Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Blogging Out Loud: Facing The Holidays When Times Are Tough

Deb and Barbara: What do you do and how do you cope when you're surrounded by all the holiday hoopla ... and you're just not in the frame of mind to enjoy it?



76 comments:

  1. Well, I am right in the middle of what will be the most sad Christmas I have experienced to date. I am really trying to listen to myself right now and I do that by starting each day with a walk in the woods, a kiss for my horse, and then I am ready for the rest of the day. I have just lost my sister to cancer. She was my best friend and the person I was closest to. She was a real Christmas freak and created a Norman Rockwell Christmas for family and friends every year in "her woods". This year I am quiet ans still.....I have decorated my house, but only see very close friend and family. No Christmas functions for me this year. It is softer, I miss my sister terribly, but I put one foot in front of the other every morning in the woods and let nature sooth my soul.

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    1. I'm so sorry Mary-Jo. I'm glad you have those woods to walk in and that horse to kiss.

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    2. I'm so so sorry for your loss, sisters share the most special of bonds. I really can't think of better advice to get through anything than "put one foot in front of the other every morning" and "let nature soothe my soul". Thankyou for that wisdom, I hope this difficult christmas is gentle and peaceful for you.

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    3. Aww I'm sooooo sorry sweetie! Big hugs!!

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    4. Jo we thought of you when we were doing this one. I think you have picked the perfect way to get through this. You have made choices that are right for you. And there is nothing wrong with that. xo

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    5. Jo we thought of you when we were doing this one. I think you have picked the perfect way to get through this. You have made choices that are right for you. And there is nothing wrong with that. xo

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    6. Oh no...I'm so sorry for your loss!
      Thinking of you! *hugs tight*

      And since she liked christmas, she will love your decorations! =)

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    7. Jo, I'm so sorry for your loss. You're doing what's best for you. *HUGS* <-- offered.

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    8. Souzan Rezai from Vancouver, BCDecember 19, 2012 at 12:18 PM

      Mary-Jo, I am so sorry for you loss. I add to the support, love, and hugs should you want them. XO

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    9. I'm sorry for your loss as well. All the best to you for the season and beyond!

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    10. Thank you all so much for your support and good wishes. I can't tell you what that means to me. We all have our struggles and in reading some of yours this Christmas, you just never know what people are going through. It is wonderful that we can share good times and hard times. what an incredible, true to life this blog is! It doesn't just skim the surface, it goes deeper, in to the hard stuff and comes our with diamonds, right Deb! Have a happy and gentle Christmas! And, thank you, xo

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    12. So so sorry for your loss. Thoughts and prayers with you and yours. We are all here for you. Much love, Mary-Jo.

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    13. So sad to hear of this Mary-Jo. Hugs and warm wishes for the holidays. <3 We're here for you.

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    14. I am sorry for your loss. Remember that you are allowed to be sad while rest of the world seems happy.

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    15. Jo, you must have known that you were certainly one of the people we specifically channeled for this one. As we said, you've given us a beautiful and gentle way to deal with holiday madness in times of sadness. Thank you! And so much love! xoxo

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    16. Mary-Jo, I wish you peace, love, and strength at this time and always.

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    17. Thanks to each and every one of you kind souls for sending healing loving wishes to Jo.

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  2. First off, you girls look great!

    And Its interesting that you chose this topic. I'm one of those who faces this. Well, the festivals here havent been a DELIGHT for me for a long time. They are the time my mom and uncle are home so they have screaming matches with each other and my poor little headphone cant cover the noise most of the time, I cant go out because it creates BONUS screaming matches with me and I dont like arguing or fighting. So for me during festivals when the family is home is the time to see how skillfully I can handle it. I am getting pretty good at it. One thing I do is distract myself, from everything, I usually have one of my normal days Wish people with a smile on my face and get lost in my thoughts.

    What if I arent happy? Whats the big deal.....I OWN THAT! I OWN MY SADNESS OR LONELINESS as much as I own my happiness. If I feel like crying I cry if I feel angry I play a computer game and shout people to death. Its not like it'll stay forever. Its gotta change sometimes. And its not like this is the LAST FESTIVAL.. there are sooo many years ahead full of it!

