Historically, I am an emotional basket case from Halloween through New Year’s Day. I am not entirely sure why. I suspect one reason is because, as a child, the holidays meant that school was not in session, which cut me off from all of the safe people in my life. I also suspect that some of the ritual abuse tied into the holiday times, but I don’t have specific memories tying into specific dates, so I can’t be sure.
Because I know that the holidays are a tough time for me, I made the decision last year to listen primarily to Contemporary Christian music. At this time of year (when I am susceptible to depression), I’ll latch onto a song with a melancholy tune & lyrics and “go down the well” of my pain. For the most part, the genre of Contemporary Christian music does not lend itself to melancholy tunes, although there are a few that I could use that way. I make sure to skip over those. (I mostly listen to Pandora.com over the Internet.)
I found that I struggled less with depression last holiday season. It was still hard, and I was still depressed on and off, but it was improved from prior years. So, I am sticking with that same strategy this holiday season.
This year, I have added the change of not drinking any alcohol. At this time of year, I like to kick back with a glass of wine at night, which is fine in the moment. The problem is that alcohol is a depressant and seems to encourage that depressed part of myself to grow stronger the next day.
I have had plenty of nights where I really wanted that glass of wine, but I am staying “on the wagon” for now. I have no issues with substance abuse, so it’s not an issue of craving alcohol. I just like “taking the edge off” in the evenings. I have decided that tonight’s “taking the edge off” isn’t worth the additional struggle with depression the next day.
So, I have made both of these positive changes, but I still feel “off.” I see both listening to melancholy music and drinking wine as ways I have added fuel to my fire. Removing the fuel hasn’t stopped the fire, only prevented its acceleration.
I don’t know what my expectations are. My hope is that I can get through the holidays without feeling out of control emotionally. I am feeling less out of control, but I still feel like I have anxiety and depression geysers going in my head. I am ultrasensitive right not to any form of criticism, even reading criticism into where I know objectively that none is intended. I am trying to be aware of my feelings without reacting to them.
Can I just go to sleep and have all of you wake me in January?
Photo credit: Hekatekris