Okay, so it’s officially the season of the year where people start experiencing increasing feelings of unhappiness and depression, a.k.a. the winter blues. Absolutely crazy right? Who doesn’t get excited about Christmas and the Holidays! Cookies and family gatherings, elves, music, and movies. I love almost everything about Winter.
There are so many people who end up experiencing depression this time of year anyway. And ya know what? I’m one of them. I have never been diagnosed with depression or taken medication for it. Sometimes I just start to feel myself slipping into a bit of a foggy mood. I don’t actually want to leave my house or even bother doing my dishes. Seriously I can be moody and tired or stuck in a two-week-long reading binge. The truth is, most people at some point in their lives probably start to feel depressed.
Pulling yourself out of depression is beyond difficult. All of the advice in the world won’t help unless you choose to work on it every single day. The same advice will probably never work the same way for any two given people. Depression is a completely unique personal experience. Some people, I believe, even interpret it differently. Maybe they never realize that they are depressed, just assume it’s a bad mood so they adjust their habits or behaviors until they feel better.
Starting to Understand and Recognize
Whether you are depressed, have been depressed before, or you assume it is the winter blues, there are two very simple truths that I want you to remember.
- ONE: You are not alone! As I mentioned earlier, people and probably many people that you know have experienced depression. How many times have you felt yourself slipping into depression and instead of talking to a friend you chose to pretend happiness until it passed? There are so many times I called up my sister and started talking to her. Once I started really talking about how things were going, I finally realized I was feeling depressed. I honestly had not even recognized that I was just going through the daily motions and not even paying attention to life around me. Talking through my problems helped me not only realize I had issues to address but also, that she was having similar problems.
It is beyond helpful to have the support and understanding of someone that is willing to listen and also check in to see how things are going. Not to pressure each other to just be happy, but to truly listen and just be there. One of my favorite songs by Maren Morris called “Girl” reminds me of some of my own darker times. I copied a part of the lyrics for you to look at.
Man, this shit’s unflatterin’, all up in my head again
I don’t feel myself right now, maybe I should just lay down
If vanity’s my vitamin, well, I don’t feel the difference
I don’t like myself right now, gotta find a way out
What you feel is natural
But I don’t wanna feel this anymore
Pick yourself up off the kitchen floor
What you waitin’ for?
Girl, won’t you stop your cryin’?
I know that you’re tryin’
Everything’s gonna be okay
Baby girl, don’t you hang your head low
Don’t you lose your halo
Everyone’s gonna be okay
This song is 100% my jam. Aside from being an awesome catchy tune, I love that it encourages you to acknowledge when everything isn’t butterflies and rainbows. Everyone struggles and has problems but it’s okay to recognize they are there. It’s okay to not be okay! You can be sad and you can still realize that a ton of other people probably feel something similar to what you are going through
- TWO: Depression becomes exponentially worse when you accept and embrace guilt. It is always okay to have feelings about whether they are sad or happy. What isn’t okay is to embrace unwarranted guilt that will only compound the problem. I had a friend the other day say “things are going pretty well actually.” Then not even a minute later also said: “I am feeling pretty depressed lately which makes no sense since things are going well.” We always pile guilt onto ourselves for no reason.
The Christmas season is exciting for so many reasons. People also tend to experience the winter blues. Some of these are pure science. You are indoors less getting less Vitamin D. Most people also struggle to get as much exercise and activity due to being stuck indoors. The winter blues are a real living thing due to weather and climate. However, some people just experience their depression and moods then feel worse because the holidays mean that people “should be happy.”
Guilt Makes Everything Worse
You don’t need to feel bad for having feelings. I am pretty sure I drive my husband absolutely crazy saying “I’m sorry” all the time. Apologizing for the most random stuff that doesn’t even involve me. Oh, you got cut off by an obnoxious driver on your way to work today? I’m sorry! Oh, wait, I wasn’t that obnoxious driver! Why in the world am I feeling the need to apologize?
We get so wrapped up in accepting blame for absolutely no reason. The confusion comes from misunderstanding empathy. I do empathize with you that you had a hard time, however, there needs to be a better way to express that then constantly taking responsibility for actions that are not our own. We could go down an all day rabbit hole about how people apologize and accept responsibility for all of the world’s problems that they can’t control. I am convinced that if we started releasing those worries off from our minds and hearts then we would be able to focus much more on what our emotions are truly trying to tell us.
So the two truths are,
- You are not alone
- You don’t have to feel guilty for having feelings
Now, as previously mentioned people are going to find different avenues and ways of handling depression. It’s okay to learn what will and will not work for you. I will, however, recommend one. Keep a running list of things you are thankful for. It could be a big exciting thing that you were shocked about or simple things that strike you every day. Rachel Hollis recommends starting every single day writing down five things you are grateful for. Maybe that is a bit much for you to handle right now.
Try to at least write down good things when they happen so that when you are feeling the blues set in you can read over your list. Things always seem a little bit brighter when you can turn your focus on good things instead of worrying about problems.
Change it up Until You Feel a Difference
There are so many suggestions I could make. See a therapist, go for a walk, go have coffee with a friend, take a bath, or go to church. Whether you think it is just the winter blues or some form of depression, just try something to get you out of your everyday patterns and routines. Shake things up and figure out what helps you the most.