Friday, 27 December 2013

What did you get for Christmas?

What did you get for Christmas?

I’ve had a few people ask me this question over the past couple of days. Maybe you’ve been asked this recently, too.

It’s often framed as: “So, did you get spoiled this year?” or “Was Santa good to you?”

It’s a pretty common, innocent question. I mean, most people’s Christmas’ are filled with gifts – and I’m no exception. My family and friends bought me a lot of great, beautiful and thoughtful things this year and I spent a fair bit of money on them, too. But for some reason, no matter how many times I’m asked what I got for Christmas, that question always strikes me as a little bit odd.
Maybe because it reminds me of conversations I used to have with my girlfriends when we were 12. We’d call each other on the phone and rattle off our favorite gifts.
“Eeek! You got a new electric keyboard too?!”
“How many Lip Smackers did you get in your stocking?”
It was fun. And not that, as children, we ever meant to compare, brag or make our parents feel inadequate to other parents; it’s just that we were excited about all of our new THINGS.
But we’re adults now. I’m almost 30 years old. And to me, Christmas isn’t about gifts or presents.
I don’t mean to put anyone down who asked me or anyone else what they got for Christmas. I don’t think they are shallow or materialistic. I know they love their families and friends. I know that question is typical for this time of year and a great conversation starter. But all I’m saying is why does that question have to be asked before: “So how was your Christmas?” or “What did you do?” or “How’s the family?”
The first time I was asked this year what I got for Christmas, all I could think about was how my sister and her husband travelled up from Edmonton to spend some time with me and my parents.
The second time I got asked, my mind instantly went to the delicious, lavish meal that my mother whipped together in less than two hours.
The third time I was asked, I thought about the walk I went on with my mother in the afternoon.
I could hardly even remember a damn present that I got. I would just answer vaguely, “Oh yes, a lot of nice things.” “Yes, I got a lot of stuff.”
I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s becoming more and more apparent to me that Christmas is not about the gifts at all. This sounds so obvious and cliché, but it’s true.
I know gifts are special and thoughtful, and I love giving them to people. But Christmas is really about the time people spend together. It’s about the memories.
For now on, when people ask me what I got for Christmas, I think I might say: A lot of family time. 
What more could I ask for?
I challenge you take this Christmas message into the New Year with you.
Why do we have to have special dinners and gatherings only during the holiday season? Why wait until December 25 to tell someone special that you love them? Try to do this more frequently. The gatherings don’t have to be lavish – order in some pizza. Rent a movie. Play some card games. Does travel make this impossible? Try Skype.
In 2014, don’t let special gatherings happen in-frequently. Spend time with the people you love.
Remember: Everyday is a gift, that’s it’s called the present.
Don’t take time and people for granted.
Thanks for reading.
With love,
Lisa
My Christmas tree.
You can tell by all the bare spots where my cat camps out in it during the day!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

How to fight your way out of a situational depression

A couple of months ago, I found out my boyfriend was cheating on me. I think it was more of an emotional affair than a physical one, but it doesn’t matter. No matter what the person you love is lying to you about, it hurts like a bitch.

Being lied to by your one and only is a very confusing time, and your heart is not only shattered, but wrenched up into a tiny little ball, twisting and turning so much that you can physically feel both love and pain being squeezed out of it and dropping into a little messy puddle at your feet. You’re left staring down at this mess, feeling like an outsider looking in, and thinking: WTF.

I had never been treated like this before, and I had no idea what to expect.

I couldn’t cope.

I couldn’t get off my couch and didn’t even shower for a couple of days. I didn’t eat, watch TV, or answer my phone. Occasionally I would open my red, swollen eyes to stare at the wall.

Sounds pretty sad, doesn’t it?

It was.

But at the time, I didn’t realize what a deep, dark, depressing hole I was sinking into.

This behaviour didn’t last for just a couple of days or a week. It went on continuously for almost a month. I finally became aware of my behaviour when a friend stopped by unexpectedly on a Saturday afternoon around 12:30 p.m.

Friend: “What are you up to?”

Me: “Nothing. I was just in bed.”

Friend: “Oh, were you sleeping?”

Me: “No, I was lying in bed.”

Friend: “What were you doing? Reading?”

Me: “No. I was doing nothing.”

Friend: “How long have you been awake for?”

Me: “I don’t know. A while.”

Friend (surprised and concerned): “So….you’ve just lying in bed all day?”

Me: “Yup…”

It was shortly after this wake-up-call conversation that I burst into tears.

Omg, I thought. All I ever do is lay around.

Getting up to do the dishes felt like an insurmountable task, and leaving my house was not even an option. I dwelled on my broken heart and couldn’t see myself or my life as anything else but just that: broken.

Me: “I think I’m depressed.”

I knew from that moment on that I had some work to do. I needed to get my life back on track and force myself to start living again. Here are some steps that I took to begin to climb my way out of a dark hole some people call depression:

Admit it

It’s been said that admitting you have a problem is the first step to getting help. This is true. I didn’t even realize that I was so unbearably miserable until I finally took a step back and realized that I wasn’t myself anymore. It took me a while to acknowledge this, but when I did I immediately felt a little bit better. And then I told my friends and family. They now had a better understanding of what I was facing, and continued to support me.
Move

Not to a different town, city or country – although the thought of running away from your current life may sound tempting, it won’t help things in the long run (trust me on this, I’ve been there).

I mean physically. Get outside and go for a walk. Even if it’s around the block, it’s a start.

Ask your friends and family to make plans with you to do something healthy. Go to a yoga class together or try something new. Maybe go play a game of badminton.

Not only does being active improve your self-esteem, help you sleep better, and strengthen your body, but it also releases natural endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body. These endorphins are sometimes called “happy hormones” and help you feel better from the inside out.

Stay busy

Start filling up your calendar.

Look for things to do. Make plans with friends. Sign up for a new course. Volunteer. Try making a
list of things that need to be done every day and every week. Reach out to others. Do favours. Call your parents. Make time for old friends you’ve been meaning to catch up with.

In order to start feeling fulfilled again, you’re going to have be productive and get things done.
You’ll soon see that people love your company, and you’ll be too busy to think about how sad you are.

Don’t get drunk or high

These are depressants and you’ll only feel worse. Stay clean and sober for a while. If you’re out at a party and want to have a drink or two, fine. But now is not the time to be getting wasted. Wait it out. Trust me on this. If you think getting out of bed is hard now, try doing it when you have a raging headache from drinking too much red wine. It’s not fun. Don’t do it. Stay sober.

Talk to a professional

Your problems may feel like they are just too much to take on by yourself. Speak to a professional. There is no shame in this. In fact, you should be proud that you are taking the steps you need to live the best life that you can. There are people trained to help you, and they want to help you. Let them.

Seek out a therapist referral from your family physician, call a helpline, or speak to a pastor at a Church. There is help available to you everywhere. Take advantage of this.

Remember that you are wonderful and deserve to live a great life. Tell yourself this every day, until you believe it.

Also remember that I’m not a doctor or a professional! This is advice I’m giving based on my personal experiences. Take it as only that, please.

Thanks for reading,
Lisa