Coming out about my depression was one of the hardest things I have ever done; second only to holding my 3-month-old son as he passed into eternity. Since coming out about my mental illness, my angst during the holidays has improved slightly. I still struggle during Christmas however I have chosen to push on and continue to don my fake smile; which scarily I have become quite good at over the years. In this week’s musing, I wanted to share some safe and healthy ways that I have found to avoid spiraling into a pit of misery during the holiday season. Keep in mind that nothing is foolproof.
Going Through the Motions
Over the years I have become quite adept at going through the motions by making those around me unaware of my despair. I have said this many times in the past – “I do not like people”. Now when I say that I do not like people, what I really mean is that I dread the build-up involved with getting ready for a social gathering. This build-up causes my anxiety to skyrocket; and anxiety is one of my depression triggers.
So now, instead of wallering in my thoughts, I just push forward knowing that once arriving to the social gathering, I will likely enjoy myself. And you as well may also find yourself in an enjoyable situation if you persevere this holiday season.
Do not Keep the Pain to Yourself
Probably the best thing I could have done for my mental health was to come out about it. Trust me though, it was not easy. I had always feared what would be everyones reactions. Would they not believe me or simply say suck it up and just get over it? Or perhaps they would just snicker behind my back and say, ‘he is just saying that for sympathy’. The fear of rejection or the lack of acceptance was central in my mind and remains so today. Moreover, I still believe that telling others, especially my family, friends, and followers on social media, was my best path forward to better mental health.
Be Open to Help from Others Over the Holidays
In our current pandemic societal evolution, a hug or a smile is still my favorite way to cope. A simple hug or smile from a friend is reassuring to me. It lets me know they are thinking of me and it also shows they care. So if you have a loved one whom you know or believe is suffering, reach out to them. Trust me, a simple call on the phone goes a long way to help someone who is suffering. Don’t let your friends and family languish in their pain.
If you are unsure of who may be suffering, look for tale-tale signs of depression in your friends and family. You may not have noticed them before and for me, the signs are more evident during the holidays.
Look for Ways to Help Others During the Holidays
I write my thoughts here and share my meager attempts at digital art in hopes that someone suffering the same as me can take solace in knowing they are not alone.
If you are suffering in silence, please reach out to others. Do not, I repeat, do not suffer alone. Find a safe and healthy outlet to improve your mental stability. This could be as simple as finding others to help. For me, writing this blog and drawing on my iPad are my coping mechanisms. What will be your way of coping this holiday season? Tell me in the comments below.
Consider making a donation to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. And if money is tight, you can always volunteer at your local food bank or homeless shelter. Oh, and do not tell me that you cannot find one hour of time even during the holiday season. If you really think it through, I suspect you can find that one hour to volunteer. Time is our most valuable asset so if used wisely, you can find the time to volunteer. Blessing someone during the holidays season could go a long way to improving your own mental health.
If you made it this far, please consider commenting below, subscribing, and also sharing on your social media sites. Most importantly, I ask for your prayers. I write this weekly blog as an outlet in my fight against depression. However, my hope is that something I write here may help others who may be struggling. If you would like to help with my battle against depression, check out my online Etsy store and affiliate links. Most proceeds are donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by dialing 988. You may also text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.