Tame Your Mood Newsletter
Feature Article: "Depression and the Burden of Holiday Preciousness "
Depression Essays Book
Archive of Past Newsletters
Audio Recordings
About Marty


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Marty L. Cooper, MFT

(415) 937-1620


4831 Geary Blvd.

San Francisco, CA 94118





December 2016                        Vol. 8, Issue 8  


My apologies for the lack of writing recently.  I've been taking up academic endeavors again, and while they have been incredibly enriching, they're also been intensely time consuming.  I hope you all have been well this fall.

So in this newsletter, I'm laying out just some quick thoughts on the nature of these times in relation to the holidays, and the--like it or not--necessity of accepting the changes in old rituals, so we can creatively build new ones.

Also, a reminder that some practical tips on surviving the holidays can be found here, from the Nov. 2012 newsletter.
Best wishes,
(P.S.  You can find many of my newsletters, and some articles not posted from Tame Your Mood, at the Psyched in SF site, found HERE.)  
"Depression and the Burden of Holiday Preciousness" 
(4 minute read)
My family had hamburgers for Thanksgiving. In my case, as a vegetarian, I had a veggie burger. We had decided last year that the efforts of turkeypotatoesrollssomethingforthevegetairiancranberrysausecornbreadetc was just too much, given that none of the family likes to stuff themselves, and the work takes days and is then gone in an hour. For Christmas, we were planning to have pizzas for Christmas, but my mother buckled under the pressure.  Change comes in measures.
Like it or not, react to it or not, this is an age of tectonic shifts, rearrangements, deconstructions, and free-falls. The internet has all but negated national boundaries (at least for information); globalization has economically, socially, and culturally softened those same boundaries; gender and marriage equality have in many countries redefined what a bonded couple is; 3d printing is likely to totally redo what manufacture looks like, and how production is structured; drug laws are softening in the legalization of marijuana; and as Virtual Reality technology matures, what physical existence means will be simply brought into question and allowed to hang. And that's just a short list.
When, as a species, we lived in isolated valleys, hunting and farming in a small area, with hard geographical and cultural walls between us and the next group over, there was very little to push changes in our rituals and conventions. Plus, given the intense pressure for small groups to maintain their coherency and consistency, the internal revolutions were very difficult to enact: too much was at stake for the group and the individual, in terms of survival, belonging, and identity.
But those days are long gone, in the real world if not in the Heart of Man. Our rituals and assumptions have been falling apart for a long time, and are now rapidly collapsing in the intense cross-polinization, cross-talk, cross-conflict, and just basic cross-ness. Which is leaving many of us cross-eyed.

What in the past could be easily taken as dogma, and easily policed as orthodoxy, today has so many "yes, but" responses that we are being forced--again, like it or not--into a discerning, creative, and choiceful stance in relation to what are culture actually is, what rituals actually mean, both culturally and to us personally, and what actually is the location of meaning and value and love for us. Or, we refuse that existentially driven force and hunker down in a surly and rigid traditionalism. Which we can see today in spades.
So, then, the holidays.

The traditions of the various holidays have always been shifting, going in and out of focus, more or less religious, more or less personal. For instance, the contemporary decrials about a Liberal "War on Christmas" assumes there's was or is just one thing called "Christmas," which is not and never was the reality. But especially now, when there's hardly just one thing of anything. The zeitgeist of the times is both deconstruction and creativity, the falling apart of what used to be coherent--that's the anxiety part--and therefore the opportunity for wild and personal creativity--that's the liberatory part.
So here's my contention: with the holidays, we not only can, but are being forced to, interpret and invent them anew. When something is falling apart (literally, into its parts), to try to hold onto it is like holding a bag of potatoes whose bag has broken. You can do it, but it takes so much stressful effort that it's damn hard to enjoy anything.
Not only that, but for those of you with depression running through your veins, the act of hanging onto that which is falling apart is more than frustrating, it's actually the trigger for depression, which is, as you know, much more dangerous than annoying.
So taking this all to heart, and accepting that as Dylan said, "The times they are a changin'", frees us up to understand that, since both our holiday of choice was never just one thing, and certainly is not now, we are empowered to make it meaningful to us personally, and in our families or groups. As scary as a loss of coherent tradition is, not to mention embracing the personal responsibility for our traditions, this is a time that (last time: like it or not) is forcing us into challenges that our village ancestors never even considered. The more we embrace these challenges, the more we'll enjoy (rather than dread and slog through) whatever holidays we endorse, or make up, and the more we'll actually reclaim in a relevant form whatever animated the holiday to start with.
So with all that in mind, I give you all a hearty, "Happy Holidays!"

My Book is Available:

Anxiety and Depression:  42 Essays on Overcoming the Wild Moods

My book,

Anxiety and Depression:  42 Essays on Overcoming the Wild Moods (2011), is for sale as a paperback or Kindle.


It is a collection of short essays, focusing on the challenge of managing, and ultimately, uprooting depression and anxiety.  You can find a few sample articles here, and can purchase the book on Amazon here.

Archive of Past Newsletters
     All past issues of Tame Your Mood can be found here.
Audio Recordings
     Various audio recordings can be found here, including audio
     readings of past newsletters. 
About Marty

I am a San Francisco psychotherapist who helps individuals struggling with anxiety and depression to not only manage these  "wild  moods," but eventually learn how to overcome them.  I work comprehensively with mental, emotional, bodily, and spiritual dimensions of anxiety and depression, all of which are necessary to overcome the chronic quality of anxiety and depression.

If you are interested in exploring working together in psychotherapy, please contact me at:


(415) 937-1620,
Or email at: martycooper@mlcooper.com .