How to be Depressed During the Holidays

How to be Depressed During the HOlidaysThere is never a great time for being depressed. That being said, there are times when it is incredibly more crummy. Being sad on your birthday is awful. Being sad on your child’s birthday is even worse. Being sad on Valentine’s day is cliché. Being sad on Arbor day is creative.

The winner for The Worst Time To Be Depressed is officially awarded to December. Also known as “the holidays”.

The good news is that if you are depressed right now you are not alone. For starters you’ve got me to give you the “this blows” fistbump.

People have alllll kinds of reasons for being or feeling sad right now:
• you are getting MAIL. from HAPPY PEOPLE. all smiling at you. mocking you.
• you are bombarded with “poke you in the eye” decorations everywhere you go
• conversations include gems like, “are you getting excited for Christmas?!” or “have you purchased all of your gifts yet?”
• holiday parties – ugh- EYE CONTACT!!!

Most people will try to give you tips on how to avoid being depressed. I am sorry, but that is bullshit. I can say that because I AM depressed and all of the typical avoidance tactics would not/ are not working out for me. Sometimes life is shitty and the best way to process it is to BE depressed. Own it.

I usually give myself a deadline for depression – that is the only thing that helps. I declare this depression will be over before 2013 begins. I would be thrilled if I was an over-achiever and was able to finish this depression phase before Christmas because it would be AWESOME to enjoy that day.

But it might not happen. And I am going to give myself permission to accept that.

How to be depressed during the holidays

1. Feed your feelings
What is your comfort food group? For me it is cheese products. This means cheese on bread, cheese on crackers, cheese IN crackers, cheese solo.

2. Announce your state of mind
I am a pretty easy book to read. If I am feeling something you will see it on my face. However I am a QUEEN of announcing my feelings. It is not always welcome and it is not always easy, but if you ask me how I am chances are that I will tell you exactly how I am. This means I might very well tell a random woman at the playground, “well I just had a miscarriage so I am working on recovering from that.”

I know you really just want to hear “fine” from people. Trust me, I know. And I am a total jerk for not giving you what you want. But sometimes, in that moment, it is easier for me to blurt out the truth. And it is MUCH BETTER than me saying, “fuck you for caring about me right now!!” Because obviously I wouldn’t mean that. Not at all. I’m just in a bad place and oozing out inappropriately.

3. Hygiene is for happy people
Ok, fine, maybe a shower feels nice, but when you are depressed sometimes getting up from the sofa to the shower is HARD. And then a day goes by and you start to hate on yourself for not being able to do something simple like bathe. So save yourself some time. Wash your face, brush your teeth, change your shirt if you spill cheese on it. Otherwise – just skip it. Looking like shit actually lets the world know to back off. If you saw me in public right now you would absolutely avoid me.

4. Avoid talking on the phone
I suck at the phone when I am depressed. It goes back to that not being able to hide my feelings thing. When I am depressed I don’t want to talk about it. I want to avoid. I want to skip ahead. I want to fast forward to life where I can chit-chat. Talking on the phone when I am depressed forces me to hear myself and THAT is not good. (I do give bonus points to friends that totally get that I will not be taking their calls and still call me anyway and leave me zany messages on my voicemail.)

5. Have a preview friend
If you don’t have a friend that will test the waters for you then you need to get one asap. I have a friend that knows exactly what tv shows I like to watch. She watches them first and then gives me heads up about things that might send me to the ugly crying place. Triggers are awful. Unexpected triggers can kill me. Having someone send me a text that simply says, “you should skip watching this show for a few weeks” is beyond helpful.

6. Stay off Facebook
TRUST ME ON THIS. This is the season where folks announce pregnancies, engagements, GOOD NEWS. Don’t put yourself in a position where you feel obligated to like someone’s status update when all you really want to do is leave them a comment saying, “hope you have better luck at this than I did”. Because that would be wrong.

