The Twelve Days of Seasonal Depression – and How to Survive Them
Happy New Year, fellow freaks!
Congratulations on surviving the holidays. This time of year is rough on lots of folks. It’s so bad that psychologists actually had to come up with the term Seasonal Affective Disorder to give a label to the depression many people feel during this time of year. Statistically speaking, more people commit suicide during the holidays than any other time of year.
In case you can’t think of a good reason to be bummed, here’s a list. In fact, since we’re all so freakin’ festive, let’s sing it!
The Twelve Days of Holiday Depression (opus 42)
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
- Twelve pounds of gained weight
- Eleven in-laws bitching
- Ten hours of sunlight (if I’m lucky)
- Nine days snowed-in
- Eight (eight, I forget what eight was for)
- Seven months of payments on my…
- Six maxed-out credit cards, and (deep breath)
- FIVE EXISTENTIAL CRISES wherein I wonder if I’m celebrating for no reason other than to pad some corporation’s bottom line because there just might not be a God after all and this one life might be all I get and I’m wasting it just like my mother always said I would after I dropped out of law school to become an artist and now I have to look her in the eye and tell her “sorry, I couldn’t afford to get you anything this year, but I hand-painted you a card and no, it’s not supposed to be a fish, it’s supposed to be a Christmas tree so I guess you were right all along, so I think I’ll have cup after cup of eggnog until the gift you find under the tree tomorrow will be me, face down in a pool of my own vomit, but what the hell, it’s not like it matters anyway because Santa was a lie you told to get me to behave which makes me wonder if God might be one toooooo! (Pant… pant… pant…)
- Four calling birds (birds piss me off, OK?)
- Three French hens (enough with the damn birds, already!)
- Two turtle doves (See? My TRUE LOVE gave me BIRDS! It’s like she doesn’t even KNOW me!)
- And a partridge in a pear tree (sigh)
To make matters worse, you could be singing about all these things your true love got you and be single… on Christmas… again. So, now that we’ve had our little sing-along, here’s a bullet list for people who don’t have time for such silliness.
88% Nonsense-Free Checklist of Causes of Seasonal Depression (v2.0)
- Weight gain leads to lowered self-esteem
- Debt due to holiday overspending
- Cabin Fever due to cold weather conditions
- Stress (due to shopping, family, travel, debt, etc.)
- Little exposure to sunlight
- Religious doubt
- Alienation, feeling like an outsider
If even “normal” people tend to get the blues in the winter, just think of how it can affect someone with bipolar disorder! With all of these forces conspiring to make angst the reason for the season, what can you do to avoid the deluge of yuletide despair?
- Set a spending limit. Does Uncle Frank in Hoboken, New Jersey really need that 88” plasma TV? Didn’t he get you a bird last year? Send him a more reasonably-priced gift. Don’t have an anxiety attack over whether or not you spent the same amount on someone as they spent on you. That’s not the point! If he or she is the kind of jerk who is going to judge you based on how much you spent on their gift, well… that’s one less person to buy for next year, now isn’t it?
- Take time off from shopping to talk with friends and family. Instead of buying someone a gift that will most likely “accidentally” get thrown out with the wrapping paper, take them out to dinner or a movie, something you BOTH can enjoy. Chances are, they need a break from shopping, family, etc. too.
- Slow down! Admit that you are human and cannot possibly attend each of the seventeen Christmas events in four different countries you’ve been invited to. Go ONE place Christmas Eve, and ONE place Christmas Day.
- Buy full-spectrum light bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs may be more energy-efficient, but they can completely suck your will to live. Full-spectrum bulbs are special bulbs used in light therapy treatments. They produce light that is nearly identical to sunlight. Natural light will work WONDERS for your mood. Seriously. I can’t stress this enough. FULL-SPECTRUM LIGHT BULBS. I keep one in my bedside lamp year-round.
- If you live someplace with terrible winters, get out of the house BEFORE the storm hits and again as soon as the roads are clear. Facebook will be there when you get back. I promise.
- If you ARE snowed in with your family, play in the snow. It’s exercise, which is good for your mood anyway. Consider having a snowball fight. It’ll relieve some of that pent-up frustration. If you live alone, launch a surprise snowball attack on an unsuspecting neighbor. The ensuing chase will provide a few extra moments of fun, and hey, technically, the police count as having company. Make sure to have plenty of cocoa on hand.
- Buy a cat. Petting a cat can lower your stress level. Your partridge, on the other hand, will not be pleased.
These are only a few ideas I’ve got on how to beat the wintertime blues. Can you think of any? If so, let us know in the comments section below. If they’re serious suggestions, great! We can use the help. If they’re silly, great! We can ALWAYS use a laugh. When it comes to depression, laughter might just be the best medicine.
Until next time, keep warm, and keep fighting!
Read more from Bruce: How I Became the Freak in the Corner