Many people count down to the holidays every year with baited breath. For most of the world, December is a month of celebrating and happiness. For others, however, it’s a time that reminds them of the bad, the difficult, and the painful. For others, the entire holiday season fills them with dread.
For the past few years, I’ve found myself in the second group. I’ve found myself wanting to avoid everything holiday related as much as possible. I’m not sure if it’s constantly being surrounded by people who insist that it’s the “happiest time of the year”, if it’s the reminder of the holidays formerly being happy memories, or if it’s just that depression seems to be spiked with extra strength steroids at the end of the year. Honestly, it’s probably a combination of all of the above, but no matter the reasoning, I’ve found myself becoming more bitter and less willing to give any holiday celebrating the time of day.
I read an article on the habits of people with concealed depression a couple days ago. I think this is one of the most on-point articles on describing my thoughts and actions in dealing with depression that I’ve ever read. There is nothing more that I hate than feeling like a burden to the people around me…having the thoughts that make you believe that if you fully let someone in to the way you experience the world, there’s no way that they could willingly spend another minute with you. The paralyzing need to just have someone want to be there while you sob, but not being able to trust that someone would be that strong backbone for you. The guilt that floods through you as you sit on the floor, unable to move. The facade, the impenetrable mask of peaceful happiness you’ve created and don’t know how to remove because you’ve feared the abandonment by the people you care for most in this world if they saw that darkness that flows through the truest form of you.
The holiday season is always one when the mask is weakest. When the sense of aloneness becomes stronger than ever and threatens to break down your walls past the point of repair. When the joy around you is almost unbearable because the opposite feeling feels so clear in your life. For me, it always begins on Thanksgiving. That’s the start of the season when I want to go into hibernation, only returning back to the world after the holidays have passed and the harshest part of winter makes the general public want to withdraw into their shells. So I find ways to avoid celebrating. I work through the holidays. I avoid time with family and friends. I make it a point to stay home.
It’s really a battle between hard and harder. I was sick this Thanksgiving, and while I have been hit with waves of loneliness stronger than I think I’ve ever experienced before, part of me was thankful that I could use that sickness as an excuse to stay home instead of accepting friends’ offers to join their families. There’s a sense that those invitations come from a place of pity that I am alone, even though I know that’s a ridiculous idea to have. There’s the idea that if I were to go and celebrate any holiday with others, that I would be a downer, even though the people that I know are sincere in their friendship wouldn’t actually mind my melancholy. It’s a constant inner battle between my feelings and thoughts and knowing that those feeling and thoughts take over through the power of depression.
I started writing this post as a reflection, as an explanation for some of my actions. However, I think it’s become more of a plea to the people around me, as an attempt to put some of my thoughts into words, and to let the other people I know who struggle through this month know that you aren’t the only one. Even if some of us choose to struggle in silence and solitude, there’s a slight relief knowing others are fighting similar battles.