We don’t need a Charles Dickens story to realize that we all suffer from the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future at times. In fact, the holiday season can unfortunately be a reminder for some that life in the past, present, or future was, is, or may be far from jolly.
This is a time when people remember loved ones lost. It is also a time of darkening skies and lower levels of sun. What’s worse, if you are feeling down this season, you can feel like a misfit – why is everybody going around celebrating and talking about doing good deeds?
Two holiday periods in my life stand out as pretty rough. The first is when I was looking after a dying woman who passed away as my hospital shift ended on Christmas Eve. When I got home, all I could do was cry as the children opened their presents. The other was when my kitchen caught fire during the week of Christmas and covered my house in soot. Both times, I felt seriously unjolly and, with so many others celebrating, like a misfit, too. It’s hard to be the life and soul of the party when you feel like that.
So, how can you cope with the holiday season if you are experiencing depression or loneliness?
If you are feeling very low in mood, find your sleep to be disturbed, can’t be bothered to do things, and feel as though everything is drudgery, then you may be suffering from depression. A counsellor or your doctor can help during this difficult period. Talk to someone. Don’t stay isolated and alone. Crisis lines are available throughout B.C. if you need to talk to someone confidentially, 24/7/365. In northern B.C., dial 250-563-1214, 1-888-562-1214, or visit the Crisis Prevention, Intervention & Information Centre for Northern BC. There is also a B.C.-wide line. For that, dial 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433), 310-6789, or visit the Crisis Line Association of BC.
You can’t be a party animal when you are feeling sad, depressed, lonely, or isolated – and the holiday season may make this worse. But perhaps Dickens has something to offer after all: even if your whole being is crying out to be old Scrooge, engage with others, talk to others about how you’re feeling, and try to take part in all of the different activities that the holidays can offer.
About Jim Coyle
Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.