The holidays, while a bright spot for many during the shorter and darker days of winter, can also be hard for a lot of people. I definitely experience the dual impact. For people who have seasonal and other depression, it sometimes feels like there’s pressure to be happy and celebratory. It sometimes feels like there’s pressure to shop. Some people have strained or nonexistent relationships with family and/or friends, and some have no close family or friends to speak of. For all these reasons and more, the holidays can be as isolating as they are merry for some.
And for people having a rough time, who have lost jobs or family or partners or money or other things, it can be hard to feel thankful.
I know that I am lucky in many, many ways—to be blessed with amazing family and friends, the most ridiculously affectionate and funny cats, to have a solid career I enjoy and to be financially sound for the most part. I still struggle with my mental health and I think that will always be a journey for me, but I have a good psychiatrist and medical cocktail, creative outlets, and again the support of some wonderful people.
I know there are many much less fortunate than me, and I would never tell anyone they had to be thankful or merry. I’m sure that’s about as helpful as “thoughts or prayers” or motivational/gratitude sayings or posters for people bedridden with depression. I guess it’s good to remember at this time there’s probably someone struggling like you, and to acknowledge that this holiday season is hard for some people, and they don’t really need to “cheer up.” I feel like it’s okay to feel grief, or a mixture of emotions like most people probably do. Of course, it’s always valid to feel what you do.
That being said, I’m trying hard to be thankful even though I’ve had some setbacks this year. I was depressed today, so I put up my tiny fake tree. Connecting with others who share my mental health issues has made me feel less alone, and to realize others share the same or even more painful struggles. This makes me feel humbled, and it gives me strength and makes me want to be strong in the face of depression. And I am certainly thankful for that.