A post from one of our Community Correspondents
This is my third Christmas since being diagnosed with my depressive disorder. I’d grip you with a dark tale of being depressed at the cheeriest time of year; all the melancholy of a John Lewis advert rolled into a piece of cinematic misery, but without the sigh of relief and fuzzy feeling at the end. But all my “depressive” Christmases have been … kinda nice.
The run up to my first Christmas after my diagnosis was fraught with anxiety. It was a low key affair with just my father, followed by lunch with my sister and niece on Christmas day. I feared that Christmas. I’d had a messy break-up with a girl I liked so everything was a reminder of when we were still together and everything looked rosy. As winter drew in and I made plans for a singletons Christmas I geared up for full-on misery but, it turned out really nice.
Looking back, I see I did the best thing I could. I spent it with someone very dear to me, who also happened (at the time) to be very lonely, and it helped me forget myself. It was a small and moderately meaningful affair, even if dad did go to bed at 9pm and leave me alone in front of Christmas eve TV with a bottle of whisky and snacks. The next day, we visited my sister and niece, who were were also alone.
This is beginning to sound like a cliche, but despite how I felt in the run up to Chrimbo I found solace in the bosom of my family. No one went out their way to support me. They were simply glad to have me there; no judgement or special treatment. I forgot myself, and I was glad to put 2011 to bed.
What I learned wasn’t that Christmas is a time for family and goodwill to all men, but instead Christmas is a time to forget yourself and put other people first, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Depression to me feels selfish sometimes. But having a day or two to focus on simply being around people who love you helps you forget yourself. Try to enjoy yourself as best as you can no matter how humbly that may be.
As for Christmas 2012 and 2013, sure I was going through hard times, but I learned to not worry about it in advance and just be good to myself for a couple of days. Depression can hold off a couple of days.