For many people, Christmas is one of the happiest times of the year. I can certainly see why. We have friends and family coming together. There is the excitement of giving and receiving gifts. There are festive parties and programs and pageants and concerts and so many other things that are supposed to "make the season bright".

I hope you're one of those people that enjoys Christmas. I am not. I am not a Grinch or a Scrooge or even a fruitcake. I am one of the millions of people in this country that deal with depression. Not just at Christmas, but every day I have to make a choice to gather myself together, put on a mask of invincibility, and deal with life on life's terms.

It doesn't make me special it is simply who you would find if you could look behind my eyes.

The holidays just make the fact that I don't feel as happy as I think I should feel harder to deal with. Christmas comes with a lot of expectations and when our perception falls short of the mark it can be devastating. This is the time of year when a lot of people, myself once upon a time included, would turn to booze, drugs, and other forms of pain relief just to get by.

No, I can't just get over it. If I could I would have done so. I don't choose to feel the way I feel and neither does anyone else who walks a wobbled walk in the shadows of the sparkling lights. This depression thing is a real thing. It's just as real as a broken arm or bloody nose. At least those maladies people on the outside can see.

I am not writing this to ask for your sympathy, that I don't need. I am writing for your empathy not so much for me but for maybe someone in your life who struggles with their own inner dark cloud. I want you to let that person know a few things from me.

1. They're not alone in the way they feel and they are entitled to own their feelings.

2. The best way to get out of your own trouble is to help someone else out of theirs.

By that, I'd encourage you to volunteer around town, help a neighbor rake the leaves, be a part of a charity drive. Even the smallest act of giving can ease the self-inflicted pain of not feeling right about the holiday season.

3.Tell someone how you're feeling, a friend, a counselor, a teacher, or your spouse. For me asking for help and admitting I didn't feel okay was the bravest thing I have ever done. The person doesn't have to fix your depression, they can't, but saying things out loud can often ease some of the burdens.

One other thing if I may, if I had a dollar for every person who in my life told me to "just cheer up it's Christmas", I'd be writing to you from a warmer place with a beachfront view and I'd still be just as sad.

I do wish for you all the happiness of the season. As for me, I will keep trying to find my "happy place". I'd really like to find it and stay in it because it sure looks like a fun place to be from the window that I am waving through.


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