Find your joy this season
Published 9:52 pm Wednesday, November 28, 2018
I love the holidays but hate the cold and dark winter months. You leave work before the sun’s up and come home in what seems like the same darkness. Every year there seems to be a slight gloom to everything, despite the season’s joy.
It’s almost like some of the most joyous holidays of the year — Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, etc. — are in this time of year just to balance the scales. Merriment to make the longer nights slightly brighter.
But it’s not a good time for everyone, and each year there are countless who struggle during this time of year. It’s important to better understand what’s going on.
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I’m not talking about suicide. There are always cases, but I’m not perpetuating the myth that suicide skyrockets in the winter. That’s been proven false.
The Annenberg Public Policy Center found that 50 percent of articles written during the 2009-2010 holiday season perpetuated this myth, a trend that they had been tracking as far back as 2000. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics reported in 2013 that suicide was actually the lowest in December, and that it actually peaks in the spring and fall.
“The holiday suicide myth supports misinformation about suicide that might ultimately hamper prevention efforts,” according to the CDC.
That’s not to say suicide isn’t a growing concern in the United States. In June, the CDC announced that suicide rates had increased in nearly every state from 1996 through 2016. The hardest thing to crack about this issue is that suicide is rarely caused by a single factor.
Mental health issues are often labeled culprits but are not the only tormentors.
“In fact, many people who die by suicide are not known to have a diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death,” according to the CDC. Other factors include relationships, substance use, physical health, and job, money, legal or housing stress.
For me, the key word here is “stress.” I’m very fortunate to have a loving and supportive family to balance out my stress on the job. But I’m still human, and I still get overwhelmed, especially in the cold of winter.
I can’t imagine what it’s like for those that don’t have that support network. There are those who have lost family members this year. Many of their loved ones have died, and others have simply been cut off by their families for who they are and how they live their lives.
I don’t know how to solve their problems, but talking to someone that cares is a good start. Call 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org if you have any such thoughts. Contact the Crisis Text Line by texting 741741, or visit crisistextline.org.
There are resources out there that are backed by people that want to help you get through your situation. Seek them out, and I hope you find your joy this holiday season. Keep warm against this cold.