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It’s been on my heart to write this for a while now. Day after day I’ve ignored the gentle tug. But as I sit here on Christmas’ Eve, in quiet and chaos, I am reminded of why I need to write.

My heart hurts for the people around me.

Growing up with clinical depression sometimes meant learning to cope with continual pain. Other times, it meant feeling numb, waiting to feel again. Depression is not simple. It takes various forms and catches you at unexpected times.

The holidays “should” be a time of joy. With pretty lights, colorful ornaments and beautiful music, December is ablaze with the warm kindling of love. Almost every item purchased in December is a gift. Families get together, businesses close, and people spend time with the ones they love. Facebook and Instagram are filled with smiling faces and happy families.

But for a person experiencing clinical depression, holidays can hurt.

I remember one Christmas when my depression was especially bad. Everything was perfect. My whole family was together. The tree was beautiful, and Luther Vandross played from a CD, hitting me with waves of nostalgia.

As everyone talked and laughed, their voices faded into a blur. I was dealing with so much, and I felt so much pain. I was alone in a room full of family. I felt like I had disappeared, and I wasn’t sure how to get back.

This Christmas, I know I have people who love me. I’ve been vulnerable with them and shared my heart with them. They have been there in the midst of pain.

This Christmas, I’m thinking about all the people living with depression.

  • People who feel like they are alone, even in the midst of a room full of friends.
  • People who have no one to spend the holidays with.
  • People hoping against hope that the family rivalries won’t flare up again.
  • People who are grieving a deep wound and putting on a happy face to deal with it.
  • People in the wake of breakups and divorces.
  • People who don’t know how they will provide for their families in the new year.
  • People who have convinced themselves that 2017 will be the year the shoe finally drops.
  • People who feel numb and can’t explain it.
  • People who face anxiety and pain.
  • People who are depressed.

I believe none of us are alone. This Christmas, let’s band together the best we can. Let’s ask deeper questions, spend a little extra time with the people we love. After all, we don’t know what’s really going on.

When you look at your smiling friend, mother, father, sister, brother, spouse, niece, nephew… take a longer look. What is going on behind the smile? Take the time to care. There may be more going on than you know.

And if you’re struggling, this is a time to be vulnerable with the people who love you. Chances are, you don’t realize how important you are. I promise you you’re worth more than you know.

Let’s have a good day tomorrow. We’re all in this together! Please don’t forget that you’re not alone.

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