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Dealing With Holiday Depression

I sometimes wonder if people who have met me in real life are surprised by the contrast between my blog persona and my actual personality. Perhaps the biggest revelation is that on days where I don't post, it's not always because I'm having such a freaking awesomely amazing time that I can't get away from the action and find my computer.

Want to know what it would be like if I actually posted how I felt on those bad days?

Hey guys. Slept in this morning. No reason - just didn't feel like getting out of bed. Couldn't be bothered to make breakfast, but got hungry after an hour and ate 1/2 pound of chocolate. Started watching Shahs of Sunset. Surprisingly entertaining, but felt brain cells dying so cracked open a book. Read nonstop for 7 hours while eating. I am always impressed by my ability to eat and read at the same time. Skills. 

Unfortunately, I'm afraid those kind of posts aren't super entertaining, so I avoid them. But I'm about to get real on your asses, people. I have a really hard time with birthdays, holidays...celebrations in general. I build them up in my mind and look forward to them for a long time and when they arrive, they don't always meet my expectations. 

Easter was one of those days. I am used to having family on holidays, so without them I get sad. Although Tim is fantastic and does a lot to cheer me up, I still feel really down at times. Maybe some of you will read this and think I need to get a grip because my life is freaking easy. Well, I agree. But when you struggle with depression it's hard to wrap your mind around that.

Depressing Post? Here's a picture of a cat in a laundry basket. I dare you not to smile.

There are plenty of ways people deal with depression in their own style. Some people eat (GUILTY!), some people drink (guilty) some people exercise (less guilty) and some people claim that getting dressed and leaving the house is a step in the right direction (easier said than done). One of the ways I deal with it is reading. Escapist literature helps me to focus on anything else besides my own life and whatever is getting me down.

Oddly enough, the books I choose are typically horrible depressing. Perhaps something about them reminds me that life could always be worse? That might explain my affinity for Thomas Hardy. Today I tackled two books that are personal favorites but never get old.

The first was Grass Soup, by Zhang Xianliang, which is a biographical account of a rightist sent to a Chinese labor reform camp in 1958. It's an incredibly honest piece about human nature in the depths of starvation and illness. Plus, even when I feel crappy I have to admit my house is no gulag, and that always makes me feel better.

Next up was something depressing but witty - Candide, by Voltaire. The best way I can think to describe it as intelligent internet trolling from the eighteenth century. Voltaire makes fun of popular philosophy and religion of his time in a hysterical but thought provoking way. Although at the root of the story is the obliteration of optimism, he still manages to keep readers smirking.

If all else fails and I'm still having a bad day, I play with cats. Love love love.

Do you think your blog/Facebook statuses/Twitter updates accurately describes your moods?
While I'm not lying on social media, I just avoid it when I'm having a rough time. I'd rather avoid it entirely them try to be happy through it.

What's the last book you read? Your favorite? The next one on your to-read list?
Favorite is probably A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or Far From the Madding Crowd. Next up - I just ordered the Makioka Sisters online. I've read it but not in several years so I can't wait to re-read it.  


  1. Truth: holidays aren't something I look forward to. Truth: depression can rear its ugly head during holidays. I'm sorry you're having a stinky day. Kitties help!
    Truth: I spent the entire day on the sofa with a cat, watching episodes of Monk on Netflixs.
    Tomorrow I'll get dressed and get out - promise!

  2. This post is depressing because you're such a dork. :)

  3. I used to feel the same way about holidays and now I just treat it like any other day. I don't really go crazy with cooking for anything because most of the time is is just me and my husband and the cooking will frustrate me. So I just relax and think about how great it is too spend time with the hubs. He works late most of the time and Saturdays and Sundays end up being busy so whenever a holiday comes I like to try and do nothing but relax and enjoy the time hanging out.

    Yes I don't like to write about sad days either. It just makes them more sad and more real to me.

    My favorite books are The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. There are 3 of them in the series and so good!

    Hope you have a happy monday!

  4. Funny how the couch, PJs, chocolate, a blanket and the tv can help certainly does mine! Seriously V, I have fought with depression for the last 30 years. Hang in their honey...the one thing I know is that you do come out of it.

  5. I get the same way about holidays. I also get sad when they're over, just because I no longer have something to look forward to, and the end of a holiday always means the return to stress (in my case, college).

    I think a lot of times my moods are less happy than I convey. But to cheer myself up, I try to do things I enjoy, like exercise, watch tv, read a book, go for a walk, etc.

  6. I'm typically let down by holidays too. Why I think "THIS year is going to top them all," I have no idea. I definitely mask those types of days on social media too. I've blocked some people who don't and seem to ONLY post on those days. If all else fails, humor is a great defense machanism.

