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!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A Solo Christmas

It's Christmas Eve. I'm home alone tonight. I'll be home alone again tomorrow. It's okay. But it's not great. I'd almost rather be working tomorrow, Christmas day, as it would allow me to be around people I enjoy during a time when nearly everyone feels upbeat and cheerful. I have tomorrow off though, and I'm not yet sure what I'll do. Whatever it is, I'll be an entity of one doing it.

Being alone on Christmas is not new. I don't have a spouse. I don't have children. My 3 brothers all have their own families with whom they share the day, and my mother is in Florida. I've likely spent the large majority of my Christmases alone over the last 20 years. So this is not new. I'm used to it. I don't let it bother me. That being said, for whatever reason, I'm feeling the solitude a bit more this year.

Perhaps the solitude is more noticeable because I'm not that far removed from my last depression episode. I was hospitalized earlier this month, so I'm still gingerly moving forward. I don't think I totally trust I'm out of the woods yet. Maybe I'm feeling more alone because I'm not training. I have no goal race on the horizon, and truth be told, I haven't done any exercise in at least 8 days! That month long respiratory illness, followed so closely by another month of depression, knocked me flat. I can't seem to get going again.

In years past I've loved going for a long run on Christmas morning. I've loved running miles through a silent city imagining the joy and chaos behind each window and door. But running has felt so heavy and slow lately, even if I do get out there tomorrow the run likely won't be long. Three miles is probably my max these days, and that's disheartening, too. So I'm not looking forward to my Christmas morning run right now. Nevertheless, I should probably do my best. I think skipping it will only intensify feeling alone.

I know Christmas is a difficult holiday for many people, and especially for those of us with mental illness. Perhaps it's because so many people with mental illness battle it alone. I don't know. I've always kind of taken pride in the fact I wasn't bothered by being alone over the holiday. Weird, I know. But this year is apparently different. I guess it doesn't matter the reason.

I'm trying to do what I can to combat the solitude. I went to a lovely Christmas Eve service tonight complete with all the traditional carols including the candlelit Silent Night finale. It was beautiful. I'm glad I went, but I wish I could have shared it with someone. I was among hundreds of people, but I was still alone.

Tomorrow is Christmas day, and I won't be totally alone. I do have Jet, and he doesn't care what day it is! After a cup of coffee and a snuggle, I hope to fetch the dog leash and the running shoes so Jet and I may begin our Christmas day in our traditional way. I can't let the miles, or lack thereof, deter me. I just need to get out the door. If I accomplish that, I think the rest of the day will be a whole lot brighter.

I hope you all have a very happy day tomorrow. Be gentle with yourself if you're struggling for any reason. That's what I'm going to try to do. We'll see how it goes. Merry Christmas!

Addendum: It's Christmas morning, and Jet and I just returned from a lovely run. It was a balmy 34 degrees when we began. We ran through several quiet neighborhoods and along a path into the woods. In a city of 110,000 people we passed more people and dogs than we did vehicles.

I didn't look at my watch and let my body guide the distance and pace. Strangely, on our way home it began raining! It doesn't rain in Minnesota in December, and even stranger, before it stopped raining the sun came out. It warmed our backs the entire way home.

Jet and I ran just under 6 miles in a bit under 60 minutes. I'm so happy I got out the door. As I have every year, I thoroughly enjoyed my traditional Christmas morning run. It filled me with serenity and peace. I'm going to hang onto those feelings as long as I can. And now I believe I will enjoy a well deserved Christmas morning nap. Merry Christmas, my friends!


Paul Lamb said...

On Christmas I'll have four little ones under four years old in my house. (Also attendant parents.) I expect chaos, meltdowns, fights over toys, and all of the usual things I remember from when my children were little.

But I've often wished for solitude, specifically somewhere that doesn't observe this holiday. A friend even mention this recently. How she'd like to spend Xmas on a beach, in Japan.

I don't know these things, but it seems that you have a workable and healthy attitude for coping with an imperfect situation.


Darkestof said...

I wish I had the ability to not feel so alone at Christmas. The emptiness is intense wether I am with friends or family, or I am alone.
I wish you a merry Christmas

Rachael said...

Hope you got out for a run Etta. And that even if it was short, it was invigorating. Even if you were alone, I know you were in a lot of people's hearts xxx

Katy said...

I'm glad you were able to get a run in. That really makes a huge difference for me.

The holidays are so stressful. I am so glad Christmas Day is over. I was apprehensive all day yesterday. I managed to get a very short run in as my kids rollerbladed/skate boarded. That helped. I woke up today so thankful that it was NOT Christmas! Hurray!


Julie Gathman said...

This was a great, great post. Thank you for writing it. I enjoyed the writing, the thoughts, everything.