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The Night Before a Depressed Christmas

Depressed Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ my mind
Not an emotion was stirring, not even one kind;
The stockings were hung by the chimney without care,
With little hope that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
I wished to be nestled all snug in my bed,
But visions of disappointments danc’d in my head,
For Christmas isn’t so bright to the depressed population
Rather it causes us quite a bit of undue consternation.
When everyone is jolly and merry and bright,
But we can’t quite seem to get the mood right,
We’re told to “Cheer up!” and get some “Christmas Spirit,”
Though after the fifth time, we don’t want to hear it.
Our friends and family are concerned in our less than jolly appearance
While holiday closings cause a bit of therapy interference.
A visit from St. Nick doesn’t give us any excitement,
We’re too lost in the dark and grey of our ailment.
Not many people understand the disappointments of depression
When the holidays no longer leave quite the happy impression,
And though our Christmas memories are remembered with joy,
This year, while depressed, our hopes and happiness, it does destroy.
And while I want to exclaim to the crisp winter night,
Merry Christmas to all! It just doesn’t feel quite right.

Depression is a very real thing, and it becomes even more real for those of us dealing with it in ourselves and in our loved ones during the holidays because what’s generally thought of as a “happy season” can actually be insurmountably difficult. Depression is an all-consuming monster that sucks out your feelings and leaves you feeling empty, bare, and broken. The holly jolly merriment of the holidays and the stress of gift-giving, end-of-year work preparations, and spending time with family often compound the anxious, unwanted feelings of depression. This leads to higher suicide rates during the holidays than any other time of the year.

If you know someone dealing with real life “Christmas Blues,” be understanding and encouraging. This Christmas won’t feel as merry or bright as ones in the past, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t still be meaningful. Just “being there” for someone you know is dealing with depression or a recent loss of a loved one during the holidays can do so much good. You can make the difference between a horrifically lonely holiday and a fondly remembered if not ideal time.

If you are dealing with depression during the holidays (like myself), then let us first commiserate. I know it’s hard. I know it feels like the Depression Monster is defeating us. If you’re like me and this isn’t your first holiday season while dealing with depression, then you’re probably hoping that it will be different this year but have a sinking feeling in your gut that it isn’t going to be. All I can say is that you have to understand two things. First, that it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think Christmas is going to be bad—filled with regrets, uncomfortable situations, and traditions “just not feeling like they used to”—then that’s how your holiday is going to turn out. I’ve found that with a little positive thinking, you can at least increase your likelihood of having a better Christmas experience.

Celebrating during the holiday season when you’re dealing with depression isn’t going to be easy, and many times it will feel exactly like it does in the poem. But in the end, the holidays are all about family, friendship, and fellowship. So even though you feel all alone in your depression, there are more than likely people around you who care and want to help. Remember that in this time of year because you’re never alone. The Christmas Blues may come, but you can ward them off with a little Christmas hope.

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The Magic and Memory of Busch Garden’s Christmas Town

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Christmas is one of my favorite times of year, and Busch Garden’s Christmas Town has become my tradition to start off the holiday season right since 2011. Because I’ve had the super amazing chance to be an Ambassador Blogger (aka “Thrill Chaser”) for Busch Gardens: Williamsburg, VA in 2014, I had the opportunity to visit the park on opening night where I experienced the lighting of all the Christmas lights and watched as the magic came to life!

You can watch the vlog I did about my experience above, but there was so much goodness packed into my two visits that I felt like it deserved a blog post too!

I garnered an extreme love for Busch Gardens during my time at the College of William and Mary. The park was just down the road. A season’s pass was WAY worth its money if I visited a few times during the school year and came back in the summer with my parents. And my college boyfriend, Andrew, LOVED (and I MEAN LOVED) to ride roller coasters. During the fall of my sophomore year at W&M, Andrew and I visited the park 4 out of the 5 weekends in late September and October. I’m still not quite sure HOW we did that considering October is one of the busiest college months with midterms, Fall Break, Parent’s Weekend, and Homecoming, but I consider it a feat worth noting to this day. Over my four years at W&M (and even as an alumni), I visited the park during all of its many events and changes. I’ve been to Pass Member Preview Day (which is always a treat because of the lighter crowds). I’ve seen the park in spring, summer, fall, and winter. I’ve rocked out at park concerts. I’ve been terrified at Howl-O-Scream and in awe at Christmas Town. I’ve seen the Griffon built, the Big Bad Wolf torn down, the Verbolten and Mach Tower added, the Globe Theatre reinvented for live performance. The park has changed so much since I became a “Busch Garden’s Snob” as a college sophomore. (And by “snob” I mean that I had memorized the park layout and generally knew when and where to be places to have the shortest lines and the best food). And yet, even today I’m still discovering new things about the park.

Christmas Town for me is all about nostalgia.

