The following piece, contributed voluntarily, shares with readers one individual’s lived experience with SAD and General Anxiety Disorder.
Ahhhh…it’s December – and when the first day of December comes I think that maybe this year it’ll be different and I’ll be all ready and feel motivated and organized but as the month wears on and the solstice is coming, my energy lessens.
I used to be so hard on myself and compare myself to all the other Moms and women who could do so much at this time of the year. I tried all kinds of things with a variety of results but here it is again, the Holiday Season is upon us and I’m stalled or have spurts of energy and if things are going a bit well, then I can get enthused and say yes to things, feeling truly that I can do it or be there and then for some of it I have to push myself through.
I loved Christmas as a kid. My Mom made it nice for all of us even though she had a real Grinch in my Father who was mean spirited. There were people around, it was fun. I liked the music, the lights, the tree, the visits, baking and being together with family. I went on to enjoy Christmas even when I met my husband’s family, fine people but a lot of alcohol abuse so these Christmas were tense and my partner grew to really hate Christmas or at least what Christmas represented in his family, a time of conflict.
Before having children, I worked in the hotel, restaurant, banquet business so often I worked during the Christmas season, this was tiring but it was nice to help others have fun and so I had fun too and being around the friends I worked with. As more time went by and my husband and I had our first child, things changed a lot. We had this precious little being but I suffered with perinatal depression and anxiety and so began the conditional Christmases with feeling more demands and the duty to provide a memorable and magical Christmas for my child and family members. As well my partners’ dislike of Christmas was harder to roll with for me now that we had our own child. It was hard on him to have his wife experiencing perinatal depression and anxiety and his well being decreased too. It took some time to recover for me and anxiety and I went on to have two more children and experienced it yet again with our third child.
I’ve gotten better over the years, of necessity and am better at not setting myself up for the fall or the fail. I’ve had to have self compassion and I reason that even though so many people may look like they’re doing OK or even great, not everyone is and we never really know. I suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I have many coping skills and a lot of the time they serve me very well and I’m open to learning others. I’ve had to accept that this is not an all jolly time for me though, and so when I have some moments of feeling happy then I really take the time to be mindful that is going on. It’s often the simple things that help me feel better.
This time of year brings memories, good, bad, ugly even from other years. The losses and traumas can be underlined and triggering. Sometimes I have to really excavate to find the good feelings and memories when the triggering begins or sneaks up and my mind can go to just what isn’t good now or in the past, even worrying about the future. I try to do some self-care during the season and to have a plan for following the big day to recover and replenish. And….remembering, that’s it’s okay to have a “good enough” Christmas. I had a wise therapist who taught this to me many years ago and it has always been a comfort to come back to, like a touch stone to take heart from.
Some helpful sites:
- On Self-Compassion
- Crisis Center Chat online
- For pregnancy, postpartum, post adoption depression, anxiety, adjustment
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