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Many people have a difficult time during the holidays, but when you have depression, it feels as though all your symptoms are amplified, front and center.
Because it’s during this time of year that you’re supposed to be happy, full of energy, and just so very alive. You’re supposed to want to be surrounded by friends and family. You’re supposed to feel a new sense of wonder and belief that the world isn’t really all that bad.
You’re supposed to be everything your mental illness has ripped from you all other days of the year.
But still, look around! There are trees with twinkle lights hugging every branch. Fireplaces are lit, friends are in town whom you rarely get to see, all your family is together. It’s cuddle weather, damn it! You’re even allowed to like Mariah Carey again!
And, yes, it is all beautiful and fun and loving and mystical. But all of this still doesn’t change the fact that you’re taking medication that is supposed to curb some of depression’s wrath. It doesn’t change the fact that you’re going to therapy a minimum of once a week trying to fix what feels broken beyond repair. It doesn’t change the fact that you still feel lonely in a room that’s filled with love. It doesn’t make waking up easier or falling asleep any faster.
And yet, you’re supposed to be all these things that you struggle with all other days of the year. Some people might even call you the Grinch for struggling to be filled with the “holiday spirit” that has seemed to infect everyone else. You feel like you lack gratitude. You feel like you’re a shitty person for not being able to enjoy it all. A defunct human being whose heart is three sizes too small.
But still, you try. You try and sing along to “All I Want For Christmas Is You” when it comes on the radio as your driving with your family to your grandparents’ house. You try and enjoy watching Love Actually for the 17th time with all your girlfriends on a Friday night. You try to believe in hope and faith and that things are going to be okay. You try, you try, you try.
And at times it works. You feel it too. It’s not constant like it looks like it is for everyone else, but it does happen. Every now and then, you get to enjoy the trees being hugged by twinkle lights and the fireplace coming alive. You hug friends tighter than normal and laugh with them at all the turtlenecks in Love Actually. You sip a glass of champagne as the clock strikes midnight and for a second you feel the newfound hope that comes with a new year. A fresh start.
And it’s in those moments you remember that depression is not all of you. You remember it is not you at all. And you find comfort in that as you fall asleep to “Silver Bells,” feeling loved and hopeful that tomorrow will be better and that things will actually be okay.