CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
Christmas with Mental Illness
By T. Jaden Ozwell
Thanksgiving and Christmas bring a lot of epithets into the public square. Snowflakes and nativities call out "Joy! Hope! Peace!" while songs cheerily claim "it's the most wonderful time of the year." But happiness and peace are not the season's main companions for many. While other groups certainly struggle during the holidays, I'd like to talk about those who experience mental illness in the form of mood disorders — because I'm right there with them.
Although the CDC has disproved the myth that the USA's suicide rate is highest in December, the fact remains that other concerns such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse often worsen during this time of year. Mental health is not merely measured in how many people die. Counselors and other mental health professionals almost universally find it necessary to be especially attentive to their clients as Christmas approaches.
The effect of Christmas on those with mood disorders or addictions is usually a culmination of many factors. Being around family brings up many memories, whether of the family itself or of other things in childhood, and of course for others the lack of family connections because of abuse, estrangement, or death becomes most obvious at Christmas. Sometimes, the simple fact that so many people love Christmas is difficult to handle. When I was most depressed, I found that being around very happy people was actually more depressing, because it showed me the disparity between myself and "normal" most starkly. And of course all the parties, church events, and packed stores are difficult for those with anxiety disorders. Any or all of these factors affect all types of substance abusers, with deaths from alcohol poisoning being especially prevalent at Christmas.
Image Credit: Ani-Bee; "Homesick"; Creative Commons
Tags: Celebrating-Holidays | Christian-Life | Depression | Personal-Relationships
comments powered by Disqus
Published on 12-7-15