The holidays are my favorite time of the year. I love what the season represents. I love giving gifts, helping others and being with family and friends. It had always been a special time for me.
Yet, that wasn’t the case a couple years ago. My son was only a couple months old and I was a mess. I was deep in Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. I had only just begun seeing a therapist (who I wasn’t connecting with) and I had not yet decided to go on medication. I was overcome with negation emotions and worry. I had a hard time enjoying anything.
Honestly, I wanted to skip the entire thing all together. I didn’t want to be near anyone. I hated the decorations because they reminded me of what I couldn’t enjoy. They reminded me that I was going to have to be around others. I wasn’t comfortable having people hold my son. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, much less have to explain why I wasn’t myself. I didn’t want to hear any advice or questions about me or my son. I wanted to avoid it all and escape. The holidays were nothing but a dreadful time that I was being forced to experience.
Because of all this, I was disappointed that I didn’t feel the holiday spirit. It was my son’s first holiday season, and I was miserable. I soon found out that I wasn’t alone. The other mothers in my support group also mentioned having a difficult time. Instead of enjoying the season, we dreaded and hated it.
What could we have done to make the season more bearable ?
While it may be difficult to participate, it doesn’t mean that a mother has to suffer entirely. The holidays are a joyful time and can still be a meaningful experience. The key lies in focusing on ourselves and what we need. It’s important to remember these things:
- Engage your coping skills and your support system. It is a busy time of the year. However, if it tends to stress you out, cause anxiety or make you feel down, take it easy. Talk to someone about these feelings – getting a good therapy session in does wonders. Set aside time for those self care activities!
- You’ve got a lot on your plate as it is. Don’t feel bad if you can’t participate or do the same things as you’ve done for past seasons. Do only what you can handle.
- Don’t be afraid to take breaks when you need it. If you’re at a function and need a moment, excuse yourself and take it. Absolutely nothing wrong with that!
- Focus on the things that you do enjoy. Do you love decorating ? Sending Cards ? Focusing on value add activities can help.
- Be gentle with yourself. It’s worth repeating over and over again. It’s ok if things aren’t perfect or if you stumble a bit.
- It will pass. Postpartum Depression and Anxiety are temporary and entirely treatable. Not too long after this I began to experience relief. Holidays are once again a source of happiness, and opportunities for wonderful memories to make with my son.
Recognizing your feelings and giving yourself a break really helps. I focused on the things that I loved and took photos of everything. Although I knew that I’d have a hard time remembering or focusing the good moments, the photos would let me know that they happened.
If you’re a PPD/PPA mom, please know that you’re not alone. The holidays are tough for all, but can be especially challenging for many of us. It’s not an easy time, but definitely survivable!
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Postpartum Support International.