Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spring Holidays Alone?

The spring holidays are next to the winter holidays, valentine's day, birthdays and anniversaries for depression when you're alone.  If you're Christian and celebrating Holy Week and Easter next Sunday or Jewish and celebrating Passover this week and you're alone, well, you're not alone.  Lots of people with mental illnesses have no one to celebrate with.  Sometimes the spiritual community felt this time of year can help - joining festivities at a church or temple.  But what if you're just not that religious, or you have no transportation, or people just freak you out?  Like the official holiday season at the end of the year, it might feel like the world is celebrating around you.

For 6 years, my illness (specifically, the schizophrenia) kept me apart from family and friends and community so I tired to make it through all the holidays alone.  Easter is a lot like Christmas in that it is celebrated by a lot of people who aren't even religious about it.  I was raised Catholic and grew into something of a new age christian so this time of the year was hard for me when I didn't know how to reach out to people. Both Easter and Passover tend to be a time of people gathering together and it's all over the media, so the feeling of being left out can be hard to escape.

What can you do to make it through?  Definitely, if you're in crisis and don't trust yourself call 911 or any crisis hotline and get help right away.  If you're just depressed and you have nowhere to go and no one to be with, you can try what I used to do and just celebrate anyway.  No, an Easter basket from yourself or a seder dinner alone is NOT the same, but why not?  If you don't have a lot of money, just do what you can, but treat yourself - mark the occasion in some positive way.  Now, it's easy to go off the deep end with the Easter candy about now (I know!) but try not to - although if it gets you through and keeps you sober, it's probably the least of the evils.

Depending on your situation and level of functionality you might want to go to some extra support meetings, or go to church or temple.  It's easy to feel alone in a crowd, but finding community is a healthy way of reaching out.  There's always the internet, too, of course, but be careful not to hook up with the first person you meet online.

In other words, do whatever you can to love yourself through the loneliness. Give yourself hugs.  Prepare yourself a nice meal. Treat yourself.  Go for a walk.  Enjoy nature.  And reach for healthy influences wherever you can.  If you can afford it, take yourself on "spring break," but watch out for the urge to over-indulge.

Have a safe and healthy week and do what you can to enjoy the spring festivities!

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