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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!

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

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

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


Blog, Faith, Homeschooling, Marriage, Parenting, prayer, Speaking, Spiritual Gifts, Writing

My new book is ready!

Promises In The Dark Facebook cover by Christine Dupre Copyright 2014

If you have been faithfully reading my blog since 2013 (God bless you!), you know I began writing my book then …and “life happened.” I also had MAJOR writing resistance, because this is the hardest book I’ve ever written – the most open, transparent one. Even my closest friends don’t know some of the personal, very painful things I share in this book. I’ve fought a lot of fear writing and publishing this book, but I believe God told me to write it.

After months of hard work, my new book is finally ready and available for sale!

I hired a professional graphic designer Christine Dupre, who did a BEAUTIFUL job on the cover and a professional, AMAZING editor and formatter Hanne Moon of Heritage Press Publications, who is publishing the book. I highly recommend Christine and Hanne for your book!

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

The print book is just gorgeous! It is also available in Ebook for Kindle at Amazon. Hanne and I are working on making it available on Nook, too.

Promises In The Dark is Beth’s life story of warfare and triumph. She shares parts of her life that not many would admit, only for the glory of God. Beth is brilliant in showing that no matter how hard or terrifying life may get, God is always present with unconditional love that no human can give. Promises In The Dark enlightens you with the power of God’s Word and promises that confronts all darkness.” ~ Rochelle Valasek, Doctor of Divinity, Speaker/Author/Spiritual Health Coach,

The book is about God’s promises versus the world’s promises. The world offers so many promises – sex, drugs, alcohol, pornography, education, wealth, success – but leaves you empty. There is One whose promises you can count on. His name is God. He is faithful and true. His promises are for real and forever. 

You can find out more about my new book, Promises In The Dark: One Woman’s Search for Authentic Love, by clicking here.

Blog, Faith, Parenting, prayer, Writing

Stormie O’Martian: How God can bring life out of death

Stormie O'Martian

Stormie O’Martian

I’m reading a pile of books right now (LOVE books for a few cents or dollars on sale at Amazon! You can get mine, too, on prayer for just 99 cents by clicking here.) A great book that I just finished was Stormie O’Martian’s biography, Stormie: A Story of Forgiveness and Healing

Wow, great read! This book is one of amazing hope through faith in Christ, but contains graphic descriptions of childhood abuse. Stormie was raised by a mother, Virginia, who was schizophrenic, but she wasn’t diagnosed until years later when Stormie was grown and had moved out of the house.

No one was sure what caused her mental illness, but it resulted in her targeting Stormie throughout her childhood with cruelty and hatred. Stormie had another younger sister, Suzy, but for some reason, her mother was not abusive toward her as she was Stormie. After Stormie moved out of the house, her anger was targeted toward her husband (Stormie’s dad).

Mental illness

Virginia’s life had been scarred by trauma. When she was 11 years old, her mom died in childbirth just a few hours after she had scolded Virginia, sent her to her room and Virginia wished her mother was dead. She felt responsible, guilty, rejected, and she never recovered from the grief.

In another instance, the father in one of the foster families she stayed with after her mother’s death committed suicide. She believed she was responsible for the deaths of the two most important people in her life. She entered a fantasy world she could deal with and was the center of it, and where she was persecuted unjustly. In her created world, she was blameless.

During her teen years, Virginia contracted scarlet fever and almost died, and family members began noticing her strange behavior more after that. Others, especially her husband, noticed it after she married. She became even more emotionally unstable and moody.

But because she appeared so normal at times, no one realized just how serious her mental illness was. There were no clear-cut answers, whether it was a chemical imbalance she was born with, the traumas in her life had crippled her, her brain had been damaged by scarlet fever, or that no one recognized signs of mental illness in her teens.

She tried to get out of the small town where she lived to attend college for art and music, but there wasn’t enough money and her father strongly opposed it. This frustration added to her growing bitterness and insecurity. She felt her father treated both of her sisters better and she was jealous of them.

Stormie – locked in closets 

In childhood, Virginia was put in the closet for punishment sometimes, which she later did frequently to Stormie for hours for things as simple as asking for a glass of water. Abused children sometimes grow up to abuse their own children, something Stormie was horrified to realize when she married and had her own baby boy.

She would call Stormie obscene names and used corporal punishment as her sole means of discipline, slapping her across the mouth or on the head. These were the only times Stormie was “touched” by her mother.

Virginia wouldn’t clean the filthy house, leaving dishes with food that molded, and if Stormie tried to clean or wash dishes, she’d yell, “This is my house, not yours! If I want it clean, I’ll do it myself!”

Her behavior was consistently inconsistent, and if Stormie tried to do something really wrong like drive the car without a license or set bedroom curtains on fire, Virginia would say nothing.

But when she “necked” with a boy in the church parking lot while there was a youth party  in the fellowship hall and got caught, Virginia told her she was “whoring around” and took her to the pastor. She also read Stormie’s diary, in which Stormie fantasized about boys, and Virginia would call her a “whore” and a “slut” frequently. She forbid her to go to her few friends’ houses after school, accusing her of “whoring around,” leaving Stormie hopeless about having a normal, good, fun life.

“Your mind is very sick!” ~ Stormie’s suicide attempt

One time Virginia hid Stormie’s white skirt in her room, asked where it was, and when Stormie couldn’t find it, she accused her of giving it away to friends, ranting about her negligence. Later Stormie found it in her bedroom closet and her mother said it had probably been there all along, and that she must be going crazy. “Your mind is very sick. I believe you’re mentally ill.”

