Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fighting The Holiday Blues

It is that time of year again when the smell of fireplaces warming peoples' homes permeates the air, the leaves and pecans fall from the trees, and the grocery stores are stocked with all of the necessary items to make a fabulous Thanksgiving Day meal. It seems everyone is cheery and ready to celebrate the happiest time of year, but are they really?

For many, the holidays are the most trying time of the year. No matter where you look, there are reminders of what you lack. For me, that void is family. My family did not have a lot, and we were not close. At Thanksgiving, though, we all came together because that was my grandmother's wish. She was the glue that held us all together. On Thanksgiving, she would make every food imaginable, and my great-grandmother would make every pie imaginable. We would eat, laugh, and forget that it had been a whole year since we were last together.

Then seven years ago, my great-grandmother, my grandmother, and one of my favorite cousins died in the span of a few months. My 15-year-old cousin died the week before Thanksgiving. I remember receiving the painful news about each one like it was yesterday, but the news of my young cousin's death right before Thanksgiving destroyed me. Everyone was posting what they were thankful for on Facebook, and all I could say that day was that I was thankful for nothing. That year was the beginning of the holiday blues for me.

Every year the holidays become increasingly more difficult. Now that the glue (my grandmother) is gone, my family has grown further apart. Everyone is angry at each other, and no one gets together for the holidays anymore. As soon as the Thanksgiving flowers and decorations are displayed at my local supermarket, my emotions become uncontrollable.

However, this year I will take control. My departed loved ones would not want me to feel this way. This was their favorite time of year! So, I will take steps to ensure that I can make it through this holiday season with my real smile intact.

1) Realistic expectations. 

Life is constantly changing and just because things aren't the same as when I was younger, I shouldn't expect them to be. I have my in-laws and friends to celebrate the holidays with now. Great things can occur because of change.

2) Workout. 

No more excuses. Exercise is cathartic. It makes me happier, and it also helps with the guilt of all that pie I ate. (I'm a diabetic so it is necessary to exercise when eating sugary things!)

3) Relax. 

I am not going to force myself to attend holiday parties and concerts just because the season dictates it. If I am not already in the spirit, then I won't force it.

This list is my work in progress, but so far I am doing okay. Depression is a condition millions of us face, but there is no shame in it. Like any other disease we must find ways to cope with it. I encourage everyone to make a game plan for depression - a list of ways to help you combat your depression. NEVER be ashamed to ask for help. A diabetic isn't ashamed to ask for insulin, and no one should be ashamed to ask for someone to talk to.

If you or a loved one is experiencing depression, please talk to someone.

National Suicide Prevention Line: 800-272-8255

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