The Winter Blues

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Here comes the holiday season!! First up in Thanksgiving, immediately followed by Black Friday, which marks the beginning of Christmas shopping, and all the other preparations that come with that celebration, then comes New Year’s, which is ultimately followed by WINTER…  just winter.

Just typing that created a sense of anxiety in me, thinking about all the stuff I have to do in the next few weeks, months. I am sure a lot of you can relate, lol.  I am sure you can relate when I say that it’s all worth it.  Spending time with family, cracking jokes with your cousins that you only see once a year, the family football game that’s always more funny than competitive, seeing the kids light up when they open that perfect gift you got them…  and thinking about how mom was here last Thanksgiving but this year she’s not…  missing your son who is deployed in Iraq…  having flashbacks of your boss trying to rape you at the office’s Christmas party and everyone shaming you for bringing it up…  missing your kids who moved out of state with their mom after your divorce…  not having enough money to buy them presents…

As memorable as the holiday season can be for most of us, there are people out there that struggle with “holiday blues.” The situations in the previous paragraph are only a few of the examples of the things that could be spinning inside a person’s mind. It is important for us, as family members/friends/coworkers/neighbors, to be mindful of this so that we can intervene if we notice someone behaving a little different than usual.  Depression is a downward spiral that takes you to very dark places and can end up in suicide.  And although we will not be able to prevent every suicide, or notice all the signs, we have a responsibility (as human beings) to intervene and help our loved ones come out of darkness.

Another factor to be mindful of is Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Without getting into the medical terminology, SAD is basically a temporary depressive state caused by the lack of sunshine during the winter months.  It affects some people worse than the average “I hate driving in the snow” or “I miss the beach” folks.  For people dealing with SAD, their mood and energy are compromised, and it can lead to the same downward spiral we already discussed.

If your “Spidey senses” tell you that someone close to you might be struggling with the winter blues, talk to them. Ask them if they’re ok, and find the courage to ask them if they are suicidal. Care for them. Let them vent, be attentive when they speak, don’t offer solutions, but reinforce the positives in their lives and reassure them that you’re there to support them.  Take them to get help.  Accompany them to the ER, or to a Behavioral Health clinic.  If they are actively suicidal, don’t leave them alone, and if they refuse to go get professional help, call 9-1-1.  Let them be mad at you if they choose to, you’re saving their life. I can live with that, hope you can too.

And if YOU find yourself struggling with the winter or holiday blues: GO GET HELP! It is a sign of STRENGTH, not weakness.

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255