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Welcome to This Awful/Awesome Life! My name is Frances Joyce. I am the publisher and editor of this magazine. We'll be exploring different topics each month to inform, entertain and inspire you. Meet new authors, sharpen your brain and pick up a few tips on life, love, entertaining and business. Enjoy and please share!

The Holiday Blues by Fran Joyce

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Everywhere we went this holiday season bright cheery decorations, colorful displays of holiday merchandise, television ads and Christmas music forbid us not to be happy.

And yet... no matter what we did, sometimes we couldn’t get in the holiday spirit. Maybe there were obvious reasons for our lack of cheer. Perhaps we had just ended an important relationship or made another significant life change.

Concerns over money, job security or the economy in general can weigh on us at the year’s end as many businesses eliminate or consolidate jobs at the close of their fiscal years often giving pink slips instead of holiday bonuses.

Perhaps we have been grieving the loss of a loved one or a beloved pet. Maybe we didn’t check enough boxes off our bucket list or those pesky New Year’s resolutions come back to bite us as we step on the scales and ready ourselves to make new ones for the coming year. The thought of starting a new year can be daunting if the future is uncertain or we are still carrying a lot of last year’s baggage. It may help to talk with a trusted friend, join a support group or see a professional.Limit alcohol, try to exercise and eat well.

Identifying the problem or combination of events can help us understand what we are feeling and we can take steps to manage our expectations. However, beware of the friend who insists on fixing us in 15 minutes or 100 words or less.

Putting things in perspective can help. We all have a “Nancy Donahue” (the perfect neighbor from the TV series The Middle).In 15 moves, I always had one.Nancy makes it all look easy. We can guilt ourselves into being miserable or embrace Nancy without trying to be her. Letting go of some ridiculous idea of perfection can be the best gift we give to ourselves and others.

What if everything in your life is pretty terrific and you’re still sad?The worst thing you can do is ignore your feelings. There is a difference between being unhappy or sad and being depressed. Depression is an illness. There is no single cause of depression. People may be genetically or biologically predisposed to depression. In addition, environmental and social factors such as trauma or major psychological stress may also trigger depression.

Sadness or unhappiness may be a normal response to life events, but they can also be symptoms of depression. Around 40% of the population experiences symptoms of depression at some point in their lives. Not all will be diagnosed with clinical depression.

People with depression are consistently down, they lose interest in things that normally matter to them and these feelings negatively impact their ability to work, function in social settings or interpersonal relationships. Other symptoms may include low energy level, changes in sleep patterns or appetite, concentration problems or negative thoughts. These symptoms must last at least two weeks in order to support a diagnosis of depression.

Contrary to popular belief, suicide rates are lower from November through January and highest from April through August. It is not unreasonable to suspect untreated symptoms of depression that manifested during the holidays could spiral in later months.

Be good to yourself and to others. Slow down, appreciate the little things and accept that perfection is a nice idea, but not a necessity. Take feelings of isolation or thoughts about self-harm seriously. Be a good listener, but never try to play psychologist. Always seek professional help if you have suicidal thoughts or a friend or loved one threatens to hurt themselves. Remember you are not alone…help is just a phone call away.


These organizations are ready to help:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line – Text 741741 from anywhere in the USA to text with a trained Crisis Counselor

Hopeline – call or text: 919-231-4525 or 1-877-235-4525 {free and confidential crisis and suicide prevention helpline}

The Trevor Project – 1-866-488-7386 {provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth}

National Domestic Violence hot line 24/7/365 – 1-800-799-7233or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY for Deaf/hard of hearing}

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