It is that time of year again when we are supposed to be joyful, surrounded by friends and family, and have a generous heart. Many of us though find this time of year to be depressing especially because we are supposed to be in the Holiday Spirit. We are keenly aware we cannot be with loved ones either because they may live far away, have died or no longer associate with us. We are also reminded that we are often limited in what we can give to others. For many of us, it is a depressing time.
So what can we do? Too often, we hide our depression because we don’t want to bring others down especially during this season, and so we end up struggling alone. There are actually many of us hiding their depression. I read an article by Barbara Key Lundblad who wrote that we must practice a Triple-A approach: Admit our feelings, Ask for help, and Accompany one another.
We need to admit our feelings. There is nothing to be ashamed of. The feelings are not because of lack of faith or a weakness. They may be the result of a loss, stress and/or a chemical imbalance. This requires that we be mindful of how we are feeling and not be afraid of our feelings. Only then, can we figure out what our feelings are telling us and perhaps be able to do something with them. Sometimes we can reframe our thoughts and change our feelings, but it is only when we admit our feelings that something can be done with them, even if it is just to accept them.
Ask for help. It is difficult for me to ask for help. I am open about having a mental illness and having problems in the past, but I am not inclined to let people know when I am currently having problems. In part, this is because I am embarrassed to be having a problem because I should be more self-sufficient and, in part, it is because I don’t want to be a bother to other people. This means I often don’t get the help that I need. It also means that I don’t give others the opportunity to be of help to me when they would have wanted to be of help. So, be courageous. Ask friends and family who will be supportive for support; ask professionals for help. In other words, don’t try to do it alone, get help.
And finally accompany one another. When you are open about how you are feeling, you will find many others with similar feelings and struggles. There is both strength and comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Sometimes it is difficult to believe that 1 in 4 people have a mental illness in any given year and that 1 in 2 people will have one sometime during their life because we are all so very good at hiding our struggles. But the truth is that we share a common struggle and that we are not alone.
The last several days I’ve been depressed and the usual things that I do have not been helpful. I wasn’t sure what to do or who to call. I let my case manager know so my psychiatrist could increase my medication. I let my therapist know so I could better sort through what I was going through. I wondered whom though among my friends that I could call. I didn’t want to bother any of them. Then the phone rang and it was a friend who shared with me that her son was having psychiatric problems and needed someone to talk with who would understand. I was glad to listen to and talk with her. When we were finished talking about her son and herself, I shared with her that I was so grateful she had called me because I was depressed and didn’t know who to call for support and I asked for her support and prayers. I am doing some better tonight and will do better once the medication kicks in because I admitted what I was feeling, asked for help and accompanied another person.
You are not alone so don’t try to get through this holiday season by hiding your struggles from others and pretending that you are well. Admit your feelings, ask for help and accompany one another. Blessings on you this holiday season!