Holidays. They’re supposed to be a time of celebration and gaiety. But if you’re in the clutches of depression, Christmas may serve you a platter full of darkness instead of the traditional turkey or ham.

If your life has been touched by the ramifications of a medical trial, depression can be magnified. I struggled with all kinds of depression the first year after I had brain surgery. You could be dealing with a different type of illness. Maybe a stroke has left you needing to learn how to walk again. Or maybe you’ve lost someone—a spouse, friend or even child—due to a medical catastrophe.

How can you celebrate when all you feel is anger, resentment or even worse—that void? During this season of parties and get-togethers, well-wishers offer cast-off platitudes:

“God won’t give you anything you can’t handle.”

“That which doesn’t kill us will make us stronger.”

“You’re better off than you think.”

Really? Give me a break!

These next few days may be strewn with depression landmines, ready to explode at any moment. Walk through this season cautiously. With the proper planning and a support team around you, you can make it through.

Confide with your closest friends your needs if you can.  Let them know you may need to tap out of conversations or even turn down invitations. Maybe ask them to check in on you a bit more than usual. It’s not about them… this is about you and your needs.

If you find yourself slipping into a dark place, write words that have power on note cards and put the cards in your pocket. When you find yourself slipping into a funk, pull out the card and give yourself a lifeline. It may sound a bit cheesy, but I promise you, it can help.

Remember, holidays come, but they also go. And through it all, healing will continue. Pain will lessen. Live in the moment as much as you can, because really … that’s all we ever have.

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