Like many of you guys, I’ve gone through a rough past couple of months. I’m sure we’ve all felt alone at one point or another, and it’s difficult to continue on through your day as if everything’s okay. That’s why I decided to compile a list of reminders that helped keep me going through times of loneliness. Remember: you are a valuable, unique human being serving a purpose in this massive world. Never doubt yourself, and view the times of loneliness as a chance to grow and develop as a person. You don’t need anyone’s validation or approval except your own. So, go out there and kill it today…and everyday after this one. I hope these help to lift your spirits as they did with mine.
My depression kicked in early this year. Normally it happens closer to Christmas but it reared its ugly head well before Thanksgiving. Thankfully I have been able to be completely open and honest about my depression with my new friends. Many of them struggle with depression themselves so they understand. I have yet to hear from anyone “Why are you depressed?” which is a relief. It gets old trying to explain that I get depressed for no reason at completely random times. I am bipolar and it happens.
Spending the holidays in a depressive state is the worst. I have done it for countless years and I am determined to overcome holiday depression this year. While I may not have everything I want I do have everything I need and as long as I keep reminding myself of that I think I will be okay. There are a few other tips I have to help you overcome holiday depression if it should occur. Please share any suggestions for depression conquering you may have as well.
Surround Yourself with Positive People
I know the last thing you may want while you are depressed is to be around people but it may be what you need. Loneliness often times comes with the depression package and being reassured that you are not alone is important. Friends and family are good support systems but not everyone has that luxury. If you are not near friends and/or family check your local newspaper for any support groups that would be a fit for you.
If you cannot find one why not start one yourself.
Count Your Blessings
My grandmother used to always tell me this whenever I was upset. When we are depressed we often feel like the world is against us; that our lives are beyond repair and maybe even pointless. When this happens I try to remind myself of everything I have going for me. I’m pretty smart (sometimes), I have people who love me and are always there for me, I have a roof over my head and food on the table (figuratively.) My bills are paid and I have plenty to keep me busy.
What are some things you have to be grateful for?
When your mind has something to focus on it becomes easier to forget the sadness. Believe me when I say I understand how hard it is to do anything when you are depressed but this is when it is time to force yourself to do stuff. My go to thing to keep busy is cleaning. I’m actually getting ready to fill a bucket with soapy water and scrub my kitchen floor. Cleaning helps me and it is a proven fact that a recently cleaned home boosts your morale. Journaling, exercising, crafting, and cooking/baking are some other ways to keep yourself busy all depending on your preferences.
What are some ways you can keep busy?
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
It is tempting to self medicate to treat depression, especially during the holidays. It is strongly suggested to avoid drugs and alcohol while in a depressive state due to the side effects. Alcohol and many drugs are depressants themselves which may only exasperate your own depression. Instead of drinking or doing drugs during the holiday try to think of reasons to avoid them. Do you blackout? Have a history of embarrassing drunken mishaps? Do you become violent or overly emotional? These are all great reasons to avoid drugs and alcohol and instead lean towards something healthier.
What can you do to avoid drugs and alcohol?
Take Medications as Prescribed
I’m not a huge supporter of pharmaceuticals but there are some people who absolutely need them. I’m one of those people. It is tempting to come off of prescribed medication around the holidays in an attempt to feel “normal”. That is my excuse at least but thankfully I have Grace who is constantly on me to take my medication (Zoloft + Abilify). I know that for me to be fully functional I need that extra help. I’m not ashamed that I need medication but it does make me feel weak sometimes. I hate the fact that I have to rely on medication to make me a “real girl” but it is what it is. I have funky things going on in my brain that are out of my control – the medication helps keep the funk in check.
What can you do to stay on your medication?
Remember: This Too Shall Pass
I hate it when people who have no clue tell me “It will get better” and “You have to keep on fighting” because, really, what do they know? The truth is they are right; it is just frustrating to hear it when I am in the midst of a depressive state. If you find yourself losing hope and ready to give up the fight just remember that this too shall pass. I feel like I can say that because I know first hand what it is to want to give up. There is always, always, always an upside – we just don’t know when it will come.
What words of wisdom do you have for fighting depression during the holidays?
As children we are taught that our brains work due to neurons firing. We’re taught about different emotions and how to handle certain feelings. What we’re not taught is that not all brains work the same. They don’t teach you about Bipolar Disorder in middle or high school. Sadly this is something many people have to learn about the hard way – either by living with the disorder or having a loved one that does.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder at a young age. I had always known that my brain didn’t work like others. That there was something not quite right with my way of thinking. There were some days the thought of living was unbearable, while other days I was hyper to the point of not being able to control my actions. Not only were these issues scaring me but they were affecting my family as well.
To say I was a difficult child would be an understatement. I blatantly refused to follow rules. I had no respect for anyone, including myself. I did what I wanted all with a lack of impulse control that caused many problems for myself and family. Looking at me you would have never guessed I was capable of some of the things I did. Looking back I still can’t believe the agony I put friends and family through.
I can’t count the number of times I have attempted suicide. I can’t fathom how many times I’ve thought about it; there are times that is the only thing on my mind. The severe depression that accompanies my bipolar disorder leaves me feeling alone, desperate for a way out and empty. Depression is common but the severity that accompanies bipolar disorder is crippling and dangerous.
Today I found out via Facebook that a well loved actor who lived with Bipolar disorder had died. Robin Williams apparently committed suicide. I’ve always loved him, he seemed so happy and so grounded. That’s the facade many people living with Bipolar Disorder take on. Looking and seeming to be happy but silently suffering with thoughts of inadequacy and anguish.
I wish there was a cure for this debilitating condition. I wish more people understood what it is capable of doing to those it affects. There is medication that helps, but it’s very rare that someone dealing with Bipolar Disorder stays medicated. We stop taking medication when it seems to have “fixed” us and when we are off of our medication we do not want to be back on it. Personally, I hate feeling like I need a drug to keep me “normal”. The looks I get (or feel like I get) from anyone that finds out I’m on medication for a mental disorder makes me feel shameful.
I am currently coping with my Bipolar Disorder the best way I know how. I have a few friends who I can talk to that don’t judge me and I turn to them when I’m at my lowest. Knowing there is someone who cares is a huge relief especially during the depression moments of Bipolar Disorder. When there seems to be no one around to listen or show any sign of caring is when things get the worst. The feelings of loneliness and despair overwhelm us leading to a decision that could be the last. Knowing how close I have come to making that decision – and how many lose the fight every day terrifies me.
If you or someone you know suffers from Bipolar Disorder seeking help may save lives. I’m not suggesting medication, although it does help many – but having a safety net – a friend, relative, spouse etc.. can be the difference between life and death. Here are a few resources for help dealing with Bipolar Disorder.