  7. The last book I read was What I Did For Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
    I tend to read or watch romantic comedies when I'm depressed. Anything to warm the heart a little.

  8. I was way depressed that Target was closed on Easter. Seriously? Oh and the mall was too. :(

    Yeah, I always build the idea of an awesome birthday up in my mind and the usually lack luster. Thus, instead of getting excited pre-birthday, I've been a realist and just welcome the dread.

    Sometimes I think it is hard to be a real person with real feelings in the blog world. Everyone does seems to be really shiny... like... all the time. Prozac? Perhaps.

  9. I read like crazy when life gets tough- I'm on my fifth book this month. I'm currently reading Huck Finn so that I can teach it this week to my sophomores.

    I get bummed during holidays sometimes too- my family is five or six hours a way, while my husbands are in town. It sucks hearing what everyone is up to while I'm stuck in town.

  10. Well Vanessa, you'll notice that I don't put a whole lot of negative or bummer stuff on my blog and that's because that's what my blog is for me-- a little world where I post highlights of my life and leave out the negative downer thoughts.

    I know that leaving out the negative stuff gives an unbalanced picture of who I actually am, but I'm ok with that. I am always looking for the positive things in life to lift myself up. I see so much terrible depressing stuff at work all day and when I'm having problems with interpersonal relationships, nothing good for me comes out of airing that stuff to the world. Despite having a blog, I am a very private person (kind of ironic.) But that doesn't mean that I don't LOVE reading balanced pictures of other bloggers. In fact, my favorite bloggers are people like you, RoseRunner and others who give a balanced, whole view of the world and NOT just unicorns. I have lots more to say about this, but we'll save that for another day!

  11. i too feel like this as well. the past few weeks i've been extremely down / stressed..... as a result I got shingles.. seriously?!!? I think if you're human, bad / boring days are going to happen, NBD

  12. Holidays are hard for me too. Especially after losing two very important people in my life within the last 3 years. Mix that in with being away from family (haven't spent a holiday with my family or Mike's in going on 8 years) and its super hard. So I hear you. I don't think you are being negative or downer at all when you post stuff, or anyone posts stuff like this. It shows that they are real. Its not just writing to appease their audience. And that is what keeps me reading. I hope you feel better soon!

    Last book I read was Game of Thrones and just started reading the 2nd, Clash of Kings. Amazing reads BUT lots of content to read (about 800-900 pages a book and there are 5 of them out so far). Its also an HBO series :D

  13. Holidays are tough for a lot of us...and although I try to keep my blogs upbeat, quite a few often lean towards the other end of the spectrum. Why? Because I am human, and it's OK. xoxo!

  14. Ok I am a bit creeped out by this post because I woke up at 8am today and read straight until 1pm and a good portion of the setting was Gulags. It does make me feel like my problems are pathetic! Also I ate candy for lunch. On a more serious note, I hate spending holidays away from my family, it is depressing, don't feel bad about it. I only put things on social media that make me sound cool and witty, like how I'm going to bed at 9pm on Friday nights. Hope tomorrow is better!

  15. OMG, I adore A Tree Grows in Brooklyn!!! Such an amazing book! I get depressed around holidays too. I tend to hide and not post when depressed too. Sometimes I try to lie and "fake it until I make it" but usually I make like an ostrich. Hope you're feeling better tomorrow!

  16. Reading and eating are two of my favorite combined activities. Throw in a pitcher of iced tea and that's a good day.

    I'm currently reading Crunch Time, some caterer-who-solves-murders fluff novel. My favorite books ever though are a toss up between Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series and the Sherlock Holmes stories.

  17. Glad to see that you're human... but sorry you miss you family.. I escape by wathcing mind numbing stupid shows on the internet but we all have our ways! With my hubs being gone I feel silly when I think the house is too quiet and sad because before I met him the house was always quiet.. I haven't read anything really good lately might try your two!

  18. Favorite book is probably These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner. Next up is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

    I would have a really hard time with holidays and celebrations without my family. When I first got married I struggled with it a lot and cried A LOT. I'm fine now and love spending time with my husbands family, too. Honestly, having my own kids is probably what helped the most. Sometimes it's so nice to have it just be the 4 of us. Good luck! I think reading is a good outlet. I would love to read for 7 hours straight :).

  19. I've read Candide in a college French class. My professor was this cute little guy that looked like Mr. Magoo. He constantly sniggered at his desk when we read it in class.

    The last book I read was the Lance Mackey Story, you know the dog sled racer.

    Holidays without family do get easier. But it just gives you and Tim the opportunity to create your own traditions!

