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Depression and addiction during the holidays

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Woman putting ribbon on gift
Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Lately I’ve talked with two different Christian women friends who shared that they become deeply depressed during the holidays–that period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when so many people are joyful and excited, planning and cooking a big family meal, shopping, buying and wrapping Christmas gifts, and attending or hosting parties. These friends said they just want it over with as soon as possible!

http://www.promopro.com/shopping-tips/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Five-Best-Thanksgiving-Apps-for-Your-Perfect-Holiday-Meal.jpg

Thanksgiving meal

One friend cited the reason being that her dreams of a happy family have been shattered, after her husband left her for another woman, had a child with the mistress, and then divorced her, the wife. Although she makes an effort for the sake of her children to beautifully decorate the Christmas tree and their home’s rooms each year, she said their expensive, nice house feels empty and lonely without her husband there to celebrate  with her and their kids. 

The second friend, also divorced (her husband had an affair and was addicted to drugs), said that she feels she and her children don’t “fit in anywhere” when so many families are sitting together happily around the Christmas tree to open presents. Conversations with her aging, ailing father and her emotionally distant brothers are strained at restaurants eating a “holiday meal,” and she feels that she is imposing, asking to be with friends at their family gatherings.

Source: NDTV

Source: NDTV https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/lift-your-gloomy-mood-up-during-winters-with-these-5-foods-1797440

My friend also wonders if she has Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), related to changes in seasons. Researchers have yet to uncover the specific cause for SAD, but the reduction in sunlight in winter can throw your biological clock out of whack and reduce levels of serotonin (a brain chemical that regulates your mood) and melatonin (a chemical which regulates sleep and mood).

It’s not always “the most wonderful time of the year.” Many people struggle with depression and stress during the holidays.

 While the suicide rate is highest between April and August rather than the holidays, there are findings from surveys that people feel more stress, anxiety, and depression between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to Psychology Today.

pensive woman

depressed woman

Thirty-eight percent of people surveyed said their stress level increased during the holiday season, according to Psychology Today. Participants listed the top stressors as lack of time, lack of money, commercialism, the pressures of gift-giving, and family gatherings.

Another poll of more than 1,000 adults by a global investment company, Principal Financial Group, found that 53 percent of people experience financial stress due to holiday spending, despite the fact more than half set budgets for their holiday spending.

As Christian believers, we know that Christmas is supposed to be about celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, yet how many of us succumb to the pressure of spending lots of money on food and gifts at this time of year?

In fact, holiday retail sales in 2018 surpassed $1 trillion, and Americans spent an average of $1,536 during the Christmas holidays in 2018! INSANE! And 14.2% of Americans sell possessions to fund their Christmas shopping! No wonder people get depressed and stressed!

Alcohol. Source: Recovery Village

Whiskey
Source: The Recovery Village

The holidays are a stressful time for everyone. But for recovering addicts, or those struggling with an active addiction, the holidays can cause a relapse.

The same issues of money, family, and general stress are amplified for the addict. Addicts without a stable family or friends often feel alone, isolated, and bored, which can drive addictive behavior. 

Woman at ocean

Woman at ocean

Recovery is possible for the alcoholic/addict. One beautiful place offering treatment for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders is The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake, Colorado, near Colorado Springs.

One thing which struck me about this place is that they have walking trails, an on-site gym for working out, and they offer equine therapy for clients to work with horses.

Equine Therapy Source: McCaskill Family Services, Michigan

Equine Therapy
Source: McCaskill Family Services, Michigan

Their 110-bed, clean, safe facility near the Colorado Rockies with luxurious rooms has a team of medical and clinical professionals to help adults get freedom from addiction and to live healthier, happier lives. They are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. 

You can see a virtual tour of the facility here

If you are struggling with addiction and/or depression, stress, and anxiety, especially during the holidays, consider a treatment facility like The Recovery Village. Other sources for help for you are below. Remember, you are not alone!

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Al-Anon (family members or friends of alcoholics/addicts)

Narcotics Anonymous (substance abuse addiction)

Teen Challenge ( Christian faith-based corporations intended to help teenagers, adults, and families with problems such as substance abuse or self-destructive behavior)

Suicide National Hotline

 

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Faith, Family, Marriage, Parenting, prayer

Don’t wallow

Yesterday my  husband Ray and I were having a conversation about a relative who has basically gone “no contact” with our entire family, out of hurt and offenses. Although we have done our best to make amends with this person, and to ask forgiveness for any wrongs committed, relationships remain strained. My fervent prayer (daily) is for reconciliation.

