Coping with Post-Holiday Depression and PTSD
Many people feel a let-down when the holidays are over, but when you have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and post-holiday depression hits, it can be especially hard. Depression and PTSD often go hand-in-hand and it's something that I am continually dealing with--even during the best of times. Now that the holidays and all their activities, stresses, and excitement are over, depression with my PTSD is popping up and I am doing my best to cope with it.
Post-Holiday Depression is More Than Just the Blues
You've probably heard the phrase "post-holiday blues." I think it's pretty normal for most people to feel somewhat deflated in January; after all, there is a huge build-up to Christmas (in my case) that starts around Halloween, goes on for nearly two months, and then it's just over. The tree is down, the gifts have long since been unwrapped, and the decorations are back in their boxes for another year. And I feel sad about it.
This year was a strange year for me. I typically suffer from depression throughout the holiday season because I am estranged from my family and I seem to feel their absence more deeply during the holidays. But I had a great couple of months and beautiful holidays, with only a couple of bad days this year. I think I was feeling what most people do during the season--hope, joy, and excitement with some stress thrown in at times. It was only after New Year's that I started to feel the pangs of depression, lack of motivation, and sadness setting in (What are the Symptoms of Depression?).
The thing about depression is that it isn't something that I can just snap out of. It's more than just a fleeting feeling of sadness that goes away in a day or two. It's a hopeless feeling that settles deep in my being and makes me feel like nothing has meaning and that the things I do are pointless. It makes me feel like I am a horrible wife, mother, friend, and person. Really, it's awful.
I do know from experience, though, that when my depression strikes it isn't permanent. Every time in the past, I have made it through to the other side of a bout of depression so there is no reason for me to believe that same thing won't happen again.
How I Cope with Post-Holiday Depression and PTSD
The past couple of weeks have been difficult, but I am coming out of my funk and I think it's due to a few things that I have tried to do despite feeling down.
- I write. The holidays were filled with activity and while I did plenty of writing for work, I didn't get to as much personal writing as I like to. Since the new year, I have taken the time to journal knowing that even when I don't feel like it, once I get started the words flow and get out of my head.
- I take care of myself. When I'm depressed I know that I need to take care of myself. I have to pay attention to what my body is telling me and eat when I'm hungry, talk when I feel like isolating, and sleep when I'm tired. That doesn't mean that I allow myself to be lazy and wallow--rather it means that I don't beat myself up when I can't make it through my to-do list.
- I pray and meditate. Prayer and meditation are foundation coping strategies for me in my PTSD recovery and in my continuing sobriety. I practice them every day, but even more so when I am depressed.
- I keep getting up. I've made sure that every day since the new year has begun, I've gotten up, showered, and greeted the day whether I wanted to or not. There have been a few days when I would've liked to stay under the covers all day, but I knew that would only make it harder to come out.
I remember that my life is good and that just because the holidays are over doesn't mean that I have nothing to look forward to. I also remember that my thoughts and feelings are just that--thoughts and feelings, and that they aren't necessarily true. I remember that I have a lot to be grateful about, and I write it down in case I forget.
Those are the things that are helping me get through post-holiday depression with PTSD. What helps you?
DeLoe, J. (2017, January 13). Coping with Post-Holiday Depression and PTSD, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, October 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/traumaptsdblog/2017/01/coping-with-post-holiday-depression-and-ptsd