When I mentioned to a friend recently that I felt alienated, she said, “Oh, you’re depressed.”
“No, I’m not depressed,” I insisted.
After all, I’m carrying on with all my daily activities, accomplishing as much as I normally do. The cold and damp and dark make me want to stay inside more, but that’s just what happens this time of year.
Later I thought about the blogs I’ve been writing recently about feeling like an outsider, feeling alienated. I thought as I wrote them that alienation was just an artistic temperament that helped me to see and feel the world more acutely.
But maybe I’m just depressed.
One of the difficulties of recognizing depression is that when I’m in it, it just seems natural. Feeling disconnected, isolated and alone is normal. I think it’s the way I’ve always felt.
I like to think I know myself well enough to catch an oncoming depression early and to deal with it responsibly.
I think I missed this one, which is strange because it comes every year around this time.
I’d like to simply excise this period of time from the calendar, but then I’d be missing this chunk of my life. There is no way not to live through it and still get to the other side.
And the world doesn’t let you just hunker down. I couldn’t go to the P&C grocery store this afternoon without having the Salvation Army bell-ringer blocking my path to the carts.
I loved this time of year when I was a kid, and maybe it’s the contrast that makes it so hard. Back then, everyone seemed more cheerful, friendly and giving around the holidays. I felt connected to everyone I came in contact with.
Today I feel disconnected. Alienated.
I could chalk it up to being bipolar—lots of us have trouble this time of year. Or I could blame it on my state of widowhood.
People will give you a break when you’ve lost your partner. “I’m just too sad to go to your holiday party,” you can say.
“I understand,” they’ll answer.
Luckily, this year I’ll be in Florida for a big chunk of the holiday season. But what I forgot is that Christmas happens there, too.
I pity my poor sister who’s hosting me there.
But being a widow herself, she probably won’t care.