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Friday, December 19, 2014

Where Are You Christmas?!?

I've been thinking about writing this for a while now.  I've been hesitant because it is very personal, and not something people just go talking about.  And please, though I love you all, and appreciate that you care, I am not looking for pity and I'm not interested in discussing if I've tried this or that.  Please don't be offended, I just get overwhelmed when my well meaning friends and acquaintances want me to try different things.

So no more mystery!  Here it goes.  I have depression.  I've had it for a long time, and I am under the care of medical professionals and I am on medication.  Most people with depression are ashamed to say it because it's embarrassing.  We're broken.  We're over emotional.  There is something mentally wrong with us.  News flash - there is something mentally wrong with EVERYONE!  I realized years ago that everyone has something - a bad habit, a personal struggle, a skeleton in the closet, etc.  Some people (like me) have more than one something - and it is OK.  We all struggle with our own personal challenges. Some are evident on the outside like a scar or being in a wheel chair. Some are unknown and kept hidden on the inside.  This describes me.  Between my illness and my depression - everything is on the inside.  You can't tell unless I tell you or you happen to be lucky enough to be around while I'm having an anxiety attack or a break down.

Thankfully, I was raised with brothers who teased me when I did "girl things" like cry at a movie or when I got hurt.  I learned to suck it up and keep it in.  Well, there's only so much sucking it up anyone can do before it starts to manifest in physical ways, or just starts leaking out the eye balls and brings a body to the fetal position for an undetermined period of time.  Most of the time I can suck it up and not break down or freak out.  Many thanks to my doctor for the Xanax!  And many thanks to my brothers for the suck it up and stop crying training.  :)

Why am I writing about this now???  Just before Christmas??? When everyone is merry, excited and just full of holiday cheer???  I mean, this should be the one time of year when I am super happy go lucky, right???  Yes.  Yes, I should be feeling cheery, excited and full of everything whimsical and exciting about Christmas...
Really- I LOVE Christmas! This is the fun stuff I used to do!!
But I'm not.  Last year I had the same problem - for whatever reason, I simply cannot get into the Christmas spirit.  I've tried.  I've baked goodies.  I've purchased gifts.  I've watched all the feel good video's of Christ's birth and the generosity of others this time of year.  I've listened to Christmas music.  Because our house has been under renovations I hadn't gotten the decorations out - there was too much mess everywhere.  I was (am) frustrated with myself because I cannot get as much done as I used to each day.  In fact, I can't even get half as much done as I used to in one day.  That is frustrating to me.  So I've been pushing myself to finish my part of the renovations (a topic that's been dying to be blogged about!!), and despite my efforts I am still not finished with any of it. I've been pushing myself to take care of the regular day-to-day chores that require my attention - but I'm falling short. My kitchen sink is constantly over flowing with dirty dishes that need to be washed and my kitchen table is constantly covered with piles of laundry waiting to be folded, ironed and put away.  There is dust - EVERYWHERE (renovations = dusty house).  The kids are bringing obnoxious piles of papers and crafts home from school and though I'm on them about picking it all up, they're filled to the brim with visions of sugar plums that blind their eyes from the mess and plug their ears to my voice.  My sweet little girl has her sewing machine set up on the kitchen table because my sewing room is off limits due to it being the storage place for things from the rooms being renovated and all presents waiting to be wrapped.  I am so excited for her developing talents and want to encourage her in any way I can so I try to over look the fabric all over the family room and the pins/scissors all over the floors, etc.  She is a lot like me - and I don't want to squash her when she's doing so well.  Though she is great about picking up when I ask her to, things are quickly in disarray again.
 Do you know what??? All of this is ok!  Messy is the sign of a good day, right?  Though I love a good day - I HATE mess. It drives me nutty.

But because I'm having so much trouble keeping up with the regular stuff, plus the reno stuff, plus trying to pull off Christmas I'm feeling quite overwhelmed and unmotivated.  Everyone needs a gift exchange gift of $5 or less for this or that.  Wrap the gifts.  Wrap the teacher gifts.  Bake the goodies.  Get the family gifts in the mail so they can open them on Christmas.  Feel sad because 3 of the 9 kids won't be with us for Christmas.  Hear the littles ask a zillion times a day, "when are we going to put the Christmas tree up?"  Pressure, little people, pressure!!!  But last year I didn't have the renovations going on, and I was able to get more Christmasy things going on and I still felt like this.
My conclusion is it is the depression.  It's blocking my heart from the joy of Christmas.  Instead of the fun Christmas songs I have this verse going through my head most of the time:

Where are you Christmas
Why can't I find you
Why have you gone away
Where is the laughter
You used to bring me
Why can't I hear music play
My world is changing
I'm rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too

And I don't even like the grinch.  He's creepy - and the movies make me uncomfortable.  But Cindi LooWho (spelling? and I think she's the one who sang this?) she sang the words that I'm feeling inside.  

