does not lie in society’s standards of how to celebrate it.
Lastly, let some sunshine in. It’s time for another season. While we have established that you have all the right to feel sad, it doesn’t hurt to work towards your happiness too. It’s a long process, but starting now will get you there. Look at the things and people around you. Happiness is not just one big block of diamond, it is thousands of small gems carefully collected and piled up. Focus on gratitude even for the small things you have in life. Try to find beauty in something around you. And if you can’t find it, create it. Write a list of the activities that actually bring you some joy, and make a commitment to try a couple of them. Get yourself to Seven Mile Beach, even if it's in sweatpants and a ripped t-shirt... call that distant family member or old friend who you havent spoken to in forever, and catch up.... make a point to do at least one random act of kindness... As the days slowly usher Christmas in, it’s important to note that not everyone feels as festive as others — and that is totally okay. The best gift you can give yourself this season is to prioritize your mental health and your happiness, no matter how untraditional it may be.
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