    Second thing is, when I am having a particularly bad festival, I try to see the joy in other people's eyes. I'm not gonna lie it is tricky sometimes because you can immediately think "Wish I could have that" And if I feel that I immediately look somewhere else.

    Third thing, which helps me a lot is I look at it like it isnt a big deal, festivals stopped being a big deal for me a long time ago.

    Fourth thing, I know its not gonna be the same, I have sucha big soul family now and I'm stepping into the new aspect of life and this year no matter how worst things got I knew this was the last year it would happen. Next year, I'll be FREE to do what I want, Celebrate how I want and with whomever I want.

    And fifth and the most important thing, I try and revel in the little joyous moments like the 1:11s on the clock, how you think something and have a friend talk to you about it or blog about it ;), Watching an inspirational video, sifting through the millions of cat and dog pictures on FB, the little blue bird sitting on your window, etc etc I soak in these things, atleast I try too. Coz Ya know what I think? Who cares if you are happy because you are having a great day or because somebody else is? Or because you noticed something that blocked you out of all the noisy bickering and gave you a smile?

    Be happy for the SAKE OF IT. Because it feels good. (the interpreting emotions helps me here as I feel their emotions more intensely!)

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    1. GREAT attitude, Shalaka. And true words of wisdom.

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    2. So young and yet, so wise Shalaka.

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  3. So sorry for all those facing losses this holiday season. One of my best friends lost her daughter in July and this is her first holiday season with this loss. She is having a difficult time but does put one step in front of the other and does what she can and leaves when it is too much. She also met with a therapist for the first time yesterday and told me she liked her and it went well. So that is another avenue. Her daughter committed suicide so lots of unknowns in this loss. I think of all the parents and families that just lost the newest angels in Newtown, Connecticut and my heart and soul ache for all of them.

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    1. I remember you talking about your friend, Madge. This, like the Newtown losses, are ones I simply can't fathom. My heart goes out to all of them.

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    2. So sorry Madge for the loss of your friend's daughter. A tough Christmas for her to say the least. We all feel the profound sadness from Newtown. I like everyone else, carry it with me through this season. Can't even imagine what the families are going through. Can't even begin. I just wish them peace.

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  4. I think I have been more depressed this year, than any other year. I always try to very cheerful,but this year is differnt. Lets just say ill be glad when 2013 comes. 2012 has not been good to me

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    1. I hope 2013 turns out to be an ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC YEAR for you, Lyndsie! :)

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    2. I feel the same way, Lyndsie. 2012 has been the worst year of my life and I just hope and pray that 2013 will be better.

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    3. Thanks you all I hope 2013 is an amaIng year for everyone. and I hope everyone is blessed this year.. and that when 2013 comes, we leave all the negative things that have happened this year in the

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    4. Add my wishes to the list, Lyndsie. So sorry it's been tough. Hopefully 2013 will bring loveliness and happiness.

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    5. I'm so sorry Lyndsie and Steph that you have both had awful years. I take your wishes Lynsdsie and direct them right back to you hoping that 2013 is a better year for all of us on this planet. xo

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  5. Watching your vlogs? ;)

    I don't know...I kind of hate it, because I really love christmas. But actually we never celebrate it the way I would love to celebrate it...and we never did, but I always have these images in my mind...

    This is year is worse than any other year...I force myself to go with the flow...Bought presents, decorated a little bit and made cookies (still need to do those peanut ones from last year, Barbara^^ Loved them!).

    I think I just want it to be over. :/

    I love you, guys. You are the best! Seriously! *hugs*

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    1. We love you too, Becki! And I kinda feel that when the holidays are finally "over", the need to meet a certain standard will dissipate and maybe life will flow more easily. You're the best! xoxo

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    2. Becki maybe try to find something "normal" in the holidays that you can cling to? I don't mean to sound trite but instead of thinking you have to rise to the festive level dictated by the season, why not try waking up grateful and secure in just another day. I hope this makes sense.

