the holidays – a time of despair for some

the holidays – a time of despair for some

Christmas and New Year’s Day can be a time of great despair and emotional emptiness for many people.  There are many people who are alone on the holidays, and also many who are suffering in silence.  Being both alone and enduring suffering is a very dangerous combination for some.  When no one seems to care, it is easy to lose one’s feeling of self-worth.

Stick with me here.

Teens can become depressed all throughout the year, but may be more vulnerable to acute depression during the holiday season.  (Parents need to be vigilant here.)  Those adults who are going through the serious emotional difficulties and stresses of separation and divorce, or who have recently lost a loved one (a spouse, a child, etc.) are vulnerable to depression.  As well, the seriously or terminally ill can become even more depressed at this time of year.  Returning war veterans, scarred (maimed) either physically or mentally or both, are at serious risk of depression.

Having suffered through a clinical depression in my mid 30s, in 1994, this is not abstract for me.  It is very real in my memories.  I know how deadly dangerous depression can be. A person’s thought processes become very distorted.  One may think, even believe that he/she can never, will never feel better, and that the only way to end (or escape) the despair and depression is to end one’s life.

And make no mistake, being depressed does not mean that one is insane, or bad, or a total loser of a human being.  Life’s hammer blows can be overwhelming to many of us at times. Try being a little compassionate to those who are struggling with serious problems.

Be aware of this.  If you know of individuals who are coping, or trying to cope, with major problems, challenges, or tragedies in their lives, make the effort to help them.  If you know of someone who is going to be alone on Christmas, you can try to visit them for an hour, or if they live far away, call them on that day.  (For a lonely person who lives far away, you might contact a friend or relative who lives close to them and suggest they make a visit.) You could invite them to your family event if you are hosting it.  These are simple ways to help alleviate the isolation, even the alienation, that some lonely, depressed people feel.

Suicide prevention hot lines (phone numbers at which counselors can be reached live) are a resource to be considered and used in those cases where the depressed person is talking about ending his/her life, or shows no interest in living.  (Are they so depressed that they can literally not get out of bed for they have no energy?  Severe depression saps one’s energy.  This is no exaggeration.)  The counselors can help you to connect the depressed person with the help and support he/she needs.

Suicide is a terrible tragedy and is largely preventable.  But, those who are depressed need to get help – in time!  Sadly, many depressed individuals do not seek the help they so desperately need.  Thus, a concerned and attentive friend, a relative, a neighbor, or a co-worker can make the difference, and possibly save a life by getting the depressed person connected with the available resources.  Do not just ignore such a situation.  Do not simply assume that a lonely, suffering person will be all right.  Make a small effort that may save a life.

When a person cannot help himself/herself, the only help he/she can receive will come from others.

Thanks for reading.  Please forward to your friends as appropriate.

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