This time of year can be hard on people who struggle with depression, anxiety, addiction or SAD (seasonal affected disorder). I have had years of depression where the pain was so palpable I couldn't sleep or function well. I would will myself to function at the highest degree possible, but it felt like auto pilot. No feelings involved. Just numb to feelings of joy or happiness. I remember in various situations wishing someone would hand me a script that would tell me how I was supposed to feel and what I should say to reflect the appropriate mood. It is impossible to radiate joy or have a joyful inflection in your voice when what you are feeling is sadness, pain, or compulsion.
The topic of depression is a serious topic for me and for the ones I love. We have either suffered with it ourselves or watched the ones we love the most writhe in pain from the affects. My own mother struggled so painfully with depression. As her daughter who has always been a bit of a Pollyanna, I was always trying to cheer her up, make her laugh, get her to see the 'bright side' of life. I felt like such a failure that I couldn't 'give' her the gift of joy or happiness. Holidays were the hardest for her as was her birthday.
We have lost some family members to suicide related to depression and several others who abuse alcohol and/or drugs to drown their pain. Me, I was the 'good girl' I ONLY used food addiction and binging as a way to numb pain, which in my mind at the time made me a better person because I was not inflicting pain on others . . . I was only killing myself.
I remember in years past trudging through the holiday shopping season rituals, but not feeling the moment or experiencing true joy. I would see people who looked happy, in love and joyful and wonder what that might feel like. What did they do in life that entitled them to that level of happiness. I would project on them the idea that they must live a charmed life, full of joy and that they got everything they ever wanted. In my sad or depressed moments I would think that only pretty people get what they want in life.
I understand feelings of depression. I have felt that in years past. This year, I am truly joyful. Even more joyful than I was last year. My birthday is next Monday and I will be 45 years old. I am super excited! Seriously, I don't need a script to tell me how amazing I feel. And have you ever noticed that when you feel good, you look good. On the days that I am feeling a little under the weather or coming down with something, the best make up artist and hair stylist couldn't make me look good. But on the days I feel good, the joy just radiates out and it doesn't take much to make me smile and glow. I wish I could bottle up this feeling and spread it like Pixie Dust all over the people I love.
On Saturday, I was sitting in one of those trendy bistros with walls of plate glass looking out onto the plaza as shoppers walked by. I would see women of all shapes and sizes moving in groups or alone as they made their way through their Christmas to do list. Women who walked tall and confident with a little smile like they knew a secret. Women who trudge by looking like it took every once of effort they possessed just to move their feet, with a dead look in their eyes. Women who had a little skip in their step that just reflect a joy from the heart. Woman who looked stern, angry and just fed up with the whole thing.
As I sat there cozyed up to my husband, feeling radiant and loved, feeling whole and blessed, feeling joyful . . . . I could see a bit of me (from years past) in every woman's face and posture. And I wondered if she knew how good it felt to be on the other side of that plate glass window.
There are better days. Depression does not define you. There is hope for a brighter day. These are the best days of my life and it didn't start until I was 43 . . . I'm glad I didn't give up on life before I got a chance to experience what it feels like on the other side of the plate glass window. I wouldn't want to miss this. This is the good stuff and it makes all the not so good stuff pale into a distant memory.
Be blessed, be you!
Reach out if you need help dealing with depression, anxiety or addiction.
There is a life line and you may need to hold on for dear life for a while, but life is precious, don't let go