Waiting for today...: Holiday Blues

Saturday, December 14

Holiday Blues

It happens to me every year.  I finally noticed the pattern a few years ago.  Last year I was invited to the home of a colleague for Thanksgiving.  I was enthusiastic at the time the invite was given but when the day arrived I decided to stay home… in bed.  This year was more of the same.  Except this year I had an excuse: I had out of town company coming a few days after Thanksgiving and it was the only day I had to prepare.  It was all true!  However, because my mood had already swung low the weekend before, I didn’t plan properly in order to have my evening free.  I just… laid in bed all day.
This year, I gave some thought as to why I get the holiday blues.  Thinking back to my earliest years in the Caribbean, I can’t remember ever celebrating Thanksgiving and I only remember one Christmas… maybe two.  When I came back to the states for good, my mom and I celebrated the holidays.  Along with her boyfriend, her friends, her co-workers… yeah, no one my own age.  It was almost never a cozy affair and it was never just her and I.  One can imagine the lack of kid-friendly conversation.  I have no memory of the holidays being fun during those years.
Enter my best friends family, a huge family.  I had attached myself to them during a time in which my mother and I was having the hardest time co-existing.  For some reason I thought the more there were the merrier I would be.  Not the case.  I felt lost most of the time.  Like I didn’t fit in.  I felt more pressure than peace, more isolation even in a dining room full of people.  There was a small difference however.  The adults had their conversation and the “kids” had theirs.  For this reason, it was fun at times… on the surface at least. But as I longed to be accepted as an individual and continued to be picked apart by my peers, that superficial comfort would eventually fade.
I talked through these possibilities and some others with my therapist who made an interesting observation.  One, which didn’t even cross my mind, was seasonal affective disorder.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, seasonal affective disorder is characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight.  As I considered this, I began to feel better.  That is until I remembered how overwhelmed I can get in social situations which one cannot avoid during the holiday season.  My therapist then made another observation; one that I will cover on another occasion. In the meantime, Christmas is up to bat!  And I’ve got to plan now if I’m going to stave off further depression. The last time I felt joy and happiness during the holidays was a couple of years ago in Florida with my mother.  We had a non-traditional meal, at home, just her and I.  If my work schedule wasn’t so crappy I’d make my way to the Florida Panhandle in hopes to cure these holiday blues.  The brief but right on time visit with out of town company did help to elevate my mood some.  And the mid-December weekend trip that I already have planned should help as well.  Looks like I may be off to a promising start.