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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


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

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


Kate Spade: Shatter the Stigma



Mandatory Credit: Photo by CHARLES SYKES/REX/Shutterstock (418367e)

You have probably heard the news that successful Fashion Designer Kate Spade, age 55, was found dead in her New York apartment two days after she died by her housekeeper in Kate’s New York apartment. Social media has blown up with the news.

It is so awful. My husband Ray always says I have a morbid fascination with celebrities, movie stars, and musicians who have lives riddled with marriage problems, divorce, financial crises, and/or sudden deaths.

I’ve always puzzled over the fact that they finally achieve what represents to so many people SUCCESS (wealth and fame), and yet they live such unhappy lives or die unexpectedly and/or tragically.

And yet stylist Phillip Bloch says, “You can have all the success and it can look so great but you still feel like a failure.”

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: Designers Andy Spade and Kate Spade attend AOL Build Series to discuss their latest project Frances Valentine at Build Studio on April 28, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/FilmMagic)

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 28: Designers Andy Spade and Kate Spade attend AOL Build Series to discuss their latest project Frances Valentine at Build Studio on April 28, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/FilmMagic)

Kate Spade and her husband Andy Spade built a multi-million dollar empire with their handbag company Kate Spade. They made a great team and apparently loved each other very much. They were devoted to the care of their daughter. In 2016 Kate returned after a decade long hiaitus to launch Frances Valentine, an accessories line named after her daughter Frances Beatrix (“Bea”) and changed her name to Kate Valentine.

At the time of her death, she and Andy were separated, although they denied they were divorcing–just taking a “break.” I’ve watched interviews of them together and am impressed with their obvious love for one another and through working together, they built a very successful, blessed business.

Their 13 year old daughter Bea lived with them both. Although reports conflict, Kate allegedly left a note, letting her daughter know that it was not her fault. Many survivors of suicide loss often blame themselves. 

Kate Spade, NY fashion designer

Kate Spade, NY fashion designer

Kate was apparently very loved by family, friends, and business peers. A renown fashion publicist who knew Kate, Kelly Cutrone, allegedly burst out crying when hearing the news of her death and said, “She’s the female version of Ralph Lauren. The industry is endemic with suicide, bankruptcy, depression, and addiction. A lot of people in the fashion industry are having a hard time. It’s proportionally high. The real issue is why are so many creatives alone.”

This really struck me. Reports are that Andy Spade said that their family was shocked and devastated by Kate’s death, and that there was no indication and they had no “warning” from her that this would happen. Although she had been struggling with depression and anxiety for about six years, was under a doctor’s care and on medication (some reports are that she may have had bipolar disorder), Kate was trying to heal. “There were personal demons she was battling,” her husband Andy said.

As an interesting note, Kate was originally from the Kansas City area, where I live. So many beautiful, brilliant, creative people have lived or are in the world today, but struggle with severe depression and some even take their own lives. In fact, suicide rates are going up in America. Women who are Kate’s age (middle age) have the highest suicide rate among women. 

Kate Spade

Kate Spade

What is worst is that there is a stigma to mental illness and mental disorders. We need to shatter the stigma. As compassionate people, especially as Christian believers, we need to reach out to the hurting.

Ask him or her if they are depressed, anxious, and/or have thought about suicide. Many people think if you ask that the person will then try to commit suicide. That isn’t the case. It may very well save his or her life!

Talk with your loved one. Above all, listen. Don’t leave him or her alone if this person is severely depressed and/or suicidal. Get help for them with a pastor, therapist, or doctor. Remove any dangerous possible weapons such as firearms, knives, or razors, or medications that they can use to overdose.

Kate- happy

Kate -appearing happy

Sometimes no matter how much you try to help, someone will still commit suicide. Kate’s husband and her father allegedly had talked to her before she committed suicide, and did not suspect she’d do this. In fact, she appeared happy and to be making plans to travel on a trip. You can not blame yourself!

For those who are depressed and/or suicidal, please ask for help. You don’t need to feel embarrassed or ashamed. 

Please find a family member, friend, coworker, pastor, counselor, therapist, or doctor and share your feelings and thoughts. Let them know that you are depressed, anxious, and/or suicidal. You are not alone and you are loved! And above all, remember that God loves you and is your Healer and Deliverer, as He is mine! I am living proof that Jesus heals and sets the captives free!

The National Suicide Prevention Line is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

Kate is giving a tour of her artsy creative apartment here. She and the apartment are so beautiful. I smiled and was so touched at how she proudly displayed her daughter’s art on the walls, alongside the other famous art pieces! I love what one of her friends said about Kate, that she brought beauty to the world. I believe that it was her gift from God. 

You can listen to my podcast about Kate and 5 tips to overcome depression here.

#suicide #mentalhealthawareness #katespade

my memoir

*******I share the painful journey of walking through my own dark valley of suicidal depression and attempts, anxiety, panic attacks, nightmares, crying jags, fears, and about my childhood sexual and physical abuse, illicit affairs, and 3 abortions in my memoir. I write about Jesus’ healing and delivering power in this book, Promises In The Dark: One Woman’s Search for Authentic Love. It is available for sale at Amazon here.