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Another Insight Into Depression: The Holidays

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posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 05:34 AM
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Hello once again ATS...

As some of you have read about before, in previous posts and threads of mine - I have mental health issues. You know, just writing those words "mental health" fills me with a negativity that I cannot define. To me it is one of those politically correct terms that tries so hard to be nice - but ends up being totally insulting regardless. But I suppose in a way a badly phrased generic term is fitting because mental illness is so blatantly and shamelessly misunderstood in our culture anyway. It's fitting I guess. A scary catch-all label to throw us all into the same box - regardless of our personal realities, diagnoses, functionality, and symptoms.

In my case the two major labels attached to me are PTSD and Bipolar II - or Bipolar NOS - my therapist bounces back and forth between the two notions. For those in the know it means that I don't tend to display the types of mania usually associated with Bipolar Disorder. I'm not the type to mortgage my house and try to run away to Monaco for no good reason. But I do have some minor traits of mania - I can sometimes get into moods where I feel invincible and tend to end up in some level of trouble afterward.

My personal view? Anyone with severe PTSD is going to get depressed. And anyone who is used to being depressed about their PTSD is likely to get a bit carried away when one of the rare "good" days comes along.

Some background to help understand the remainder of what I wish to discuss.

The Holidays.

In about six hours my house will be full of family members and two of my nephews school friends who come from poor families and really did not have anywhere else to enjoy a good meal on Thanksgiving. When I say "my family" I mean my mother, my sister, and my sisters youngest son. These are the ones that I think of as family. I have other relatives. But let's just say if that if the zombie apocalypse happened right now - I wouldn't be rushing to save anyone not on the above list. These are the people that I love without question. Even my unfathomably evil mother. I keep her around because she's my judgment day trump card. When my moment comes and God is staring at me with rage in his eyes - I'm going to point at her and say "SHE DID IT! BLAME HER!". So she serves a purpose. ( I kid... a little at least ). And the kids who are coming because this is there one shot at getting a traditional meal? God bless them as well - they are welcome and I only wish I had more to offer so that others could have also been invited.

So why am I filled with an absolute dread right now? Why do I feel the way that one feels prior to a visit to the dentists office, knowing that major oral torture is in the works?

And why is the knowledge that from today, for at least a month and a half from now, I will have to suffer a non-stop barrage of Christmas themed ads, decorations, programming, and exposure? I used to LOVE the Holidays before I got "sick". But then something changed. And it changed instantly. I went from loving the entire season to hating it in a single year - and to this day I don't understand why.

You know that feeling you get when you are about to interview for a job that you are pretty sure you are not qualified enough to be considered for? Or that feeling that you get right before you are asked to speak in front of a large group of people? Well that feeling is sort of the same as this. It is just that this one is worse. Way worse. As a reader you might simply say "Dude, you have social anxiety, shut up." - and that, as it happens, is one of my diagnoses - though one I strongly disagree with. Put me in a crowd and I am in my element. I am the life of the party. Over the course of my life I have had occasional to be on stage in front of large numbers of people and it never once bothered me to be there. In fact I adored it. The only time people make me nervous is if I am alone with a pretty woman and I have some notion that fun stuff might be about to happen. Beyond that? No social anxiety at all.

If you're wondering how in the world I got tagged with the diagnosis, given the above. The answer is simple. I have a bit of an issue with authority and a bad habit of dealing with that authority angst in an aggressive manner. IE if my boss yells at me, I tend to punch him. Thus my shrink tacked "social anxiety" in and then gave me an infinitely confusing explanation as to why.

But back on point...

The studies and numbers vary - but experts assume that anywhere from between every 3 to 7 out of ten people have some form of mental illness. So, chances are, as your Holiday season progresses, you'll likely encounter at least one or two. Most of us? You'd never recognize as ill unless you were trained to do so. There are subtle indicators. The Uncle who starts drinking at family functions the second he arrives? He might just be a drunk - or he might be a troubled person seeking to self-medicate and hide the symptoms of his pain and stress from others. That one person who just sits quietly and is overly polite and distant? Same thing.