7. Make plans with people who know what is going on
Until you can talk about your depression without going through an entire box of tissues you should not be with people who you do not trust. While I am a big supporter of staying on your sofa for as long as medically necessary I also know that getting out of the house can make the day go by faster. Make plans for brunch with friends that you can just eat in silence with. Find someone to go to a movie with.

it will get betterI wish I could control my depression better. I really do. But it’s my burden right now and I will carry this weight until it melts off.

If you are depressed right now you are NOT alone. You also need to know that it will not last forever. I promise. Medication can help, friends can help, finding a creative outlet or a fantastic block of cheese can help.

You can talk to me.

Did you beat Holiday Depression? Tell me your tips and tricks!


  1. I’m going to have similar trouble this holiday season. I have two pregnant cousins (due Jan. and Mar.) I’ll have to see (and two pregnant cousins on the other side of my family, on the other side of the country). For family, I only told my sister and one (familiar with miscarriages, not pregnant right now) cousin about my miscarriage in August. I pretty much HATE my pregnant cousins right now (third kid for each, all I want is one). I was due in April, right after them. I can’t be honest, I can’t wallow in depression, I don’t want their pity, I just want to be pregnant again. Not looking forward to Christmas. I’d skip it, but after a cousin committed suicide in May and I’d skipped the last party I would have seen him at, I just can’t. :(

  2. You know 2010 was a shitty year for me. I gave myself permisson to be depressed. It sucked. Everything that year sucked. I’m the kind of person who loves Christmas and gets her shopping done in October, but not that year. I wasn’t in the mood, and frankly didn’t want to be! 2011 wasn’t too great either. I think it is okay to be depressed as long as you acknowledge that there will come a time that you will deal with what is making you depressed– this can even happen while you are depressed! Just know that you don’t want to stay there. But when your year has been shitty, then it’s okay to feel that way. And as to TV shows- Scrubs and How I Met Your Mother. You’ll want to kiss cynical Dr. Cox who says just what you’re feeling but don’t want to say!

  3. You are awesome. I am so sorry you are depressed, but I know from experience, sometimes you have to feed it for a while. Good for you for owning it. I do hope the deadline works b/c I miss Happy Dresden. But you have a right to be depressed right now. If I could share your couch, I would, but since I can’t, just know that I’m loving on you from afar. xoxo

  4. Ugh, I hate TV shows with their stupid surprise triggers.

    Anyway, I could not get over my depression after my first loss. My DR prescribed what she jokingly called “Vitamin P” (AKA Prozac) despite my protests that it was normal to cry all day long at everything, like every time I heard my co-worker’s breast pump going off in the office next to me. It actually helped.

  5. I think that we have lost something in society. Time was when people were expected, and allowed time, to grieve. I even sometimes am somewhat nostalgic for the idea of wearing mourning clothes – not the idea of being forced into it for a certain period of time, but it’s a comforting notion (to me) to think of a society where you could go out wearing all black or even a black armband and everyone would just…know. And not have to expect you to say you are fine. Maybe you’re right that the modern equivalent is not bathing, so I think looking like shit is a good choice right now.

    It may be that miscarriage is more hidden, but you are still grieving the loss of a child. As you say, you have to feel your feelings. Don’t try to control it. But also know that you are in mourning. You are grieving. It is normal to feel what you are feeling, but also, the sharp pain of grief DOES usually fade with time. I looked up grief in the dictionary:
    “1. keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.
    2. a cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow.
    1. anguish, heartache, woe, misery; sadness, melancholy, moroseness. See sorrow.”

    Seems about right to me. Folks out here on the interwebs love you, and are sending you strength. I hope you feel it a little bit from us. But if you don’t, that’s OK too. We’re probably not very good at the psychic stuff anyway. Just keep swimming, and you’ll make it through in the end. Changed, yes, different, yes, but you’ll get to an OK place one day.

  6. That second bit, about announcing your feelings is so great. I know I feel better and act way less weird when people know what’s going on and I know they know. Sometimes I can even think or talk about something else.

