“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
Psalms 34:17 KJV
It is a common thread of the human experience, and yet, one that we rarely talk about. The reality of anxiety and depression touches us all in varying degrees. It’s one of the best kept secrets that the Christmas season brings, not just good cheer, but also a deeper sense of loneliness. And, needless to say, the jolly old elf has nothing in his bag for the darkness felt by so many who shuffle past us in the mall. But anxiety and depression are real, unlike the Santa man. (don’t read this out loud to the kids). So, let’s call out the giant reindeer in the room. Let’s not hide the pain like a stocking stuffer that never makes it out of the stocking. What exactly is depression and anxiety? And more importantly, is there something we can do to limit its debilitating onslaught this Christmas season?
I am thankful that the times I have struggled with this invisible foe have been few and far between. But I have tasted them both. At the time of the writing of this article I sense a bit of sadness. The crazy thing is, I don’t know why. I have a thousand blessings to count and a thousand reasons to be happy. And yet, from time to time, the darkness descends, and its crippling effects madden me. Like a package wrapped in colorful Christmas paper, anxiety and depression sit under our decorated trees hidden from view. Let’s unwrap it.
Depression is a dark cloud that blocks out the sunlight of each new day. It’s swirling, suffocating tentacles wrap itself around our brain and choke the happiness out of each moment of life. Our silence only makes matters worse. The monster seems to grow when we bury it behind a smile. I mean, who interrupts the jovial spirit of a Christmas party with an announcement of depression? (which I don’t recommend) What do I recommend?
I suggest you tell somebody what you’re experiencing, preferably a person you love and that you trust. The weight of sadness somehow lifts when we tell someone. There’s an old Scottish proverb that goes like this; “A burden shared is lightened but a burden kept is twice the load.” Talking about anxiety and depression gets the creepy thing out of the closet. Secondly, I would suggest you work at connecting with people and I don’t mean through a computer or phone. Loneliness is exasperated by social media. If you can’t smell the other person’s breath, it won’t help you. Listen to their lives and tell them of your own. Connect with others in meaningful way. It’s becoming a lost art. Lastly, carry your burdens on the Lord. Tell him what you’re feeling and trust that he knows all about the darkness. Anxiety and depression are real, and they hurt, but there are things you can do to combat them that doesn’t include a pill. Now go find someone and enjoy the holidays.