Thursday, December 17, 2009

Not So Happy Holidays

I hate to be a downer, but, well, I am depressed so it's to be expected.

The holidays have not been so happy thus far. I've been trying really hard to take all the awesome advice you guys gave me following my post Thanksgiving crash. Most of the stuff you guys mentioned (like waiting to put up the tree and making my DH do all the clean-up) will have to wait until next year to be implemented, but the big thing I've held onto is this: Do less stuff.

My mood cycles have been getting deeper and faster; I feel like my good days are fewer and farther between and my bad days are much, much more intense. I forgot how consuming and exhausting it actually is to be depressed. The other night I found myself crying helplessly while reading my kids their bedtime stories. My voice was fine, but my mind was lost and tears were rolling down my cheeks. It was so strange and awful and, um, depressing.

So it was a good thing I scaled back about a week ago. And I mean seriously scaled back. In the name of doing less I bailed on planning my first grader's "Holiday Fiesta", the ward choir, a Sunday School lesson, visiting teaching, and two family gift exchanges (I really am sorry guys!!), I gave up working on my calling, and we decided to draw names as a family to cut down on all the shopping. When I had finished the last email and the final phone call to let people know I was opting out I sobbed with relief. (Note to self: most people were very understanding and polite. They won't hate you if you back out of something!) With all that stuff out of my brain I remembered how to get dressed, how to feed my family, and how to start cleaning my house. I know it sounds stupid, but when I am on a downturn even the simplest tasks are like trying to solve a Rubik's cube. Adding all the craziness of the holidays is like trying to work that *%^$# cube with my toes.

I did hold on to a few things, though. They were things that I felt like embodied the spirit of Christmas best. We still picked names off the angel tree and shopped for families in need. We still sent out Christmas cards because family connections are too important to let go of (I only sent out 20 and it still took two hours to get everything packaged and sent). We still made treats to share with the neighbors--although I did make a lot fewer than usual; we gave out 6 half loaves of pumpkin bread--because (besides Halloween) it is the only time of year we talk to them. And I think I'm taking my kids caroling next week. Those things feel good when I do them and they have a long term purpose behind them so they're keepers.

There are still some ways I need to scale back for next year. The ward Christmas party is up in the air for me. I don't do well with lots of noise and big crowds. And it always makes my kids stay up too late. The same goes for the Relief Society party. There's just so much pressure with that kind of stuff when I'm feeling low. It doesn't lift my spirit. It just reminds me of how far down I've gone. Hmmm. . . any ideas for a small group party that was more service-instead-socializing-oriented that can be implemented on a ward level? (I do better with a task. Just sitting and talking with people I barely know is soooo hard.)

Anyway, if you all are feeling the pain this holiday I hope you know you're not alone and it's not wrong. It's just the way we depressives react to stress and it's okay. I came across this video by Therese Bochard at Beyond Blue that was really meaningful to me. She has some good idea about how to take care of yourself during the holidays (SEE--sleep, eat right, and exercise!), but mostly it's just good to know that other people have been there and are making it work.

Oh, and yeah, I do have an appointment to see the psychiatrist. The supplements just don't cut it and I don't like teetering on the brink. I mean, the other day I was actually thinking getting hospitalized might be a nice break. That's not a good sign. Especially not when there's a little person trying to grow and thrive inside me.

*sigh* 'Tis the season.


Becca Jones said...

I once had a visiting teacher say that the thing that made her happiest was putting herself last.

I was so puzzled. I NEVER feel that way. I'm happiest when I put myself first. ALWAYS. I figure if I'm happier, then I'm a better Mom, so it's a favor to everyone if I put myself first.

I totally understand cutting things out. I do SO SO SO little most of the time in order to keep myself happy and functioning. No play dates. Not many RS activities. Rarely a ward party. I withdrew from Visiting Teaching at all for 4 years, despite the fact that I know it's a good thing.

When you have an invisible disability, like depression or fibromyalgia, YOU have to accommodate for you because nobody else even knows they're supposed to.

So GOOD FOR YOU! Put yourself first. Do what makes you happy.

Baby yourself. Nobody else is going to.

Bev said...

Thanks for the post. I come to your blog and it helps me through some hard days. Ia m wonder what I can blow off with out freaking the kids too mush already school parties and teacher gifts. And we don't have our tree up. But it will be ok.

Charlotte said...

I'm so sorry that this is hitting you so hard right now Laura! I can feel your sadness and anger and frustration building when I talk to you and I want to say the right thing but I haven't figured it out yet. Like you, it feels like just making every day decisions is like solving a rubix cube (great analogy)! So I'll just second what Becca said - she put it wonderfully.

And I love how you've cut back. I think it's great advice whether or not you're depressed! It's so easy to forget what this season is supposed to be about.

Lura said...

" . . .even the simplest tasks are like trying to solve a Rubik's cube"

To me, that does NOT sound stupid. That is exactly how I felt during the few weeks after my baby was born. I remember trying to tell my husband how I was feeling, and he kept trying to offer solutions. I know he was just trying to be helpful, but I just wanted to scream, "YOU DON'T GET IT!!!"
I'm glad to know that somebody out there gets it. Well, I'm not glad that you are suffering from depression, because, for lack of better words, IT SUCKS, but I guess it helps to know that we are not alone. You, me, and loads of other people have to deal with this on a daily basis. Which reminds me, I'm down to my last Zoloft. Better make a trip to the pharmacy tomorrow.

Lura said...

And by the way, you don't need to apologize about dropping the gift exchange. Seriously, it's no biggie.

sarah louise said...

Once again thank you for helping me to know I am not alone in my depression and thinking.

I have a hard time going to RS parties. I thought I was being silly. I couldn't explain to people why I felt uncomfortable. It made me feel guilty. You nailed it on the head. Thanks for giving my feelings an explanation.

I struggle with Christmas beacuse there is so much work to do and it is overwhelming and like you said just the normal things are a challange some days, let alone a million other things needed to be done this time of year.

Thank you for your honesty! You are great!

Coffinberry said...

Hugs from me. And thanks for speaking up.

(And back at you... you're not alone, either. I'm sitting here pondering why, for me, a certain point in the hormonal cycle *feels* like guilt. And fighting off my own version of intrusive thoughts.)

Breakdown said...

I work for USPS and let me tell you stress at work is at an all time high. My goal is not to hate Christmas time and try to make it through. Thanks for letting me know that I'm not alone.