And so I enter this Holiday season with a window in my 12-year-old car that doesn’t roll down (important when you live in Florida), a broken sprinkler system (also important when you live in Florida), a pool that has a serious leak, a roof that needs to be replaced and a credit card that is bumping up against its limit.
Am I going to let these first-world problems ruin my holidays? Heck yea. And therein lies the problem: I’m going to LET my little list of, seriously, not to serious problems ruin my holidays. They won’t ruin the entire holiday season, just as much as I allow. I often forget that I control the problems, not the other way around.
I learned after coming out of my last depression that there is a physiological explanation for why people with depression cop to the negative. It’s how are brains are wired. It’s a form of selective memory that feeds our depression. It’s why I tend to focus on the bad aspects of my childhood and have totally forgotten many of the good. Thank God I have my sister and a childhood friend who remind me of the good times.
I have found that the key to managing my depression is as much about taking my meds, getting enough sleep and exercise as it is about controlling my thoughts. I must be mindful of when my thoughts stray to the negative. If I don’t reign them in, they trigger an avalanche of negativity. My pants are tight. My dog smells. I should have a nicer car. I should have a bigger, better house. I should be making more money. I should save more. I’m such a loser. I should returned that phone call. I’m not a very good friend and I’m a lousy sister and aunt.
Next thing I know I’m singing “Nobody likes me. Everybody hates me. Think I’ll go eat worms.”
After studying this phenomenon, I have come to the conclusion that when my thoughts begin spinning out of control it’s because I’m either dwelling on the past or anxious about the future. I’m not thinking about the here and now. I’m feeling like a loser because there won’t be enough presents under my Christmas tree. I’m still mad because my ex- always chose to work on Christmas Eve instead of spending it with me and our daughter. And on, and on, and on…
The holidays seem to really bring out this kind of thinking. I need to stop these thoughts before they consume me and ruin my holidays. I need to remember that I control my thoughts – if I want to. And that despite the stuck window, leaky pool and melting credit card, I really do want to control my thoughts. Really.
Depressed woman photo available from Shutterstock