by Dr. Kathleen Quinn
Every year during the holiday season, I notice an increase in patients seeking counseling and care for depression. Many self-help books, advice columns and even comedy films have focused on craziness that comes along with end-of-year celebrations.
If you are depressed during the holidays, it is likely you are depressed to a lesser degree during the rest of the year. During the holidays, depression can become more severe as some of us recall what is most dysfunctional in our families.
The holidays may trigger memories of the way family members have behaved towards each other in the past. Some of us may have experienced alcoholism, conflict or even abuse. These experiences don’t go away, even when they are not magnified by the holidays.
Creating a Memory
When my family was young, I made all our holiday presents. My oldest son, who was about 3 years old at the time, came into the room where I was sewing a stuffed animal. He asked what I was making, and I responded as my aunts and grandmother responded to me when I asked the same question. “I am making a lay-over to catch a meddler, and I just caught one!” I cried, as I tweaked his nose. He laughed and ran out of the room.
On Christmas morning, when he opened the stuffed animal I had made for him, he shouted, “I got a meddler!” I realized then he had no idea what the word meddler meant, but he sure loved that stuffed animal. A tradition was born, and every year for the holidays I made “meddlers” for my children.
Now that my kids are grown, instead of making a stuffed animal, I write a letter of love and mindfulness. For more than 30 years, my children have cherished these “meddlers.”
Owning Your Holiday
My story illustrates a simple point: Your holiday season will be what you build. It can be happy and full of kindness, or it can be sad, depressed, boozed, overeaten and rife with conflict. It will be whatever you make it.
Remember, you do not have to live the pattern of childhood unless you want to. If you didn’t like your childhood, change it. And if you are depressed, get help. You will feel better and enjoy the holidays more when they roll around again a year from now.
Dr. Kathleen Quinn is board-certified in Integrative Healthcare and holds a doctorate in Marriage and Family Psychotherapy, and master’s degrees in Women’s Health Nursing, and Guidance and Counseling. Dr. Quinn’s clinical practice is Discovery Integrative Healthcare Centers, where she offers a variety of treatment services and consults with clients’ physicians, as needed. During the holiday season, Dr. Quinn is starting several “growth groups” for people dealing with depression, cancer and family/marriage issues. For more information, visit www.drkathleenquinn.com, or call 210-727-9234.