Decking the Halls with Depression

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The holidays are upon us.  For many people that means a chance to meet with family and friends, to relish the carols and the different traditions, to rejoice in the fact that we are together to celebrate.  For many others, it is a time of dread.  If you are a depressed individual or live or work with someone with depression, you know exactly what I mean.

Holidays can be times of great anguish, anger, and acting out. They can be times that you wish would pass quickly with very little or any notice.  Holidays can be times of extreme stress in the  best of conditions; for those with depression in their lives, holidays bring only the promise of terror on the horizon.

A number of you will say that I paint a harsh picture, so, imagine if you will, the regular office party.  Everyone is there, smiling, laughing and having a good time.  You, however, stand on the sidelines, trying to smile, trying to have a good time.  You try to deal with people coming up and saying, “Hey, come on and party down.  Why such a long face?”  They don’t realize that you have been struggling with depression for years, or that you have lost a loved one to a terrible disease or that you feel as if you have no friends, no one to turn to for help.  What are you going to say?  We know from the Saturday Night Live sketch that Debbie Downer is welcomed in very few places.

Let’s replay that scenario.  You are the one walking up to the person on the perimeter of the party.  After “hi,, did you get anything to eat,” you say, “How are the holidays for you?” or ‘My ________(you fill in the blank) had a hard time around holidays.  Her depression always seemed to sideswipe her.”  Nothing more might transpire, but at least the person knows that someone else knows that holidays can be difficult and sometimes that is all that is needed – someone to understand that these holidays are not all laughter and love but can also be filled with darkness and anger and depression.

This holiday season be a little more on the alert.  Recognize that happiness is not a universal feeling at holiday time.  And should your path cross that of someone who seems less than happy with the ensuing holidays, open the door for conversation. Give the gift of recognition, the gift of understanding, the gift of a listening ear.  And if you do that, you have truly entered into the season of peace, joy and love and maybe opened a door to healing for someone who struggles with depression.

– Bernadette

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One Response

  1. wonderful words. thanks

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