Not everyone loves the holidays. Sure, there are loads of people who are humble-bragging about having way too many Christmas parties to attend and too many people to see. But then there are the other people out there, the ones with no one to spend the holidays with. No parties to attend, no one to make them feel loved or even remembered. And in some cases, there are people living with mental illness who struggle to make it through the forced joviality regardless of who they might have in their lives. Which is why this letter from Kesha about holiday depression is such an important read.
The singer has been open in the past about her own struggles with mental illness. And she's generous enough to use her own experiences to hopefully help others over the holiday season. Kesha penned an essay for TIME about dealing with mental struggles through the holidays:
The holiday season is supposed to be the most festive and fun time of the year but sometimes it can quickly become a stressful and emotional time. All those plans and expectations of joy can turn tougher than they sound. This is especially true for those of us who struggle with mental illness — be it depression, anxiety, addiction or any other challenges.
The holidays are a notoriously difficult time for people who are battling depression; according to Healthline, with people becoming more keenly aware of feeling socially isolated. Especially with the advent of social media sites like Facebook, which can sometimes give a skewed sense of other people's lives somehow seeming better than yours. As Kesha wrote in TIME, there are myriad different ways to find yourself in a stressful situation over the holidays:
The holidays break your routine. Sometimes, you’re forced to spend time with family you rarely see and don’t always get along with. Or maybe you’re alone when everyone else is with family. Or you are off from work, with more time to think troubling thoughts. Or you are at work and can’t be with those you love. Or you are thrust into party situations that tempt your demons. Or you aren’t invited to those tempting parties.
It's easy to get caught up in the stress of the holidays, especially when you're telling yourself that everyone out there has got it sort of "figured out" while you feel as though you're drowning in loneliness. Or overwhelmed by the need to be so many things to so many people (this can be especially true for moms, in my experience). So what does one do?
Give yourself a break. Kesha noted in TIME that there can be ways to help avoid those feelings of holiday isolation based on her self-described mantra; it's not selfish to do something for yourself.
Take a walk in nature. Talk to a friend you trust or a therapist. Sit out one of the holiday gatherings in favor of some personal time. Just do whatever helps you calm down and gives you a break from the stress. Download one of the many meditation apps for your phone. I particularly like “Calm” and “End Anxiety.”
The singer, who was finally nominated for her first ever Grammy (for pop solo performance for her song "Praying"), also encouraged people to get off the "shame cycle." Telling yourself you should be happy because it's Christmas, and then when you're not as happy as you think you should be, getting angry at yourself. Then starting at the top all over again. These sort of unrealistic expectations are not helpful, and Kesha reminded readers in her TIME article to "Not beat yourself up."
At the end of the day, taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do. If you're feeling lonely, Healthline recommends starting a new tradition at the holidays that will make you happy. If you're feeling overwhelmed, slash that list of yours in half and give yourself a break.
You deserve it.
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