When we are small, Christmas is about presents and cousins and sugar. As much as you’d like to disagree with me, you know that I’m right. Maybe I forgot Christmas break, it was kind of about no school too.
All the talk about the Christmas spirit is presumed to be the spirit of joy and family and celebration. We’re raised thinking that the Christmas spirit is solely happiness, and love Think about it, no matter what our family culture looked like, the Christmas spirit was essentially only described one way. The spirit of Christmas was what the grown-ups relied on when money was tight and Santa forgot our number one wishlist item. Christmas is about being with our families, gifts are secondary, they told us. It didn’t matter anymore that when we saw something we really wanted throughout the year, mom or dad would say, put it on your Christmas list.
Through the years we too adopted the Christmas spirit stories and passed them on to our children. We did this either because of money or because we thought they might be getting a little big for their britches. And for the most part it worked and was really relevant, the Christmas spirit is what we were taught and what we should carry with us at all times. But…
The Christmas spirit that no one talks about is the one felt by more people across the world than we can even imagine, some 300-plus million. Depression lives in many throughout the year, but at Christmas time, starting in November, it becomes unmanageable. Depression can consume even the most ‘balanced’ people you know this time of year. Some people will wear it as clearly as their red sweaters, others will hide within in it, and some don’t really even know what is going on. Depression is a mixed bag of every emotion on the turnpike during a 50 car pile up.
It is said that anxiety and stress hit a fella in the gut this time of year, and I would say I agree. Although, I’m not really sure why that is true. I know plenty of people that are stressed and anxious all year round. It’s just something about this time of year that brings it all to a head. Maybe we spend so much energy throughout the year fighting off these feelings that we simply just run out of steam. It’s not that we give up the fight, we just don’t feel that we can keep up the charade anymore. Either way, it’s a big problem and one that more people find themselves facing every day.
Depression is available in all colors and sizes. One size does not fit all when it comes to this crippling fiend. He can be mild in manner, can be annoying like that friend who won’t quit talking about her new boyfriend (12th one this month), or downright debilitating. The different stages, for a lack of a better way to put it, wear as differently as the same size jeans by varying clothing designers. No matter how it appears and to whom, we need to pay a little more attention to those around us. We aren’t the only people in the world, we don’t float along in a personal bubble, we are meant to interact, not to feed off of one another, but to be there and to somewhat be held accountable for our human counterparts. Now that doesn’t mean that you should take in every stray and become penniless because of your kind heart, it means to just be aware.
The expression, “don’t judge a book by its cover”, really comes into play when being human. Looking at me you might not be able to tell that I spent all day in bed or in a dark room two days ago because that was the best place for me to be at that moment. Or that the woman down the street donates to the local shelter because her sister in Portland lives on the streets and that’s all she knows, hasn’t seen her in 3 years. The point of the matter is we just don’t know what is going on in the world around us, to the people around us.
Suicide isn’t always the result of depression, nor are they always seen together. What we can document is that men die by suicide more often than women, however, more women attempt suicide. We know that teens are not more likely to attempt suicide and that during the week more attempts are made than on the weekends. Death by suicide fails more than it succeeds and a family history of depression can lead to more than one family member being affected.
What sets one person off into depression compared to another isn’t fair to gauge, we are all different, we speak differently, feel differently and are affected by the things in our lives differently. Not one of us is wrong or right over the other, we’re all just different and need different things, but one thing is for sure, we all in one way or another need each other. It takes away nothing from you to say a kind word to someone, to see past their smile and see inside. Be kind, be aware, Be the Christmas spirit not the one that lies to us about the reason for the season or the one that turns every room dark, but the one that offers a comforting word, a smile and grace.