How To Survive the Seder When You're Depressed – Kveller
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How To Survive the Seder When You’re Depressed

As a woman, I try to be everything to everyone. As a wife and mother, that becomes magnified times 100. With Passover creeping up a bit too fast for me, I have to become superwoman. At least, that is what it feels like. While my husband, daughter, and I will only be home for a few days of Passover, I still need to clean. Additionally, our kitchen is being renovated during the week of Passover (good timing!), so there is that added stress. We will be with our family for the seders, but I have the pressure of watching my moods and being sparkly–like my daughter–while I am with them.

We are all dealing with a lot this week. The cleaning, cooking, and readying our bodies for (intestinal) destruction is in full swing right now, and the stress level is palpable. The truth is I am not that concerned with my cleaning (more so because of the pending kitchen destruction). I am concerned about interpersonal issues. I want to be “present” during the seders with my family.

This is easier said than done right now, due to being depressed. The road has lengthened and this stubborn depression walks on. I thought I would be feeling better by now, but I simply don’t. So, like many others, I am stressed about this holiday. I know I share this with many people but my stress is compounded by illness.

Here are my five main worries:

1. When my mother serves the brisket, chicken, potato kugel, potatoes, vegetables, etc. I worry that I won’t eat enough as my appetite is very low. I worry about the same when my mother-in-law serves the same menu on the second night. Food is everything to these women: if you don’t eat enough, they just put more in front of you. True Jewish mothers!

2. I worry that I will not be engaged in the seder and be a good role model for my daughter and my nephews. I am a bit spacey now, due to the depression and meds, so it can be difficult for me to really be present in the moment.

3. I worry that I will feel like I have had enough and want to put on my pajamas and the seders won’t be over quite yet (this feels like I need to flee immediately and is not a very comfortable feeling).

4. I worry that people (my family) will see how my hands shake and they will judge me and label me.

5. I worry that I will worry. That is the basic feeling I have at this point. It is a strange one but it is there.

Just as the Moses parted the Red Sea, I know I need to harness my own inner power.

So, this is what I have to do:

1. Eat what I can and not worry about the amount.

2. Focus myself, as much as possible, at the seders in order to be present.

3. If I feel uncomfortable at all and want to flee, I will take a break, walk around and then return.

4. Not focus on my shaking hands.

5. Stay active and channel the anxiety into action (help wash the dishes, clear the table).

Of course this is all easier said than done and, since I am trying to take it one day at a time, I should not even be thinking so far ahead. I can try this, though, and hope.

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