I love this event at the park more than any of the others because I feel like it really captures the wonder and beauty of being a child at Christmas. When I walk into the park, I don’t feel like the adult-world-war-torn 24-year-old that I am. I remember all the wonderful and beautiful things about Christmas, not how expensive and stressful it’s probably going to be. I remember the smell of a fresh cut pine tree sitting new and unadorned in my childhood living room and eating a bowl of buttery macaroni in front of it while just glorying in the awesomeness of Christmas coming soon. I remember the seemingly long car journeys to see the best Christmas light displays in the area with my family. I remember the magic of new toys and “elf feet” in the snow and the candlelight Christmas Eve service at church. I remember belting out the carols with my grandmother. I remember the movies I watched with my dad cuddled on the coach with the gas logs keeping us warm in the hearth.

It’s amazing to me that something so obviously orchestrated can elicit for me such deeply ingrained feelings and memories. It’s a combination of the music, the sights, and the lighting, but I don’t feel manipulated like I might in other situations. While Disneyland and Disney World reminds me of the magic of my childhood because I was an avid Disney consumer as a kid, Busch Garden’s Christmas Town really puts me back into the childlike mindset. And THAT is better “magic” to me because I can experience the park in the same state of wonder and awe that I experienced Christmas as a child.

For this reason, Christmas Town is my favorite Christmas experience, and I hope that you have something similar to do during the holidays to evoke all the warm and fuzzies that you deserve as not only a child but an adult too during the Christmas season!

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Novel Writing: Month 11, Chapter 11 – Disappointment

Novel-Writing-Month-11-Image-1November was a month of disappointments. I’m still not finished with Chapter 11. In fact, for the majority of November I didn’t even write very much! (So much for “Let’s write every day in November!” Ha!) I wrote a half-page the first week of November. And managed another full page somewhere in the sparing times I wrote during the month. In fact, I wrote about a page and half on Monday, December 1st which is the most I’ve written in one sitting. It’s a very sad state of affairs here in Kaitlyn’s writing world.

I’ve been trying to figure out what it is that’s preventing me from keeping my writing goals. Have I lost interest in the story? Am I worn out from nearly a year’s worth of writing? Am I just distracted because the holidays are coming up and I’m spending more brainpower on imagining Christmas presents for my relatives? In truth, I don’t know. It could be all of them. It could be none of them. When I really try to pinpoint it, the only thing I can come up with is that I’ve reached a part of the story that is just difficult to write. It requires a lot of backstory I wrote (or should have written) in the previous chapters which also means I have to remember that backstory in order to thread everything together and make it make sense! I’m having a hard time doing that right now. I have lot of little ideas. Little scenes stuck in my head, but I haven’t quite figured out how to connect them all together into a meaningful chapter. Instead, I feel like I’m flailing around in a muck of half-thoughts like larva born on raw and rotting meat. I keep yelling at my thoughts to “Get in line!” and “Keep your head up!” and “One at a time!” although that isn’t doing any good. My head is still a muddled mess.

But I feel like I really accomplished something on December 1st. For the first time, I pulled out my old handwritten journals—my original story—and started reading, notating, bookmarking, and typing out. Quite unfortunately, I found out quickly that I couldn’t just copy verbatim from my book even though Chapter 11 and my original story have a very similar basic premise. It’s an important chapter because it throws my characters into unexpected action and some truths get laid out on the table. However, I found as I was reading the original story that they are VERY different in execution.

I think I like how I’m choosing to unfold the story better now than what I wrote when I was in high school. (And I would hope this would be the case since I should be a more seasoned writer now). I’m just finding it hard to take the time and energy required to really develop the story properly. I feel the time crunch so I want to just gloss over plot points, and that just isn’t feasible. It’s like, because I know where I want to go, I want to skip over the six-hour drive and just be there already even though reality doesn’t work like that. Why can’t I just write all the fun parts? But then again, it makes me think, shouldn’t all of a successful book be enjoyable to read? Who’s going to read a book that’s boring or tedious or just bad in parts in order to jump to the more thrilling parts? This isn’t a DVR where we can just fast-forward through the commercials! I want to make my story, Kamerell, as all engrossing to my readers as it is to me inside my head. I love living in Kamerell in my head, and somehow I need to find the time, patience, and skill to translate that into the written word. It’s not an easy job. But it’s certainly a worthwhile one.

My goal for this upcoming month is simple: finish Chapter 11 and Chapter 12. This will be an interesting accomplishment because then I will have essentially written two chapters in December since November was quite a bust. But I think I can do it. I’m getting those end-of-the-line thrills that help procrastinators write whole term papers in one night. I don’t think I’ll be pulling any all-nighters for the sake of finishing the story, but I’m definitely being more conscious about my time because there isn’t a “next month” to finish it in.

We’re almost to the end!

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