Next week is Thanksgiving. Holy cow! I am still cleaning up from the summer Station Fire and now it’s time to set the Thanksgiving table. Talk about feeling overwhelmed.
The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy when we’re able to spend time with our loved ones. Too often, however, it becomes more of a chore as we scramble to pull together a perfect meal and buy perfect gifts. Strapped with this burden, it’s not surprising that we can feel stressed out.
Beyond the “normal” stressed out, though, is the feeling of drowning in all this good cheer. I’m talking about depression, dangerous depression that can lead to destructive thoughts.
Last week I received an e-mail from a woman who has lost two friends in as many months to suicide. One of the friends was depressed but hid it so well that his friends didn’t know of his condition until after he took his life. At the funeral, it was said that depression is often a silent disease that still carries a stigma. People don’t understand it; they may categorize it as weakness or selfishness or lack of a religious belief. However, depression is a disease and in many cases can be treated with medication and counseling.
I know personally how debilitating depression can be.
When I was a teenager and my household was in turmoil, I was self-destructive. I wasn’t a drug user or alcoholic, but destructive in other ways. My parents were busy with their own concerns and didn’t seem to notice that I was in trouble. Thankfully, even as a teenager, I had some great friends who saw me through this troubling time. But I have to tell you that it wasn’t just a stage of teenage angst. When I got older, depression hit again and once more I was able to get help. Thankfully, as an adult I had the courage to seek professional guidance.
For folks who have never coped with depression, it’s probably hard to understand why someone can’t just “pull themselves out of it.” However, when you’re in the middle of it, it can be difficult to see your way clear.
Today I feel I have the tools to get me through whatever challenges come my way.
One tool that is particularly useful for me is the one of time. Whatever I’m feeling today will change tomorrow. Pretty obvious, I know, but when you’re dealing with depression it’s something to keep in the forefront of your thoughts. Of course, that’s a dual edged sword because I may be feeling happy today and not so much tomorrow. But keeping that in mind keeps things in perspective.
I’d like to offer another thought, too: if your kids are struggling, pay attention. Don’t write it off as just a stage that they’re going through. While it indeed may well be a stage, they are still going through it with all of the accompanying pain and confusion. Teenagers feel that they don’t have control over so much of their lives while at the same time more and more is being asked of them. Very quickly this can become overwhelming and while some kids deal with stress fine others may not.
I don’t have all the answers. I know what has worked for me and I hope that if you need this information, it’s helpful to you.
Locally, we have some resources. If you visit www.glendaleadventist.com and type in mental health in the search toolbar in the upper right corner a menu will display that can offer help and direction for people of all ages.
As we enter into the holiday season, I hope that they are filled with joy and peace for everybody. For those who are struggling, I urge you to talk to someone who can help usher you through what may be trying times.
And remember that you’re not alone and that there are people to help.
Robin Goldsworthy is the publisher of the Crescenta Valley Weekly.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 248-2740.