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Seriously Today – Are You Seeing Black?

Seriously Today – Are You Seeing Black?

Amongst all the glitter and the joy and the well-wishes of this season is sadness.

Unbearable, crushing sadness.

It doesn’t always show, even when you know what to look for.  But, many people, probably someone close to you, find themselves stuck in a pit of black so deep that they dream of the day they will be only blue.

Humor Funny Humorous Family Life Love Laugh Laughter Parenting Mom Moms Dad Dads Child Kid Kids Children Son Sons Daughter Daughters Brother Brothers Sister Sisters Grandparent Grandma Grandpa Grandparents Grandfather Grandmother Gina Valley Depression Help Diagnosis Symptoms You won’t see a holiday movie about it on the Hallmark channel.  You won’t find themed decorations for it at the gift shop.  But, someone, maybe several people, in your life is suffering from depression.

I know no one wants to hear some downer like this at this time of the year.  Heck, when do we ever want to think about sadness we can’t fix?

But, it’s there.

At least one in ten adults in the United States reports being impacted by some sort of depression (according to the CDC).  Think about how large that number is.  Think about how many people don’t admit it but are suffering nonetheless.

Close your eyes and think about ten people you know.  Odds are that at least one of them is suffering.

Maybe more.

Maybe you.

Humor Funny Humorous Family Life Love Laugh Laughter Parenting Mom Moms Dad Dads Child Kid Kids Children Son Sons Daughter Daughters Brother Brothers Sister Sisters Grandparent Grandma Grandpa Grandparents Grandfather Grandmother Gina Valley Depression Help Diagnosis Symptoms

There are people living today who will not be after the holidays, and they are twice as likely to have taken their own life, than they are to have had it taken from them.

So what now?  How can you help?

First, ask yourself if you are depressed.

Did you laugh?  Does that seem a ridiculous question?  This is the season of focusing on others, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to ignore your own health.  Don’t tell yourself that you’ll worry about you after the holidays.  Don’t convince yourself that you shouldn’t make a fuss.

If your spouse or your child was suffering from depression, wouldn’t you want to know right now?

You matter, too, even if you don’t feel like you do.

There are a multitude of websites that can help you determine if what you’re suffering from is depression, and if you are, or someone you know is, how to seek help.  Here’s a couple:  or  or

You could also ask a local therapist.  Check your local or online phone book for “mental health services” or “psychiatrists” or “psychologists” or “social services” or “medical doctors.”

Humor Funny Humorous Family Life Love Laugh Laughter Parenting Mom Moms Dad Dads Child Kid Kids Children Son Sons Daughter Daughters Brother Brothers Sister Sisters Grandparent Grandma Grandpa Grandparents Grandfather Grandmother Gina Valley Depression Help Diagnosis Symptoms

You could call an 800 number, such as 1 (800) 273 – TALK  or  1-800-248-4344  or  1-800-SUICIDE  or  1-800-PPD-MOMS  or  1-877-VET2VET

Call a friend or pastor or rabbi or neighbor or cousin or teacher or coworker or hospital or emergency room.

The most important thing is to talk to someone.  Depression thrives in isolation.  Tell someone, and if they don’t listen, tell someone else.  Keep talking until someone listens.

If you’re feeling that driving away forever or that never waking up or that going on an endless walk or that dying would be a relief, tell someone.  Few people realize that these and similar thoughts are suicidal thoughts.  Suicidal thoughts are not always as clear as “I want to make myself die.”

It’s hard to ask for help.  It’s hard to admit there’s something wrong.  But, if you don’t want to, or aren’t able to do it for yourself, do it for all of the people around you who love you.

You would want them to get help.  Treat yourself at least as well.

Secondly, think about the people around you.  Consider their behavior and their words.  Consider the signs of depression.

Then, ask them.  And, listen carefully.  Ask how they are.  Be direct, but gentle.  Tell them what concerns you.  Don’t disparage their feelings, but offer hope by pointing out reality.  Don’t ignore any suicide related comments.  Tell their doctor or clergy or spouse or therapist.  Tell them you care and don’t want them hurt or gone.  Seek help for them in the same ways discussed above.

