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I remember vividly being alone and depressed on more than one Christmas.
5 ways to battle the blues this Christmas
It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . . for some people.
For other people. It can suck.
I experienced deep grief in the years that I thought I had the chance to get married and blew it. No boyfriend and certainly no husband – made me very alone in my world during a season or two.
I lived by myself for at least one of these holiday seasons. That made things worse.
But as I look back from where I am now, I can see what I did to cope that was helpful and somewhat comforting.
Whether you are depressed because of
suffering the loss of a loved one,
longing to be a mother, father or spouse,
wrestling with past decisions
or because of some other reason – I want to share what worked with you. I also want to share what I wish I knew.
Before I share what helped me- I want to assure you – things do change. Take a breath and allow yourself to BELIEVE that this Christmas is an opportunity to cling to the hope that one day you will experience that “thrill of hope” once again.
You will experience a thrill of hope – and you will recognize it because of this weariness.
1. Write a letter to Dear Ole’ Saint Nick
Most of us as children, would ask Santa Clause for things we desired around Christmas time. As Catholics, we believe in the power of intercessory prayer. We often pray to Saint Anthony when we lose things, Saint Jude when something feels impossible and Our Lady for various petitions.
And Jesus tells us to have the faith of a child.
I remember during those rough years, picking up a pen and writing a letter – and instead of starting Dear Santa Clause, I started
Dear St. Nick (or Saint Nicholas).
I especially remember doing this when I longed to be a mother. Since Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of children – this made extra sense to me.
Perhaps I should back up a bit.
One thing I did when I depressed that helped me throughout the year was I started a prayer journal.
One of the things I vividly remember having in my prayer journal was a Saint Philomena prayer card. I glued her picture to a page after I copied the novena prayer on the back. Saint Philomena is also the patron saint of impossible causes. I wrote to her and said a novena to her with the intention of healing a broken heart.
So writing to a Saint in my prayer journal was not unusual.
Writing to Saint Nick and asking him to pray for the intentions my heart longed for brought me back to a child like faith.
Santa didn’t always bring what I asked for – but sometimes, he did.
Sometimes, it took asking a few years (cough, cough Cabbage Patch kid).
2. Envision and Write out what you long for
When I was depressed and broken hearted – for what felt like an eternity – over not having a significant other, I hit rock bottom more than once.
One of those times I bought a book titled “How to Make Someone Fall in Love with You”.
Hey, I’m not proud of it.
But one thing that book suggested doing was to write out your idea of the perfect mate/spouse, etc. It gave questions that allowed the reader to really think about who I wanted to meet, fall in love with, and marry.
It asked about physical appearance, political views, age, outlooks and faith preferences.
And I did it. I totally answered all those questions.
I wanted a man with a great head of hair. I wanted him to be tall. I wanted him to be hard working and Catholic.
Eventually, I met that man I thought I made up in my imgination. He is now my husband.
I did this in a way of talking to God about what my hopes and dreams were. I did this as a way of sharing with God my hurts and what I thought would heal them.
I gave Him my desires that way.
So years later, when I longed to be a mother – I tried this exercise again.
I recently found the notebook/prayer journal I wrote this in.
I described my children.
It was in April of 2012 where I picked up a pen and wrote about the children I envisioned being a mother of . . .
I wrote about and described 3 children.
In June of 2012, I met our oldest son. In April of 2017, I met our second son and our daughter.
Now, when I wrote about three children, I described two girls and a boy.
So no, what I wrote down didn’t come completely true – but still.
I am a woman that could never get pregnant and I am the mother of not one, not two, but three children.
I love this activity because it encourages us to hope and dream when we often are in the depths of despair.
3. Call on a friend
I don’t remember what time of year it was, but I recall one night when I called my friend Kelly. I must have sounded like I was about to jump off my roof. I called her because I wanted someone to talk to. Someone who knew why I was upset.
I just needed someone to talk to.
Kelly did the unexpected. She said, “I’m coming over”.
She paid me a visit. She brought a bottle of wine and her kind heart.
She listened to me and just sat with me.
I totally wasn’t expecting that. But to this day, I am so grateful for it.
Kelly was one of the three friends I had at the time that started getting together to pray the Rosary. We would often take so long to discuss our intentions that we wouldn’t actually get to the Rosary. Talking about our hurts out loud, and praying together was a beautiful gift.
I’m so grateful they were willing to do that with me. They had their pains too and it was a comfort to all of us.
4. Find a Healthy Escape
There used to be a program in Philadelphia called “Operation Santa Clause”. On Christmas Eve, high school students would dress up like Santa and elves and deliver wrapped presents to the homes of families in need. It was an awesome experience I had in high school. When I was single, I volunteered to be a driver for that program. So during the day and into the evening on Christmas Eve I was busy. Busy doing something pretty amazing.
That felt good.
So, think back to a service experience you once did that was fulfiling and do it again. Or think about a service you have always considered doing and do it.
Watch a comedian or a comedy. Kathleen Madigan is hilarious. And if your depressed about being alone or longing to be a mom – she’s neither married or a mom so her perspective is so funny and you don’t feel like, “yeah but she doesn’t get it.”
Get lost in a tv series.
Work. Create. Do something that will really distract you- in a healthy way.
5. Stop “shoulding” all over yourself
Stop blaming yourself for your present situation.
Stop thinking about the past and saying, “I should have done this. I shouldn’t have done that”.
If you sinned, go to Confession. Confess it. Accept God’s forgiveness and believe this:
God takes our stupidity and weaknesses in account when He plans . . .
I eventually stopped beating myself up.
What I did for way to long that did not help was blame myself for my heartache.
“God gave you “so and so” and you totally screwed it up.
“God did answer your prayers and you were not grateful for His blessings.”
Thoughts like these spent A LOT of time in my head.
Other thoughts like, “you SHOULD have done this differently; you SHOULD have been more grateful” and so on also lingered in my thoughts.
I thought that God gave me what I asked for and I totally screwed up His plan. It was my fault. It wasn’t that God didn’t hear me. It was that I didn’t appreciate Him or do His will.
What I discovered later was a quote from Scripture that says:
Now here’s a huge disclaimer – I have no degree in Theology. I don’t know what Jesus was trying to tell the people in this story.
But what I believed He was telling me when I finally read it was this:
You are creating your own hell.
You keep looking back at what you did and that is why you are miserable. Nothing is impossible with God!
Nothing you could do could make the Lord not be able to heal your heart! If you are asking God to give you joy, love, and hope again – don’t think He can not or does not desire to do so! Nothing you could do could make God love you less! God’s love is more abundant than what you can ever imagine or dream of! His plans for you are to prosper! Ask, seek, knock and believe He hears your prayers.
Stop looking back at what you did and look forward with hope.
Think about what He can do.
For Nothing is Impossible with God.
May the Lord bless you abundantly.