Every year, the holiday months are immensely depressing for me. Most people assume this is due to Seasonal Affective Disorder, but as with many things, this is an incorrect assumption. I actually prefer the darker, cooler days. No, the real problem is much more subtle and insidious.
It all starts in October
I generally feel pretty good as October begins. The stifling summer days are gone, everything is cooler, winds are starting to pick up and my birthday falls in the early part of the month. As the days progress, however, the Orgy of Horror slowly creeps into the cultural dialog. Movie theaters, TV episodes, commercials, community events – everything is crowing about how scary/spooky/gory it is.
I don’t like horror. I don’t find it entertaining. Being frightened isn’t what I consider fun. And I don’t understand others’ fascination with it. Whether it’s the “thrill” of impending doom, rotting corpses or exploding guts, I want nothing to do with it. Ever. But because the Universe loves irony it all congregates instead in the one season that I would otherwise consider my sanctuary.
Emotionally weary, having been beaten down by the horror marketing blitz, final gut-punch comes at the end of the month. I sit at home, reading about all the parties and looking at the pictures of everyone in costume. I can count on one hand the number of parties I’ve been invited to – not attended, invited to – in my adult life. I can recall a total of 2 Halloween parties I’ve attended in my 40+ years on this planet.
Now, I am fully aware that there are plenty of other factors that play into this: I live in an outlying town. I’ve made no secret of my discomfort with alcohol as a central fixture at social gatherings. We’re all busy in our own lives. But it’d be nice to at least imagine that the few real friends I have would like to spend time with me once in awhile.
This is something that I struggle with throughout the year, but it hits particularly hard around Halloween.
Next: Socially-Enforced Merriment
Once October has run its course and left me wallowing in depression, it’s time for the Period of Socially-Enforced Merriment. Back when the Winter Solstice celebrations began they served a very necessary purpose. People had been cooped up in the dark and cold for months. They needed to interact with others and to raise their spirits.
How many of you have gone months without talking to friends and family by the time Christmas rolls around? How many of you have been wallowing in the dark and cold? Precious few. No, in today’s world we are subjugated to Christmas music shortly after Halloween and for the next two months. We spend more time in stores, shopping for presents, than we would the rest of the year. There’s more lights, more music, more traffic, more stimulation. Add to all of this the increased pressure to get together with family and it’s no wonder we’re so stressed.
While I believe Seasonal Affective Disorder is very real, I would respectfully suggest that an even more likely culprit is all this artificial stimulation during a cycle where our bodies and minds expect to be able to slow down and recharge. In the current environment the holidays don’t provide us a respite from the dreariness of Winter because we haven’t allowed ourselves to enter that dreary state.
Finally: System crash
So there you have it; the reason why every holiday season I want to crawl into a cave to escape:
- My favorite season usurped.
- Forgotten or overlooked.
I can only speak for myself, obviously, but I wouldn’t be surprised if others really explored their internal workings and discovered the same.