The holidays can be a stressful time for those of us living with mental illness. There is a lot of pressure to smile and be happy. We are seeing family members that we don’t see often. Family can be a trigger for some of us. It’s especially challenging to put on a smile or fake feeling a certain way when you are actually feeling depressed.

For some people, there are real life events that are contributory factors to depression during the holidays-  such as a family member living with cancer or the death of a loved one.

Then there are those of us who are coping with depression because of a chemical imbalance. Please do not discount this. I have experienced depression during the holidays because they are stressful for me. I find the need to please others extremely overwhelming and sometimes debilitating. There have been times when I have wanted to hide under the pile of coats on the bed during Thanksgiving, for example, to avoid having to talk with the people around the table.

It’s not because I don’t love them, because I do. I love them all very much. But when you have social anxiety and depression, being around a large group of people is difficult. And pretending to be okay is even harder.

So, during this holiday season, if you are depressed – it is okay to feel that way. If you are anxious, go on with your bad self. If you feel comfortable enough expressing those feelings to one person in the room who might understand them – do it. You would be surprised to find out that there are other people feeling depressed during this season. You are not alone.

-Sarah Fader






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