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  6. That first Christmas without my dad (it was 8 years ago) was the toughest. Fresh off his passing, the week before Christmas was spent planning his memorial service, and struggling with our grief. How does one tell an autistic 7 year old that Grandpa has died in such a way that he could understand? We ended up telling him that Grandpa lives with the angels. Our first biggest chuckle came from him. He paused and exclaimed, "Grandpa is in Los Angeles!" Makes sense.

    Christmas has lost its "shine" since that point. Not that I'm all "boo hoo, woe is me" about it. Christmas is bittersweet. The commercialization of "It's the Most Joyous Time of the Year" sets my teeth on edge. For me, Christmas is a time for personal reflection - reflecting on the past year, and celebrating the good times, acknowledging the more difficult times, and celebrating how those challenges were faced. It's a time to reaffirm personal core values. Heck, it may even be a time of challenging preconceptions.

    How do I cope when faced with the commercialization of this season? Easy - avoid the crowds (as much as possible). There is a lot less frustration and annoyance on my part when I'm doing my shopping at 2 am (when there isn't much crowds). I participate as much as I can, and when I reach my limit, I leave - ideally before I "spoil" the event/day/whatever for others.

    I can "Lu Li Lu La" and get my "Ding Dong Ding Dong Christmas Bells are ringing" on with the best of them, but I need time away from the constant bombardment of having a "Holly, Jolly Christmas". Sometimes, a "Silent Night" is needed.

    Stray random thought (not like this hasn't been stream of consciousness). War on Christmas ... We hear that bandied about quite a bit recently (or at least here in Toon Town with people complaining that the public transit has dared to use the phrase "Merry Christmas"). Perhaps people should consider the "war" isn't solely based on who gets what faith represented in the town square, but how society seems incapable of accepting people feeling anything less than "happy" (and all synonyms) stereotypically associated with this time of year.

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    1. So many interesting points and ideas here, Jo. I certainly bow to your coping strategy. To me, this makes so much sense. Certainly the "avoid what drives you mad" thinking is so smart. As is the "leave when you've had enough". As for all of us being required to feel happy -- I do think that's a major problem with this time of year. How can you not feel that you've failed somehow if you don't? And, let's face, not a one of us makes it through unscathed by stress, anger, frustration and, yes, sadness. Tis the season...

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    2. Jo this was so from the heart and so honest. I have had some struggles this season myself frankly and it so resonated with me when you said "sometime, a silent night is needed". Hear hear.

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  7. Last year was an interesting one for me, while I didn't lose anyone I felt rather overwhelmed by the very sudden shift to me being the one to put the proverbial and literal turkey on the table. The generations shifted and it seems I've now become the primary person resonsible for bringing everything together.
    It was really a bit of a struggle to adjust to and still is a bit this year but I don't feel that overwhelming sense of loss that I felt last year. I'm not really sure what it was that I felt I lost but something....the last vestiges of childhood perhaps.
    Whatever it was last Christmas season just felt like something to get through. I found myself unhappy and worrisome most of the time instead of joyful and happy. I was miserable but I kept going and figuring it out as I went along. This year while it still feels a little bit strange to be Christmas elf numero uno it is better.
    I guess that's all you can do when faced with a rough holiday season or a difficult time in your life you just have to keep going and hope that it will all eventually work out. There really is nothing else I can think to do.

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    1. Such an interesting point, Erin! When we make that transition to being the host (from kinda being the child, even a grown one). Man, did this strike a chord in me -- as this was totally my own experience! I can say, after being host for about 20 years now, it truly does get easier and in some ways can be less stressful than schlepping elsewhere. Good luck!

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    2. BElieve me Erin this resonated with me too. I am dealing with being the adult and the parent to my parents on every level. A role I never wanted to have.

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  8. Souzan Rezai from Vancouver, BCDecember 19, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    I love Christmas, but I definitely choose entering the outside "We've Been Decorated For Christmas Since November" world very selectively, because it IS an emotionally grueling season!
    I deal with it by allowing, and allotting, a great deal of time to myself. This year is finally a non-threatening Christmas for my family, which is great. I have been struggling with depression for a long time. The last two years was the darkest part, which affected not just my enjoyment of the holidays but my family's. The year before that, my brother had broken his engagement with his fiance, whom he had proposed to AT Christmas the year before, and so he was very depressed, and our family as a whole was shaken. My depression was respectful enough to go on hold-- parents can only handle one depressed kid at a time. I think it's almost parent-abuse otherwise...