Humor Funny Humorous Family Life Love Laugh Laughter Parenting Mom Moms Dad Dads Child Kid Kids Children Son Sons Daughter Daughters Brother Brothers Sister Sisters Grandparent Grandma Grandpa Grandparents Grandfather Grandmother Gina Valley Depression Help Diagnosis SymptomsDepression nearly always improves with treatment.

Treatment can vary from adding exercise and time in sunshine to medications and in-patient therapy, with many, many different possibilities and combinations in between.

You matter.

The people around you matter.

This season make it a point to give yourself and those around you the gift of being open and honest about depression.  Seek help for those who need it.  Especially for yourself.

The best for you is the first thing on my wish list this season.  Reach out for it.


Do you know someone who suffers from depression?  Do you struggle with it? What helped them?  What didn’t?  What encourages you when you’re down?  Do you know of someone who might be lonely this season?  How are you planning to help?  Shoot me a comment.  I’m looking forward to hearing all about it.

7 Responses
  • The Sadder But Wiser Girl
    December 9, 2012

    I’ve been struggling with it myself for a while. SOmetimes it’s better, sometimes it’s BAD. I just got through the worst I think. I was on meds for something else and just got scarily like walk in front of a bus depressed. I’ve never felt like that before. SO I quit the meds, and messaged the drs office, but I just don’t think they care. Whatever. Now just focusing on trying to make it through the holidays with no money, making homemade gifts and trying to get my children to understand that this is just how it is this year. Definitely the worst Holiday season we have ever seen due to a lot of very bad things that have happened. I hope that we can only go up from here!

    • gina valley
      December 9, 2012

      I am so sorry you are struggling. No one can completely understand what exactly you are feeling, but I have definitely had that hopeless feeling before. It is a terrible place to be. It feels so lonely and dark. I know it doesn’t make you feel any better right now, but things will change. You will feel better.

      This time of year makes it doubly hard to be struggling with depression. The pressure to be merry can really make things feel so much worse. To also be struggling financially is over the top difficult. Our society creates so many unrealistic expectations for us to try to live up to around the holidays. It is very hard to handle.

      It sounds like you have your priorities straight and are focusing on your children. It is so hard not to be able to give the material things to our kids that we want to. It is a great lesson that you are imparting to them in teaching them that sometimes we struggle.

      I don’t know where you live so I can’t give you any specifics, but please allow me to encourage you to reach out for more help. Find a peer support group. There is no cost for these. Talking to or even just listening to others struggling in a similar way can help a lot. I know it’s hard to make those calls when you are already depressed, but force yourself to do it for your well being, if for no other reason than because you want your kids’ mom healthy.

      I am sorry that your doctor’s office seemed uncaring. Call them again. Be very specific with your message. Be sure to tell them to tell your doctor that the med made your depression significantly worse AND that you want to talk to him/her about it. If you feel that “walking in front of a bus” feeling again, call 911. They will help you. They are trained and it is their job.

      And, I know this is hard,but accept help from others. I know it is sometimes hard to accept help. Sometimes it makes us feel like failures. But, the truth is that everyone goes through hard times, and when we are in good times we all want to help those who are not. Allow people the honor of helping you. It’ll teach your kids that it is the right thing to do to accept help when you need it. When you are back on top show your kids it is the right thing to do to helping others by helping someone else.

      Call around and accept help from food and toy programs, such as food banks, churches, Toys for Tots, etc. Where I live there is a dinner available for families at a different church every night. There are also many food banks and merchandise and toy banks available for those who are struggling. I think most areas have similar things available. Call a church or social services and ask for referrals. Check in the phone book,too, for food banks, children’s charities, and family support groups. It may take several calls, but keep at it.

      You are going through a rough time. Let them help lift a little of the burden for you.

      Feel free to send me an email using my contact me page.

      I hope you are feeling better very soon!

      • The Sadder But Wiser Girl
        December 9, 2012

        Thank you for your kind, caring, and informative reply! I appreciate it!

        • gina valley
          December 9, 2012

          My pleasure!

  • Lefty Lee
    December 11, 2012

    Very important and valuable post, and nicely done. Somebody who is this lucid about this topic must speak from experience, as do I. I can register a couple of thoughts based partly on my own experience with depression and my training in Design of Intervention.

