The Christmas lights are twinkling, people are smiling and laughing and the atmosphere is festive….. but you feel empty, nothing. I remember this feeling well. It happened during my sophomore year of college. We had invited friends to our dorm room for a Christmas party and had exchanged gifts, cider, stories and the music was loud and festive. I remember looking at my friends while sitting on top of one of our lofted beds and seeing their joy, their laughter and happiness—only I felt nothing, none of it. I felt empty. Void. It was almost as if I was looking at the room from outside of myself. I knew I was there, but I didn’t feel like I was there. What made it feel even more surreal was that no one else noticed. No one saw my lack of enthusiasm, my fake smile, my going-through-the motions, my nothingness.
Holidays are one of the most difficult times for people who struggle with depression. When there is joy and laughter happening all around you and you can’t even begin to conjure up a twinkle of it – it compounds those feelings even further.
While many think of depression as being sad, I’ve found that it is more the LACK of emotion that hurts the most. It’s the feeling of separate-ness. Blank. Nothing. Void. And because those feelings are so opposite of what is going on around you, it makes you feel even more
So how do you get through this “happy” time when you feel nothing?
First, I want you to know that you’re not alone in these feelings. They may feel overwhelming to you– like they may never end. That it’s unbearable. Too heavy a load to carry when everyone else is light and joyful.
You can bear it.
You can live through it.
YOU CAN SURVIVE
It may not feel like there is any light at the end of the tunnel on THIS day, but that doesn’t mean that there will never be light on ANOTHER day. Part of working through the darkness is holding on to HOPE. HOPE that there WILL be a day when you see a glimmer. When you feel a MOMENT of lightness. When you don’t have a bad thought.
As someone who has been in the darkness and has walked through it, gone back into it and walked through it again and again – I am here to tell you—you can survive.
You CAN work through it. I have done it. You can too.
I AM HERE BY THE GRACE OF GOD
I am here because I have held on to that HOPE. I am here because God gave me people who encouraged me. He gave me a husband who encouraged me to talk to someone. My husband never gave up. He suggested it time and again, waiting for me to reach the same conclusion. To be willing to say “I need help.”
Are you feeling hopeless? Are you feeling isolated and apart?
YOU ARE NOTE ALONE
Sometimes in order for us to feel hope, we have to go outside of ourselves.
We have to open up the darkness and share it with someone else. It’s scary, I know. You think nobody wants to see it. You think no one wants to hear it. You think you’ll BREAK if you open it even a crack.
You have to open up to allow the HEALING to get inside. And right now you’re wracking your brain trying to think of someone with whom you could share this darkness. What friend would look at you the same? Should you tell your spouse? If you tell your spouse- will they completely freak out? Who do you tell? Who will understand?
There is someone who will understand. There is someone who can help you.
A professional. Someone who is not part of your regular day. Someone who can offer you an outside perspective. If you’re like me, that is really difficult to hear. You may even be saying to your yourself — you’re not crazy enough to see a professional – you’re just struggling. You’re right, you’re NOT crazy. You don’t have to be crazy to talk to someone who can give you tools to manage your depression.
EVERY single time I’ve gone to a professional counselor/therapist/psychologist-I have walked away feeling better. I have walked away with tools and a perspective I could never have found on my own. I found ways to MANAGE my depression, ways to help my husband UNDERSTAND it, and the tools to SURVIVE it.
HERE IS YOUR CHANCE
Your chance to fight.
I know you don’t feel like it and it may take every last ounce of energy you can muster, but you CAN do it. You can ask for help. You don’t have to do this alone.
I know there is a part of you that WANTS to feel that hope, that wants to ask for help, but you’re scared.
It’s okay to be scared.
If you can have the hope of feeling happy again – it colors your day differently. It adds a little grey in the blackness. And guess what? That grey can spread and spread some more until you have a little bit more light in your day. Little by little, day by day.
Are you sick of feeling nothing? Of feeling worthless? Of feeling empty and lonely?
It’s OKAY to ask for help.
Do it NOW.
If you or someone you know has thoughts of death or suicide, contact a medical professional, clergy member, loved one, friend or crisis hotline such as 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) immediately.
Where can I look for a professional?
As you search for a health care professional, keep in mind that you have a right to expect certain things, no matter who you are, what challenges you are facing or how much money you have. These include:
- Privacy, confidentiality and respect
- Sensitivity to your needs and cultural background
- An understandable explanation of what is the matter and all of your treatment options
- Freedom to express yourself
- Freedom to find another professional if you are not satisfied with your treatment or don’t think it’s working as well as it should
Your relationship with your doctor should be a partnership. You will work together to find a treatment plan that will help you feel better. You should never feel intimidated by your doctor or feel that you are wasting his or her time. A good doctor, despite time limitations, will make an effort to listen to you and understand you.
Here are some places to get started:
- Your family doctor can give you a referral.
- Your Pastor or local worship place
- Your workplace employee assistance program. (If you are worried about confidentiality, first find out if this service is confidential.)
- Your insurance network. If you have insurance, your insurance company may have a list of professionals that are “in the network” and rules for seeing those who are not.
- Friends, family, community centers. Sometimes a friend or relative’s doctor will recommend someone, since some people don’t feel comfortable seeing the same person a close friend or relative is seeing.
- Professional associations.
- Your city or state mental health department. (Check the community, government or Blue Pages section of your phone book.)
- Local hospitals, or universities that have teaching hospitals.
- A local doctor referral service.
If this list feels overwhelming, I understand. It’s hard to even THINK about taking this step let alone picking up the phone and making a call. Take a deep breath and read through the list again and ask yourself “which place feels the easiest?”–even if making a connection with any of them seems hard, pick the one that is the easiest for you. Go with that one. It’s a place to start and that’s all you need right now.
I’m praying for you: May God give you the courage to ask for help to give you HOPE and HAPPINESS.
This information is not intended to cure, diagnose or treat medical conditions. You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention.