I know it’s Black Friday but I’m not a shopper anymore, if I ever was. I’m so grateful I don’t have the need to fight the crowds and spend money to feel like it’s the holiday season. I still have memories of New York Department store shopping and driving around the mall parking lot for hours trying to find a parking space. The image of an overbearing group of hysterical women fighting over a sale table is fairly accurate. My brother and sister-in-law used to come down from New Hampshire for Thanksgiving when I was in college, and my sister and her husband came up from Virginia. Those two women are crazy shoppers even now, thirty something years later. On the Friday following Thanksgiving they were gone for the day. It was their yearly trip to mecca. Sometimes I’d go just to do something, but I have to confess the day after Thanksgiving when I had to go to the hospital to give birth to my first born son was a day I felt great relief for more than one reason!
The holiday season is a time of fun and frivolity for some but for many it is a season of darkness and despair. I’ve fought depression pretty much for as long as I can remember. I figure it probably began somewhere around the time I was ten. Either way it plagued me at a time when little attention was paid to it. I, like many, had to reach the point of being non-functioning, before help was found and I was fortunate to be living in the New York metropolitan area where progressive treatment was more readily available.
Depression just wasn’t something anyone talked about, nor was it comfortable owning up to its presence in your life. There was a stigma attached. It felt like a character flaw. It took me many years to get to the point where I talked openly about it and even now I know I run the risk of assumptions being made about me that are unfounded. I do it anyway because I believe its vitally important to talk about this painful illness so that people can get the help that is available to them. There are so many more effective treatments for depression than there were when I began dealing with it. We know so much more, not only about the human psyche, but the bio-chemical component to it and other mental health issues. It’s a beautiful thing.
The menopausal years can wreak havoc on those with a predisposition to depression. My doctor was more concerned about my mental health than hot flashes. The genetic component is real. My mother went off the deep end when she went through menopause. My sister also had a different, but strong emotional component to her menopausal symptoms. As menopausal symptoms begin to ebb, aging opens us up new points of entry for depression. We need more light for example. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) becomes more severe. Even though all of what I’ve said about depression is true, there is hope for relief.
I have experimented with every treatment available, from drugs and therapy to diet and meditation. Some things have worked, some work for awhile, some are a waste of time…for me. Everyone is different. I understand emotional pain to a degree I sometimes wish I didn’t, but the upside is that I’ve developed an arsenal of methods for coping and surviving the dark days and weeks and months, and you can too.
I wrote Finding Hope to pull together in one place uplifting quotes I found on my own midlife journey (or the first part of it) and some of my reflections on how to find hope in difficult times. I don’t ever want anyone to be alone in their suffering. It’s a terribly lonely place to be, and while it’s not always easy to let another person in to that place, it is possible to let words on a page drop in occasionally. To reach more people I have lowered the price on the book to the lowest allowed by Amazon with the hope that anyone who needs a lift, especially during the holiday season, can have access to it. I don’t want money to be an obstacle.
Don’t suffer. Get help. If you don’t know where to look or how to begin, send me an email and I will do what I can to help you find a connection.