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It Is (Not) The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

It Is (Not) The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
It Is (Not) The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

I feel I must be transparent with my blog post today and say, this is not the most wonderful time of year for me. I hate this time of year. Christmas, to me, isn’t all that great. The Christmas music is getting on my last nerve. Seasonal depression has taken hold of my mind. And, this month especially, was the worst month of my drinking career.

Seasonal Depression, or depression in general, is difficult to describe to someone if they’ve never experienced it before. To me, it’s a soul crushing, black weight, can’t move another step, kind of tired.

Last week, I was stuck under that black weight. On Wednesday, I tried so hard to pull myself out of the black hole just enough that I could write a blog post. But, my body and brain said NO! We’re not having it. It was the deepest depression I’ve experienced in a long time. Something I’d never wish on my worst enemy.

I was crying over everything. My whole body ached. I couldn’t get warm. Even the smallest task, like picking a movie to watch, seemed daunting. And, I had to force myself to do my dishes and cook supper. It was horrible.

Thankfully, that black cloud lifted just enough for me to pull myself out of bed to go to work the next day. But, I could still feel it there, just out of reach.

Thankfully, I’ve been sober through the winter months a few times, and know how to ride it out. If you’re struggling this holiday season, with family stress, newfound sobriety, or Seasonal Depression, know these feelings don’t last. You’re not alone. And, the holidays are almost over, thank god. Soon we will be ringing in a brand new year.

So, here are the ways I’ve survived the holidays, and Seasonal Depression. My hope is that these ideas help you as well.

Sleep

Sleep is my best friend this time of year. When it gets dark at 6 pm, I get sleepy. I can’t count how many times I’ve fallen asleep in my chair, or on the couch, at 8 pm. And usually, I go to bed around 9 pm. It’s not uncommon for me to sleep for 8 hours or more a night.

On my days off from work, I take at least a 2 hour nap. Thankfully my schedule allows for this. But, it’s what my body needs. Like an animal in hibernation, I need sleep to recharge my batteries, and get through the day.

Sunlight

Natural sunlight has been shown to boost your mood. And, it also gives you Vitamin D. This time of year, the more sunlight I can get, the better.

I’ve also known people who go to tanning beds during the winter months to fight Seasonal Depression. Spending 5 or 10 minutes in natural sunlight, or a tanning bed, can boost your mood, and fight off the depression.

Being Around People

When I was in early recovery, I spent many nights at the 10 pm twelve step meeting. This was especially helpful when my mind felt like a hamster going crazy on its wheel.

When darkness came, anything I was thinking about was multiplied a thousand times. Fear, worry, doubt. Everything was worse when nightfall came. But, being around people quieted the little voice in my head. I could spill my guts, and get everything out to someone else.

If you can’t find a meeting that late, call up a friend or two and go out for a late supper, or pie, or coffee. Just being in the company of someone who understands how you’re feeling can be a tremendous help.

Coffee or Tea

On the days I don’t have to work the next day, I drink coffee. On the days I do work the next day, I drink hot tea. It’s not so much the caffeine boost I get, but more the heat from the beverage. Drinking something warm, like coffee, tea, or even hot cocoa heats up my body temperature, and I feel better immediately.

Self-Care

Self-care is another way I deal with Seasonal Depression. Part of self-care is getting enough sleep, eating healthy food, and resting when I need to.

But, that’s not all. Another part of self-care is doing things, even when I don’t want to. For example, last week. I didn’t want to do my dishes, or cook supper. But, I did it anyway. Sometimes, self-care isn’t glamourous. Sometimes, it’s messy, and filled with pushing through the feels to get to the other side.

This Too Shall Pass

If you’re struggling this time of year, know that you are not alone. Reach out to someone you trust, get the feelings out in the open, and know this too shall pass. Winter Solstice is coming tomorrow for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and the daylight will return over the coming days.

If you’re struggling with family problems, find some friends and have a holiday gathering on your own.

And remember, whatever problem you are facing now, it won’t last forever. Keep your chin up, keep doing the things, and you’ll make it. I promise.

Bah humbug,

Mindy

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