Depression and the Holidays: A Blue Christmas

Christmas tree

Depression is never fun, but depression and the holidays is a particularly un-fun combination.

Christmas was a very positive thing for most of my life. It was always a low-stress affair, and food was a very big part of it. Plus I always liked Christmas trees.

The last time I actually celebrated Christmas would have been in 2015, although I don’t recall if I was working that Christmas or if I spent it with my family. Then depression took up permanent residence in 2016, and I lost all interest in Christmas. Tree? Can’t be bothered. When I see other people’s trees and lights, I’m indifferent. Traditional yummy Christmas baking? Meh. Seeing Christmasy stuff in stores, on TV, etc. is just off-putting, in large part because it’s a reminder just how little I give a shit, and just how much that’s depression’s fault.

I spent Christmas 2017 with my family, but I was not well, and it was quite an unpleasant experience. Being around people is quite yucky when I’m depressed, and fake it ’til you make it doesn’t work very well when making it just isn’t going to happen.

This year, my parents are coming to town and my brother is hosting Christmas at his place. I don’t want to go, and most likely won’t. It’s not anxiety, and it’s not stress; it’s just aversion. It’s unpleasant being around anyone, and multiple someones increases the unpleasantness factor. I have very little interest in going simply for the sake of pleasing others, and I have no desire to go for my own sake.

My parents try to be supportive, but they have a tendency to be a pain in the ass. Earlier this year I had asked my mom for help trying to fight with my doctor to do some disability application paperwork, but then she was adding to the pain in the ass factor rather than decreasing it. I haven’t talked to her since. While depressed, I have a tendency to go for long periods of tie without communicating with my parents (a pattern since I first got sick years ago). I have a low tolerance for things that make my life more difficult.

Two years ago, I did a blue Christmas post, and wrote this:

I feel a sense of loss. Christmas as I knew and loved it doesn’t exist anymore. I don’t miss it in the sense that I wish I could do Christmas this year; I have zero interest, and I don’t care sufficiently to put up any decorations.

The loss is more all-encompassing than that, though. It’s a loss of who I was and what mattered to me. That loss is present at other times of the year as well, but Christmas is one of the times when it gets in my face a little more.

So it will be a blue Christmas, not because of what I choose not to have or do, but because of what is no longer available to me.

So yeah, that’s my depression and the holidays story. Are Christmas or other holidays a difficult time for you?

66 thoughts on “Depression and the Holidays: A Blue Christmas”

  1. I am sorry to hear that depression impacts your experience of Christmas in this way, in some ways I can sort of relate as I don’t have a much close family unlike most of my friends, and I guess that makes me feel more alone and worse than I would do otherwise. Then for some reason, it is always at this time of year when my mental health isn’t at its best.

  2. Christmas holidays aren’t my fav. The shopping aspect, I love it because I love to shop but I shop for myself, not others 🤫😂 I buy only for the children and of course my young adult daughter. Other than that, it can suck it. Lol. Put nicely. Depression can suck it too!! I am here with you on this blue Christmas especially if you need me.

  3. Perhaps not to the same extent of a blue Christmas, but I can relate to this on many levels. I am a highly functional depressed person and I still happen to live med free (I’m not sure how I get by but somehow I do….)

    I don’t have much of an interest in anything nor care about the stuff the majority of people care about. And that’s okay. Much of that is due to a shift in perspective. The older I get, the more I realize that Christmas and holidays are just distractions. Buying stuff we don’t need and spending tons of money to end up in debt to impress people we don’t like is pointless to me. I don’t remember the last time I actually treated myself or bought something I truly needed. But I live debt free so that’s a fair trade-off. The only reason I celebrate Christmas somewhat (and not to the extent that other people do) is because of my daughter. Otherwise I would be camping out under the blankets and playing animal crossing.

  4. I get the whole depression during the holiday season. With my birthday so close to Christmas, I’m usually home by now celebrating with my family, even while on active duty. Now that I’m married, it’s financially hard to be out there with my family since they live about 10-12 hours away, in another state. Plus, where they live, the country roads get pretty bad out there.

  5. UGH. I feeel this. Especially the bit about “I have very little interest in going simply for the sake of pleasing others, and I have no desire to go for my own sake.” I feel like this about a LOT, but usually the holiday’s and feeling forced to join in when I’d rather make my own tradition of sharing the day with my dogs and husband vs running around to see family. I know my friends love spending the holidays with their families, so I was always upset that I hated spending time with mine, and the holiday’s just add to much pressure with that.

  6. The only reason I celebrate Christmas is because it is important to my mom. Even though we don’t get a long and my moving out was because of us fighting, I still go back home to celebrate Christmas. I will be this year on Christmas Eve. I am not a big fan of going because of all the people. I don’t talk to anyone and keep to myself. We eat and exchange gifts. Depression does make it difficult to enjoy many things. I have the same problem. I feel blue when I should be happy. My boyfriend call me out on it all the time.

  7. Harnoor Kaur Gulati

    Oh my! I got you girl. I totally resonate with you. It’s so comforting to know that it’s not just me but a lot of people out there like me. But I choose to believe that we all will get past this phase pretty soon

  8. I miss the Christmases of my younger self. When I was a child or when my children were little and it still felt like there was magic. I spend time with my extended family but it often feels superficial and like I don’t belong.

  9. Christmas? For me, I think Chinese New Year is more relevant. FYI, it’s also just around the corner. I used to be always looking forward to it because of the new clothes, yummy food, festive atmosphere and familial moment. Now, I feel like it’s just a stretch of public holidays to stay home with Family. All of us are grown up. Some have their own families. It’s hard to talk and relate for me who is single. Home-visiting is a fading culture. So my space becomes smaller. It’s just me and my immediate family members, hardly any old school friends too since I was mentally unwell during my school years. I tried to reconnect a few times but now I have given up. Revitalizing friendship that never exists is just a white lie for myself. Therefore, I am carving out my own little space for CNY.

  10. To be honest, families can be a handful, and most time they don’t understand the need to back off! I don’t care much for the holidays too and just like you, I used to look forward to enjoying every moment as a kid but things changed!
    I admire your courage in staying true to yourself. if you don’t want to spend time with family, you shouldn’t have to! As for me, I’ll stop pretending to my family. I don’t enjoy it so I won’t endure it.

  11. I think it’s that pressure and false image of joy that can be hard. If you see it as just another week/day it can help. I generally find New Year harder because existential dread fills me and I have taken to seeing that as “just another” to help me get through it. Hope you had a relaxing time anyway.

  12. I certainly struggle during the Christmas season – my OCD and anxiety skyrockets with more illnesses going around, and the last couple of years Covid hasn’t helped things. I find the lack of routine between Christmas and New Year really throws me too – these last couple of days my anxiety has been awful. I hope you still managed to have a relaxing time – I think keeping things as normal as possible is the best way to go if you struggle!

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