Yesterday we set up the Christmas tree.  I got the laundry delivered and put away - today (as I type) I'm supposed to be ironing my clothes and putting them away...  but I'm not.  My head is muddled with questions like, "why can't what I'm doing be enough?",  "Why don't I feel the Christmas spirit?", "Why can't my kids come home for Christmas?"  "Why can't my missionary skype with us?" (she will call - no skype tho).  "How will we deal with the sadness and breakdowns when the kids realize that they won't get #1 on their list of wants?"  (they want a puppy...).  and then there's the usual stuff I ask myself: "what do I make for dinner?", "why am I the only one who cares if the house is clean?"  "How do I help everyone to be happy and feel Christmasy?"  
I used to make us all matching Christmas jammies every single year. 

I've been told to simplify and to let some things go.  So I have been.  I've let some things go, and I've simplified quite a bit.  But with that I've also put way too much on my plate.  I should have let the construction guys paint our bedroom.  I shouldn't have attempted the cute stencil painting in my room and the boys room.  But I don't like lowering my expectations.  I don't like to.  I decided a couple months ago that we needed new Christmas stockings.  Our old ones are great - but they're looking tattered and a couple have been chewed on by a dog.  I cut out fabric to make them - and then decided while at Target to buy the stockings and embroider the names onto them.
  I have 3 more names to embroider, then attach them all to the stockings.  Perhaps I can finish that today... ha ha.  Because I need so much rest, I spend time reading these creative blogs, checking pinterest and watching HGTV for ideas on how to make my house super cute for the holidays.  I should NOT have done that.  For example - an advent calendar someone made in an evening took me almost a week!!! Things just take me longer.  I need to get used to that.  And then there are the little blessings that keep me from the fetal position.  After an exhausting afternoon/evening painting, Austin brought home dinner for the family.  Twice in one week!  He doesn't complain when I pull out leftovers or order pizza either.  My little ones can microwave their own frozen pizza any time they want.  They are loving, helpful and so encouraging little kids!!! Well, they're big kids now but still my littles.  Austin took over a project I wanted done for the boys room and it turned out awesome!  I found many online sales and deals and was able to do 95% of my Christmas shopping online.  Yes, each day I count my blessings and focus on these little miracles that make my life better.  And then I look around and see everything that hasn't been done - and get frustrated with myself again.  I always played a game with myself to get things done.  I would think of what needed to be done and would right away get up and just do it.  It often takes longer to think about doing something than actually doing it.  I still play that game with myself - but it's near impossible to accomplish anything when I am light headed and about to pass out.  Or way too shaky and jumpy.  AND if I do too much I will be in much more pain and feel even worse - so I have to do the balancing act.  And my brain is foggy.  I have memory problems and speaking problems and just get all jumbled sometimes.  Living with these things and the rest of my sickness adds to my depression.   It's not that I have a low self esteem - I think I'm ok there - but knowing that I cannot do what I could do before and that it will never change is discouraging.  You see, depression is something uncontrollable.  Even under medication, with depression one can feel lost, alone, exhausted, melancholy, and without motivation.  It's made worse when things are full of stress and imaginary expectations.  

Ok - so I know this whole post is all disconnected and randomly laid out.  It is straight from the heart and honest and true.  I don't think I'm the only person on the planet who is going through similar feelings and lifestyle.  I just wanted to share - in hopes that if you know someone with depression, or are feeling it yourself, you're not alone.  They're not alone.  It's not something that can be fixed - it is something out of any ones control and it just is.  We're not less than other people, we just have depression.  Like diabetes - we learn to live with it and how to cope with it.  Meanwhile, I'm going to keep a smile on my face for the family and outside world.  I'm going to stay cheery and uplifting on the outside.  I'll keep saying Merry Christmas and keep trying to do things to brighten other's days.  By nature I am a cheerful person - but I'm a cheerful person on the outside with depression on the inside.  Now I'm going to get some ironing done and get my hair colored today.  And I'm going to smile the whole time and I'm going to just do it.  I'm also going to do my best to find Christmas.  And by that I mean the REAL CHRISTmas - about the birth of Christ.  Of course I love Santa and all the fun stuff but I need to feel CHRISTmas first.   
At least we're doing the Elf on the Shelf...

I wish you all a very wonderful holiday season full of love, family, friends and joy!