I just want to share how much more manageable my holiday anxiety has been this year – probably better than it’s been in about 15 years. I’m sure being on Paxil for a year has helped a lot, and the realizations I had last month about my expectations for the holidays seem to have made a big difference as well.
Staying busy helps too. Frankly, I was so depressed last Christmas that it was hard for me to get off the couch and do anything. That doesn’t help my blues at all. I think the Lamotrigene prescription has helped here. It’s a mood stabilizer that’s made my highs lower and my lows higher. Not getting so low that I can’t function makes it easier to do the things that keep me from being so blue and anxious.
Being ABLE to be busier has helped so much. I was busy training and racing until the first week of December ended. I’ve been running sound for almost all the Sunday services and the Christmas cantata this month. I’ve also done a couple of funerals and a wedding.
I went to a ridiculous Christmas party for the church youth group last weekend where we played Dance Central 3 and the adults spent way too much time huddled in a corner laughing and playing with Poo Dough.
Then I drove five teenagers home from the party. They listened to the Classic Hip Hop channel on Sirius and marveled at songs they’d never heard before – songs from 1994 – before they were born…. (Seriously?) And they wrote profound Christmas wishes like “Poop” in the fog on my windows. Good times.
Just being with people, staying busy and laughing (the opposite of what you want to do when you’re depressed) makes such a big difference in how I feel. I think the mood stabilizer keeps me above that low end threshold that makes it hard to care if I’m taking care of myself or even to do it even when I want to.
I usually try to take some time off running at this time of year to let my body rest and heal some, but that time off is really bad timing for my anxiety. Even after my busy weekend, I was feeling the holiday squinkiness sneak in last Sunday night. But I did something I wasn’t able to do last year, I made myself get up early before work on Monday morning and run because I knew it would help. (And it did.) I knew it would help last year too, but I couldn’t get myself to do it.
I’ve also been wrestling with my feelings for Boo for the last couple of years. When I was in the depths of my depression last year, I got to the point where I couldn’t feel anything at all. When I started coming out of that, I had feelings again, but I had trouble figuring out exactly what those feelings were and what they were about.
I feel like I’ve about sorted all that out. For the last year I’ve assumed any bad feeling I have is sadness and unrequited love about that relationship. And so if I felt something bad, I thought it was about Boo, which made me think too hard and too much about Boo, which made me feel bad, which made me think too hard and too much about Boo, which made me feel bad….
But I had a big moment in therapy back in the spring when I realized that what I have always thought was the feeling I experience of “being in love” is very much the same feeling I have when I’m feeling anxiety. (This may be an important realization…. *snork*)
I still haven’t figured out why I feel like it’s so important to me to hang on to Boo. He’s never really done much to reciprocate those feelings I have for him. But there’s obviously something deep-seated in my need to hang onto him in some fashion and in the fears I have of letting my hopes for us go.
I wrote in a recent post that I wished “I had the courage to give up.”
For me, having the courage to let things go means being brave enough to stand on my own without having to use things and people as crutches, without having to try and control the outcome of every single thing in my life. I’m starting to feel like I’m strong enough to try and begin letting the Boo thing go.
I need to believe and trust that it’s the healthiest thing I can do. The Mr. Spock part of me knows that’s true. The disgusting, weak, clingy, needy, girly part of me is still afraid. That makes me a little anxious.
But that’s OK. I am better. And this Christmas is better – even when the anxiety still creeps in.
All I know is that I have my running clothes sitting out for tomorrow morning. I will run. I will breathe. I will calm my mind. I will keep getting better. I will keep getting stronger. And maybe one day I’ll even find something to value in the weak, clingy, needy, girly part of me.
And to you, I hope if you’re depressed or anxious or lonely or scared this Christmas, that you’ll know you’re not alone. Love is all around you, even when it doesn’t seem like it. Just keep slogging through and know that it won’t always be like this. We’ll hold each other up until then.
Much love, friends!
I’ve always loved the holidays – the lights, the gifts, the music, the television specials, the anticipation! And I still love all those things, but a confluence of several factors including my divorce and the death of my dad have changed things. There is an empty place in my heart.
The holidays are supposed to be a time for joyful gatherings. But I always feel like a giant zit under a magnifying glass when I’m alone there these days. I rarely feel self-conscious, but inevitably I do at holiday parties.
I feel it particularly strongly at family gatherings. Except for my widowed mother and grandmother, I’m the only one not coupled up and the only adult without kids. It makes me feel like Forrest Gump at the Black Panther party, and like I screwed up all the things you’re supposed to be and do as a grown-up. Here I am, 46 years old and alone at the holidays without any “family.” And it’s my fault for quitting and walking away from my marriage because I thought I could find something better.
Disney and Hallmark and all the others have conspired to make me believe in happy endings, in love stories, in holiday magic. I have daydreamed countless scenarios where my magical holiday ending finally happens. My imaginary stories are so romantic, full of kisses and Christmas lights and love!
But a life’s true story isn’t wrapped up tightly in a bow after two hours. There are very few happy endings. And there are many, many sad and lonely people.
Every year at the holidays, I swear this time will be different. I’m going to beat the holiday blues. I’m going to love myself. I will be enough. I’ll have more gratitude. I will find joy.
I will not have a prolonged anxiety attack from Thanksgiving Eve through Christmas Eve.
So far on night one of the countdown, I’m not starting out too well…