Sunday, December 25, 2016

Not everybody feels merry at Christmas

I loved Christmas when I was a kid because, after all, it seemed to be "all about me".  I ate candy and cake and cookies, never even thinking about calories because I didn't know about them.  I usually got the presents I wanted most, with the exception of a pony.  I had to grow up and get married before that wish came true.  My kids came along and Christmas was special again, mainly because I saw it through their eyes.  But even then, there was a shadow over the Christmas season.  I remember telling my hairdresser Vicki, years ago, that I was a scrooge.  She was aghast!  How could anyone not love Christmas?

Cliff and I got off the gift-giving merry-go-round years ago, except that we bought gifts for small children in the family.  When they got old enough that they were hard to buy for, they fell off our list.  Of course everybody likes money or gift cards (same as money), but what's the point?  If we're all going to exchange money and/or gift cards, let's just give it to ourselves and save all that trouble.  

I have finally come to realize it isn't Christmas that depresses me, but wintertime.  I'm one of the myriad folks who, for no rhyme or reason, find themselves a victim of Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.).  I get a brief feeling of the Christmas spirit watching "A Christmas Carol" or "It's a Wonderful Life", but it doesn't last long.  I don't wallow in self-pity and I don't talk a lot about it.  After all, why drag all the merry-makers down with me?   

I can tell you that during this time of year, I really feel for those who have text-book depression year around.  I've learned that, as much as I like the quote attributed to Lincoln that says "most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be", you can't just tell yourself to get over it (after all, it's pretty well-known that Lincoln suffered from depression).  

A numbness settles in like a spectre and makes its home with me, starting sometime in November and staying with me until after February.  

I sit dispassionately scrolling through the exuberant Facebook greetings of "Merry Christmas" like someone in a daze, feeling totally left out and even more depressed because, once again, I am "not normal".  Why can't I get in the spirit of things?  They say you can buy a light therapy lamp that really helps; I ought to try it, but it just seems like too much trouble, and then what if it doesn't work?  

This is not something I would ordinarily burden my readers with, but I'm pretty sure there's a big percentage of the population that has this same problem.  Many of them put on a happy face and disguise it better than I do, but beneath the surface they're numb.  Sometimes the problem is compounded by memories of loved ones gone before their time.  

Don't pity me.  I've dealt with this for years and I'm used to it.  But do remember there are many of us behind the scenes who would love to share your enthusiasm but can't.

Forgive us.  Spring will come and we'll be back with the general population. 


6 comments:

TARYTERRE said...

My daughter is in the same boat as you. I finally bought her a LIGHT for her S.A.D. this holiday. She is looking forward to using it. Will keep you posted as to whether it works. MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and Cliff.

Sister--Three said...

I have it too and as I age it has worsened. Mine started in October this year.
I am better but some days are really bad. I look forward to spring and a lift
to this deep darkness inside of me.

I have wondered about those lights. Some nights I am awake from midnight
until 4 or 5 and about every 3rd night I sleep 8 hours. I want to go to bed by
8:30. Help me, Lord, I cry!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I suffer every year when we loose the daylight hours. I would hibernate if I could, but can't. The good news for me is that every day now the days will grow longer, minute by minute. I am definitely thinking Spring. Hopefully the days ahead will be kind...It's a long time yet till it comes. Hang in there !

Margaret said...

I get tired of making the best of everything, so I get it. It's hard to get into the spirit when I feel down and gray, just like the weather. Getting through December is always my goal, and I have had some good/great times this month. I'm trying to focus on them. Much love to you, Donna!

Jon said...

There's no reason why we should have to force ourselves to "get into the spirit" of anything. The Christmas spirit is certainly well-intended, but I've always felt that the holidays are an extremely hypocritical time of year.

I've always suffered from depression, but it definitely does get far worse in the winter. All I really want to do is stay in bed and hibernate until spring.
Hang in there and keep warm thoughts.

Mary Degli Esposti said...

I think much of that "enthusiasm" is store-bought or Are-we-having-fun-yet?- pressure fake.
I don't just mean year-long depressives or people who suffer from SAD. It is also plenty of what we think of as Normals actually wondering - What's It All About, Alfie? but hiding that "face" because the others (that they may think of as Normals) seem to know what it is all about, & seem to enjoy it appropriately.