May Your Days Be Kind of Merry and Sort of Bright: Depression During the Holidays
Christmas is my favorite time of year. I start playing Yule-tunes November 1, because Christmas begins the second you take off your Halloween costume. Displays of Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes are like a holiday card from Jesus himself. I love snow. I love sweaters. I love Christmas. I love it so much.
But, the past few Christmases have been a little duller, a little dimmer. That magic, that sparkle, it was gone. And I can’t find it.
I thought, maybe this is just being an adult. Christmas is for kids. I’m a grown-up, with a one grown-up job, one slightly less grown-up job, a husband, a child, a mortgage, all that stuff. Maybe Christmastime just isn’t what it used to be.
But it wasn’t just Christmas. For the past few months, everything’s been like that, everything’s been lower and less than. I’m always paranoid that I’m upsetting someone, that I’m failing at work or at home. On a daily basis, I have wished that I could just disappear, that I could stay inside and never have to see another person as long as I live and just be forgotten entirely. And every negative comment on here has been met with a tearful email to Joanna and at least one semi-suicidal thought.
Yes. People not liking the things I say on the internet has more than once had me questioning my entire worth and brought me to the point of wondering whether or not I even want to go on.
And that’s fucking stupid. So fucking stupid.
Depression is a real cunt. I know it lies. I know it is wrong. I know it is a chemical screw-up, just my brain messing with my thoughts and it is nothing and it means nothing, but those feelings feel real and the pain feels real and it’s terrible but mostly it’s stupid. So you then you feel stupid on top of already feeling stupid. It’s cruel. It makes you feel broken and then you are broken.
So you fake it. And sometimes, most of the time, it’s not fake. It’s real. That happiness is real, the laughter is real, and I forget all about that ridiculous broken part of my brain that messes everything up for all the goodness. But then other times, quiet times, times where there’s nothing to distract from the pounding overwhelming Sad, you feel like there’s no way out. You feel like you’re stuck under something heavy, a branch or a limb or some other heavy thing, I don’t know, I’m depressed, I can’t think of similes, but something heavy, and you don’t know how to even fight this massive weight on top of you. And the weird thing is that you forget again.
Depression is like this dream state where you’re one place and then you’re somewhere else and you know it’s not right but you accept that it’s where you’re supposed to be and then, like that, you’re somewhere else again. That’s depression for me. I’m fine, then I’m not fine and I clearly feel as though nothing will ever be fine again, then I get distracted by something and forget to be un-fine until I’m not fine again.
In October, I tried to go off my post-partum depression medication, because the kid was, like, 30 or something and I was probably fine. I weaned off, the way my doctor told me to, and within a week I was crying every time my daughter cried, unable to move or function. When my husband took our daughter from my arms one night and said “you need to go lie down, please just relax” I thought “they don’t need me. They’d be better off without me.” And that felt real, realer than getting sad about internet comments. I didn’t feel stupid or wrong about it. And it scared me.
So I went to the doctor and I got made all better. My one-time PMDD then PPD had just given way to MDD, major depressive disorder, so they treated it. I feel good. I feel like me again. I still have those nagging “not good enough” feelings at work, I still worry about being a good enough mom, and I still think about quitting every time I read a negative comment (especially the totally correct ones). But, ultimately, I’m OK. But, it still doesn’t feel like Christmas. That unexplained enchantment of the season, the kind they make movies about, the kind we convince ourselves must be manufactured when it stops for us, it’s still gone.
So, to you, my wonderful internet friends, acquaintances, readers and commenters, I hope you have a very happy holiday. And that, if there is magic to be found, you have even the tiniest bit of it.