A Grinch Like Me

It’s not the “Holiday Season;” it’s me. I’m depressed, that is all there is to it. It seems so cliched to be depressed at this time of year. There is nothing I hate worse than being a statistic. Of course, I struggle with depression year-round, but for the past month, I’ve felt like I am losing the battle. At the end of the summer, I decided to experiment with lowering my dose of antidepressant. I thought that maybe I had reached a point where I was actually better. The week of Thanksgiving, I officially declared the experiment a failure. After three weeks of being back to my full prescribed dose, and I am still struggling.

I wonder if part of my problem is the shorter days. But, I have lived in more northerly latitudes and much harsher climates. It seems downright silly to think that December in this part of Southern California would be depressing. I know for sure that not getting enough rest is a contributing factor. At the same time, I am still considering the effects of the demands and expectations of other people. I try to stay in control of my holiday commitments and avoid putting myself in a position to be dictated to by others. I don’t want to subject myself to the stresses that cause people to feel burdened by the holidays, but clearly I still feel the weight of people wanting more from me.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.

Psalm 36:7-9

Last week, I became so angry that it consumed me. The magnitude of my anger was disproportionate to the situation. I knew that I was overreacting, but I felt justified. The joy I had gleaned from serving at the processing center for Operation Christmas Child, was replaced by anxiety and frustration. While I was at the processing center, and not at work, my co-workers had hatched a Secret Santa scheme.  I had heard talk of (another!) gift exchange, but I didn’t know that I would be included without my consent. There were a lot of things that bothered me about the situation, but perhaps the biggest was that I wasn’t in control. I wrestled over the issue for several hours before deciding to participate. My conclusion was that there was more joy in participating than in being the jerk who ruined it for other people.

Enough time has passed that I can see how I blew it out of proportion. On the one hand, it is rude to sign people up for things that require time and money, without consulting them first. But now that it is completed, I find that there was joy in doing something nice for one of my co-workers. One of my co-workers also blessed me with a nice gift, which exceeded expectations. God is working on my heart. But even with this situation concluded, it has been a difficult week. I knew my depression was out of control when I found myself crying in the bathroom at work, and I couldn’t explain why. Depression makes everyday life hard to cope with, and then it only takes a couple of out-of-the-ordinary things to completely overwhelm me. This time of year, the tendency toward depression gets piled up with extra demands, and my brain can’t handle it all.

At one point, this week, I commented to my sister that I should write a book called, A Grinch Like Me. She advised that I could also use that as a name for the anonymous blog I dream of having so that I can write all of my thoughts and frustrations which aren’t God-honoring. I have to confess that I am only vaguely familiar with the actual story of the Grinch, so I probably shouldn’t use the label. But it is the only effective way I have found to explain to people how this season makes me feel. The more people push me to have “holiday cheer,” the more overwhelmed my brain gets.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

James 1:16-17

December has been dragging its feet. I can’t remember when time has passed so slowly. I have a strange awareness that God is trying to teach me something. At first, I thought it was about patience and forbearance, an area I definitely need to work on. But as I struggled to cope with everything coming my way, it occurred to me that the real lesson is my need to rely fully on God. It doesn’t stop all of my negative reactions, sadness, and anxiety, but it definitely keeps me in the fight and living life.

What can I say in conclusion, except that God is faithful, loving, and generous to me? I am learning to take every facet of this battle to Him. I have begun to look for the signs of His faithfulness, that are all around me, to keep me putting one foot in front of the other. When I reflect on my past, I can see how far I’ve come, and how much better I am doing. I know that trusting God is just as important as my medication, and I am thankful that God is with me, even when I am irrational and feel like I am on the verge of collapse. I am thankful for all of the people that He has put in my life to cheer me on in the fight and talk me down when I’m out of control. When I feel trapped in darkness, He makes His faithfulness shine through.

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