Well For Culture: Holiday Depression ... You’re Not Alone!

Chelsey Luger

It’s post Christmas. How do you feel?

If the answer is “not so good” or “a little sad” or even “super depressed,” remember that you are not alone. In fact, it is extremely common to feel anxious, sad or lonely during the holidays. And right now, we’re right in the midst of it.

I’ve had my own fair share of holiday blues. One year, the day after Christmas when I was 16, we had to put my dog, Rev, down. She was the most intelligent, soulful, fiercely protective, amazing German Shepard in the world, and she was my best friend, and it was horrible.

And then there were the lonely times: having lived away from home for so many years (up until recently), I had my fair share of completely isolated Christmases. This year I am so grateful to be spending Christmas with my family, because I distinctly remember getting home from work on Christmas day last year, sitting alone in my apartment Facetiming my mom and my little sis McCall, and crying my little eyes out. Poor thing!! (Haha).

See, the thing is, any normal day I wouldn’t have felt sad to be alone, but when it’s the holidays, and you’re scrolling through Instagram seeing how much fun everybody else is having, it’s that distance in experience that becomes difficult to grapple with. During the holidays, you get the idea that everybody else is having an amazing time, and so it becomes that much more difficult if you’re not.

I can only imagine the struggles other people are going through this year. Some people have sick family members, some people are experiencing loss, some people are broke, some people are stressed out. We all have our issues. So, I just want to take this time to remind everybody that it’s okay and perfectly normal to feel down.

My advice? Stay off social media, get in a workout (the easiest way to boost endorphins), say a little prayer, and think of a few things you’re grateful for in life. That’s the type of thing that usually helps me feel better. I hope it works for you, too.

I’m not a Christian and I try not to be materialistic, so I don’t feel particularly attached to either the religious or the consumerist idea of Christmas in the first place. I imagine there are a lot of other Native people who feel similarly about it. But even still, being in America, inevitably in the midst of everything, we are subject to holding ourselves to the same expectations for holiday cheer and might struggle when it just doesn’t feel that good.

On the other hand, if you are having an amazing time, that’s wonderful. Just remember to reach out to somebody in your life who may not be feeling so good. It’s amazing what a little text message or phone call from a friend can do.

Chelsey Luger. Photo courtesy Eller Bonifacio.

Chelsey Luger is Anishinaabe and Lakota from North Dakota. She hopes to be a strong link in a long chain of ancestors and descendants by spreading ideas for health and wellness. Follow her on Twitter @CPLuger. Ideas for articles? Email her: [email protected]

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