All around, everyone can see the tinsel and decorations announcing the "most wonderful time of the year," but for some, the holidays can also be a time of stress and heartache.
A couple of years ago, I shared my story of my son, who died just after the new year, and how it affected Christmas then and now with me and my usually over-the-top love of Christmas.
Circumstances in life can change in a heartbeat, causing heartache that leaves a deep hole no matter of the time of the year, but it’s definitely deeper around the holidays.
I am in a genealogy group with members of the Kinlaw family on a social media platform. I have become friends with a few of them in the group more so on the platform. We have never met, but we follow each other and will comment on each other's posts.
Over the Thanksgiving break, I was scrolling through a social media site when I saw something that truly broke my heart. One of them, who I became friends with, had tragically and unexpectedly lost her husband. To make matters worse, it appeared her husband took his own life by overdosing on pills.
Now, this couple had literally, just three weeks before, been on an idyllic trip to Hawaii. From the pictures they had posted, it appeared they were having the time of their lives. While they have been together for years, they finally got married this past summer. So why did he do it? That’s a question that most likely will never be answered.
Despite what most people believe, suicide happens less during November and December. Because of all the holiday' gatherings, people are less likely to be alone.
But that doesn't mean depression can't get worse. In fact, holidays can cause depression to get worse, with the added pressures such as time, money and all the added events associated with the season.
Depression is an ugly bug. There is no way around it. I grew up with my mother battling severe depression most of her life. The things I have seen and gone through with her are things I would never wish on anyone. Don't get me wrong, I love and miss her dearly, and this week will be seven years since she has been gone. But it was rough growing up.
When we think of a person being depressed, we usually believe that person will appear all sad and downtrodden like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. However, because of that myth, we miss out on a lot of those who are truly suffering.
When Robin Williams committed suicide, it sent the whole world into shock. He was one of the greatest comedians and actors, and he brought so much laughter into everyone's homes. Yet, in his own home, he was fighting demons no one knew about. A lot of people face demons in their own homes but they can mask them when out in public so no one knows.
I, too, battle with depression, though thankfully not like what my mother did. When it hits me, I know that in three or four days it will subside. But those days, until it does, can be very dark to deal with. I described it to my husband, Jeff, what it feels like when it hits. For me, I feel like I am trapped in darkness; it squeezes me tighter and tighter. I try to reach up and claw my way through the darkness without ever seeing the light.
At home, I allow myself to be down and out. My faith is strong, and I talk to the Lord the entire I am having an episode. But the darkness can be so overwhelming. When I'm working during a spell, I tend to be a couple of degrees off my normally perky self, though, overall, I try to hide it.
Depression and anxiety are more common than people may realize, but we aren't able to see it when someone is suffering.
So as we go through this season, let us keep our eyes open for one another. That phone call, text or Christmas card just might be the bright light that someone needs to bring them out of the darkness.
Let us be the ones to show the sufferer hope and allow them to know they are not struggling alone. -
Susan Amundson is news/features editor of The Columbian-Progress. She may be reached at (601) 736-2611 or