While the holidays and Christmas can be a joyful, happy time for some, when you're fighting depression, they may instead be some of the most difficult, challenging times of all.
On that note, a little while ago on social media, we asked members of The Depression Project's community:
What is "Christmas / holiday depression" like?
And, in this blog post, we'd like to share some of the responses with you.
Quotes About What "Christmas / Holiday Depression" Is Like - From Members Of The Depression Project's Community
- "Christmas / holiday depression is like regular depression, but with added guilt because it’s supposed to be a ‘magical’ time of year and you want to feel it, but you just don’t."
- "Christmas and the holidays are really lonely when you don't have anyone - so my depression's always worse around this time."
- "Christmas and the holidays come with obligations to do things that because of your depression, you don't have the energy or the motivation to do. You're expected to go to gatherings, shop, fake a smile and be cheerful ... but some days I'm so depressed I can hardly get out of bed."
- "Christmas / holiday depression is the worst depression ever and we are supposed to be grateful for all the good things. There is no joy in anything, everything feels like an insurmountable task - even getting dressed. I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything. I signed up to work a shift on Christmas to try and force myself out of the house. I was miserable and none of my 3 grown children even wished me a Merry Christmas. Didn’t get to see my 5 young grandchildren or give them my gifts. I want to climb in my bed and stay there for days. It feels as if my life has no purpose. I despise feeling this way yet I have no interest or motivation to do anything about it."
- "I long for the days of old - when family members were alive and around at Christmas time."
- "I didn't feel like doing anything, going anywhere, seeing anyone, was uninterested in food, couldn't be bothered to get out of bed or get washed, but my son called and sounded so miserable, so I got up, I showered, washed my hair, went shopping and took a cab to his place so we can spend Christmas together. We both miss my dad who passed 12 years ago yesterday so Christmas lost its glow for us and we haven't really celebrated it since. It was always a special time for us. We're also missing my daughter, his sister, who passed away last year. That wound is still fresh and we're struggling to find our way through the grief that's cloaked in thick fog. It's not easy, but as long as we hold on to each other we'll find a way."
- "The holidays bring people together. Depression sets you apart. So, even if you are invited to spend Christmas with family/friends, you are still alone ... just with others around."
- "Christmas / holiday depression is like 'normal depression', but x10 - where you just want to get in the car and drive off, get on a ferry and jump into the sea in the dark. Never to be seen again. I used to love Christmas - going over the top with shopping I couldn't afford, thinking that would make me happy. It didn't. Now the whole thing makes me feel sick."
- "It feels like I have constant pain in my chest and am always on the brink of tears. I watch Christmas movies that I used to watch as a child which relieves me for a moment, but then it hurts worse afterwards when faced with the reality that that happiness doesn’t exist anymore."
- "You're in a season where joy and happiness should be a daily staple but you're totally numb and exhausted. You question if you'll ever be able to feel that joy and happiness ever again."
- "For me it’s not holiday depression, it’s seasonal discontent. I miss the sunshine and the longer days of summer and pool days. The days are so short now and it’s not always cold (I live in Southeast Texas) but it’s not warm and it’s foggy and muggy most days between November and February. And then the actual holidays - yes - I don’t have the same joy.
Not having certain family members here (having passed away) and my daughter growing up … the joy that I used to have is gone plus this season has become so commercialised that it affects my enjoyment. I work and look for the most simple ways to minimise the stress - this year we put up a little village/ceramic tree instead of the big tree and the presents are smaller in quantity. Thankfully, even though my husband doesn’t understand, he’s empathetic and doesn’t make me feel worse for not wanting to do all the big stuff."
- "Every festive season is a horror for me ... I would prefer to close my door, sleep, eat while watching Netflix and not have to talk to anyone."
- "My son died. My only child. 20 months ago. To say Christmas holds nothing for me is an understatement. My husband and I are just hunkering down and avoiding everyone. Seeing others happy just makes this worse. Living is hard. Living through holidays is worse."
- "The last 6-7 new years eves I've spent by myself. It's soul-crushing - hearing the fireworks, knowing everyone is together, sharing love and having fun when you're all alone."
- "Every holiday season, I just want to go to sleep and wake up on January 2."
If you can relate to some or all of the above quotes, our friend, then please know that your feelings are valid, and that there are many, many other people who feel the same way.
And, if you don't have depression yourself but you know someone who does, then please understand that while Christmas / the holidays might be an enjoyable time for you, it might be a particularly difficult time for someone with depression. Consequently, rather than telling them to "just cheer up because it's Christmas" or pressuring them to be social or to do other things that they may not feel up to doing, we encourage you to check in with them to see how they're feeling, and ask them if there's anything you can do to make their Christmas / holiday period a little bit easier.
All our love,
The Depression Project Team.