A funny truth about those of us with problems.... We tend to learn how to hide them from others. We create faces that let us fit in - at least for short periods of time and in superficial interactions. We don't do this because we are worried that somebody will embarrass us - we do it because we don't want to embarrass others. We're aware that it is an issue that makes other people uncomfortable - so we hide.

My request of you all, ATS, is that you keep these words in mind and keep an eye out for the kinds of people I have described here. I ask you this because it is a very, very easy thing to make them feel so much better in social situations simply by interacting and engaging with them. Small talk, a few compliments, some questions about what interests them - and most will come right out of their shells and start to really feel like they are part of the group. It doesn't take much to make the "mentally ill" forget that they've got these labels and to get them to act like regular folk. It just takes some kindness.

It is my sad duty to report that there are some who will not come out of their shells. This time of year can be very depressing to those who have lost. The divorced, widowed, those who have lost anything that they once cherished. For them it can be different. So my final request is that you also keep an eye open for family members who don't come out of their shells when coaxed. For those who withdraw even deeper when kindness is offered. These people may be in need of more help than you can offer. And, believe me, it's worth gathering the family around to discuss a family member who seems too far down in the hole. It's not easy nor enjoyable. But it is infinitely preferable to the guilt one might feel if they do not act upon the warning signs.

Keep and eye out for those of us like me. OK? And be thankful for them as well. Often those of us with labels have keen minds and imaginations and a LOT to offer, once someone takes the time to coax us free of our insecurities.

Please don't take exception with what I am about to say - simply interpret it in the way that best suits how you choose to believe...

God bless you all and your loved ones this Holiday season.

All of my best to you and yours.

~Heff




posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 06:19 AM
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Your points about social anxiety and bipolar disorder are well understood and I have the utmost respect for anyone that can admit to these things, as they are usually seen as social stigmas. It takes a very honest and accepting soul to talk about them. Instead of running from them, you accept them. That's a sign of true strength. You had me at feeding friends who come from poor families. Speaks volumes of your character. S+F for that alone in my opinion. I knew there were reasons I like you. Happy Thanksgiving, Heff.



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 06:29 AM
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reply to post by Hefficide
 


I also suffer from the same types of issues. Even thinking of the holidays can get me into such of a talespin, yikes, I dread them coming about the middle of August! That's what growing up in a dysfunctional family can do to you over the course of many rotten holidays!

I hate to say it, but I have learned to basically ignore them, and treat them like they are just any other day. If I didn't I'd be sick to the point of hiding in bed for about 4 months!

It's my thing, after having so many anxiety ridden holiday's over the years. I do honestly feel for people that haven't a clue how to cope with them. I hid it well for a lot of years, so as not to disappoint my children. Now that they are older, it's okay for me to let them know how much certain days tend to fill me with anxiety.

Would it be okay for me to recommend that people who might have an issue, keep a phone number handy for a hotline if they think the holiday's might get to be too much?

I know that hotlines have helped me on some of these days, when I felt like there was nobody else in the world who could understand this!



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 06:53 AM
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APPLAUSE! and S&F!
I suffer from depression during the holidays myself.....It hurts me to live so far away from my family. But I am thankful for my husband and children. I keep a smiley face on for them. I want them to have great memories, even if its just the 4 of us....

Lots of Love to you this holiday and to all of those who suffer in silence too....



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 07:24 AM
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I've had a problem with the holidays for many years now. The basic reason is not having the money to make it a good holiday for myself and my loved ones. I used to feel huge guilt having to choose between paying my bills through out the winter or providing holiday gifts and outings. The guilt and frustration about not being able to get ahead enough to have a good holiday season leads to depression, resentment, self loathing and anger.

The best way for me to deal with the holidays is to stop caring about them. I have to stop caring that I have no money now or in the future. Sure there is always tomorrow, just not a "real" future. So I'll struggle on for maybe another 20 years and then it will probably be some stranger's problem what to do with my lifeless body. The most I can hope for my future is that I don't have much in the way of personal property left for anyone to have to deal with it when I die.

Sound depressing? I call this being realistic. Happy Holidays everyone.



