Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Alone during the Holidays

Happy Holidays to everyone! I hope you all spent time with people you love. However, as I noted in my last post, I know that's sometimes an issue for those of us with mental illness. For a variety of reasons, we may spend this holiday of all holidays alone. As for me, I had time with friends, but I also spent a lot of time alone.

For me, the last two days were, in many ways, nothing more than normal days. I ran. I biked. I cleaned my house. I went to my AA meeting. I did my laundry. I watched television. I went grocery shopping. I updated Facebook. I listened to NPR. Normal days...

For a variety of reasons, I didn't see family. I didn't open presents. I didn't have a house full of people. Christmas eve, in particular, was a very long day. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel a little sorry for myself.

After working out, cleaning, doing some laundry, and grocery shopping, there was nothing left to do. My friends were spending time with their family. My family was silent from afar. The special-ness of the day was evident everywhere I went--from the excited families and lovers last minute shopping in Walmart, to the extra cars with far away license plates crowding my street. I began to feel very, very sad.

I got dressed up and went to church that evening. It was a beautiful service, but again, it was impossible not to feel very, very alone. I sat in the back. There was one other woman, apparently alone as well, sitting in my pew. Before me the church was filled with smiling extended families. I was envious. Perhaps it would have been better not to go, yet sitting alone at home wouldn't have felt good either. I left the service feeling a strange combination of celebration and sadness.

I teared up as I got into my car. I could have gone home and really let the sadness overtake me, but I dialed my phone instead. When Cindy answered my voice broke. "Why don't you come over here," she said? And so I did. I collected Puck, put on some sweats, and headed back out the door. For a moment, I had stood on the precipice of the hole, but thankfully I didn't jump in. I'm so glad I made that call.

Yesterday was another normal day until dinner, at which time Puck and I headed out again. Bill and Cindy made a lovely dinner, we chuckled our way through A Christmas Story, and we lounged around listening to Christmas tunes together. A nice, relaxed time was had by all.

It was Christmas, and ultimately, I spent my time with the family I love, the family who knows me best, and the family with whom I can most be myself. That was my Christmas. I hope you, too, found your family over these past two days. I hope you did what you needed to do to keep yourself safe and healthy. Happy Holidays, my friends.


Jamie said...

I just discovered your blog and am glad to hear you made it through Christmas.

I struggle with Christmas too, not because of being alone, but because so many things do not make sense to me during this time of the year.

I look forward to reading more!

Divas said...

I'm glad you made it through. I was ok until last night. That's when I lost it and today has been pretty bad, too. I guess I was hoping for a Christmas miracle or something. Please pray for me.

Teehee said...

I spent the holiday alone and cried through most of it. Can someone have PTSD from a traumatic break up? It has been almost 10 years since my ex left me and 7 1/2 years since we have spoken or seen each other. It is like he died but worse, as he chose to leave and therefore proved to me that he didn't love me after all those years. When he left, I went through the worst depression of my life. My father had died a few years earlier and the pain I felt when my ex left (we had dated for 13 years) almost killed me. If it hadn't been for a friend who I lived with at the time, I think I would have committed suicide...I cried every day, stopped eating, sleeping, lack of hope...this went on for a year. I went on anti-depressants for a short time and during that time, I met someone else...a band-aid, I guess. We dated for 5 years and that relationship ended poorly as well, but it was my decision so I don't have the same residual feelings I have with him as I did with me ex. In the last few months, I have seen the depression creeping back...lack of interest in life, travel, socializing...I am starting to cut people out of my life by isolating myself. I don't want to be around the "happy couples and/or families" because it makes me reflective...then I feel guilty for being so sad and I don't want to ruin anyone's day/event so I just stay away. I have conversations in my head with me ex, re-hear the hurtful words he said to me and envision his life with his new wife and children. My dreams are filled with me trying to talk to him and convince him to come back; I usually wake up crying. To complicate things even more, he is a doctor therefore I am fearful of going to one to get help...even a referral to a phychologist. I stumbled on your blog today and was wondering what your thoughts are on PTSD. It seems like it affects people that had a significant trauma such as a life threatening situation...I guess I feel like the break up was a life threatening situation because it did almost kill me. I really have no one to talk to about this because it has been so long since the relationship ended, I know many people would say "you need to move on with your life" or "quit dwelling on the past". Few people would really understand. If you don't think I suffer from PTSD, which does seem like an exaggeration, why is this pain reoccuring, almost like it was yesterday? Is there help for me?

etta said...

@ Teehee: I'm not qualified to diagnose you, nor do I wish to do so. I am qualified to suggest you get together with a psychologist ASAP. Good luck.

A. Paige Turner said...

I've done great this year - until today. GAWD, I deserved an Academy Award for my interest and animation while listening to everyone's Christmas replays.

I have mixed feelings re: the holidays - on one hand I LOVE the LIGHTS and decorations - the Christmas music I enjoy - for about a week - don't need it 24/7 from Thanksgiving to New Year's. I LOVE all the cool buys I get FOR MYSELF! and I love that I don't have to spend a dime on any presents. I love that I don't have to get dressed up and mingle with total strangers and their partners. I love the Christmas specials on T.V. that I watched as a kid. I love the church services and children acting out the birth of Christ in their bathrobes. And I completely embrace the true reason we celebrate Christmas.

Then there is that moment....on Christmas Eve....when the traffic starts getting lighter, the stores and fast food places begin to close early and everyone is heading home to their loved ones...

That is the moment that never ceases to surprise me.....

The feeling passes and I treat Christmas as any other 'off day' - but for just that moment I feel like the only person left in the world.......

etta said...

"Then there is that moment....on Christmas Eve....when the traffic starts getting lighter, the stores and fast food places begin to close early and everyone is heading home to their loved ones... for just that moment I feel like the only person left in the world......."

That's it, Maggie Beth. Exactly.