  20. Sorry you are having a tough day. When I first moved away from my family and couldnt't spend special occasions with them, I had a hard time too... but I started making my own traditions and making a point of not dwelling on it.

    Made a phone call, to say Happy 'Whatever' then got on with my own plans to make the day special in the here and now for me... and eventually that included The Captain, too.

    I spent most of the day today in my jammies but that was because it was a rest day and we spent it indoors and I didn't feel like getting dressed till dinner time! Hahahaa

    I cannot read depressing books or watch depressing movies.

    I hope you find a way to get past your holiday blues, Vanessa. It will be so much easier for you and for Tim, too, if you can.

  21. I get sad at all Holidays. I miss my home every time..and for birthdays also. I have my kids and husband but I still miss my family.
    On the blog I share some of it. not a lot, but people who read know I am homesick
    I got tickets and I am going home this summer!

    last one: was a French book "Revenir de loin"
    next is The Night Circus
    favorites are in French but in English I would say Sara's Key.

  22. I read three books every year without fail. To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, and Ella Enchanted.

  23. I am with you there. Spent my weekend alone and it was quite depressing. Games on my mac is one thing that helps me... or exercise, but you can only do that for so long... then it's eating to the rescue!
    I tend to actually be quite depressing on my blog... 'happy' on my facebook, and in real life I am endlessly cheerful and ridiculously happy... I'm not really sure which is the most accurate!

  24. I sort of dread holidays, so they are never a letdown. Still depressing sometimes, especially the holidays my dad loved.

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is my all time favorite book, and I think I've read it more than 20 times. And I may have named my son after a character in the book.

  25. I have a terrible, terrible history with my birthdays - so I definitely get the holiday dread.

    But there is nothing that cats can't fix.

  26. I get stressed on holidays because my family is so close and there are too many places to be. Mike wanted to pretend to be sick yesterday so we could hide out at home.

  27. My "feel sad" holiday is Thanksgiving. When I'm not home for Thanksgiving, I sit around the house and mope and feel sorry for myself. Even though my family doesn't make a giant deal out of thanksgiving, it is/was always a very "together" holiday and it is when I miss my family the most.

    But you're right, impossible to look at that cat in the laundry basket and not smile.

  28. I think it's normal to feel depressed sometimes, especially when you're not around you support group (family and friends) reading is a great escape and I don't think you should feel guilty about it.

    I used to fight my bad moods and depressed days but now I just kinda go with them.....they never last as long and then they're over and done with. When I'd try to fight them I'd end up making myself feel guilty about not doing things and then they'd last way longer.

    I don't feel the greatest today but overall I'm pretty excited. I try to look for the good in my day b/c my mother used to always tell me energy goes to where you focus - so I try to focus on being happy.

    I think social media for me is a real as I can make it. The only difference I see btwn me and Ali Mc is that Ali Mc gets a filter - ie: I can delete my typed words and keep rewording them where as the real me blurts things out ;)

    Obviously you wouldn't want to tweet "I hate myself today - who's with me" but actually that sounds like something I could do :P lol

    Logan has forever changed me. I don't have time to be depressed! He would pick up on it and I don't like that.

    I don't know why I'm leaving an essay but I think if we met in real life you'd be the same ;) I don't think you give yourself enough credit.

  29. Not being with family on a holiday is the pits. I feel your pain. This Christmas I cried multiple times because my expectations weren't met and I was frustrated, etc.

    Everyone has bad days, no matter how perceptively "easy" their life is. I think it also is important not to judge yourself to harshly here. I live a very easy life but I still get down even though my life may not be as hard as another persons, but it's hard to me and that's all that matters.

    Also your honesty was refreshing :)

  30. I'm fine with holidays .... But when I'm down I sleep a lot or just veg in front of my computer.
    Hope you feel better soon.

    My Running Shortz

    Love your kitty in the laundry picture.

  31. I hope today is better for you girl. I can definitely understand having a hard time when you are away from family. I am so so close to my family and when I was in college and away it was very hard.

    I am a total emotionally eater when I am depressed. Not good at all!

  32. i have had my holidays like that for sure. hope today is better. i sometimes worry i am too honest on twitter and have tried to cut back on some of my more “annoyed with atlanta” type of tweets. i appreciate your honesty though!! its quite annoying to see people constantly in a world of candy canes and gumdrops when in reality, there world CANNOT be so perfect. currently reading the 50 shades of grey naughtiness. not sure i have a favorite book of all time..

  33. I'm the same way with holidays and I got down a little yesterday with it being Easter and us going about our day like it's any other day because it's just the two of us and I was sad because holidays were always differentiated when we were growing up and that's part of what made them fun and special.