I was sharing with Ray how deeply hurt I am over the situation, and Ray’s frustrated response was, “I know it hurts. This hurts me, too. But we can’t wallow in the hurt, Beth! We can’t stay there for the rest of our lives. We need a future!”

hurting woman

hurting woman
Source: Psychology Today

I knew Ray was speaking the truth. His word wallow bothered me a lot. The definition of “wallow” is:

  • to roll oneself about in a lazy, relaxed manner (like a pig wallowing in the mud);
  • to take unrestrained pleasure in something (like silk sheets);
  • to become abundantly supplied (like a family wallowing in sudden wealth);
  • to indulge oneself immoderately (like wallowing in self-pity);
  • to become or remain helpless.

No, I don’t want to be a victim, wallowing in hurt, anger, and self-pity! I want to be free in Christ. Jesus died for this freedom and for me and those I love to have an abundant life!

rhinoceros wallowing in muddy waterhole

rhinoceros wallowing in muddy waterhole
Source: wildlife-pictures-online.com

Pigs, hippopotamuses, elephants, rhinoceroses, warthogs, and bison instinctively wallow in dirt, mud, snow, or water. They do this for temperature regulation, parasite removal, and sun protection (their skin can get sunburned). They may also rub their scent glands around wallowing areas, possibly to mark their territory.

But as humans, our protection is in God. We can’t control what other people do or don’t do. But we can be responsible for ourselves and our own growth. We don’t have to stay stuck in the devastating hurt, or anger, or confusion. We don’t need to wallow in anything. 

She did not do wallowing

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)

“For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.” (Psalm 91:3-6, NASB)

In the article, Sitting with your stuff vs. wallowing, Coach Kate Swoboda writes that “wallow” conjures up images of being stuck, hopeless, sad or defeated, and “perhaps even a little pissed,” yet being a total victim and doing very little about making any changes whatsoever.

It’s like you being seated on a plane to fly to your eagerly-anticipated vacation destination, but the plane is still sitting on the tarmac, going nowhere. Or you sitting on a train, yet the train is not moving on the rails.

It’s important not to avoid your “stuff,” since whatever you repress just gets stronger. But blowing up at whoever you’re upset with and telling him or her exactly what you think might not be wise, either.

My story

Kate says the difference between “sitting with your stuff” versus “wallowing” is in the Story. Some stories, like people are generally full of good intentions and do their best, serve you.

But a story that people are just mean and selfish doesn’t serve you well. In these situations where you believe that people are always mean, you might think, “Why does this always happen to me? My life feels like it will never change. It never works out.” You are, yes, wallowing!

In the first story, sitting with your stuff instead of wallowing, you might think, “I don’t like how this feels. I’m so sad. Yet this where I’m at right now. This really sucks. But it won’t last forever.”

Kate encourages us to make space for the parts that make us human (where we might be inclined to wallow, i.e., the emotional pain), but not let it define us. And as my husband Ray said, to not let it be our future.

I personally believe forgiveness is a large part of not letting hurts define us. Forgiveness takes time, God’s power, and our will. It is not an easy or quick fix, but necessary for spiritual growth and maturity.

Understanding our true identity in Christ also helps set us free. No one and nothing else defines who we are: a royal daughter (or son) of the King!

The future

Are you wallowing about anything right now? I encourage you to bring it to God and let Him help heal you so that you can move forward with your life and God-designed purpose. One day at a time.

*******

A good resource to help you with this issue is Coffee with God: Starting Your Day Right With Prayer & The Bible. You can get this encouraging eBook at Amazon here.

Coffee With God eBook

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Blog, Faith, Family, Fitness, Marriage, Parenting, prayer, Time Management

Fall’s glorious colored leaves: The beautiful lesson of letting go

fall tree's orange leaves

fall tree’s glorious orange leaves

Good morning (or afternoon, or night, depending on where you are right now!). Today I’ve been awake since 3 a.m. Insomnia is no stranger to me; I’ve been battling it occasionally for several years now.

Melatonin helps. Melatonin is a natural hormone made by your body’s pineal gland, a pea-size gland located just above the middle of your brain. When the sun goes down and light turns to darkness, the pineal is “turned on” and your body produces melatonin, released into the blood. This usually happens around 9 p.m. and you start feeling less alert and sleepy. 

