‘Twas the week before Christmas,
and all through the house,
rang the sound of explosions because I was watching Die Hard because I found out I’m losing my job in January and I wanted to watch office buildings blow up.
To be fair, I’m so grateful for the job I’ve had this past year. I just wish it was, you know, continuing NEXT year.
And I wish I wasn’t wrestling with the stomach-pit anxiety and fear of unemployment during the holidays.
And I wish I was able to go into 2022 feeling safe and secure.
And I wish every change in the road didn’t immediately make me go to scarcity and a sense of vulnerability.
But if there’s anything I know it’s that life is but a twisty-turny ride of ups and downs and things we want and things we don’t. (Unfortunately, we all know how well I do with “twisty turny” things.)
Still, despite the setbacks, I’ve been enjoying the holiday season.
I’ve been decking the halls and fa-la-la-la-ing and listening to Nat King Cole records. I’ve been going to Narnia (AKA Mt Hood, Oregon) and decorating sugar cookies and dancing around to Mariah Carey in a Christmas pajama onesie.
But wait! There’s more! I interrupt this festive timeline to give a seasonal shoutout to one of my most favorite and important holiday helpers: MEDS.
As Glennon Doyle says “Jesus loves me this I know, for he gave us Lexapro.” (Personally, I’m on sertraline but “Generic Zoloft” doesn’t lend itself to rhyming as well so I’ll just say “Give us today our daily meds, AMEN.”)
Mental health is, of course, not a one-stop shop. There is no panacea cure-all for depression or anxiety. There are many factors that fill up our buckets and help us to function as non-gargoyle hermits.
But any person telling those with depression to “exercise, eat right, connect with friends, etc” to pull themselves out of a low, doesn’t really understand the nature of the issue.
Like Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half illustrates, it’s like your pet fish have died, and when you tell people about it they say things like “We’ll find your fish, I’ll help you look for them. Where did you last see your fish?” and “Don’t worry, fish are always deadest before the dawn!”
Depression can cause you to feel complete detachment, despair, and an inability to connect. Depression can zap you of your will to be, drain you of your energy to do. The times when I’ve been in a low I couldn’t make my bed, let alone get out of it. And some well-meaning person is telling me to go for a walk?
A walk is outside. And in a low, outside is the moon. Outside is one bazillion miles away.
Of course, all those things people mention CAN help lighten your emotional load—if you have the ability to utilize them.
For me, meds (and ditching alcohol) are the two foundational things that lift my brain’s chemistry to the level where I am ABLE to have the energy and capacity to add all the OTHER helpful things into the mix (hobbies, connection, community, exercise) that raise the tides of my mental health to the most smooth sailing zone.
In the fall, I was struggling. It’s always hard when the days go gray and the holidays are coming and I feel sticky sadness fingers jabbing into all my old wounds.
But even though I rep meds and truly believe in normalizing their use, I dragged my feet through a good month of heavy-boots and soul-suck, before finally being like “What am I trying to prove here??” and asking my doctor to up my dose.
And I very quickly felt more capable of meeting the days. I felt a return to a less limb-heavy version of myself. And I felt able to do all those other things that made my mental health stronger, as well.
Anyway, disclaimer time: All this stuff is really personal, and everyone is different, and your doctor should help you navigate any med decisions you want to make.
Also, if you are committed to managing your brain chemistry sans-meds with sage or mantras or sun salutations or long-distance running or writing or therapy or whatever I SAY GO FOR IT.
But if you’re really struggling to actually do any of those things, or like, function on a regular day-to-day basis, I just want to say that, yes, life is very hard but if you find yourself constantly asking “but…should life be THIS hard all the time?” I will say from my own experience: No. It doesn’t have to be.
It can be easier.
THREE GOOD THINGS
I watched Single All the Way on Netflix and I knowwwww it’s the cheesy equivalent of a Hallmark movie and I don’t care, I def cried.
I LOVE doing puzzles, especially in cozy season time. If you don’t have the energy to bust out your 1000 piece Wysockis and puzzle mats (yes, I’m a puzzle pro), here are some online holiday puzzles that are oh-so-satisfying.
I have been thinking (not speaking, just thinking) about travel pillows and this popped up on my Instagram. INTERNET WITCHCRAFT! (But still, these look very very cool.)