Happy Holidays are possible. No, really!

Crazy Good Parent

The following post includes mentions of suicide, anxiety and SAD. These may be triggering for some people.

I thought I’d write a post today about the holidays and suicide because common knowledge states that the suicide rate climbs during the winter holidays. Turns out, common knowledge is hooey.

There is a season when the suicide rate peaks, but it’s not during the most wonderful time of the year. Instead, more people commit suicide during the spring. One theory holds that people get down during the holidays, but may not have the energy to end their lives. SAD and stress take a toll. In the spring, though, energy levels start to rise as days grow longer and brighter.

That doesn’t mean the holidays aren’t hard on those of us with mental disorders. I’m susceptible to SAD; on grey winter days, I can hardly drag myself out of bed. Chicago has 84 clear days out of 364. I do a lot of dragging.  Then, there’s the fact that my family celebrates Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas. Add to that the typical stressors—money, interacting with family, kids home on break—and I’m on edge for two months.

I’ve let go of some of the things that were causing the most stress. I got no help with putting the lights on real trees, so I bought a pre-lit artificial one. My husband takes time off during winter break so I’m not alone with the kids bored out of their minds for two weeks. We don’t try to light the Hanukkah candles every night but I do set out a driveway menorah of luminaria.

I was also going to plan a week of posts on dealing with holiday stress, but it was stressing me out too much, so I’m stretching the holiday love out. On Tuesday, we’ll have a post detailing one woman’s struggles with anxiety. It’s honest, heart-felt and inspiring. Look for the beautiful photograph that accompanies it. Then, on Thursday, look for a post on mental wellness through yoga complete with some easy poses even I can do without falling over. I’ll photograph myself and, if I can convince her, my daughter. If we’re really lucky, she’ll demonstrate a pose she invented: downward dog with fire hydrant. Next week? Two more holiday themed posts.

So, relax, enjoy and don’t forget to share your own ways of handling the holidays without melting down.

Janice

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