Sleepy man. Source: platinumtraininginstitute.com

Sleepy man.
Source: platinumtraininginstitute.com

Melatonin levels stay elevated about 12 hours through the night. After sunrise, they fall back to low daytime levels by about 9 a.m. Some people don’t produce enough Melatonin.

Taking Melatonin works sometimes to help me fall and/or stay asleep. You can get the capsules at Walmart or on Amazon. Taking Melatonin doesn’t work for everyone. It even gives my friend Stephanie nightmares! But you can try it to see if it helps you sleep. (DISCLAIMER: Check with your doctor first if you have any health issues or you’re on any medication!)

I didn’t take any last night. I fell asleep and when I awoke at 3 a.m., I tried what I usually do when I have insomnia: pray. I did this for about an hour. I prayed for my family and myself. 

Asian woman praying

Asian woman praying

Praying is at least doing something good and useful if you have insomnia. Sometimes I hate nighttime, because if you do wake up, there’s not a lot to do and I really dislike being unproductive (and laying there, staring at the ceiling!). Restaurants and stores are closed, too. It’s boring!

When I still couldn’t sleep after that and felt “bright eyed and bushy-tailed“, I decided to get up, dress (meaning throwing a comfy sweat shirt over my black yoga pants and putting on sneakers), and drove to get a cuppa’ caffeine. Usually that is my morning coffee, but today a cold Dr. Pepper (with chocolate doughnuts) just sounded good!

Dr. Pepper and doughnuts

Dr. Pepper and doughnuts

It’s rare that I drink a soda any more (I quit drinking Coke years ago), but not as rare for me to eat doughnuts. I’m working on conquering sugar, just not this morning! Not the breakfast of champions and so not how I want to set the tone for the new year. Please pray for my self-discipline, would you? I know I have to make the choice, daily!

Yesterday I worked on my 2020 Vision and my Personal and Business Goals for 2020. I got this workbook in Diane Cunningham’s free webinar, promoting her Life Change Club. Have you started writing down your vision and goals for the coming year?

Vision 2020

Vision 2020

90 Day Business Goals

90 Day Business Goals

I’m so happy that I completed Diane’s workbook and set my 2020 Vision and Goals. One of my personal goals is about praying for our grown children and our grandchildren, but learning to let go. To trust God. God loves our kids even more than I do!

Ray and I with our 3 beautiful daughters, Heather, Leah, & Eden

Ray and I with our 3 beautiful daughters, Heather, Leah, & Eden

I’m a recovering control freak, and I’ve been working on this one, letting go and letting God, for literally years. It’s so hard. But if I don’t let our kids go, they’ll never mature and grow. They’ll never learn to fly, and to soar.

eagle soaring

eagle soaring

A great verse to pray over your children and grandchildren is Isaiah 40:31.

Our beautiful, precious granddaughters Violet & Annabelle

Our beautiful, precious granddaughters Violet & Annabelle

Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

I love this quote about Autumn. It is so timely and appropriate right now with me facing empty nest, learning to let my grown kids go, and fall’s gloriously colored leaves here in Missouri. “Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”

Autumn

Autumn

tree with yellow leaves

tree with yellow leaves

red, yellow, & orange leaf

red, yellow, & orange leaf

To cope with empty nest (I really love and miss my kids!), I’m focusing on cleaning, organizing, decluttering, and purging. Also for 2020, I’m concentrating on my health (despite this morning’s junk food breakfast!) and on my business and personal goals, such as writing my first children’s book. It is about my and our daughter Leah’s black cats Natalya and Jax becoming “friends.”

Jax and Natalya

Jax and Natalya

I just hired the illustrator for this book to draw the pictures inside the book this week and I’m so excited and happy! She does beautiful work!

To be first to hear about my children’s book’s release as an eBook on Amazon, be sure to sign up as a subscriber to my newsletter (ezine) at the top of the page on the right hand side.

freedom

freedom

What do you need to let go of this coming new year 2020?

  • Your grown children;
  • Your spouse;
  • Your excess weight;
  • Anger, depression;
  • Fear, worry and stress;
  • Control;
  • Broken dreams;
  • Forgiving someone;
  • A sin you committed in the past;
  • Excuses;
  • Laziness;
  • Sugar or carb addiction;
  • Alcohol and/or drugs;
  • A toxic relationship;
  • Self-doubt;
  • Poverty mindset or other mindsets hindering your success;
  • ____________________ (you name it).
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