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 07:48 AM
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Originally posted by MichiganSwampBuck
I've had a problem with the holidays for many years now. The basic reason is not having the money to make it a good holiday for myself and my loved ones. I used to feel huge guilt having to choose between paying my bills through out the winter or providing holiday gifts and outings. The guilt and frustration about not being able to get ahead enough to have a good holiday season leads to depression, resentment, self loathing and anger.

The best way for me to deal with the holidays is to stop caring about them. I have to stop caring that I have no money now or in the future. Sure there is always tomorrow, just not a "real" future. So I'll struggle on for maybe another 20 years and then it will probably be some stranger's problem what to do with my lifeless body. The most I can hope for my future is that I don't have much in the way of personal property left for anyone to have to deal with it when I die.

Sound depressing? I call this being realistic. Happy Holidays everyone.


That is the thing I HATE about holidays...all the people who feel left behind and isolated. If people thought to respect people everyday and to give gifts of kindness, maybe so many people would not suffer in silence on officially titled holidays....

Blessings to you.



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 07:54 AM
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Originally posted by Sissel
reply to post by Hefficide
 


Would it be okay for me to recommend that people who might have an issue, keep a phone number handy for a hotline if they think the holiday's might get to be too much?

I know that hotlines have helped me on some of these days, when I felt like there was nobody else in the world who could understand this!





I think that advice is great. Sacrificing yourself over the despair of holidays and what issues and baggage that comes along with it is not good.

If anyone is considering this thing, DONT there is a stranger here who is wishing you the best and hoping for your day to turn into something positive! You may not see a light at the end of the tunnel, but that does not mean it is not there!

Blessings to you and ALL!



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 08:06 AM
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reply to post by Starwise
 


"That is the thing I HATE about holidays...all the people who feel left behind and isolated. If people thought to respect people everyday and to give gifts of kindness, maybe so many people would not suffer in silence on officially titled holidays....

Blessings to you."

Yes, with family all over the country, isolation is an issue with respect to income.

Also, I've tried to justify not giving during the holidays by comparing it to everything I have done throughout the year for people in my life. It seems, esp. while being depressed, that not too many people appreciate that or give it much consideration. So I choose to feel basically nothing about the holidays. No feelings are better than bad ones. It can be hard to detach from guilt due to the stigma attached to not giving during the holidays, ie. Scrooge, the Grinch, etc.



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 08:16 AM
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reply to post by Hefficide
 


You are not alone, we all have suffered from degrees of anger, depression, anxiety, Christmas blues, sense of oppression, the feeling of overall powerlessness or overpower, despising authority in one way or the other, so most people even if they are not tagged with a term of "mental" illness they have been there and know how it feels.

This is call modern life ailments.

Right now after my husband been out of work for 5 months and back to work so close to holidays I have been experiencing all kind of feelings that sometimes wakes me up thinking that I am going to die.

But I take the time to analyze what I am feeling and look at things with hope that is going to get better and this will be over in no time.

I don't take medications but I have plenty of natural remedies that I take when I feel that my mind chatterbox is too overpowering.

I wish you be best luck on your health and hang in there it will get better.



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 08:25 AM
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Ahhh Heff. it's strange reading something that could have been a scribbling of mine stored in .doc format and ignored for many months at a time.. lol..

If a zombie apocalypse should occur near my family, they'd survive - having no brains to speak of.. family.. whole world full of people and these idiots have to be mine.


At least it does give me some escape. I don't have these problems with holidays. Got no one to bother about, and no one to bother about me, so as long as I can stay on the wagon until new years has passed, I think this might be the first holiday season (well, xmas and new years for us lot down here, not thanksgiving etc) I do not sink into a pit of despair at the futility of wanting the things everyone else has and takes for granted.

No drunk uncles.. haha, that's my role anyway. and near 2 months now that sod has been put to sleep..

Disposing of the vultures that pretended to be friends was pretty much the thing that allowed me to find my true north again. Only took 25 years to realise it...

So, no family, no friends. God, and now not even a bottle to look through lol.

Might sound boring, but meh. Emotional cancer needs to be completely cut out or it spreads and re-grows worse than before.

