original post date - december 9, 2018
#TisTheSeason - Holidays Aren’t Always Happy
Finals are over and school is out for winter break. In this post, I talk about some parts of the holiday season that some people may not think about while they-re getting into the holiday spirit.
All of my finals are finished. I don't have any assignments to do. No alarms are set. I'm home. Outside of me waiting on my final grades to be posted, my semester is over and Winter Break is finally here. The last couple of weeks have been hectic. Between traveling, Thanksgiving, the last week of class, and finals, I haven't really had time to sit and think fr, much less blog.
I know a lot of people for whom this is their favorite time of year. Christmas music, being home from school, decorations, hot chocolate, shopping, food, snow/cold weather. All that. A lot of people really look forward to this time of year, but I don't think people realize that the holidays aren't happy for everybody. For some, this may be their first holiday since losing a loved one. For some, this time of year may remind them that they aren't as financially fortunate as others. For some, this time of year can be hard on them physically because of how harsh the weather can get. There are also people who have nowhere to go this time of year and end up spending their holidays alone.
This can also be a hard time because of the questions/comments people tend to ask or make…
Basically, questions and comments can be mad annoying. So in the words of my good friend, mind the business that pays you. If someone wants you to know something, they will tell you in their own time. Okay? Cool.
For me, this is always a rough time. Thanksgiving until about February really takes a toll on me mentally and emotionally, and this is really the first year where I've told people about it. After my birthday, I always know that I have to try to prepare myself for what's about to happen. If you've read any of my posts or just talk to me in person sometimes, then you know I desire to be in a relationship. This time of year, that desire is on steroids and the fact that I'm not in one becomes more magnified than usual. My loneliness gets really bad. Nights are bad because I find that I'm sadder and cry myself to sleep more often than usual. There are times where I don't sleep because of how much I think and let my thoughts wander about how much I want to be in love, and then I wake up in the morning to the reality that it's just me. On top of that, sometimes I have no choice but to listen to my sister and her boyfriend on FT while I try to sleep. During the day, I get constantly reminded of other people's relationships, have to hear about my sister's or my friends' boyfriends in almost every conversation. I tend to see more couples out and about, and while I'm at work, men and teenage boys often ask for my recommendations on what they should get their significant others because something about me reminds me of them. By the time Christmas movies and social media is added to the mix, it's a lot. And sometimes I just feel empty. Sometimes it doesn't faze me a lot, but other times, it takes a lot more breaks and mini pep talks to myself to make it through the day.
Another reason this time of year can be not so great for many people is something called seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression. Also called "winter blues", this condition is a subtype of depression in which symptoms usually start in the fall when seasons change and last through the winter months. It can also occur in the spring and summer months, but that is less common. It can be caused by the decrease in sunlight during fall and winter, which can in turn affect an individual's serotonin level (chemical that affects mood), or the increase in the production of melatonin, which is a hormone partially responsible for mood, but primarily responsible for sleep patterns. Because this is a subtype of depression, the symptoms are fairly consistent with other depressive or bipolar disorders and can sometimes be hard to differentiate if a person has SAD or another disorder. Some of the symptoms that are more common with SAD than other depression types are carbohydrate cravings, increased appetite, excessive sleepiness, and weight gain. Other specific symptoms can include anxiety, social problems, sleep problems on both ends of the spectrum, and sexual problems in terms of decreased libido or decreased interest in physical contact. There are different treatment methods for SAD, ranging from antidepressants to different types of therapy, but there are also preventative measures one can take to reduce symptoms since this disorder has a pattern of occurrence. Some of these include exercising more, spending more time outside, meditation, and increasing the amount of light at home, just to name a few. For more information about SAD, more about how it is diagnosed, and how to recognize it in your friends and loved ones, visit http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/sad, or any other REPUTABLE source.
I know this time of year is also rough on me because of the strain on my mental health. I don't feel like I can do what I need to do to fully recharge and get my head together the way I need to at home, so there are lots of times where I feel on edge. There are numerous times, much like today, where I love my family but I'm ready to get back to school so I can just be by myself to think. When I'm home, there aren't many opportunities for me to have privacy and time to just be. In the time I've been writing this post alone, I've been interrupted 3 different times. Make that 4. I tend to get very introspective around this time of year, whether that means reflective of the year that's wrapping up, or anxious about the year that is to come. This go around especially. Comparison via social media is kicking my African-American ass and making me feel quite low right now, so I need to take a break from that for a while. I ready to start working so I can do what I want to do in terms of gifts for family, friends, and a few things for myself. I have this MCAT to be studying for too (y'all pray for the kid bc this test is a BEAST). Most importantly, I have a lot of boxes in my head I need to unpack and others I need to start working on unpacking before the year closes, and I don't know if I'll get to properly do that with everything that comes with me being at home. I just have a lot I need to do for Sebrena in general, so this is gonna be an interesting month. Side note - it's up to 8 times.
In me talking about the downsides of what this time of year can bring, don't think I'm a Scrooge. I love my family and getting to spend time with them. I love the great things about this season. I just wanted to shed some light on some areas that a lot of us might not think about. Before I go, I just want to say check on your friends and be cognizant of the fact that this time of year isn't easy for everybody. Cool it on the questions that are super personal. And if you're going to post about checking on people and how hard it is to go through things alone, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE actually check on them. You don’t know what friends might need you and are just waiting to hear from you. I hope you all have the best holiday possible and I'll be back in a couple of weeks.
Live life. Be great. Flourish.