    Through all of those I think I discovered that the best thing I can do, is balance time by myself, time with people, and time "in" Christmasness, or Holidayness. I go for walks in quiet parks that haven't been dressed for the holidays, and watch movies/tv that is completely unrelated to winter in general, if I don't feel sparkly. If I am going to watch or do something traditional that hurts this time around-- like watch that Christmas movie without my loved one who shared that with me, I allow it to be sad. I cry through the whole thing and mourn the change of a tradition in my life. It's sad, but it's okay that that's sad. It really bothers me when people try to 'distract' you from how sad a situation may be, like avoiding it is going to fix it? It takes time to face, and cannot be rushed, but can never be bypassed, either.
    And finally, when I feel sick of myself and my own emotions, or when I feel like the Holiday is celebrating without me, I will take myself to the mall and watch the whirlwind. In honour of honesty, I admit I go with my travel mug of tea, filled with hot tea, honey, and whiskey in it... What can I say? It takes the edge off, and makes me laugh that I'm daytime-drinking in the Bay...

    All of that helps me realize that whether it's a gold n' rosy Christmas, or a dark and lonely one, I'm still a part of it. Even in my dark, isolated state. I buy an ornament for myself every year, and mark them with a key word and date to commemorate where I was that year. And now when I look at my tree, it makes me see that my life is beautiful, that my sadness and struggles-- just as much as my happiness and joy, have come together to make a kickass wicked tree.

    so much love,

    Souz

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    1. I agree that sometimes we just need to be allowed to be sad. People think they are helping by trying to change the subject or cheer us up, but really I think we need to be sad so that we can deal with it. People think that being sad is unnatural, but it is a sign of being human, I think. We need to be sad sometimes because that makes the happy moments so much more sweet. Of course, this is just my opinion.

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    2. Oh, I totally totally agree with both of you! I think the sadness educates us, it deepens our connection to the experience of living. It imbues life with a quality just not available to us if everything is always rosy and peachy. In that vein, I've been trying to be more accepting of my own sadness when it hits. Souz, your coping strategy has the added bonus of being cheeky and ever so slightly naughty. Bravo!

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    3. I think this is a perfect sentiment. It is the holidays but you are also allowed to be your genuine self. Nothing wrong with that at all. During menopause I was having a very rough Christmas. Could not stop crying. Kept leaving the festivities to have a break in our bedroom. My mom, sensing my pain said to me, "why don't you just stay in your P.J.'s today (It was Christmas day) Best gift ever. Soon as I wasn't fighting it, I started enjoying the day. I love the ornament tradition Souzan.

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  9. Wow, ladies. This really relates to what I'm going through right now. This holiday season has been tough thus far for me, but I just deal. I think everyone has to find their own way to deal with the bad, sad, or negative things that they have to deal with.
    Personally, I spent a long time feeling sad and hurt. Being that this is the first Christmas without my grandmother, who was like a mother to me, is something that makes me very upset and heartbroken. However, I finally realized that she would want me to enjoy Christmas and not feel this way, so I finally put up the Christmas tree and put presents under it. Another thing I did was buy myself some presents. This isn't something that I would normally do but I want the feeling of Christmas, but it gives me an excuse to buy stuff that I otherwise would think was too expensive! And yes, my dog has presents under the tree too!
    Another thing that I am doing is going out to a nice resturant one night this week to celebrate my grandmother's birthday.
    This year has been very difficult for me, but I have finally found a way to just deal. I'm not trying to get over anything but just trying to deal with life as it is.

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    1. Oh, wow. So lovely and heartwarming, Steph! What a great example of both allowing yourself your emotions while also knitting in these tender gifts to yourself (not just the physical ones -- which, btw, I sooo admire! -- but the emotional ones). Thank you for sharing this!

