The Days Before Christmas Are Always the Toughest When It Comes to My Depression


For some reason, I’ve always found the days leading up to a holiday, or an anniversary, the toughest – rather than the holiday or anniversary itself.

I lost my mom 12 years ago, and my grandma and grandpa almost 20 years ago. Their losses were initial triggers of what has become a long battle of depression for me. Much later in life I found out I had a hereditary disposition to depression and anxiety.

Like many of you who have lost loved ones, I’ve found birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries can be tough. Those significant dates often bring back memories that perhaps we hadn’t thought of in a while – old memories that feel new again, perhaps raw.

I find those memories come in waves. For me those waves start well before the actual date. The waves are highest before the actual date but strangely diminish on the date sometimes. The actual date itself can be anti-climactic for me in a way. Perhaps I just get numb.

As we approach the Christmas holiday, I find myself thinking about things I enjoyed with my mom or grandma and grandpa. Certain things like driving past Christmas tree lots trigger memories. Or certain songs on the car radio. (“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid for some reason is a big trigger.) Even though I’m in the driver seat of my car, gripping the wheel, I feel like a 10-year-old again, who half wonders or expects to see presents underneath the tree from my mom. Or I drift off in my mind to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house to help decorate their tree. I can practically taste Grandma’s homemade hot cocoa.

I find myself daydreaming a lot in the days leading up to Christmas. As I watch my four kids with my in-laws, I think about how much my mom is missing. I like to think my mom is watching from Heaven, but somehow it’s not the same as her actually playing with and watching her four grandkids. I know they would love her, and I know she loves them. I try to keep telling myself that’s enough.

Over the years, I’ve been caught up in these waves. The waves have taken me down at times. I’ve desperately needed arm floaties at times.

I think the waves on the days leading up to the holidays have caught me off guard and continue to catch me off guard. Christmas can be a tough holiday, but I’ve noticed my birthday may be one of the toughest. I’ve found it’s really hard to have a birthday without your mom around.

I think a “takeaway” for me (I love buzzwords), is that I have a hard time communicating my feelings when I’m caught off guard. I think I’ve had a hard time communicating to others when I need that lifeline or those arm floaties to keep afloat during those waves on those days.

I think, when you have depression, you desperately want to reach out for help. But sometimes you don’t know how to ask for help. Especially when you’re caught off guard. I don’t know if anyone expects to get caught off guard driving past the Christmas tree lot two weeks before Christmas. You may be preparing yourself internally for the day of Christmas, but you’re not prepared for those moments in between.

I also know that, as a male, it’s at times really hard to communicate when you need help with things like birthdays and anniversaries, especially when they are your own. Because your own birthdays and anniversaries can be triggers too — you definitely miss loved ones leading up to those dates too. I, and I’m sure others, struggle to learn how to reach out to get help through those waves of emotions.

I think perhaps a first, small step, especially as men, is to be open and honest to initiate communication with your partner and therapist. Do not assume they know what is wrong. Remember that only you know what you have experienced/what you are experiencing. Reach out to them for help to get through those waves.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Everste


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Depression

Lonesome Woman Drinking Coffee in Dark Room

10 Tips From a Psychotherapist to Help Combat 'the Winter Blues’

As we wind down the end of the year and the days shorten (yet the pace only seems to quicken), many of us can experience the onset of “the winter blues,” a sense of sadness, anxiety, depression or for some, full-blown seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If this feels familiar for you or if you’ve been [...]
Strong young man hides behind his blocking hands, double exposure photo combined with wild forest landscape

3 Lessons I Learned After My Latest Relapse Into Depression

If I put together a team of people whose opinions impact the way I go about my business, then my grandfather would be the captain. Last week, at my grandmother’s birthday party, he pulled me aside to talk about my work in suicide prevention. “I’ve seen the talks you’re doing about suicide,” he said. “And [...]
Portrait of a young woman sitting at home with pen and paper

4 Tips for When Anxiety and Depression Have Snuffed Out Your Creativity

November was National Novel Writing Month. I didn’t type a single word. After this year’s election, the loss of a loved one and a myriad of horrible circumstances to befall me in the last month, I couldn’t even come up with a character or a story arc. I almost couldn’t even write this. Being a [...]
Student in a library surrounded by piles of books

When Depression and Academic Pressure Collide

I’ve never understood how I’m supposed to achieve good grades when I can’t even get up in the morning. My depression kept me at home today. I didn’t have the strength to even get out of bed. I thought about how miserable my life was, and I decided there was no point in getting up [...]