Anyway, holidays are by default happy. People should be saying "Happy first monday back at work!" because that would mean something

lol



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 08:44 AM
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After rereading the post here, my own as well, I forgot to wish Heff a good one.

Your insight was helpful and I thank you.



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 09:18 AM
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reply to post by Hefficide
 


I have OCD actually, just general anxiety problems to boot. It got really bad after I had my son, I thought I was going to end up in the hospital. I'm glad you said this, I hope others read and remember this. Holidays can be hard for people who suffer from these problems. More stress just compounds it all.



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 09:19 AM
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reply to post by Hefficide
 



If you're wondering how in the world I got tagged with the diagnosis, given the above. The answer is simple. I have a bit of an issue with authority and a bad habit of dealing with that authority angst in an aggressive manner. IE if my boss yells at me, I tend to punch him. Thus my shrink tacked "social anxiety" in and then gave me an infinitely confusing explanation as to why.


Hmmmmm, I have the same issue and for me, they call it Anti-social behavioral disorder..........



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 09:52 AM
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Holidays used to be very hard for me. I left my family to go to another country, and even holidays that exist here are not really celebrated by my inlaws. I have tried everythign to get them into Christmas celebration and the most I got was everyone watching tv siletnly at the same time (while I danced and drank on the other side of the couch).

Then I stopped trying and a cried a lot in my bedroom and made no effort.

Now? Today is a good example- Thanksgiving doesn't exist here, and nobody really likes turkey, and the idea of pumpkin pie makes them gag. Hubby is working tonight, I'll be alone. So I am making myself a stuffed chicken with my favorite stuffing, and a pumpkin pie!
I'm Skyping with family now (thank god for that invention) and am looking forward to my evening.

I don't know how much difference you can really make with those who are struck with the holiday blues and social discomfort. I've been there and think you won't come otu of it until you are ready.
But I know that I often think of the people who recognized my suffering and reached out to me kindly, without judgment, in the past. Some of them I wasn't even very nice to in return at the time- which makes me all the more appreciative of their comprehension now.

I try to return that and do the same for others when I come across it, either on holidays or even just at parties and stuff- you can always recognize those ones. My heart goes out to them.

Hoep you all have a good Thankgiving- or at least one that isn't too painful!



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 10:02 AM
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Heff, you're an amazing man! I have always loved your wit, insight and compassion.

I have anxiety and some depression. I still love the holidys and the love and laughter shared with family and friends. Still, it is bittersweet as I always feel for those who go without.



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 11:06 AM
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This was a much needed OP heff, I am so happy you wrote this one, I think there are many who struggle through the holidays and hopefully this will be a good reminder they are not alone in their difficulties handling this time of year. It also gives those who are not affected an idea of how they can reach out to friends and family who do struggle.

I can sympathize with this thread very much. My own personal story to share:

About 4 years ago I had to go visit my dad....not something I wanted to do, but I had to for practical purposes. My anxiety was threw the roof. At one point I found myself crying underneath the bed, frozen in fear of comming out from under it....a lot like how I spent my childhood, except this time I was 33 instead of 4. Now, this was a particularly BAD episode and not one that has happened before or since, but I was trying not to smoke around dear ol'dad, and it only made my coping skills that much worse( now I smoke around my dad and don't care if he hates it) the worse part was after awhile I stopped crying, but I was terrified to get out from underneath the bed. I just got really quiet and hoped no one would come looking for me until I had regained my composure.

No such luck, after awhile my then 6 year old peeks under the bed and asks why I was under it.....my super cool mommy answer? " you got me! I was playing hide and seek!" She giggled, I slid out and hugged her and then a fierce game of hide and seek ensued. My kid saved me. This is a reoccurring theme in my life. My kids are the one thing that will snap me out of a dark spell in a heartbeat, because I never want them to feel the way I feel. My family is the one good thing I have managed to do in my life and so today I will be baking, cooking, washing and decorating like a fool because I want them to have the kind of thanksgiving I never had. The kind I used to dream of as a kid curled up underneath a old iron bed.

