Ho Ho Horrible: My Newfound Battle with Christmas Depression

We’ve all heard the stories about depression around the holidays. People cite increased suicide rates with the enthusiasm of a toddler showing off their newest toy, despite the fact that these statistics have been proven false.

To dismiss December as being a ‘safe’ month, however, is equally as misleading. I speak on this from a place of experience; more specifically, the depression I am currently battling, that has hit its crescendo in recent times.

Is Christmas a trigger for me? No, not specifically. My failing marriage would be a more likely culprit, amplified by what was to have been our third anniversary on December 19th. A day that I once looked forward to, tarnished and blemished by the miserable state of affairs.

However, in Christmas I have found a catalyst for my agony – if my marital woes were the lighter, Christmas has acted as the petroleum that sets the whole thing ablaze.

What I’ve begun to realize it that, should I choose, my depression can be quite private. Put on a brave face, continue working hard, and just shut away the chattering of my mind. It’s almost empowering, knowing that I have this specter hovering over me, that I have chosen to keep contained and hidden. Obviously, this is a key mental health no-no, but that’s just the way I’m wired. I’ll deal with it myself, I have reasoned, whatever that outcome may end up being.

Christmas, however, is another matter altogether. It’s shoved in your face, down your throat, and anywhere else it can be marketed. Christmas songs on the radio. Christmas decorations on the streets. Christmas television specials clogging the airwaves, despite the fact that Halloween specials are infinitely superior.

At my workplace, it’s concentrated. Amplified.

“Are you coming to the Christmas party?”

“Do you have big plans with your family this year?”

“Have you already bought your KK present?” (short for Kris Kringle, the Australian equivalent to Secret Santa)

When I answer no, it’s almost as if I shot Jesus himself. I’ve become a martyr, a leper, the other – none of these things are exactly conducive towards dealing with depression.

There’s a gang mentality related to Christmas, I’ve discovered. A united front of merriment that has attached such importance to this one singular day, it has snowballed into a veritable obstacle for unwilling participants.

In fairness, I stopped caring about Christmas when I reached the age where I could simply buy the things I wanted, when I wanted them. No more waiting for St. Nick, dammit, I’m a grown ass man and I’ll buy the Pikachu plushie on the spot.

But for the first time, the mirth is tinged with this sinister underglow – as if it’s intended to spite me, somehow. The best way I can describe it is when the villainous Gremlins gathered to sing Christmas carols, much to the horror of the townspeople. It’s… not nearly as funny, obviously.

The hardest thing for me to deal with, in my growing depression, has been trying to dodge the demons in my head, the ones who are constantly weighing on me, pushing me towards the brink. But now, they’re accompanied by outward demons, and these particular ones come in gingerbread flavor.

I’m inclined to believe that this is not dissimilar to what others are going through at this time of year, and I reach out to you, the yuletide sufferers, with my sincerest condolences. I can’t assure you that it’ll get easier, but we can at least remain strong in our bond.

Don’t let it defeat you. I most certainly don’t intend to let that happen. And hey, who knows – maybe our Christmas miracle is waiting just around the corner, after all.

Australian journalist and eternal schemer.