I never really expected to have a problem celebrating Christmas — even though putting up and taking down decorations was always a bit of a pain, I welcomed the season and the warmth that it brings. This year, I’d like to box up all the decorations I see and send them to the nearest landfill. I even skipped a party at church last night because it was so over the top that I wanted to gag. I know people worked hard and those that came and stayed enjoyed themselves, but all I could see was Christmas on steroids, and I wanted to get as far away from it as possible.
As I first noticed this crazy mood setting in, I figured I was just tired and it would pass. It hasn’t. So, I guess I have a choice: wallow in the mood and ride out Christmas, or do something about it. I’m leaning toward doing something about it, and here’s what I’m planning on trying, based on other similar experiences I’ve had in my life:
- Focus on gratitude. I knew when I agreed to let my son go live with his dad that I would lose contact with all of them. As with many other things, I was right. I miss my kids dearly, and it really hurts as I hear about how my friends and colleagues are making family plans. I live in a world where I have as good as lost my family. This is a hard place to be when the holidays hit. I have found that, if I will take a look around, I have a lot of good things and good people in my life. Those are the places I need to focus on and be daily grateful for.
- Keep praying. Experience has taught me that the worst thing I can do is put walls up and try to shut God out. Walls are my protective move of choice, but they always end up doing more harm than good. I need the strength I can gain by going to my Father in prayer. I need to feel Him near, and I need the peace and understanding that only He can give.
- Keep studying my scriptures. I’ve heard it said we pray when we talk to God, but we read our scriptures when we want Him to talk to us. I have found that totally true. Yes, there are mornings where it feels like all I am doing is simply going through the motions. But the act of humble obedience will leave me open to the whisperings of the Spirit, even when my heart and mind are clouded with hurt and frustration. Eventually, I will be led to the answers I seek.
- Continue trying to be social. Ok. The church party was a little much. I was tired, and I was overwhelmed by the decorations and the number of people. But, there are still opportunities to be around people where I feel safe and comfortable, and there are still ways that I can help people around me. Those will also help me through this period.
There are no easy answers for me when I start to sink into a bout of depression. I can tell myself that it’s not real, I can tell myself to get over it and just be happy, and I can work like crazy to just “be normal.” With enough grit, that’s enough to get me through.
This time, though, I want to really be able to celebrate the birth of my Savior, and to really savor all that He means to me.