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    2. Steph your Grandmother would be proud. Beautiful. Thank you.

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  10. My dad's mom died January 1st a couple years back. She was in the hospital over x mas that year and never got to open her gifts. I was only in 6th grade so this was the first loss I had to deal with in life. It is still hard but now instead I look forward to going and putting a pinecone and decorations on her grave marker for x mas. I makes a not so happy part of the season but it gets easier every year.

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    1. I can relate. I recently put Chrismas/winter decorations on my granmother's headstone. I cried while doing it because it gave me a few minutes of release.

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    2. This reminds me of Deb's tradition of going wit her bff to their family graves in the week before Christmas and laying out flowers or wreaths or small mementos. It's a tradition that I always thought to be so meaningful. You both exemplify this example. Love it.

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    3. It's true that some of the family who's graves I visit each year have been gone for years. My Uncle Billy died when I was 10-a profound loss to our family as he was only 33. I go to celebrate the season by remembering just what they meant to us at this time of year and always.

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  11. Last year's holiday season was ...not fun. Two relatives had cancer, one nearly died, and one died on 28 December. It really is grueling, and as much as a solitary Christmas is a thing to be hated, one filled with fake smiles and forced cheer is even worse.
    Here's hoping this year will be better.

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    1. Here's hoping to that, my dear! And, yes, no forced cheer. But cheers to you for your spirit. xoxo

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    2. Wishing it is better for you this year Sarah!

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  12. I hestitated to respond to this because it often seems I'm rambling but so many of your topics apply to me personally. I think I lost the Christmas spirit when my father disappered in my life when I was about 6. Life with my step-father meant no birthdays, no Christmas' and no happiness allowed. I am ashamed to admit I used to go to school after the holidays and lie about what I got for Christmas and they were elaborate lies. I still feel shame and guilt when I think about it. I promised myself when and if I had children they would feel the magic.

    When I met Sam my attitude changed he was a little kid in a grownup body and he loved the holidays. He had numerous nieces and nephews and loved to shop for them at Christmas I couldn't wait to have our own children who could share in the traditions his family followed. After five years of struggle Amanda our miracle baby finally arrived and boy did Santa spoil her.

    Sam died in 1992 that Christmas was my first without him and I had to find a way to make Christmas happen for a devastated 3 yr old and a newborn baby boy. Every year I created the magic for them without ever feeling it myself. For the last few years I haven't even put up a tree. It's again going to be tough without Ricky and yes Deb we used to Skype but his laptop died and that was our usual way of connecting. There's no funds to get him a new one at this point so the cellphone is our connection now.

    Every Christmas I find myself sinking into a depression not sure why or where it comes from but it's all I can do to get through the holidays. I paste on a smile and do what's expected. As a counselor once told me I stuff my feelings. I want to feel the spirit, desperately I do, but I don't know how to make that happen. It seems different this year with baby Ella and I'm hoping it will get better and better. She's too little to know what all the excitement is about but I did feel so joyful when I saw her sitting on Santa's lap and looking at him with an expression that said, "Who the hell are you?" It was classic Ella!

    I am thankful this year to feel like I have friends to talk me through the rough patches of life and I hope I can feel it again some time soon. I think the answer is to talk to friends or a friend. I tend to isolate myself when I'm feeling down and that's a mistake and a habit I've found hard to break. But if you are feeling lost or down you need someone to share with.

    I don't think this really asnwered the question?

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    1. Well, it might not have answered questions so much as ask some really profound and important ones. First off, I want to stress how much I appreciate and value your comments here. I never ever feel like you're "rambling" and you always have so much to offer, particularly from your own amazing life experience. So appreciate that honesty! That said, I would add that we don't need to follow a "script" when it comes to how any holiday should be, and there's a lot more relief and joy in throwing that script away and doing what you need to do for yourself every time anew. I also think Ella will re-write old scripts and hopefully let you move outside of ruts that may have been formed by difficult past events. love! xoxo

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    2. I second what Barbara has said here Mary. Your comments are welcome and helpful to others. Sharing them might resonate with someone elses struggles as we have found so often on this blog. I wish you peace with the season in yourself and joy with the little things as you find them.