Incidents like these were common. Stormie began to believe her. She wrote in her diary: “I am going crazy. I’m a misfit. I don’t belong anywhere. I can’t think clearly. I’m lost.” She began to question why she was even alive. When Virginia forbid her to go to her friend’s house across the street anymore or to use the phone, Stormie tried to overdose on Bufferin, sleeping pills, and a couple of prescription drugs. She laid down to go to bed, believing she’d finally be free of her pain.

When she awoke at 1 a.m, she felt weak, dizzy, and sick to her stomach.  What had gone wrong? Why was she still alive? In the middle of the night, her mother had made her drink something to empty her stomach of the pills. Stormie ran to the bathroom when she woke up and saw the empty bottles in the trash can.

Behind her locked door, she heard her mother vacuuming. She did this whenever something horrible happened to cope. I found that so strange! Virginia never mentioned the suicide attempt to her husband or to Stormie again. If Stormie had told her dad, Virginia would’ve said she was lying and he would’ve believed her. So they pretended everything was fine. A dysfunctional family’s response to what is really going on, such as alcoholism, drug addiction, or abuse, is most often denial and/or lies.

Schizophrenia: her mother’s hallucinations

Stormie knew something was terribly wrong with her mother. Virginia would often stay awake all night long, talking to imagine people. In her later years, she thought the FBI was shooting laser beams at her head for her having communist secrets and that the Mafia were after her. She started believing people were watching her from the inside of the t.v. or following her when she left the house.

When her husband or Stormie would tell her these things weren’t true, she’d become hysterical. Stormie wrote that the number of people trying to kill her increased – the communists, the Catholics, the blacks the whites, the rich, the poor, Baptists, Armenians, the Kennedys, and on and on until the list became almost everyone the family knew.

One night Stormie had a nightmare and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. Her mother had a knife upraised in her hand and a sinister smile crossed her face as she looked at Stormie, terrified and backing away in fear. She laughed a wild, howling cackle as Stormie ran to her bed, shaking in fear. For years Stormie was terrified of knives.

A crazy house

Stormie never knew what to expect, but she knew she couldn’t bring friends home – if she made friends at all. “I was often aware that I lived in a crazy house – not like the homes of normal people. There was no laughter, no fun, no peace in our lives, and no hope for it ever being different.”

Stormie’s plan was to finish high school and get out of that house as fast as possible. All her activities were geared toward that goal.

Stormie then takes the reader on her long, compelling journey of:

  • buying a car with $200 with her own hard-earned money to become more independent;
  • going away to college at UCLA, majoring in music;
  • dysfunctional relationships with men with no commitment, especially married men;
  • addiction to pot and drinking alcohol heavily;
  • workaholism and her increasingly successful career in t.v., commercial, acting, singing, and movies, while hiding her battles with depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks, self-doubts, and intense fears;
  • becoming involved in the occult – Ouija boards, horoscopes, astral projection, seances, numerology, hypnotism, eastern religions, and Science of Mind;
  • 2 abortions, one of them illegal in an obscure, low-class hotel in Los Vegas with no anesthetic, with Stormie bound to secrecy and blind-folded and with a gag over her mouth. This abortion was the most excruciating pain in Stormie’s life as the doctor scraped and cut the baby out of her. It resulted in a surgery in a hospital later to stop the bleeding that occurred for weeks afterward;
  • her salvation in Christ and her growing in knowledge of God’s agape love for her and unconditional forgiveness for her sins;
  • her marriage to Rick out of fear of being alone, after the terrifying Sharon Tate murder tragedy, and Stormie’s painful divorce;
  • her introduction to Michael O’Martian and their turbulent marriage;
  • realizing after she married and had a baby boy, that she was capable of abusing her child, one night slapping him all over his body and screaming at him to stop crying. She realized she was one step away from throwing him across the room, and got on her knees, begging God to forgive her and take these horrible feelings from her;
  • inner healing and spiritual deliverance from her pastor Jack Hayford and deliverance minister Sarah Ann.
  • forgiveness of not only her mother for abusing her, but also of her father for not protecting her;
  • burying her mother – with there being no unforgiveness, no anger, no resentment, no unsettled scores. God had cleansed Stormie of it all before her death;
  • speaking to inmates at a prison about her story. She was terrified, but God told Stormie, “I’m a Redeemer. I redeem all things. It doesn’t matter what you have done, it doesn’t matter what’s happened to you. I can take all the hurt, the pain, the scars, and I can not only heal them, but I can make them count for something.” She shared her story of pain and redemption and received a standing ovation from the inmates. The Holy Spirit had moved and for 3 days, many in that prison were healed of past hurts in that prison. Truly Jesus sets the captives free.

This was a fascinating book. Stormie’s account of her childhood abuse is heart-wrenching. You can sense how difficult and confusing it was for her to live with a mother with such severe mental illness, and wonder with Stormie that question, “Why, God? Why did this happen?”

But the book also offers refreshing hope about the power of faith in Jesus Christ. God can take a life filled with despair and hopelessness, restore and redeem it for His glory. Stormie’s life is testimony of this. She is now a best-selling author and speaker, sharing her story of hope across the nation. You might recognize her title, The Power of a Praying Wife, which I’m currently reading also.

The book also covers the 3 topics that I’m writing about in my new book, Promises In The Dark, about abuse, abortion, and adultery. (Sign up on my ezine list to be the first to hear about its soon release in 2014!) I read Stormie’s book with eagerness to see how she would delicately handle these emotionally-charged, theologically difficult subjects. She did an amazing job of expressing her emotions and her motives and reasons for many of her sinful behaviors, while at the same time not justifying them.

Stormie did an incredible job, too, sharing about the ministry of inner healing and deliverance for the lay reader, describing her own halting, uncertain, fearful journey from victim to victor in Christ.

I give this book an A+.