Survive Christmas Holiday Depression

Old 12-13-2003, 05:25 AM
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Survive Christmas Holiday Depression

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Bah Humbug.

For many people, Christmas is the saddest time of year. In a culture that is obsessed with all things Christmas, it is easy to feel like an alien when our thoughts and feelings are anything but merry.

Whether your pain stems from lost loved ones, unfulfilled hopes, shattered dreams or personal failures, the holidays will probably intensify your feelings. On TV we see storybook families and peace on earth -- nothing but laughter and smiles. But what if the reflection in your mirror reveals a lonely heart, empty arms, betrayal or rejection?

Are you just hoping to survive this Christmas?

Do you wince when someone exuberantly proclaims, "Merry Christmas!"? How can you possibly celebrate the season of joy when you feel such deep sadness? Is it possible to be honest with your feelings without becoming a grinch? Without ruining Christmas for everybody else?

The good news is that you can do more than just survive this Christmas. Rather than clenching your teeth and simply enduring the holidays, you can allow this to be a time of healing, a time of moving through grief and beginning to embrace life again. First, though, you have to face reality.

Be Honest with Yourself.

Start by honestly facing what you are going through. Acknowledge your pain, name its source, and share it with people you trust. At Christmas there is a great temptation to paste on a smile and go through the motions. This may help you survive December, but it will do nothing to help you grow through your hurt. As Eugene Peterson writes, "Year by year, as we deny and avoid the pains and losses, the rejections and frustrations, we'll become less and less, trivial and trivializing, empty shells with smiley faces painted on them."

Go Easy on Yourself.

Accept your physical and emotional limitations this year. Be gentle and patient with yourself. Christmas is a hectic, demanding time: we sing carols about silent nights, still and calm, and then we run around madly, trying to stuff as much into each day as possible. Step out of the whirlwind. Choose only the most meaningful traditions to hold on to and set the rest aside for a year. If you have lost someone close to you, your traditions may need to be altered, but continuing to keep those traditions is a way of keeping the person's memory alive.

Go Easy on Everyone Else.

The chances are very good that, sometime during the holiday season, someone is going to say something that seems insensitive to you. Understand that most people really do want to help, but they may not know how. Who of us is completely at ease in the presence of deep hurt? You may have to make the first move and tell people what you need.

While it is important to be wise and protect your wounded heart, remember that grief is not an excuse for being selfish. Consider other people's needs and reach out to them. Serving others is good medicine! You can't possibly know what hurts other people are carrying. Everyone has a story - even that perky sales clerk who is giving you a headache!

Plan Ahead.

A sure recipe for feeling overwhelmed is to have no strategy at all. Look at your calendar and consult your immediate family members. What will be helpful? What will be hurtful? Christmas events can be either a pleasant distraction or a painful reminder of the problems you are coping with. Try to leave yourself an escape in case you need one. For example, drive yourself to Christmas parties so you can leave early if you need to.
Sometimes when we are struggling, especially when we are coping with the death of a loved one, we feel guilty when we realize that we are actually having a good time. Moments of happiness seem to somehow dishonour the person we miss. But it's okay for you to have fun; in fact, it's crucial to your healing as you realize that life will indeed go on. The fact that you are still able to smile does not reflect on your love for the person or on the depth of your loss. So if you unexpectedly find yourself enjoying this Christmas, embrace it! That's exactly what your loved one would wish for you.

Allow yourself to have fun.

Celebrate the Real Christmas. Far from the idyllic scenes on Christmas cards, the first Christmas was messy and painful. It was a true story of a confused young teenaged mom who birthed her first child far from home, next to noisy animals in a smelly barn. This child was given to humankind as a gift of ultimate love by God the Father. It was the gift of Himself, wrapped in the humble form of a baby.

An old carol by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow laments,

And in despair I bowed my head.
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men."

by Christie and Glen Hoos
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Old 12-13-2003, 06:47 AM
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Just Tired

Thank you. Very comforting.I have always struggled with Christmas (as many others).

I just never get real excited about it and I wish it were different in some ways. I guess one reason is because I never really had any extended family to celebrate with and so our kids never had the aunts, uncles, cousins either.

I was raised in a children's home and my husband was pretty much left to run the streets at an early age. .we had to develop our own traditions. Than. .we both worked (he is retired now) as nurses. .now when you are a nurse you work holidays all the time. so in our family we were use to having holdays celebrated on another day when everyone was off work.

This year I donated our artificial tree to the hospital I work at (I bought it in a spur of the moment) cause we have always had real trees in our family with our youngest son (who is serving 5-10 years in state prison. .he was 19 when he did the dumbest thing ever. .)) picking it out. .My plan is to get a small real tree this year . .again. .

Christmas is also more of a religious holiday in our family so that helps keep the focus for us. I have really been reflecting on the scripture passage Phillipians 4:4. .It really has been helping me when I get in the panic mode.

Thanks Just Tired for your faithfulness to Soberrecovery. .and all the comfort and support you have given me over the years. (Wow. .it has been years!!)

Blessings Mo
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Old 12-13-2003, 07:39 AM
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Blessings Back Mo,

Yes it has been years now!

I was sent packing when my step father kicked me out and never allowed me back. That was over 25 years ago...he is dead now but it has never been the same.

My son is out there and my advance plan this year is to not include him. Too much garbage. In the past I have gone with the flow which means last minute calls from him and trying to tie it all up pretty. It can't be pretty when he is around so I want no part of it.

I have a grandson with no parents but as sad as that is he is what will make Christmas what it should be. Seeing it all through his eye's is the greatest gift of this year's season for Ward and me.

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Old 12-13-2003, 08:25 AM
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(((( JT )))

You have been such a blessing to me. I feel honored to share recovery with you.

The Beavette is SO lucky to have you for a grandparent

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Old 12-13-2003, 08:40 AM
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How wonderful

That is a wonderful post, thank you.
Merry x-mas to you and yours!
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Old 12-13-2003, 09:54 AM
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Thanks JT.

You're the best!

Old 12-13-2003, 09:57 AM
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I learned a long time ago to Keep It Simple, and Christmas is no exception.

I try to enjoy the very beauty... the lights, music, candles and church Christmas Eve. And avoid the in crowded stores, too many festivites planned, and tiring myself out.

Merry Christmas, JT and everyone. I am making extra effort to keep this one sane.

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Old 12-13-2003, 02:06 PM
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JT, Ward, Beavette,

May your Christmas be blessed in more ways than one...

JT, I understand how you feel about grandchildren...We are doing 2 of them and it seems the Holidays are the hardest for them....I know we can't make it up to them for what their parents can't or won't do but my personal prayer is that we can give them enough love to make a possitve difference in their lives.

Love, prayers, and Merry Christmas to all!
Aunt Daffy
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Old 12-20-2003, 05:51 AM
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Old 12-20-2003, 03:20 PM
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Thanks JT. This is my first Christmas ever where I can even relate to those feelings. Wow. Time to double up on Al-anon meetings.
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Old 12-23-2003, 06:11 PM
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Let's not let this thread drop out of site just yet. :xmaswink
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Old 12-24-2003, 10:39 AM
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Back up for one more day :xmassmile :merry
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