Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Merry Christmas?" Then Why Am I Depressed?

The Holidays are supposed to be the happiest time of the year – the colors and smells of Christmas, parties and yummies, fellowship and fun, music and song, plays and cantatas.  Like the song says, "Children laughing, people passing meeting smile after smile."  After all, we say, "Merry" Christmas.  Really?  So why am I depressed?

If you find yourself wanting to sleep the days away, you are not alone.  I have a friend who I've not been able to touch base with since before Thanksgiving.  She lost her daughter a few months ago and has been confined to her home due to an operation-gone-bad 20 years ago.  Imagine being confined to your home for 20 years.  After three days of calling, she finally called back and said, "I just want to sleep. I'm trying to get myself together.  Will you call back later?"  An estimated 10 million Americans suffer from Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) or what is often referred to as “Holiday Blues", or your depression may worsen during the season.

Although SAD is a culprit in holiday depression, here are some other factors that affect your mood at Christmas and cause you to feel depressed:
  • Unrealistic expectations – We love the magic of Christmas.  We think we have to buy something for everyone.  If we buy for one, we think we have to by for another.  If someone buys for us, we think we've got to buy for them. We place unrealistic expectations on ourselves.  We think we have to be happy and make everyone else happy too.  
  • Debt – When my children were young, I tried to give them the Christmas that I never had.  I had several credit cards and before long they were maxed out.  I can't begin to tell you the years it has taken to get out from under that debt but not without financial ruin.
  • World Events – We live in a fallen world.  The world events are bad enough and now we see the devastation caused by racial riots in Ferguson and the fear of what the future will be for our children.  Extra officers were called in over the holidays in anticipation of more rioting in major cities.  My children said that there were protests in both Atlanta and Nashville over the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Aging family members –I will never forget the year that my daddy brought us all together, wanted all the children and grandchildren there to tell us that my mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and that things would not be the same.  He wanted the family together "one more time."  She died 4 years later and he died 6 months after her.  It is the 4th Christmas without mama and the 3rd without Daddy. It gets easier but I have to fight the emptiness that overwhelms me.  
  • Magnification of existing problems – Problems in families can cause depression to worsen during the holidays. Broken relationships are enough to send me into hiding.
What can we do to fight the blues?
  • Bask in the light – On pretty days, sit in the light. One of the most effective treatments for seasonal depression is light therapy. God is the source of all light.   Let Him be your light on gloomy days.  This year my motto has been, Read the Word, Speak the Word, Pray the Word.  God is light and in Him is no darkness.  (Yes, I've spoken this over and over audibly at times to remind myself.)
  • Exercise –  My doctor told me to walk just 10 minutes a day. It  Helps.  When I am walking, I am often inspired by something I see.  My head is clearer to hear the voice of the Lord as He speaks His Word into my spirit.  The good stuff is released in the brain and my mood lightens, not to mention how many calories are burned from walking.  Weight is a big factor in depression.  The more depressed I am the more I eat, the more I eat, the more depressed I am.
  • Lower your personal goals – I know myself.  I know what I can do.  I know what triggers my depression.  I listen to myself, my mind, my body.  With BD, I know that I can't do everything.  I've started making lists to help.  I do what I can, I scratch one thing off at a time and what I don't get done can wait until tomorrow.
  • Focus on making pleasant memories – Even if Christmas reminds you of a depressing past, you can take steps to create new memories with your loved ones. Begin a new tradition. This year I want to bake cookies with Connor, take the children to see the Christmas lights or a live nativity.  My children are away so any day is Christmas if they are here.
  • Perform acts of service for others – A great way to overcome feelings of sadness is to help someone else.  I've always enjoyed visiting the nursing homes at Christmas. My mama died in the nursing home that I worked in.  It's been hard to go back.  This year I will visit.  I will put it on my to-do list and take a whole day to make someone else's day.  
The points were taken from an article written by Candy Arrington.  I used her points but added my own experiences. 

There is question as to whether the Prophet Isaiah is referring to himself or the coming Messiah.  Some commentators believe that he was speaking about himself.  I believe it is speaking of Jesus.

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."   Isaiah 61:1-3


  1. Bonnie, you are a true gem. Thank you for sharing this information here. We've been having days of rain and grey skies and I am glad to have read here today. xo

  2. You are right, Bonnie. Even though the bad days can come anytime of the year, it seems like they are magnified when they happen around the holidays and if we are being honest, I'd say most of us have experienced it more than we'd like to admit. I think Satan gets a huge kick out of it too...robbing people of their joy any way he can. It sounds like you are doing all the right things and I am praying that you stay strong and encouraged, my friend!

  3. Yep...that's all I can muster at the time..depression hits everyone at some point and dear friend...are a gem! Love ya'...Blessings

  4. I struggle with depression myself and the difficult days can come without warning and that includes near Christmas. Great post, thank you so much for sharing. Hugs.

  5. Its a pleasure to visit your blog, i saw you thrue other bloggers...thanks for sharing...loves (ˆ◡ˆ)

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  7. This is so needed...thank you. Expectations for the perfect Christmas are so out of control. We need nothing more than to accept what God has done for us today. Merry Christmas to you.

  8. Just found this blog. I am praying for your healing and come back. You are right to want to get off those toxic pharmaceuticals. There are more healthy and natural options. Look at 5HTP which is a supplement proven to help with depression. I send my concern and prayers.

  9. Hi Bonnie, I found you at Melanie's. I have suffered with depression and my mom was bi-polar and also passed from Alzheimers in 2010 and my dad passed in 2013. I was so depressed to that I went to grief counseling. My faith keeps me going to. I have 4 grands kids and a new puppy that keep me busy. I also love Bible journaling. I love the name of your blog. So nice to meet you!