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‘Tis the season to be jolly–unless you’re not

Knock on Wood
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While I love Christmas and nearly everything about it (the only downside is the commercialism, in my view), I know some people on the Coast arenít feeling very jolly right now.

While itís a myth that there are more suicides during the Christmas season than any other time of year (July and August actually have the highest incident rate), depression can be particularly crippling at Christmas.

The stress and anxiety of the holidays gets to many of us, but Iím talking about those predisposed to depression who feel their sadness more deeply at Christmas.

Iíve had my share of depression, and Iíve written about it in this space before. After giving birth to my daughter 10 years ago, I was hit with a severe case of post-partum depression that led me to thoughts of suicide. While obviously I didnít take my life and things got better, Iím no stranger to that dark place.

If youíre feeling depressed this Christmas season, here are a few community resources and tips that might help you feel a little better, or at least help you express your feelings of sadness so they donít overwhelm you.

One of the big triggers for holiday depression is the feeling of loneliness. If youíre feeling alone this Christmas, try to reach out to others by volunteering. The Elves Club is a fantastic organization of locals working to help those less fortunate. Itís hard not to catch the Christmas spirit when youíre surrounded by people displaying it!

If youíre feeling alone because youíve recently lost a loved one, the Sunshine Coast Hospice Society is an amazing resource there for you this holiday season.

The society has volunteers manning Lights of Life trees in Trail Bay Mall until Dec. 21 where members of the public can purchase a card of remembrance to write a note about (or to) their loved one who was lost. The note is then hung on the tree and a light bulb is lit up in remembrance.

On Jan. 1 at 2 p.m., everyone who wishes can join the Hospice Society at Snickett Park in Sechelt to place the notes in the fire, sending their wishes skyward. Itís a wonderfully touching and intimate ceremony that is sure to help ease the pain.

If money worries have got you down, swap out those expensive presents for homemade ones. Gifts from coupons for back rubs to homemade cookies are sure to delight your family and friends.

And if youíre just in a place where you canít think of anything positive, try this simple trick: come up with 10 things youíre thankful for. You may have to start with the basics like having clean running water, but no matter your situation, every single person in Canada can find 10 things to be thankful for. Take note of your mood before and after the exercise and you may be surprised how well it works.

Of course, if your feelings of sadness run too deep, contact Sunshine Coast Mental Health and get yourself in to see a counsellor as soon as possible.

And for those of us who have the Christmas spirit, how about sharing it? A random act of kindness like buying a coffee for the person behind you in line, scraping your neighbourís car on a cold frosty morning or offering to help carry groceries for a senior having difficulty are things that will generate more than a smile ó†they will remind people that theyíre important and that you care about them, which is all some people want for Christmas.

So I hope your Christmas is jolly, but if itís not, please reach out for help. The Coast is full of generous, loving folks, but no one can fill a need that they donít know is there.


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