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  13. Here's a song that seems to fit in with todays theme ...a bit.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCNvZqpa-7Q&feature=player_embedded

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  14. One of my grannies was hurried a month before Xmas about 7 years ago and another a year ago in September. I have fond Xmas memories from both of them, but I do not miss them during Xmas per se. I am living in the moment more than thinking about the past. Two years ago, week before Xmas my brothers home burned. During that time, I was a real little elf and helped to organize a new Xmas with new tree and gifts. So if I have to, I can be a real enthusiastic about xmas. Usually I just can't be bothered. I don't mind others having fun and celebrating.It is not away from me, for others to have fun. I don't have a coping mechanism per se, I just live in await of the next day

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    1. And I think this is brilliant and wise, Kasku. Words to live by. (PS so sorry for your brother's loss! And bravo to you for pitching in in this way. He must be sooo grateful!)

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    2. Kasku you stepped up when it was needed most. That's what counts.

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  15. 2012 has not been kind. I haven't lost anyone, but I do have other problems. For the last year or so, I've had awful problems with headaches. I've suffered the occasional migraines for years, but this year it got worse. Now the headaches are constant- It's there from the time I wake up to the time I finally get to sleep. It's been months since I had a headache-free day. My regular doctor can't figure it out, and the doctor who could help (a neurologist, I believe) can't see me till the end of January. So I have to endure this massive pain all through the holidays, and with some people who think that a few headaches are nothing to be upset about. But they don't know what the constant, searing pain is doing to me. They don't know how it just seems to be sucking the life out of me, to the point that it's a struggle to get out of bed every day. Or that my anxiety is constantly veering my poor, fatigued brain towards the worst possible explanations for the headaches. And with all that going on, it's been very hard to get into the holiday spirit. I've no idea how I'll get through the rest of December, but I do hope it goes quickly...

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    1. Ohhh, April, my warmest and best hopes and wishes that you get through this. My only "bright side" is that if it truly was something in the "worst possible" vein then surely they would have seen it. Arghh, can't imagine non-stop pain like that. I wish you health and ease in it. xoxo

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    2. April I suffer random migraines but not even in your ballpark. I cannot imagine if it was constant with searing pain. I hope things ease up for you and that you can find a glimmer of joy in the season.

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  16. Thanks for posting this and for getting this discussion going. My Dad passed away at the age of 53 on December 11, 2010. My Mom and I were hosting Christmas that year so we just sucked it up and hosted anyway! I think that was good for us, it gave us something to focus on. But because his death was so close to the holidays, the whole month of December is tough for us now. We have tried to start new traditions, go back to old traditions, do our own thing, etc, but none of those efforts have helped yet. We are still struggling to find a way to make the holidays survivable, and I imagine it will take years before the holidays are truly enjoyable again. Best wishes to all who are struggling this Christmas.

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    1. Lindsay, that is such a shockingly young age to lose a father. We lost Phil's dad when he was 67 and that already felt so impossible. It's great you and your mom are trying to establish your own traditions, but, as you well know, it's gonna be a while... Thanks so much for sharing this. And much love! xoxo

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    2. Lindsay I know that you are trying and that is the good news. To lose your Dad at such a young age is beyond tough to navigate. YOu are doing the right thing. You are putting one foot in front of the other. That is all you can do. Peace.

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  17. I get lost sometimes because usually, people have a solid reason they're down, like the loss of a loved one. It's tougher to explain to someone that I'm having a tough time and don't know why. Specifically, it's been difficult to get used to the idea that the meds are doing as well as they're going to. That it isn't DEPRESSION, per se, but that I am depressed, and that the holidays just are not fun anymore. (Dealing with some people who think that I should be all happy happy joy joy now that I'm on the meds (in other words, "fixed"). That's an on-going "battle," and this time of year emphasizes that 'glaring difference,' I guess.)

    I'm not good with the shopping crowds. I'm crazy enough on my own, I don't need to deal with other people's crazy, too. Personally, for me, gift-giving is HIGHLY over-rated, especially for people with a limited budget, and I get irritated too easily. Shopping on-line has lightened the load a bit. At least I could search for the specific thing and be sent directly to the place that has it.

