When Holidays Cheer Is on Your Face, but Not in Your Heart


It is possible to live in a house full of people and not one of them know you are depressed. People with depression are masters at hiding how they feel. When asked, they can chalk up their moodiness to being tired, not feeling well or just having a lot on their minds.

One wonderful example of this is Robin Williams. He was a funny man, who could do impromptu unlike any other. He was loved on set while filming. He even had a family, but not everyone can be up, or “on,” all the time. So, when we’re not, we have believable excuses. It’s a perfected talent.

This time of year, people are trying to finish school before exams and year-end assignments at work, while shopping, decorating and traveling. People with depression can do it all with a smile on their faces. It’s just not in their hearts. When we’re in a room alone, we show our true feelings.

I go to bed earlier than anyone in the house, usually with the excuse of finishing something. That’s not really the reason. I need to decompress from my day. I need to be alone, with no talking and no one wanting anything from me. Without this time, I cannot function well the next day or sleep great throughout the night, even though I don’t sleep great as it is. I’ve had insomnia my entire life. So even with medication, going to sleep takes time.

People with depression, like me, need time behind closed doors where we can stop smiling, stop pretending and just let go of the anxiety of the day. We need to be left alone with our thoughts, even when our thoughts are not pleasant. It’s that unpleasantness that I hug at night, and it hugs me back. It’s those downward thoughts that give me comfort. With that comfort, I am able to get up in the morning and go at it again.

Depression is a one-man or one-woman journey. Yes, we have pills we take daily and therapists who we see weekly. Yet, that’s not our cure-all. No, it is a way of suspending the pain and the bad thoughts. It’s a way of making the sadness a little lighter.

With the help and understanding of our friends and family, we find a way to make it through the storm. I have two adult sons and a husband who have had to walk with me through my depression for two decades now. Yet, it’s my dog who gives me a reason to get up in the morning.

She’s my constant companion. She’s been with me for more than 14 years. She depends on me for food, water, love and transportation. She’s no longer able to go up and down steps. So, I help her. That requirement alone helps me to get up in the morning.

So, this holiday season, find what gets you up in the morning. Even if it’s just to say, “I did it. I made it another day.”

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