May your heart be light (and what to do if it's not).

Hannukah is here, and the Christmas holiday approaches. With the weeks of festivities being touted as the "most wonderful time of the year," it may feel alienating for those who are grappling with difficult emotions. What happens when you're really not into it, and what if it's deeper than just the holiday blues?

Acknowledge your feelings with safe others.* Seriously. It may be unpopular to do, as acknowledging uncomfortable feelings is something that our culture frankly isn't all that great at doing. Remember the popular parental scold, "Go to your room if you're going to cry!"? It seems to have stuck with a lot of us. Our culture tends to cry and stress alone, if we acknowledge these feelings at all. Furthermore, not allowing others into our emotional headspace promotes isolation, which is pretty toxic for essentially social creatures. People's difficulties simply don't grind to a halt just because of the time of year. Bills still come. Illnesses still occur. Relationships change. We make the time festive and put music on to celebrate despite life's hum of challenges, but these often difficult realities are the same for everyone. In confiding to someone about your struggles, you might find some level of commiseration. 

How do you know when it's something deeper than the holiday blues? You'll know when your coping skills are just not working anymore to help your mood or when your coping mechanisms become destructive to yourself or your relationships. You'll know if you become isolated or possibly begin to use high risk behavior to escape the feelings that you just can't seem to shake. You'll begin to doubt your own worth as a human. You'll know when you become fearful or defensive about others discovering or discussing your coping tools. You'll know when you're convinced that nobody would understand or want to know what you're going through. You'll know when you seem to forget the last time you really felt happy. If any of these things seem like you, it's time for a little more care. Call me. Humans need each other to survive and thrive, to allow ourselves to be cared for when we are vulnerable and raw.  It is in our human nature to heal in compassionate presence, and allowing yourself this time to heal may be the best present of all.

*You'll notice that I specified commiseration with safe others. It is one of the greatest challenges to hold difficult emotions and not have the benefit of having the listening ear who will respect your physical and emotional safety. For those of you in unsafe living situations, here are some resources that I'd like to share.

Agora Crisis Center (24 hour hotline): 505-277-3013

NMCADV Domestic Violence Victims' Services and Shelters (categorized by NM Counties)
Phone: 505-246-9240 (M-F: 8am-4pm) or
Phone: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) in after business hours.

National Domestic Violence Hotline:
Phone: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or
TTY: 1-800-787-3224

Phone: 911