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substance abuse

Blog, Faith, Featured, Marriage, Parenting, prayer

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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Blog, Faith, Marriage, Parenting, prayer, Spiritual Gifts

Jennifer and Robin: Everyone is fighting a battle

Jennifer Huston’s and Robin William’s recent tragic suicides have created a lot of buzz over the topics of suicide, mental illness, Christians, and heaven/hell. Both apparently hanged themselves.¬†

Ann Voskamp wrote a beautiful piece at Holy Experience, What the Church and Christians Need To Know About Mental Health. My friend¬†Angie Kay Webb wrote about her family’s suicide/murder and about Robin’s death and about his beloved role in the TV series¬†Mork and Mindy¬†at her blog.¬†

Our daughter Heather’s Facebook post on Robin Williams’ suicide caused a little controversy, with comments ranging from no one knowing if Robin was saved to a commenter believing that Heather was being insensitive about people who are depressed -~even Christians can be depressed and/or suicidal.

Our daughter Heather's Facebook post on Robin Williams' suicide caused a little controversy

Our daughter Heather’s Facebook post on Robin Williams’ suicide caused a little controversy

It is true that no one knows if Robin was saved or not. Only God knows his heart. Throughout his successful career, as many celebrities do, he struggled with alcoholism/substance abuse, with 2 rehab stints. He joked that cocaine was God’s way of telling you that you have too much money. At the time of his death, his wife said he was clean and sober. ¬†She said that Robin was in the beginning stages of Parkinson’s disease, which may have been a factor in his decision to die by suicide.

It is true that even Christians can become depressed, even suicidal.

It isn’t true that Heather was being insensitive in her Facebook post. She has seen depression first-hand. Heather isn’t ignorant about this topic. For most of her childhood, I was severely depressed from my childhood sexual and physical abuse and other traumatic life events, diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depressive Episode, and Anxiety Disorder.¬†

Beth Jones, International Speaker

Beth Jones, International Speaker

I share openly about my arduous, long journey to healing through faith in Christ in my new book, Promises In The Dark: One Woman’s Search for Authentic Love.

I’m a very different woman today from the woman I was when Heather was growing up and I married Ray 22 years ago. God has done amazing, miraculous healing in my life and I give Jesus Christ all the credit and the glory for that. My life is proof that God can and does heal today.¬†

Jesus is the answer to everything in this life. Including depression. He is the only answer for those who are wanting to commit suicide, believing their life has no purpose and there’s no reason to go on.

Sometimes healing from depression takes time. And/or medication. Sometimes it takes a trial of medications to find the right one to help.  Sometimes people have chemical and/or hormonal imbalances.

 Sometimes it takes intensive counseling or hospital inpatient therapy.

I am not in the camp who believes that using doctors or medication always shows a “lack of faith.” My contributing author¬†Stephanie Buckwalter wrote about facing others’ judgment when she struggled with depression, in my book The Hands of A Woman: Everyday Women in Everyday Battles.¬†

Yes, I do believe that many doctors in the U.S. over-medicate their patients and that medications can be dangerous, toxic, and addictive. 

 

Promises In The Dark: One Woman's Search for Authentic Love

Promises In The Dark: One Woman’s Search
for Authentic Love by Beth Jones

To learn more about the risks of medications, I highly recommend my friend Dana Arcuri’s memoir, Harvest of Hope: Living Victoriously Through Adversity¬†in which she shares her harrowing roller coaster ride with toxic prescription pill interactions),¬†as well as my own book, Promises In The Dark: One Woman’s Search for Authentic Love.

However, God can and does use medication. He knows exactly what it takes to heal each one. Healing can come in a variety of ways.

Sometimes people who suffer with severe depression need spiritual deliverance because they are being oppressed by the enemy Satan.

¬†God isn’t boxed in with the way He heals people. In the Scriptures, Jesus didn’t use the same cookie cutter approach for healing different ailments.

And not everyone was healed. But ultimately, He is Jehovah Rophe, the Healer.

Apparently Jennifer and Robin were in such intense pain and¬†felt like they¬†didn’t want to go on any more. Apparently they didn’t believe there was anyone they could turn to for help before they died.¬†

I wish they had felt like they could come to Jesus for the help, strength and encouragement they needed and would have lived out their days in fullness and in joy.

“For in Him we live and move and have our being.” ¬†~ Acts 17:28, NIV

We don’t know what demons Jennifer or Robin were facing. We don’t know why they felt so overwhelmed, and that death was a preferred alternative to living any longer. It is so sad. Both their spouses and children said they were devastated. The world has lost 2 precious people.¬†

Jennifer’s parents’ public statement said,¬†“Our hearts ache today. We have lost our first born child. We have lost a wife and a mother. We don’t know what lead Jennifer to this dark place and to this end and perhaps never will understand this.”

Robin’s wife Susan said, “Yesterday, I lost my father and a best friend and the world got a little grayer. I will carry his heart with me every day.” (http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/robin-williams-dead-63-family-members-issue-heartfelt-remembrances-article-1.1901466)

What we do know is that, like Jennifer and Robin, there’s a lot of hurting people in the world. Sometimes that hurt is hidden behind a smile or a laugh or a seemingly perfect image. ¬†

We never know what pain someone is going through. But today you can truly be Jesus’ heart, arms, ears, and feet to that person who is hurting.

Be kind. Love others. Ask if your family, friend, work peer, or neighbor is okay. Pray for him or her. Everyone is fighting a battle of some kind. 

Be kind for everyone is fighting a battle. Image Resource: Pinterest

Image resource: Pinterest

 

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” ~ Ephesians 4:32

For help: National Suicide Prevention Hotline:  1-800-273-TALK (8255)

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