For those of us who do not have that rockwellian holiday season to look forward to, I want to send out my love and understanding. For those of us who are blessed enough to come from good families I say cherish them and be mindful of how important family is.



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 11:06 AM
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reply to post by Hefficide
 


Well Heff .. the truth is our world, our culture, our surroundings, everyting has changed to the point that humanity has very little value. People generally value materialism, fashion, money, wealth, and superficial things. Our society has degraded itself to such a level, that caring, understanding each other, and showing compassion are extremely hard to find. This in turn breeds lonliness and depression, the disconnect we feel even in a room full of loved ones. Because our normal year round life is full of superficial people, we have to deal with this misery year round, until one day, a holiday comes along with all the loving things and people you can imagine, but deep inside you know this is 'temporary,' perhaps it even seems like an 'illusion,' and tomorrow you will have to get back to the world as it really is. This becomes hard coded in you, and its hard to fight that feeling and snap out of it.

There are places in the world where you will still find this precious humanity, usually in poor countries, and in poor communities of our own countries, where family and simpicity of life, love above all is cherished, people actually help each other and take care of everyone. You do not have to worry about how your children will eat, because all kids are taken care of by everyone, the community is one big family. I hope I'm articulating myself proplerly, because I'm generally not a good writer. You're right about things changing instantly from liking to disliking the holidays.

After you go through a traumatic experience in life, your perception of reality gets altered, and you wake up to a new reality - the real reality. This is why the happiest people today are care free, dumb, ignorant, stupid people. They have no care in the world, not about themselves, or others, no responsibility, just eat and 'exist' till they die. The ones who are awake, like you, me, and 90% of the world, find themselves in a dilema because we see the world for what it really has become. We find it extremely hard to reconcile these differences with our belief structures of how things really ought to be.

You're not alone, believe me, and you're certainly not crazy to feel that way, infact you are very much wide awake. Circumstances which you can not change have spiraled you into feeling the way you do. They say a sane person in a crazy world will be considered to be crazy. Thats us.
I hate the holidays too, because of my personal issues that have boxed me into lonliness also. I brought myself out of this box though, by meditation, deep meditation, and the realization that I am actually thinking correctly in a crazy world. I'm a lot better than I was 6 years ago, when I had my 'sudden' change or wake-up call if you will. Now I am able to balance my life and get back on track confidently simply by change of thought through positive meditation. I do not allow negativity to enter my energy field.

I know one day you will definitely improve, because the human mind is amazing, and always strives to center itself with what is right. Your level of thought, compassion for the needy, and way you think, all tell me that you have a kind, generous, and well centered spirit. Don't let any of these psychologist quaks tell you that you have this or that 'syndrome.' You have nothing, you are normal, and you will accept that one day and happiness will come out from within. Stay away from any prescription drugs, and let your mind heal naturally through meditation, center yourself because you can, and you will.

Wish you happy holidays too! Eat a lot, drink a lot, laugh a lot, hug your loved ones every chance you get, and tell them how much you love them. Share the wealth ..which you are already doing..cheers



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 01:32 PM
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My heart is with you my friend. May this be the most relaxing and enjoyable feasts you have had in many, many years.

We have similar backgrounds ...and similar foregrounds as well.

My heart and my prayers are with you today in hopes that you are very pleasantly surprised with happiness that is seldom found.



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 05:06 PM
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That's a deep and thought-provoking post.
Your statement about your fast negativity towards the holidays made me think about myself. My only favorite part about it now is our yearly Christmas tree, which I decorate and then use the light of instead of the boring lamp.
I'm currently sitting at home alone with the cats while my parents are at my stepdad's sister's house having dinner with relatives. I hope my parents and I stay home for Christmas. I hate dealing with my stepdad's annoyance every time I say I'm staying behind.
Lonely? Heck no. Unhealthy? I'm not sure, or inclined to care.

edit on 22-11-2012 by EllaMarina because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 05:30 PM
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Even the turkeys are feeling symptoms of PTSD as this recent protest illustrates.

Just say no to all pharmaceutaKills.
There is always a natural solution.
It comes natural to the turkey.
edit on 22-11-2012 by Bluemoonsine because: (no reason given)





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