Tis the season to be ... exhausted.
In this time of countless holiday parties, cookie decorating, elf-on-the-shelfing, shopping and gifting and wrapping and enough school programs to be deemed "Maycember," somehow we're supposed to find the All Is Calm part of the year.
I got an email this morning from the Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN) with a subject line that took my breath away: “Help is not a four-letter word.”
That statement is an important and beautiful reminder that during this month which is so hyper-focused on finding and delivering joy, some of us are really struggling. And it is not just okay, it is actually noble to ask for help and to offer it.
Maybe you're away from family and the nostalgia of holidays is just a painful reminder of the distance. Maybe your loved one is deployed and it all feels like too much. Maybe the pains of war or addiction, loss or loneliness are keeping you up at night. Whether it's your first Christmas since someone close to you died or the tenth, sometimes this season feels like a spotlight as bright as Rudolph's nose is being shined on your grief.
No matter your struggles, we want to say to you:
You are not alone.
Reach out for help.
Be gentle with the people around you. But most importantly, be gentle with yourself. This time of year with all its magic and mystery, faith and fellowship can also be really freaking hard.
If you are struggling, ask for help, whether that's from a friend or a mental health professional. If you think that someone you know is having a tough time, talk to them about it. Kaiser has some great resources for how to talk to people about depression or difficulty coping:
- "I've noticed that you've been _____. Is there anything you want to talk about?"
- "Lately I've gotten the feeling that you're having a difficult time, and I'm worried about you. What's going on?"
- "You're not alone in this. I may not understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help."
- "I care about you, and it seems like you're really struggling. Asking for help is a sign of strength. Have you talked to your doctor about this?"
- "I'm here for you. Whenever you want to talk, I'll listen -- I'm just a call or a text away."
- "What can I do to support you?"
We hope this season brings you joy and comfort, and that Santa (or a qualified mental health professional) brings you peace. Take good care of one another and yourself. If you or someone you know is in crisis, use the National Suicide Prevention Hotline resources to get help. You can also look at this resource for more on how to see the signs of distress.
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