    The one thing I have to remember is not to dwell on anything for TOO long. When I'm not in a happy place, my habit is to isolate, which takes me further from any happy place. I shut myself off from the world and basically become incommunicado. I am working on deactivating the auto-pilot and using my coping skills to give me a boost to where I feel alive enough to move again.

    It's trying not to get stuck, and getting better at becoming un-stuck.





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    1. Dawn, I do understand exactly what you mean. I have massive anxiety problems, and I'm on medication. And some people around me thought that once I started the meds I'd be "fixed ". But it just doesn't work that way. The anxiety (or depression, in your case) is still there. And it sucks, for damn sure. And just like you, I hate the crowds. If I don't buy it online it doesn't get bought. And there are times (and it's gotten worse lately) when I just don't want to leave the house for anything. So the next time you're feeling bad, know that there's at least one person out there who understands.

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    2. Thanks April for reminding Dawn and all of us that we are never alone. There is always someone out there going through the same thing. I know you guys struggle and I have no words of wisdom. I just want to tell you that I understand. I hope that's enough. I wish you peace this season with whatever you are dealing with.

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    3. Dawn, I totally relate to your instinct to "isolate" and how that's not always the best choice (especially over the long term). I think long term isolation just reinforces so many negatives notions and feelings. Thanks for the reminder to be aware of negative and unhelpful coping patterns.

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  18. Best wishes for hugs, love, and strength to accept that this isn't the end-all be-all of "happy times," and to get through it in our own way.

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  19. I don't have any specific Xmas-related anecdotes, but I can relate to the feeling where everyone around you is happy, while you are patently not. I was deeply unhappy for around twelve years ( I think it was depression, but was never clinically tested), and it was very jarring to be around people who seemed to be blissfully happy. And just that contrast made my perception of my own situation much worse, which threw me into a spiral of negativity, where I'd end up much worse than when I'd just be alone (partly the reason why I preferred being alone).
    But I feel now that correctly dealing with something is almost as good as not having to deal with it at all (in my case. I can't generalise.)I've come to appreciate the hard times when I'm feeling very negative (hopeless, frustrated) as an intense experience, to be valued as much as positive, happy experiences (which are a different type of intense experience). these negative experiences may be momentary or protracted, but when I see them as things to be lived, to be felt, I don't spiral the way I used to. Sure, the negative experience is tough, but its impact is limited to the here and now, and doesn't bleed into the future. and even when I feel it in the present, I feel it differently, almost respectfully. so I don't feel bad when I am living hardship while others are experiencing happiness, prosperity, joy.
    Oo I feel like I'm purging in this comment, letting everything out, so you'll have to forgive the length of the comment! Having recently turned a corner in my life, I find this blog is the perfect way to reflect on what was, and officially make it the past :)
    It also just occurred to me that this phenomenon, being unhappy when happiness and joy is in your face, happens more often than around the holidays. Take facebook: having to see facebook friends broadcast how happy and wonderful their lives are while your own isn't going so well could be another version of what you mention here, Barb and Deb (though it's a whole other debate whether these friends are actually ad happy as they claim!)

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  20. Thank you so much for posting this! Rather than a "purge", for us it's another example of a) not being alone in these things, and b) another great example of how one gets through it. Ie, one must experience it and not expect everything to always be happy. That you made it through 12 years is going to be very reassuring to some people here (although obviously no one wishes anyone a 12-year bout!) That said, every single one of us, no matter how happy we are in general, will go through times that are very challenging for any number of reasons, and these times will prevent us from celebrating the way we might usually. As you point out so eloquently, we can't all be in the same head space at the same time, and it's up to us to recognize this and respect our own process. Yeah, and FB? Such a great point. I know many people who are going through terrible times and still post very positive things on FB. I've begun to see it as a momentary escape. Not a lie, but a change from the dark, a reminder that life can be silly and funny and even happy, even if we don't fully believe it in that moment... You know? Wow, that would be such a good blog post topic!

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