Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Blues

Google "Christmas Blues". You will get 3,300,000 results. Granted, some of those results will be about music, but change it to "Christmas Depression" & receive 550,000 results.

How wonderful to know that I am not alone.

How marvelous to realize that I may be sane after all.

How fabulous to know that, during the time of year when joy & cheer & goodwill to men is being shoved down your throats, that it is not abnormal or unusual to feel anxious, alone, or like crying.

According to Puffy, I have been depressed & moody every Christmas he has known me ~ 20 years, boys & girls. 20 years of Christmas Blues. That's quite a track record. I've spent the last two weeks trying to analyze the cause, trying to break down the reasons for my depression.

I haven't had much luck.

I've been plagued with feelings of depression mixed with a dash of ennui sporadically throughout my adult life {adult, as in once the hormones kicked in at the tender age of 11. Different story entirely ~ I may tell it some day}, but it always gets worse in December.

So what possible causes have I come up with?

  • My grandmother passed away December 19th, 1987 & as the anniversary of that date looms near, I feel myself losing the battle yet again. Although, if she were to hear me say my mental health was affected by her death, she would tell me not to be so silly. She was, after all, a proper British lady with the proverbial "stiff upper lip" who didn't believe in displaying your emotions or troubles for all to see.
  • The busyness of the month overwhelms me to the point that I start to shut down. I can't handle a lot of pressure, commitments, or issues at one time & my defensive response is usually to crawl into a hole & ignore everything in the vain hope that it will all go away. Imagine my surprise when this just makes things worse. Every. Time.
  • The crass commercialism of the season. I have never claimed to be the most religious person in the world. I firmly believe, however, in the spirit of Christmas, & I don't think that can be found in a Bratz doll or diamond necklace. I was raised in a family that gave gifts that people needed, expensive things were saved up for & given at Christmas. We all received bikes as Christmas presents. We needed them, we'd outgrown the old, but we didn't just get them for shits & giggles or because Bronco B went to town one day. They saved for them & gave them to us when there was 4 feet of snow on the ground. Imagine!?! Not only that, but that was the only present we got that year, other than maybe socks or home-knitted mittens. So those commercials of gift-wrapped cars & trips to Bermuda seem excessive to the extreme to me, & help to perpetuate unrealistic expectations in gift-giving & getting.
  • Work stress. Now I know all you full-timers out there will scoff at me & tell me to suck it up, but you simply do not understand what it is like to be, basically, unemployed for most of the year. Your time is your own. Everything takes twice as long to do since you have no deadlines or limits on your time. Only one major thing can be done in one day. You lose all ability to budget time, to make a schedule & stick to it cuz there is always tomorrow & another empty day looming in front of you. That is the mindset of the casual worker. Now throw me into work for 15 days in one month & watch me flounder, sink & drown under the weight of it.
  • A feeling of increased isolation & distance from friends & family. As I struggle with my darkness, I feel more & more like I want to be left alone. This results in those closest to me pulling away, which increases my feelings of isolation, which results in a crazy, vicious circle of feeling abandoned & uncared for. The downward spiral is self-perpetuating & inevitable.
  • SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. The decreased amount of light during the long winter months culminate in December with the shortest days of the year, altering chemicals in the brain possibly resulting in depression.

I think all of these things may well contribute to my general mental unhealthiness & are part of the reason I did not decorate the house, get out of my Betty Boop pajamas all day yesterday, & why there will be no Christmas cards in your mail this year. I just didn't have the inclination or the strength to deal.

So, there you have it. This is what I've come up with so far. I'm hoping that once January hits, I'll start to feel like myself again ~ less foggy brain & more cleverness, less ennui & more interest in the world around me, less bitch & more ... whatever the hell the opposite of bitch is.


Queen of Halloween said...

I feel your pain...hang in there kiddo the "stupid" season is also most over! Now all you have to do is make it through the "New Year" crap! Hanging there with you...QoH
ps: Remember Xmas is for kids and you have to get in touch with the kid that lives within you to make it works for me.

Headgirl said...

I deep heartedly sympathise with you, as I recognise so much of what you said, as a lot of it applies to me for much of the year!
But not many people know.

Take care

french panic said...

I can especially identify with the bit about pulling away and increasing the isolation....I used to send scads of Christmas cards, specifically just to "stay in touch"... this year I received exactly 2 christmas cards (from my boss and from my aunt) and gave out exactly 0.

I got tired of no reciprocation (though I suspect that I am just bad at determining if people like me or not - obviously they don't as they can't be bothered to acknowledge xmas cards, or lately - phone calls or emails - I am a social pariah), and I don't actually like christmas. I always feel like I've fucked up somehow, that I don't deserve the presents that I got, and that I haven't spent enough on anyone else.

I still haven't purchased anything for my mom - every year she tells me not to bother to get her anything, save my money for myself. Last year both she and my dad gave me extreme heaps of shit for sending packages to them via express post (to get there on time for xmas) because of course they can see how much the postage cost on the package itself (thank you, Canada Post for your inability to be discreet). So I was chastised for spending too much money to get their shit there on time, and this year I meant to send it all really early, but, well, fuck it. I don't like getting yelled at for wanting to do the right thing.

A friend called me from her parents' place in edmonton on xmas day - I thought it was sweet of her to call but it turned out she forgot to get anyone to pick up her mail while she's visiting her family and she lives 2 blocks away from me, so..... yeah. merry stinking christmas. I'm glad it's done.