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| By Wellvyl Media Editorial

Amid the annual holiday cheer lingers a gnawing sadness hidden behind the polite, forced smiles of some. Everywhere we step deepens the overwhelming pressure to “be happy” because “it’s the most wonderful time of the year”. Well, this time of year does not sit well with some of us. ‘Tis the season to dread. Perhaps this is the reason why characters like the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge exist in the holiday collective conscious.   

A cognitive dissonance abounds despite the festive messages of peace and merriment. According to the National Institute of Health, Christmas is the time of year that people experience the highest incidence of depression. Hospitals and police forces report the highest incidences of suicide and attempted suicide. One North American survey reported that 45% of respondents dreaded the festive season. Forty-five percent of Americans would prefer to skip Christmas, according to a survey from Think Finance and reported on NBC News.

A myriad of reasons accounts for holiday sadness.

The rampant commercialism and pressure to purchase gifts.

The holiday celebration is laden with social and family events, such gatherings can be a cold reminder of who or what we have lost.

End of year ruminations that surface within the conversations of these get-togethers can cause some of us already afflicted with underlying sadness to politely excuse ourselves to either furtively escapes into the restroom to privately whether the sudden swelling of tears or to just simply depart from the merriment.

Many people are dealing with holiday depression like yourself. Let me make it quite clear that nothing “cures” depression. I made the choice to own my depression and piercing sadness because forcing its concealment was plunging me deeper into darkness.

First, I did not shame myself into believing that I was wrong in “feeling” this way. When asked how “I was doing” at those impending holiday parties, I did not give some vague positive answer with a fake smile. I was honest and I let the tears fall publicly because, for me at that time, it helped. It was as if the sadness had a witness and in being exposed, made it less overwhelming. How do we learn to heal from anything if we just shut out our melancholy for the sake of social acceptability? The result is that we don’t and we can’t.

Allowing myself to cry in front of others had this cathartic effect that helped empty and clear my mind. Despite my the emotional blitzkrieg I was undergoing, the clarity offered to me led me to the conviction though devastated, l am still capable of loving others. Depression did not rob me of that. I surged with an overwhelming impetus to give from my heart.

By understanding that my sadness deserved to be seen and using my creative skills in the service and expression of love, I was able to own the sadness. I eased the disconnect and isolation I had previously felt. If we are not honest with ourselves or with others about the internal state of our wellbeing, pushing such authenticity out of sight only is only doomed to fester into bitterness, envy, and alienation. Perhaps being willing to be vulnerable, authentic, and bit creative has rescued me from becoming a holiday a Scrooge in later years.   

In terms of Biology, many psychiatrists attribute the holiday blues to Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D., a fitting acronym. Sunlight helps trigger the release of serotonin, the brain chemical that makes feel happy. During the winter months, northern hemisphere has shorter days as a result of less sunlight.