We are brought up with excitement about the Holiday season. But what if-- 'lo and behold'-- we just are not?. What if we become, God forbid, depressed??? Unfortunately this is not an uncommon occurence. Everyone knows about the Jewish kids that grow up jealous of their Christian neighbors and all the glorious presents they seem to get for Christmas. Even with a gift for each of the 8 days of Chanukah, it never seems to add up to all the gifts their Christian friends receive. But this rarely becomes a serious situation.
What is serious is when a loved one has died during the Holiday season. Each year those affected are reminded of the sadness of their loss. It is hard to laugh and 'be happy' when you're caught up with thoughts of a parent; a sibling, or a mate who left at this time of year. Then of course there are all the family gatherings that take place beginning with Thanksgiving. So many find it difficult to be around family. Usually it is because they feel that they have not met the expectations that 'the family' had for them. Often there are underlying unresolved issues between family members that may be difficult to set aside at these gatherings. How sad...
As this is a very frequent situation which therapists face from clients at this time of year I thought perhaps it would be helpful to offer ways in which to deal with your own possible sadness. First know---you are not alone. The time of year itself can bring about sadness. It gets dark earlier; it's colder and all the bravado of the season only sets people who aren't feeling particularly 'happy'-- back. What to do??
Take stock of yourself. Of course there are going to be things about which you are unsettled and disappointed. When those thoughts take over...face them and then ask yourself what things you are happy about. What achievements, small as they may be, have made you proud. And most importantly who is in your life that you consider a 'friend'? Who is there for you when you need someone? Think about these people when you may not be around them. Tell your family about them. Just thoughts of these people and the fun you may have had together can put a smile on your face. And if by chance you can't find anyone to fit this bill, make an assessment. What kind of friend have you been? Have you put yourself out for anyone and been there for them? In order to have a friend you have to be one. This may be a good New Year's resolution.
Finally, as much as you may not want to partake in the joviality of the season...force yourself to. Make dinner plans with the friends you do have. (You may even call up one of your relatives who hold themselves apart and make a date with them!) Dress up and put on make up. Go to some good, and 'up', kind of movies. Put on music in your home...the holiday TV stations can be great, Lastly, reach out to everyone and wish them happiness at this time of year! Ironically, it's the best way to lift your own spirits.
Or...if you are a blogger take a minute and wish all your readers the very best the season and life has to offer. Happy Holidays everone!
Mimi Scott, Ph.d, LCSW