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What I Learned This Winter Holiday

Have you ever wondered why statistics show that depression and suicides are significantly higher during the winter holiday season than other times of the year… when supposedly, it should be one of the most joyful times of the year? Or at least that's what every winter holiday greeting card and traditional Christmas songs suggest??

So traditionally, the holiday time is a time for gathering of families, and for spreading cheer and goodwill to those less fortunate than ourselves. It's a time for giving, and being grateful for everything we have.

But when you haven't utilized the other 350+ days of the year to 'work out' any unresolved issues you might have, either within yourself, or within your network of family and friends, then the holidays can seemingly be a time when those issues become even more exasperated, than not. Most of us don't even realize what a toll it takes on ourselves, until we begin to make plans (or not make plans) to avoid or minimize as much interaction as possible with our supposed family. Or we become agitated, but don't know quite why. And for those of us who like to keep the peace, we try not to say too much in fear our true feelings will come out and disrupt that peace.

This winter holiday I was reminded of the few fatally tragic incidents that I've been exposed to over my lifetime of winter holidays, including one that just happened, to a stranger no less, just this winter. It always saddens me, especially when the tragedy involves loved ones who are left behind. And I'm always curious as to what was going on in the person's world that on the outside, seemed quite normal, but on the inside, was a completely different space.

Now most of us think that this type of tragedy would never happen to us, or anyone we might know. However, I can share with you from my own experience, and from those of my clients, that if someone you know does not have the right support they need to get them through a low point in their life, their world can spiral in a direction that will not end well. As a society, we've become proficient at painting a 'normal' picture of what our lives entail. Everyone wants everyone else to believe that 'we've got it', whatever that 'it' is. But in reality, not everyone is truly feeling 'it'.

And as for the rest of us who may have experienced 'normal' family unrest this holiday season or that 'let me just go into that apathetic mode' to peacefully deal with my family this holiday season, I challenge you to learn and grow this year as a positive thought leader, as an effective change agent and as an amazing human being that promotes family unity and harmony, rather than family discord and disharmony.

Our world is already struggling to find its way. Let's not wait for another natural disaster, or a war or a national tragic incident to find human compassion and togetherness. Let's make the difference we can today by starting with our own selves, our own families and our own communities. This year, let's all be the change we want to see in others, in our country, and in our world. It will definitely make for a more joyous 2018 winter holiday.

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