    Like you say, if you’re depressed, reaching out to someone, when you’re depressed, is crucial. One thing I’ve learned: it’s important to understand that some people are able and willing to help you, and others aren’t trained for it, or don’t have the right instincts. So if you talk to one person and it doesn’t help, think about who might be more helpful–more caring, or more open, or more skilled.

    It is a truism that you read in papers quite often, that “using a friend as a sounding board can be just as helpful as going to a counselor.” Well, I partly agree and partly don’t. Finding a sympathetic ear does usually help. Definitely try it. Also, there are some things that untrained friends and relations can do which don’t help (see below).

    If you’re the one doing the helping, BLESS YOU, and you need to know about some potential pitfalls. And if you’re the one seeking a soundboard, BLESS YOU TOO, for reaching out. And you need to know about them too. It’s important to know if you’ve gone to the right person and/or are getting the kind of attention you need. If you haven’t found the right capable sounding board yet, keep looking. You’ll be glad you did.

    I’ll cite one example of an appropriate “sounding board skill” to know about, and then refer you to a wonderful book that lists the others. It’s actually something that Gina seems to do well, either by instinct or by training (I’d be interested to know).

    Don’t minimize. When somebody says something lamenting their life, it’s very tempting to try to convince them that things are not as bad as they seem, or that they are over-reacting–cheer up, things will get better. To illustrate how this can backfire….put yourself in the person’s shoes. Recall some time when you mentioned some complaint and somebody didn’t take you seriously. How did it feel? In this book by Robert Bolton this is highlighted as a Communication Roadblock– Minimizing the other person’s experience shuts down communication. When you are being a sounding board, or searching for one, open lines of communication are essential. Minimizing is just one of a dozen common Communication Roadblocks that you need to know about.

    Another biggie among the Communication Roadblocks, is “Judging.” I won’t go into the details here, except to mention that Judging takes many forms–some that you might not have thought WERE judging.

    People usually mean well. But most people get their “training” in how to help others, from sit-coms or talk shows–quite often not the best source of information and insight. We each also got modelling of “helpfulness” from our parents and families–which may or may not have been a model of skill and effectiveness. If you go to someone to talk and they are consistently shutting down your communication, in my view you have a couple of options: a.) If they’re a significant person in your life, a natural support, you can try to get them to not do things such as MINIMIZING your experience. b.) You can try to find someone more skilled.

    So the overall message I’m trying to convey is: If you’re feeling profoundly or persistently down, yes, DO REACH OUT. And…you owe it to yourself to reach out to someone who knows how to help. Someone who doesn’t judge and doesn’t minimize. Somebody who seems to listen well.

    Sometime in your life you have probably run into somebody who seems to listen particularly well. Chances are the person, at least by instinct, knows about the 12 Communication Roadblocks and how to avoid shutting things down. So it’s partly a matter of their being sympathetic, and partly a matter of skill. One reason you SHOULD consider consulting with a professional about your feelings is that they (hopefully) will be sympathetic, a skilled listener, AND be able to give you sound advice. Note: Even among counselors you might need to do a little looking to find someone with the right skills. Surprisingly, not even all counselors have complete control of their communication skills. Sometimes personality gets in the way of training. Anyway…. Find yourself somebody who’s good at it. And do it because it will help, and you owe it to yourself.

    The excellent book, which helped ME ENORMOUSLY to figure out how to function in the world, is called “People Skills” by Robert Bolton. They have it at Amazon.

    Gina, I’d like to know what you think of all this. Good article.

    • gina valley
      December 17, 2012

      Lee –
      I think you made some very good points and brought up several important issues.

      It is very important to find someone who is truly able to listen to you, and,as you pointed out, not everyone one reaches out to, even sometimes trained professionals, is able to listen in the way one needs, so It is vital to keep reaching out until someone appropriate is found.

      And, I think you are right about different people having different skill sets. So, certainly this makes it even more important that people push themselves to find someone who can truly help them.

      I have many people in my life who struggle with depression. It is a unique struggle to everyone, but all need patience, understanding, and a listening ear.

      Thank you for all of your input!