Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of the year in the United States. It’s a time when families come together for no other reason than to acknowledge their blessings, spend time with each other, and eat until their hearts are content. It’s a day when everyone is encouraged to take stock of the good things in their lives and see how those are what really matter. It is a lead-in to the most joyous of holidays, which extends beyond the borders of the U.S. and reaches in to the entire world – Christmas.
The holidays can indeed foster times of great joy and happiness. Unfortunately, they can also prove to be mental quicksand for those dealing with feelings of depression.
As with many topics related to depression, it can be difficult to explain why the holidays can be so difficult to navigate without venturing into self-pity. “Oh, how can they continue to play all this happy music and talk about all these wonderful things when I’m so sad? Can’t they see what I’m going through?” What many people with depression don’t realize is how self-centered the disease can make them. They become blind to how selfish they’ve become.
For those who are self-aware, though, depression around the holidays becomes a double whammy. The person knows they are not being grateful enough. They also know how selfish they are for feeling the way they do. As a result, they not only feel depression, but they also are hit with waves and waves of guilt. It’s a vicious cycle, and it only leads one way – down.
I’m not here to offer any pat answers about how to not be depressed around the holidays. In fact, I would greatly appreciate if everyone reading this could share your tips about how you manage to cope with the holiday blues. All I am trying to do is encourage understanding among those who have never had an un-thankful Thanksgiving or a not-so-merry Christmas for those who are having a hard time getting it together this year. You might not be able to cure them, but you can at least provide a helping hand to get them through.
And from me to you, if you’re someone riding a wave of depression from Thanksgiving on the way towards Christmas, hang in there. Better days can be ahead for you. In fact, you could be in a better day right now and just not know it. If you can’t feel it, though, don’t stack layers of guilt upon yourself. You’re not the first person to be where you are, and you’re not going to get it right all the time. It may not be the most wonderful time of the year, but it doesn’t have to be the most terrible either.