To some, the mention of that word is enough to bring a smile to their face and a warm glow to their personality. For others, it sends literal chills through the spine.It’s a messy dichotomy; a balancing act.
It’s easy to become swept away with the nature of this season. There’s shopping to be done, meals to be cooked, family to be seen. Cookies are in need of baking, lights to be strung and orchestrated, and snowmen to be decorated. When are we going to buy the tree? Who’s going to put up the ornaments? When does Santa get here? Will the Grinch show up again?
I don’t blame anyone for immersing themselves into the holiday spirit. It truly is a joyous time. It’s also a time in which we so easily forget.
We tend to forget the true meaning of what it’s all about. We forget that the Holiday season is more than “who got who what?” It’s more than the traditions. It’s more than presents under the tree. The Holiday season is supposed to be centered around giving. I don’t mean ‘giving’ in the material sense but more or less within the physical realm; our time, energy, and emotion.
Christmas and the surrounding holidays can be very tough. Winter, in and of itself, presents specific issues that only unmask themselves during the aforementioned season.
There are those who have lost loved ones. Some have grown up with the Holidays representing abuse, hatred, and greed. From personal experience, I can say that the Winter brings back memories of traumatic memories that still haunt my mind.
The constant gray streak of sky draws us deeper into depression. The cold forces us to snuggle within ourselves; both physically and figuratively. The nippy wind bites at our faces as does our pain to our heart. To be frank, it’s hard.
Do you remember the balancing act I spoke of earlier?
I’m currently teetering in my own mind right now. I don’t want to be a “Debbie-downer” but I do want to shed light on an issue that is a concern.
The joyous wish their sad friends would be happier. The sorrowful wish their happy friends could only understand. Those suffering through heightened depressive episodes wish that they weren’t a burden. The loving and concerned individuals wish that they could do something to help but feel helpless.
For all intents and purposes, it’s a mess. It’s easier to forget about it all. Most opt to put the difficulties in a recess of their mind while the suffering only shrinks deeper into the recesses of their mind.
All of that said, what can be done? I believe that a little bit of education can go a long way. Let’s start there.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D., is defined as being “a mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year.”(Sourced from Google) If someone is dealing with depression before the specific season occurs, S.A.D. only intensifies the mental disorder.
Common symptoms associated with the change of weather are as such:
-Anxiety, Apathy, general discontent, loneliness, loss of interest, mood swings, or sadness, excess sleepiness, insomnia, or sleep deprivation, irritability or social isolation…etc.
It’s a laundry list. Unfortunately, this isn’t a laundry list that takes care of itself. Often times medication is needed and even required. S.A.D. can become extremely dangerous when suicidal ideations become involved but having previous episodes of depression increase the risk of danger.
Most cases of S.A.D. occur at the beginning of Fall and last until the end of the Winter months. It is believed that the onset of the colder weather along with the decreasing amount of exposure to sunlight are to blame. Shorter days disrupt the inner clock which causes you to lose sleep or begin sleeping too much. Less sunlight affects the levels of serotonin, the chemical that balances your mood, being released to your brain.
How, then, do we go about helping ourselves and others through this specifically difficult time in the year? I have one suggestion for each side but here’s a logical piece of advice before we dive into that:
If you or a loved one are experiencing the above symptoms, do not hesitate to see a Dr. If you or a loved one begin having suicidal ideations, do not hesitate to see a Dr. This is not medical advice, only common sense. Protect yourself and the ones you love.
As I said, I only have one suggestion for each respective side. Can I speak with those who are not suffering first?
- Be patient with those who are hurting
If they could change how they feel and what they think, trust me, they would. We wish that we could have it all figured out. We wish that we could enjoy the Holiday season like everyone else. We don’t want to experience the nightmare that exists in our own head. We’re trying. Even if we’re not, please, be patient with us and continue to love us. Be willing to sit with us and cry even if it means it’s at the expense of your holiday cheer. Be willing to listen to us if we need an ear. Ask us if we would like advice before you give it. Sometimes we know the answers but they don’t help.
Lastly, if you don’t want to give of yourself in those ways, do us a favor and be honest about it. You don’t have to tell us that you’re not interested or that you don’t have time. We just ask that you don’t pretend like you do. I don’t know about other people but I find it harder to deal with fakes than brutally honest individuals.
Now for those who are suffering…
- Be patient with yourself
You and I both know that the majority of the thoughts running through your head are rooted in anxiety and will likely never come to pass. They’re illogical. Stop beating yourself up because of it. It doesn’t do you any benefit and it doesn’t allow you to process what you’re dealing with. Take the time to try and figure out why you’re feeling the way you are. Go see a Dr. if you need to. Pray if that’s what helps you. Whatever it may be, take the time to invest in healing. It won’t feel like you’re making it very far but one step forward is better than one back.
Lastly, reach out to someone that you know, trust, and love. Expressing what’s going through your mind oftentimes relieves a little bit of pressure. I’ll say it again too: Stop beating yourself up about how you don’t measure up to the standards of life around you. It isn’t worth it to put yourself up against the backdrop of societal conformity. Let it go and be you. God has made you uniquely individual and He loves you.
The Winter months have the propensity to inflict substantial damage on anyone. No one is invincible. Keep that in mind as you go about this Christmas season. Don’t be afraid to reach out and make a difference. A time of year doesn’t change the fact that there is still work to be done and souls to be loved.
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You are loved.
You are valued.