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Handling Holiday Depression

December 17, 2020 / Depression

by Guest Writer Shari Cooper

Black woman with glasses looking out wintry window

Let's be honest, many people suffer from depression during the holidays.

Although I love the holidays, I'm aware that sadness from financial strain, loneliness and loss of loved ones can impact people's minds this time of the year. Adding a global pandemic does not help.

This leaves me asking the question, "How does one go about handling holiday depression?”

Depression is real, and many suffer from dealing with mental illnesses, which are not to be swept underneath the table. No one should be led to feel ashamed about their disabilities. Holidays can often trigger people to feel emotions that are hard to deal with. If a tragedy has taken place during the holiday season, it's very likely that's what the holiday will be associated with in the future.

As I ponder the importance of this subject matter, my mind flashes to my oldest brother, Dewayne, who named me. My brother, who loved this time of the year, passed away nine years ago. Dewayne was the life of the party. He loved his wife, dancing, his children (especially his grandchildren), giving and life in general. I miss him dearly, but knowing he's up in heaven preparing for the holiday he loved so much with the love of his life, his wife, who sadly passed two years ago, brings me great joy.

Thinking of joyous moments and memories can soften the blow of holiday depression. Also, talking to people, whether it's family members, friends or even a therapist, can be beneficial in handling depression. Loved ones who have passed are not to be forgotten. Instead, they should be celebrated.

People often hold in things that cause them sadness because they fear being seen as weak. Opening up doesn't make you weak. It makes you brave. The courage to share is to be commended, especially if it keeps you from a downward spiral.

As I stated earlier, financial strain and loneliness can also add to holiday depression. This is usually the time when gift-giving and gatherings occur. It's going to look a lot different this year due to the pandemic. Most of the world is stressed, but we'll get through it. Perhaps we all need to think outside the box. The world is so caught up on money that we often forget what's important, and that's the ones we love. Let's start a new tradition: loving one another and making sure no one feels alone this year. I know we cannot physically meet up, but phone calls, Zoom meetings, FaceTime, and sending cards means the world right now.

It's okay to be sad during the holidays. If you are, you're not alone. Life can throw challenges your way that are difficult, but if you're still here, please know that you have meaning and are still in the game we call life.

If you find you need some extra help, be sure to reach out to your doctor or a mental health counselor. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255 or text “4hope” to 741 741.

My hope is for you to find peace this holiday season. May it comfort you.