    Your being willing to tell the truth in those moments is also, I think, a gift to people in similar situations who are less forthcoming, because every time someone like you reminds people that not everyone is, in fact, fine, the people you’ve talk to get a reminder to be gentle and give the benefit of the doubt to other people they talk to, who may be grumpy or vague for very good reasons.

    Here’s to projects that get completed ahead of deadline. Xo

  7. I love this post. I hope it made you feel better to write it. I think a little bit of depression (not the clinical sort) is healthy, because sometimes life sucks and we need time to deal with that. I’m sorry that it’s happening for you at this particular time.

  8. M’kay, so 2010/2011 were pretty horrid years for me especially at the holidays. In 2010 a mutual friend of ours gave me some wise advise. Paraphrased she said that I should press forward even in my discouragement and do some fun things, because if we don’t have those happy memories to hold onto when the sadness fades then all we have is memories of cheese stained shirts, tear stained faces, and headaches from crying. So I don’t remember much of two years worth of holidays, but I have some very selected events that I hold onto from those years. Moments when I got past the sadness and got a Christmas Tree with my son. So, I encourage you in the mist of your sad place make some time, gather all your strength, and make a few positive memories for you and your family. You’ll need them later.

  9. I am sending this out to all of my family and friends who are right there in that dumpy, drab, bleak, dark hole of depression and are desperately trying to put on a good face and then to boot feel guilty about it. Bah humbug, Liz

  10. You are absolutely right on this – you can’t switch off a depression, you have to ride it out. I hope you can find the happiness to leave it behind soon. Lots of love xxx

  11. I am so sorry. One foot in front of the other, one cheese ball at a time. I know it’s dark but you will get through. It’s such a roller coaster and all you can do is hold onto the bright moments you get to ride out the rest of the storm. It’s rough and as much as that sucks it’s ok. It’s ok to mourn what you lost.

    Much tears and hugs,

  12. battynurse says:

    I agree, sometimes you have to just accept and allow yourself to be depressed. One point I’d add that I did get better at doing is asking for help when needed. I was always so good at hiding how I felt and isolating myself because I was. Taught you should never let someone see your feelings like that if you wanted to e liked.

  13. Thank you for this. It helps to remember that I am not alone, that we are not alone. I hope you know you are not alone.

    Abiding with you (during the hum buggary of the holiday season).

  14. Thinking of you so much! Please email me your address so I can send you a package of comfort food. Much love, hon. xo

  15. I am so glad you allow yourself to feel your feelings. I’ve always felt like you need to acknowledge the darker feelings because no one else will, and the holidays are an incredibly rough time. Been there many times. I’m glad you have strategies for dealing with the season, and please know you aren’t alone.

  16. Not looking forward to the holidays at all this year. Missing my fiance who’s in TX and I’m here in NY.

  17. Last Christmas was REALLY rough for me. It marked our one year anniversary of TTC, hence being officially labelled “infertile” and I was already researching REs at that point. On Christmas Eve, one of my best friends (who was well aware of our situation) spent an hour complaining to me about her oops pregnancy that she announced to me a week earlier while I was at work. Then, also on Christmas Eve, another friend asked “how baby-making was going” when I felt like it should be obvious since I was drinking champagne. There is no advice other than to slog on through. I am still TTC a year later, but for some inexplicable reason, I am in a better place this year. You feel bad, and then one day, you don’t feel bad. Unfortunately that’s the only way through it in my experience. It sucks that you have to be dealing with this though, honestly if you ever need to vent or complain, feel free to email me.

  18. Love you.

  19. I think you do wonderful things when you share whats in your head. You are very wise and you bring confort to us all.

  20. Sorry about all the shit you are going through. Loved the post. Thank you for saying its ok to be depressed over the ‘holidays’. Lets hope it passes soon for us both. X

  21. I don’t beat it, I wallow in it. Every November 30th, I think, “This will be the December that I don’t want to spend the entire month crying at every little thing.” and every year I am not so pleasantly surprised when December 1st comes and I ache will all the pain.

