Sometimes it’s difficult remaining grateful while living with depression. Especially during the holiday season when you are missing loved ones. Anxiety is high also during this time of year.
Living with depression and anxiety is never easy. It’s a daily struggle that never ends. However, you learn to manage and have some good days but still have bad days. Some worse than others.
So when you are already living with depression and anxiety how do you remain grateful during the holiday season? That’s what I want to address in this post!
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Remaining Grateful With Depression
When you have lost loved ones you will always miss them each and every day. You learn to cope and get through each day without them. The pain never fully goes away, but you learn to cope.
Then the holiday season approaches and the anxiety starts to build. The depression and the ache of missing the departed loved ones become more intense. Mainly because as the family gathers for holiday festivities you become more aware of the missing loved one that is no longer here on earth with you.
You probably hear this advice a lot. When you are depressed, feeling sad and don’t feel like being festive this is probably the last thing you really want to hear.
When you are missing a parent, sibling or child that has died you honestly don’t feel very grateful at the moment. However, if you will honestly try to think of at least three things you are grateful for each morning when you wake up it will help you feel a little bit better. I promise that it will.
You may have lost parents, but you still have your siblings. Perhaps you’ve lost siblings, but you still have your spouse. I’ve never lost a child, so I’m not even going to venture out at comparing that one. I’ve lost my one and only blood-related niece and it’s been unfathomable. I’ve watched several very close friends bury their children. One of those children was as close to being like my own as he could possibly be without actually being blood-related.
Some people have what’s called the “Holiday Blues”. For some it’s simply that; just feeling a little down or blue during the holiday season and then it passes. For others, it goes much deeper than that and is actually clinical depression that worsens during the Holidays and/or winter months.
“The Holiday Blues” is a condition that begins around the Thanksgiving holiday, causing stress and anxiety throughout the winter and until after New Year’s. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the feelings may be associated with extra stress, unrealistic expectations or sentimental memories. During this time, people may feel lonely, frustrated or tense.https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/11/26/thanksgiving-reality-for-some-stress-anxiety-depression
Holiday Blues vs. Clinical Depression
The difference between people who suffer from clinical depression and those that deal with Holiday Blues is that the latter is temporary.
A recent survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness found that 64 percent of people with mental illness report that the holidays make their conditions worse.
Post-card perfect images of happy families gathered around the dinner table for a wonderful Thanksgiving meal emerge everywhere this time of year. But that just isn’t a reality for many families.
Family traditions change as time goes by. As grandparents die, parents divorce, then remarry, children grow up and move away, so traditions have to be altered.
Trying to fit the mold
Traditions change, we add some new and try to keep some of the old ones. Children that are now grown and married have a new extended family to accommodate as well.
Yet still many have depression and anxiety lurking around to deal with during all these festivities also.
What about the family member who has always felt like the “black sheep” of the family? The one that has never felt like they fit in with everyone else. You know the one, maybe it’s even you that feels that way. You feel like you just don’t add up, that you aren’t as good or as successful as everyone else in the family. Perhaps you even overhear them talking about you or they ask you questions that are uncomfortable for you to answer. Can you imagine the social anxiety that creates?
Putting on a happy face
Remember Tommy Lee Jones and his famous line in the movie Man of the House? You know the one I’m talking about when he never cracks a smile but says “This is my happy face.”
Maybe that’s the best that some of us can do at family gatherings. Be thankful that we showed up at all. I want to see my family and spend time with them, I really do. But sometimes it’s all I can do to arrive sober and not bawling my eyes out.
Let the kids play, tell a few jokes, let me have pie before dinner and maybe I’ll even feel like laughing before it’s all over and done.
Thankful even when I’m sad
Life has taught me a few things along the way. A few of the main lessons include:
- You only live once
- Life is short
- Time waits on no one
- Once a moment is gone you can’t get it back
- You and your kids will only be this age once
Try to remember the above list. The sooner you learn those things and start to think about them you will live happier.
Commit to thinking about those five short sentences on that list every day. The more you think about them, the easier it will become to practice gratitude.
Sad and Lonely
Something else to think about is this; when living with depression you can be sad or you can be sad and lonely. Your choice. Even in a crowd, you may still feel some bit of sadness, but at least you aren’t home alone moping.
Don’t let the fact that you are missing a loved one keep you from joining the family gatherings. The entire family misses that loved one also. It is a difficult time, but the family wants to love and support you. The family knows you are sad, they don’t want to think of you home alone and lonely too.
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Until next time,