    I'm like you, I avoid social media when I'm in the dumps.

    I just read Secret Daughter (highly recommend it!) and am reading Now You See Her now.

  34. If I'm having a true rough day, I usually just avoid social media....typically, I don't want to talk to anyone and someone close to me will notice and start asking me questions that I don't feel like answering :) Hope your day is going better today!

  35. such a great post! ugh, i agree that it's sometimes tough to write up a post or do any FB/twitter when i feel like i'm in a's not that i will lie and pretend i'm seeing rainbows but at the same time i don't want to be a dark i do as u and just tend to not update things if i'm feeling really low. i too hope u're having a better day!

  36. FRIEND. man. i GET this. my fam is not as far as yours and usually i dont even get that crazy about it. i just try to treat it like another day. but for some reason yesterday i was so sad i was not home. i handled it okay. but everything just felt weird and off. i hope that today you feel like a rock star again!

  37. I love you more than ever now. :) You are as REAL as it gets, girl. I LOVE real.

    I do the exact same thing with lots of things, not just holidays. I even mentioned it in my last HM recap. I had it built up in my head as "THIS IS GONNA BE AWESOME!!!!!!" so when it was just mediocre (at best) it was a huge disappointment. But birthdays are my WORST! I friggin' despise my birthday.

  38. Sometimes I will write a post about something that makes me happy in order to bring myself out of a funk. And then other times I will read other poeples happy stuff for the same reason. But then, I also like reading posts like this one because I can relate to that too.
    I have never read a book twice. But I am considering reading, Here If You Need Me, by Kate Braestrup, again. It is the best book I have ever read!

  39. My FB status is often censored. I read an article that said most people only post uplifting posts on FB as they want to pretend their lives are happier than they actually are. (and then there are those who always post negative things in hopes of getting lots of attention via posts of "things will get better").

    Holidays often remind me of how life is NEVER like the fairy tales/musicals and how hollywood wants us to think of the "perfect family" and "perfect holiday meals". Life just isn't like that.

    Last book I read: Mother Goose, Vol. 1, Nursery Rhymes, read this weekend while coloring easter eggs. The nephews (teen and preteen) hadn't heard them, adults were trying to remember them, ha ha ha.

    Otherwise, the last book was: When I Found You by catherine ryan hyde (She wrote Pay It Forward). great book.

    Your favorite? Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    Favorite motivational book: The Long Run by Matt Long (NYC firefighter tossed under a bus in a . . . new york second. . . while on his bicycle. AMAZING power of coming back and perseverance.

    The next one on your to-read list? [not counting the book I'm currently reading, cause it's not that great, was free on Amazon kindle ;-) ] It may now be Candide. I loved that book and have not read it in a long time.

    and also: The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running, 2nd: Everything You Need to Know About Equipment * Finding Trails * Nutrition * Hill Strategy * Racing * Avoiding Injury * Training * Weather * Safety

  40. Disappointing holidays are the worst. I do the same thing-- huge buildup prior to the day, "this is going to be awesome/I am going to be so happy/the food is going to be so good YES", and then it's a stinker. Kind of like racing, right? (I'm totally not a running addict, what?) Like how your training is spot on and it's almost physically impossible to NOT PR and then on race day it hails and you pull a hamstring and you vomit all over yourself and DNF and then eat 27 pounds of fro-yo, sobbing. Exactly.

  41. I know exactly where you are coming from! I sometimes wear my running clothes all day because it makes me feel like I am not so sad that I am in my pajamas all day. But really I am.

    My favorite book of all times is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! When I am sad / feeling down I don't blog or tweet or do anything. I read and/or cook/eat.

  42. I spent Easter feeling a little sad and thinking of past Easter Sundays spent with family. With the half on Saturday and Allan flying in Saturday afternoon we opted not to go see family and I for one regretted that. We should have dragged ourselves out of bed and headed south for church and family time. Instead we went for a short run, hid treats for the dogs, and did nothing of value for the rest of the day. Oh, and I went to bed at 7:45 PM! Ridiculous!

  43. I could be accused of writing things that are more positive than I feel, because sometimes writing good stuff is a way for me to force myself to focus on the good stuff...

    As for reading - I'm halfway through Cutting for Stone and LOVE IT.

  44. I used to be an open book online but I've reigned it in so I typically avoid posting on social networks when I'm not happy. I feel the same way about holidays though! Can't stand them without family!!

  45. i unfortunately do this same thing, especially with holidays... it's really weird. i build them up and i also get super bummed if i'm not around my family. booooo.


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