From Joy to Depression
The holiday season brings joy to many families throughout the month of December, but for some, this is the hardest part of the year. It’s a time for family and charity and all good things, but it’s also a time of overwhelming emotion and remembrance of loss. We try to mask it so as not to ruin someone else’s joy, especially for our families, but we need to check ourselves from time to time.
You’re busy shopping, or working so that you can shop, and you’re planning your calendar around parties, wrapping, sales, seeing people… If you keep pushing down those emotions and ignoring warning signs, the stress builds up behind that self-made wall. You might find yourself flying off the handle at a loved one or falling into a deep downward spiral of depression. No one wants to crash, but you might inadvertently be setting yourself up for that. So, when is it time to self-check?
Signs You Need to Self-Check
We checked in with Keith Hanks for some advice on signs to look for regarding self-checking during this time of year. Since Keith has experienced many of these things himself, and he currently works as a speaker for PTS and trauma-related issues, he has some great insight to share.
Are you finding yourself avoiding people or stepping away from the crowd at a party a little more than usual. It’s okay to be a wall-flower by nature, but if you’re doing this more than normal or feel increasingly uncomfortable around those you normally hang out with, it may be time for a self-check.
The holidays surround us with delicious foods and rich desserts. Overindulgence is easy for anyone at a party, but are you noticing your cravings or your need to comfort yourself with food is increasing? Self-check may be in order.
Lack of Interest
Some people may notice they’re not as interested in certain once-favorite activities. You may be tempted to just say you don’t have time or you’re too tired, but – check yourself – is that it? Lack of interest can show in activities in work and home life too. Are you playing less with your kids, asking about their day less, or dismissing things more? This could also be a warning sign.
Not Leaving House Once Dark Out
Remember those days of our youth when we didn’t go out until the sun went down. For many, that changes as we age, but we can’t leave that as a stand-alone excuse. When the sun goes down, the light goes with it. This can trigger depression or a letdown in emotion. The rain can cause the same. If you notice yourself doing this, it may be good to check in and see if there’s more happening to cause this.
Even those with fully diagnosed depression may feel obligated or even motivated to commit to plans, but when the moment arrives they can change their minds. Are you finding excuses to cancel plans with family and friends because you simply don’t want to go out? Self-check time.
Those who just plain do not want to feel the stress of the holidays or reminders that the season brings may also drown themselves in work. Busyness keeps our minds off other things, right? Plus, if you’re picking up all that overtime, you’re making more money. Got to make money to pay off those bills… But, what if we’re ignoring a bigger problem which will only fester without attention?
The Self-Check Method
Maybe you have good reason for some of those things; we all might. But we can’t ignore the fact that sometimes a problem festers behind so-called good reasons. Loved ones may notice these signs if they know what to look for. Share this article with those who love you! Let’s work together to check on each other! Here’s how to do a quick self-check:
- First, don’t be dismissive. “Yeah, it’s just that…” or, “This is only because…” Actually scrutinize yourself for a moment. You want to make sure you’re being honest with yourself.
- Next, think outwardly for a moment. Are you showing two or more of those signs, even one, and feeling a building stress this time of year? Maybe it will pass, but if it’s here now, take care of yourself in the moment! (This is hard for some people, which is why sharing this information with a loved one is important.)
- Now, think inwardly. Get to the core of your symptoms. Ask yourself, “Am I eager to get past the holidays? Why? What will help?” Because drowning in work, avoiding people, and staying inside all the time isn’t a healthy option. So, identifying the need for self-care is vital!
- Lastly, don’t go it alone! Speak to someone, anyone, about how you’re feeling. Acknowledging your own feelings and sharing them is half the battle to overcome the negative effects. Start by writing them down. We talk about journaling and how helpful it is.
I Self-Checked, Now What?
If things are simply stressful, you may just need a mental health day. Jessica Estrada mentions in her article, Signs You Need a Mental Health Day (2022), that some good self-care days may include rest, catching up on errands, changing your environment, or just being fully present. So, that symptom of not wanting to play with your kids means this is the exact moment you need to play with your kids. Funny how that works.
If your head is spinning and don’t feel a mental health day will do the trick – or you tried and it didn’t – you may need more help. Speak to a loved one who is willing to help, or a coach or therapist. As always, you can reach out to us at FRC here or by dropping us a DM on our Facebook page.
Holidays are meant to celebrate family and loved ones, fill us with joy, and help us forget life’s troubles. If that’s not happening for you, it’s important to self-check and make sure you’re okay inside and out. You don’t have to love this time of year, but we want you to love you. You are valuable and worth checking on.