    Unlike you, I spout “I’m fine” off to anyone that asks. I would rather bottle it all up inside only to be let out when I climb into my bed at night. My bed is my safe zone, it is my secret keeper.

  22. Dresden, it is COMPLETELY normal to wallow for a while.. I almost made it to my first trimester, (10 1/2 weeks) and had a friends baby shower to attend a couple of weeks later and thought I’d share at the celebration. Unfortunately everything went south and I checked out for a while… I called and said I got some bug so I wouldn’t have to attend. I stopped taking calls and going out, I continually ate baked chocolate chip cookies (the cookie dough tube you cut up and put in the oven)… It was my only solace for the moment I was eating it… I only showered when I absolutely had to… I really was a shell of myself for a couple of months.. Its healthy to give yourself the space to heal and not worry about anybody else but yourself.. I had more crying jabbs and tears that could fill a river! The thing is, normally I’m a very positive, upbeat person by nature but I think we all have our limitations.. Lets face it.. IT SUCKS, ITS NOT FAIR and you will never fully get over but you will move on to where you feel like yourself again. I totally related to you whole post! I promise you, you will pick yourself up again and remember all that is good in you life ( like your son) But for now you are allowed to wallow… Big virtual HUG your way!!!

  23. You know I never comment, but I had to this time and now I don’t feel like I have the right words. For me, the fix seems to involve losing myself in something else…movies, books, sleep, time spent staring (not so easy with a 3 year old). Melted cheese is a plus. Generally, distractions that don’t demand too much of me. I know it seems like the sadness won’t end, but it will. I’m sorry you’re going through this. I know this season doesn’t make it easier.

  24. Mamaintheburbs says:

    I’m sorry you are feeling depressed. I totally understand those feelings. I’ve been in a bad state of depression for three months now. Trying new meds, therapy, etc. Nothing seems to be working for me right now. I have a 3 year old and I know she senses something is wrong. I’m always sleeping when my husband is home. I don’t play with her like I used to. This all makes me sad. I don’t know what to do. I like your advice about staying off of Facebook. I should try that! Anyway, I’ve been following your blog and wanted to say I’m sorry for your loss. I’ve been there too many times. Take all the time you want to heal. My thoughts are with you!

  25. You can totally come depress on my couch with me. Or I can come to you. I promise we will do absolutely nothing remotely productive. Well, unless you’re someone who makes a living watching chick flicks. In that case we’ll be totally productive. I’m feeling pretty fucking shitty myself these last couple days. Tomorrow- I vow to not leave the couch accept for more food- and potty breaks.

  26. Thanks. I needed to hear it wasn’t just me. I do not like the holidays and have been conditioned from an early age NOT to like the holidays.

  27. I read your list, and you might want to add “Goes out in pajamas to the point that your kids comment on it.” Apparently, my six and nine year old seem to think that wearing pajama pants here will turn me into a Skook which is what people from these parts refer to themselves as.
    My favorite game this week has been “Hide people’s Facebook posts.” It also goes with giving people on Facebook the invisible finger. It gives me a sense of Godlike power because I decide whose posts I see and whose I hide. I really need to get some new hobbies.
    I am sorry you are depressed too. I have always hated this time of year because of many reasons. I hate it now for one more. I don’t know exactly what you are going through, but I am sorry you are sad too. Thank you for reaching out to me the other day.

  28. I was hoping I wasnt the only one just would have made things worse but I would like to know if anyone is depressed cause of the same reason I am.

  29. This may be one of the best posts I’ve ever read. I’ve lived in and out of depression more times than I can count, and when the bad spot coincides with the jollydays, it totally bites. Sending you love and silent companionship. Oh, and mourn as long as you need to! We’re all mourning some this year, so you’ll have plenty of company.

Speak Your Mind