Christmas is often touted as “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” In fact, there’s even a song about
But what if Christmas doesn’t spark a sense of joy inside of you? What if Christmas brings up feelings of
hurt, or loss, or disappointment? Instead of magic and wonder, you’re filled with anxiety and dread.
There are people who understand what you are feeling, and they can help.
Suicide has, once again, been brought to the forefront of the media. Stephen Boss, better known as
tWitch, Ellen Degeneres’ fun-loving, energetic DJ, was found dead in a California hotel by a self-inflicted
gunshot wound. Days earlier, he and his wife posted a video online doing the latest dance craze. It was
all smiles and happiness.
At least, on the outside.
But apparently no one knew of the inner struggles he faced. Of the demons that must have haunted
him until he simply could not face the pain any longer and ended his life.
It just goes to show, you can’t always judge a book by its cover. Even the “strong” or “happy” people
you know are dealing with something. It is impossible to know what folks are going through in their
private lives. What they really feel behind the curtain of their perfectly portrayed family. Especially
when they put on such an inspiring show on social media.
But in reality, deep down, they’re hurting.
This time of year, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and joy of the holidays. We plan time with
family and friends, exchanging gifts and enjoying a meal together. Love spreads like wildfire as we
purchase gifts for those in need and take our turn ringing the bell for charity in front of the grocery
We must be bubbly and excited and upbeat at all times because it’s Christmas, right? Parents bend over
backward to ensure their kids have the best Christmas ever, creating memories and keeping the magic
alive as long as we can. We set out cookies for Santa and move the silly Elf around every morning.
We’re not allowed to be sad.
At least not in public. Thus, the topic of depression and mental illness is swept under the rug.
In reality, this time of year can bring about a feeling of loneliness like never before. Maybe it’s the first
year you are celebrating without a loved one. Maybe you know this is your last year with them. Or
maybe life has just been harder than you anticipated lately, knocking you down every chance it gets.
Whatever the reason, you are not alone. Countless others are struggling just like you. There is no
shame in reaching out for help and admitting you just don’t feel right. No matter what has happened,
no matter how far down you’ve gone, there is still hope.
For a future.
The new national hotline, 988, has recently been activated to help those dealing with these dark
feelings. This Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available in English and Spanish and offers a confidential,
helpful voice on the other end of the line.
In North Iowa, there are countless counseling centers equipped to help pull you through to the other
side. They are trustworthy, compassionate, and often accept insurance plans.
Mental health doesn’t have to be a taboo subject anymore. The more we normalize getting help and
talking to someone before it’s too late, the better we’ll all be.
Let’s be there for each other this holiday season. For our neighbors and friends, our coworkers and
loved ones. It might not be the easiest holiday for them this year, and that’s okay. Not everyone needs
to be filled with the holiday spirit and bubbling with joy.
If you or a loved one is in need of emotional support this season, please call 988 or contact one of the