Like any child, I used to love Christmas. When I was younger I could not wait until Christmas morning. Opening presents and unpacking my stocking was first on my mind. I could not wait to see what Santa brought or my parents bought me. However, as I grew older the allure of Christmas wore off. Each year I became less worried about gifts. And the excitement slowly began to fade. Eventually, I stopped caring about Christmas at all. I used to love Christmas, but now not so much. Now it seems I have some sort of Christmas depression.
Christmas became a source of anxiety for me. Gift giving was stressful enough. Wondering how much to spend, or if they would like the gift. But the biggest reason is I just found it difficult to be happy. Depression always seems to set in around this time of year. My life was not what I wanted it to be. So how could I be full of joy when things keep going wrong for me? The child-like love for the holiday season just isn’t there anymore.
At first, I didn’t really have a reason to dislike the holidays. Aside from life just not being the way I want it that is. Honestly, I used to think I was just a bit of a Scrooge. Perhaps I was just trying to be an emotionless tough guy. Maybe I thought real men didn’t show emotions or get excited. But as I got older, it seemed like bad things started happening around the holidays.
The first event took place in 1994. When I was eighteen years old, I was in a bad car accident. I worked full time at an auto mechanic shop doing oil and tire changes. I had to drive 45 miles to and from work while staying with my parents. While driving home one night around Thanksgiving, an 18-wheeler semi came into my lane and cut me off. I was on the interstate driving at 70 miles per hour. After swerving to miss him, I lost control of my car and went underneath his trailer. He ran over my car and I went off the road into a ravine. At first, I walked away from the car without serious injury. It wasn’t until 3 weeks later I would realize that I was in fact injured after all.
Because my car was a total wreck, I had to find a job close to my parents home. So I went to work at a local tire shop. That’s when my injury showed up. While changing a set of tires, my back gave out. I felt a pop and the pain was excruciating. At that point, I knew immediately something was wrong. The accident ruptured a disc in my lower back. The disc was also pressing the sciatic nerve in my leg. This caused intense pain and loss of sensation.
I was left with chronic pain in my back and legs as a result. Eventually, I had to have surgery 6 years later as a result of this accident. I have been in pain ever since. But the car accident is not the main reason I dislike this time of year. My Christmas depression really began to take hold about 15 years later.
I have been alone most of my life. I have spent most of my holidays alone as well. In 2009 I reconnected with an ex-girlfriend. We patched things over and got back together. This time seemed to be different. Not long after we moved in together. A month later we discovered she was pregnant. I was excited about the news. I couldn’t wait to be a father. Things seemed to be going great for once. But that excitement was short lived.
Nine months later a little girl was born. I couldn’t be happier. Unfortunately, after she was born things started taking a turn. We started fighting almost constantly. I also began having conflicts with her family. They were jealous of the amount of time my family was spending with her. Eventually, the conflicts led to our breaking up just before Thanksgiving. Five months after she was born, she moved out. Two days later I received a call from the Sheriff’s department. My ex-girlfriend was suing me for full custody.
While clearing out her things, I came across something that led me to question if I was the child’s father. Because we were not married, I decided I had to know. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but it was necessary. On December 7th, 2010, I requested a paternity test from the court. A week later I discovered I was not her father. The court removed my name from her birth certificate. And I was stripped of my parental rights. I never saw my little girl again.
Christmas Depression & Mental Illness
I haven’t been the same since I lost my little girl. It changed me in many ways. It triggers Christmas depression every year. In fact, I even dislike celebrating Christmas. I feel like I have no reason to celebrate. I just do not feel the joy of the season. To be honest I cannot remember the last time I felt joy. It has been eight years since I found out.
I always get depressed and angry around the holidays. But this year was a little different. This was the first holiday season since my diagnosis. In July of 2018, I was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder bipolar type. I have been on medication ever since. Obviously, my mental illness has had an impact on my depression. But until now I didn’t know I suffered from a mental illness. I had always attributed it to my inability to let things go. Christmas depression was just that, depression around the holidays. At least now I know why I get that way. I have an explanation for it. It was because of my mental illness.
Now I can try to fix it. I can hope it will one day stop. I can focus on trying to recover from my illness instead of always getting down and angry during the holidays. Maybe next year will be different. Maybe next year I won’t suffer from Christmas Depression. But rather I might actually feel joy again.
IamThePatRatt – The Bipolar Hacker
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