For many of my patients, this time of year brings memories and a struggle to get out of bed in the morning. As odd as it sounds, the holidays are a way to mark time and they help people remember good things, but they also remember disappointment and trauma. I hear about the loss of loved ones so many times around the holidays. From Veterans, I hear how the holidays were celebrated by getting shot at, eating rations from small bags, and feeling alone. For others, the weather and changes in the season can bring on sadness and depression. Regardless of the reason, sadness around this time of year can turn into depression, so doing your self-care is important, and at this time of the year even more important.
As a therapist, I struggle at this time of year as well. I’m human and struggle to support people who are feeling lonely this time of year. So many people isolate themselves, due to depression, anxiety, and so many other mental health issues. That makes things harder when times come where being a part of a bigger picture can be helpful. I understand that for some, getting away from family members who are not supportive is required for being happy, but I always encourage people to become a part of their community, so they still have connections.
Everyone gets sad, but if you already have depression, sadness can made the depression feel so much worse. For those times of the year for you when you struggle, prepare and have a plan ready to change your perspective. Some people travel, others plan projects at work. Some plan to deep clean the house, move furniture, and repurpose things to change their perspective at home. Others find the motivation to exercise, and even others just find the strength to get out of bed. Never underestimate getting out of bed, taking a shower, and getting dressed. It can give you that little edge you need to start to change your life.
Everyone gets sad sometimes. Not everyone meets criteria for a diagnosis of clinical depression, but everyone has to manage sadness and feeling like nothing is going right. Have you had one of those days when you were late to work already, the car won’t start, and you get piled up with work when you finally get in to the office? How about those times when you are planning a trip, and things just go wrong and you never make it. So many times I work with people who are trying to get caught up on bills, and something happens and they get their behind again. There are so many things that come along that lead to feeling hopeless, but never give up. There will be better times, even if it doesn’t feel that way.
I play different parts for different patients. For many, I’m just one that says it will get better. For many, that’s all they need, but for others, they need skills to get through. Whatever you need, find support and know that things can and will get better. There will be a time when you can start moving forward, even if you take steps back now and then. Knowing that you will be okay is part of being happy, for life.