I had a med check last week to make sure my anti-depressants are still being effective. During the appointment the doc asked me all the normal generic mental health questions that they ask to assess your level of depression and risk. Not the super intense ones a therapist would ask but just the easy ones… Are you sleeping too little, too much? Eating too little, too much? Feeling like a failure? Feeling no energy? Feeling out of control fidgety? Feeling like hurting yourself? Along with a couple others. I thought I was doing okay as I answered the questions but when the doctor compared my score to last May he was a little concerned. My score had gone up quite a bit. Not a dangerous level of up but enough to make a difference.
I explained to him that it is the holidays and this is to be expected. I don’t have happy holidays I just try to survive them. I deal with a lot of grief at the holidays and in the last year there have been massive changes to my life with my family and friends. It is also the birthday of my sister this month which is an especially difficult day of grief even after all the years that have passed since I lost her. I grieve for the things I never had with both her and my childhood. It is all made more difficult with the constant family-centric questions that make me feel uncomfortable because nobody wants to hear the real answers and it just makes me long for things I do not have or have never had and brings up trauma to re-live once again. Sometimes the holidays seem like a mental war-zone
I assured my doc that compared to the last 3 years or so this holiday season has seemed like a picnic so far. That I am usually on the verge of suicidal or catatonic depending on the year and that right now I don’t feel nearly that bad despite my slightly concerning score. We talked about being on top of things and I told him I would keep up my self care strategies and make an appointment with my therapist if I needed to. I have these tools to call on now. He renewed my prescription and I went on my way.
Thinking about it the next couple of days I realized how relative our mental health can be. Depending on life circumstance and time of year one person’s moderate depression can seem like a fucking day at the park. Don’t get me wrong. I do not feel like dancing in the streets right now. I feel an undercurrent of self doubt and anxiety and the last couple of days the feeling of being perched on the edge of a cliff leading to the inevitable holiday spiral has been palpable. But I’m holding on for now. Holding my broken pieces together if slightly precariously. I’m keeping my head up and trying to find joy in the things I am doing in the present with my children who love this season. I am breathing and trying to stay out of the past as much as possible. And so far I am okay.
So if the holidays are tough for you consider this a reminder to practice self-care. To take it easy if you need to. To survive. Reach out to someone if you need to. Do what you need to do to make it through. Because sometimes the holidays just aren’t happy. And that is okay.
Be gentle with yourself out there. And remember it is okay to not be okay. Just keep doing your best.
Love to all of you. The unconditional kind.