Weddings. Holiday parties. Birthday celebrations.

They are all supposed to be happy and joyous. But what about when you’re battling depression?

I remember the year my mother died. Only a few months later, the holidays were upon us, and I sat at the foot of the Christmas tree sobbing. “I’m not ready to be the matriarch of the family!” I couldn’t muster up the happiness, joy, or peace we sung about in the Christmas carols. I just wanted to forget the holiday, and forget my grief, and yet I couldn’t.

Everywhere I looked, reminders declared that Christmas wasn’t merry that year.

That wasn’t the only difficult time, but those times taught me many lessons.

How do we handle celebrations when depression weighs heavy in our hearts?

5 Ways to Celebrate despite Depression

1. Give Yourself Grace

I was grieving, and that was okay. I had to give myself room to feel and process and acknowledge my loss; not just the loss of my mother but the loss of how I thought the holidays were “supposed to be.” I learned to do what I could but allow myself to accept a less-than Norman Rockwell picture perfect holiday.

2. Determine the Minimal Acceptable Involvement

Whether it’s holidays with the family, a friend’s wedding, a boss’s baby shower, or some other celebration, determine what you can do to participate without demanding too much from yourself. Perhaps you show up at the beginning of the event before the complete crowd is present, then slip out when the noise or activity level become too frenetic. Maybe rather than an extravagant dinner, you opt for appetizers and desserts to shorten the evening. Be as present as possible, while respecting your need to care for yourself.

3. Ask for Help

Share where you are with your friends and family and tell them what would be helpful. Maybe ask a friend to accompany you to the company Christmas party. Rather than preparing all the food yourself, make it a potluck type affair where others will contribute as well. Determine ahead of time a code-word or signal to let others know when you’ve reached your capacity or need additional support.

4. Remember You Aren’t in This Alone

Depression can feel like one of the loneliest experiences ever. It’s times like that when it’s important to remember you really aren’t alone despite how you feel. God has promised that He not only goes before you but is with you always.

5. Keep Your Focus on Others

Depression can usher in a tendency to be inwardly focused. This makes celebrating even more difficult. Yet Scripture encourages us to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. During these times of celebration, keep your focus on others rather than on your own pain. Consider it a gift for them, knowing that if the tables were turned you’d want them to do the same for you.

Depression is painful, and although others may not relate to your pain, there are ways to participate in times of celebration while minimizing the negative impact on you.

If you are struggling, or know someone who is, I’d love to hear in the comments below what helps you. I’d also encourage you to check out some of my other popular posts about depression.

15 Top Blog Posts on Depression

  1. 10 Verses of Hope for When You Are Down or Depressed
  2. Depression Feels Like a Broken Heart
  3. What Not to Say When a Loved One is Depressed
  4. What to Say When a Loved One is Depressed
  5. Combat Depression with Truth
  6. Ask Dr. B: When a Spouse Is Depressed
  7. Don’t Treat Depression with a Band-Aid
  8. 10 Scriptures for Mothers Suffering from Depression
  9. 3 Things Depression Does To Us Spiritually
  10. 3 Hope-Filled Ways God Limits the Impact of Depression in our Lives
  11. There is No Shame in Depression
  12. How to Help a Depressed Loved One
  13. Is It Exhaustion Or Depression?
  14. Thankful for Depression 
  15. How to Share About Your Depression With Your Loved Ones

Resources on Depression: Recommended reading on depression

October is Depression Awareness Month. Would you consider sharing this or my other posts about depression to help educate, and let others know they aren’t alone, and there is help, hope, and healing.

Because I treated patients for 20 years, and then went through a terrible bout of depression myself, I felt compelled to write my award-winning book “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression”  and the companion “Hope Prevails Bible Study” to help others be victorious and overcome.

May I pray for you?
Father, I thank you that in your word you tell us “for everything there is a season.” For the one reading these words right now, will you hold them close during this season? When times of celebration seem too much to endure, will you remind them that they are not alone—you have gone before them, and go with them. Weeping may endure for the night, but I ask you to bring them your joy in the morning. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

A prayer when times of celebration seem too much to endure

Because of Him, #HopePrevails!

Depression is painful. Read more for ways to participate in times of celebration while minimizing the negative impact on you. #depression #mentalhealth #depressed

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