Oddball Ways to Cope with Depression during the Holidays

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Think I’m gonna kill myself
Cause a little suicide
Stick around for a couple of days
What a scandal if I died
I think I’m Going to Kill Myself, by B. Taupin
1972 Dick James Music Ltd.

Christmas and winter are bad times in terms of depression.  Coping with depression is not a “one and done”.  It takes constant reminders and “mindful” (I hate that term!) focus on  the strategies that work.  With that in mind (no pun intended), I’m re-posting an earlier post with holiday-specific tips.

Disclaimer: I’m no expert, and I’m not trying to give any medical advice. These are methods I use that help me cope. Perhaps some of them might help you too.

1.   Mooch lunch off a good friend who makes you laugh.  When I was at the law firm, every day I had lunch with a group of litigators who made me laugh hysterically.  I always felt better afterwards.  Doug G., I miss you!  You can pay for lunch if you want, but mooching is a win-win.

2.   Avoid negative people, even if you are related to them.   If this includes your spouse, you might want to consider therapy or a divorce.  It can be difficult to avoid negative people during the holidays, especially your relatives.  But you know, you don’t have to go to every party you are invited to.

I hate to admit it, but yesterday I did not invite my mother to our usual Sunday dinner. She’s very negative and I just didn’t want to deal with her. She probably didn’t miss me either. The last time she visited, she picked up my phone to see who had called me when I didn’t answer it. I told her that was an invasion of privacy and she got miffed with me. I’m still waiting for her to get over it.

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Merry Christmas. Shitter was full.

3.   Watch stupid-funny movies–this is, of course, purely a matter of personal preference. During the holidays, my favorite is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  I never get tired of seeing Randy Quaid wearing a dickie!

I’m ashamed to admit it, but when I was in my 30’s, I liked Jerry Lewis movies. I know. It’s sad. Now I like off-beat, indy comedies, although they can be slowwww at times.

By the way, has anyone else noticed that Netflix and Amazon put just about every movie in the comedy section, including movies that are definitely not comedies? For instance, Netflix calls The Silver Linings Playbook a comedy. That was not a comedy.  Be careful when choosing movies to watch.  The idea is to keep you off the ledge, not lead you towards it.

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4.   Become the world’s second-worst car singer.  Avoid holiday tunes and listen to your favorite upbeat music instead.  Play it in the car and sing, no matter how bad you are. I am the world’s worst car singer, and I’m damn proud of it.   There’s an added benefit– singing in the car can reduce anxiety as well.  If you don’t believe my blog, maybe you’ll believe someone else’s blog.

One caveat–don’t do this while you have your teenage kids in the car.  It will scar them for life.

5.  Laugh at really stupid stuff.  Use whatever means available to laugh as many times per day as possible–see number 1 above.  Besides stupid-funny movies, a good dirty joke does the trick too.  But only if it’s smart-funny, not stupid- funny.  Any joke that involves someone farting is probably not a smart-funny joke, but there are always exceptions.  And if farting jokes make you laugh, then by all means, listen to them. Whatever floats your boat.

6.  Don’t give your therapist a holiday. This one is non-negotiable.  You must do this. Don’t try to go it alone. You wouldn’t set your own broken leg, would you? Let the experts handle this. It gets painful sometimes talking about bad Christmas memories, but in the long run, it does help.

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7.  Make pills, not diamonds, a girl’s best friend.  This is my personal favorite. This one is also non-negotiable.  I’m taking so many pills now that my bathroom looks like a scene from The Valley of the Dolls.  Great/awful movie, by the way.  The fashions, hair and make-up are worth watching, if for no other reason.  Plus, if you like creepy stuff, the fatally unfortunate Sharon Tate is in it.

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Sharon Tate

 

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Avoid this scenario if at all possible. That’s Patty Duke reaching for the pills. Among other things, she’s Sean Astin’s (Rudy, Lord of the Rings) mother.

8.  Give your family memories of you making a fool of yourself instead of gifts.  This is another win-win.  Another transformer or Barbie?  Your kids won’t remember what they got for Christmas, but they will remember the memories.  If you can swing it,  consider going away for a short trip.  Last year, we took our kids to Costa Rica, and it was fabulous.  Christmas is low key there, and honestly, we didn’t miss anything.  Instead, we had a great time climbing volcanos and flying across zip lines.  This year, we are going to the Biltmore (a bucket list item for me).

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Even chubby people like me can do zip lines!

9. Don’t be afraid to be a mediocre mother. I personally have no trouble complying with this.  But I know most women, especially moms, have trouble.  You will hear experts tell you to take time for yourself time and time again, but you may still feel guilty about it.  Don’t. Take it from me– your children will survive, and they will be better off if you take time for yourself.   Dead mothers are rarely good mothers. (The’re may be exceptions.)  Chances are, your children need to be more self-reliant anyway.  Try to be more like Frankie from The Middle. She’s not a perfect mom, but her kids manage to survive anyway.  Yours will too.

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I always feel better about my parenting skills after I watch this show. I can always say–I’m not that bad!

10.   Have faith in a higher power that the holidays will soon be over.  This one takes practice; I have to remind myself sometimes that I don’t have to do this alone.  A great way to combine numbers 4 and 10 is to go see Handel’s Messiah performed.  Even though this is technically Christmas music, which you should generally avoid, the Messiah is spiritually moving.  I always get goosebumps when I listen to it.  And to see it performed live with a huge choir is very special indeed.

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Even the Pope has a down day now and then.

Need more tips?  Go to Honest Mom for additional ideas.

Do you have any additional ideas to add?  Please do so in the comments.  And please share this post with others who might be interested.

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