Merry or Not, There is Hope

 By Helen Arnold

By Helen Arnold

The sights of Santa, a Christmas tree twinkling in the window and the crisp frost on the ground in the morning.  The taste of hot apple cider and the smell of gingerbread fresh out of the oven, and the images of the ugly Christmas sweater as people walk through the office show us that Christmas is here. 

His story of a baby born in a manger, the hope of a guiding star, angels proclaiming “Peace on Earth” all words that inspire hope and wonder.  This Christmas imagery constantly says that we should celebrate, be joyful, and make merry with our family and friends.

 

 

Yet, evidence suggests that feelings of anxiety and depression often increase during this season and peak in early January.   A 2011 YouGov study told us that 68% of Americans love the Christmas season while quietly informing us that 32% do not. That equates to 1 in 3 not enjoying this festive period.  

When we dig deeper, we realize that many people experience loneliness, are without family, or are with too much family at this time of year. The expectations of that Instagram perfect Christmas bombard our social media, and the financial impact of Christmas elevates our stress levels. People may be without loved ones or walking through challenges. We seem increasingly sensitive to these challenges during a period we are told should be “Party Time!”

On Sunday Dr Greg Jantz, founder of A Place of Hope and best selling author, spoke to us about depression.

It is a word we hear used a lot. Most of us know of someone who has experienced, or is experiencing, depression or we may be walking through this disease ourselves.  

The World Health Organization anticipates that by 2020 depression will be the Number 1 disease in the world, overtaking heart disease and cancer.

 

 

But, there is HOPE. Dr Jantz tells us from his 30 years of experience that there are answers for those of us living with depression. He described it as finding the pieces of a puzzle to make you whole again. 

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah was known as the Weeping Prophet, and definitely there was much woe in his book.  Yet he declared God’s word.

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

 

This truth is still relevant today. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that,

 

‘This High Priest of ours [Jesus] understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.’ (NLT)

 

As we walk through valleys, the plains, the desert and the mountains, we can remember that Jesus was tested as we are now.  So although the history of the nativity may seem idealistic when we’re in the valley, Jesus’s very birth is a guiding star of Hope, as he walked as we walk, and now he leads the way.

 

We can all help those with depression by:

  1. Accepting - Love the person as they are and reinforce that in their current walk that they have value.
  2. Understanding - Help the person to get the appropriate help from a physician, psychologist or counsellor.
  3. Affirmation - Remind the person that they do have purpose and that we believe in them.

 

What if I need help with Depression?

1. Get Help from a qualified mental health professional. Write a list of the things you can be thankful for.

2. At Christmas, get a friend to help you set personal boundaries.  For example alternate a pajama day with a full-on family day.

3. Don’t accept the perfect social media representation of Christmas - enjoy your moments the best you can.

4. Sleep. Try and have a regular sleep pattern.

5. Eat in moderation.

6. Exercise, go for a walk, get outside, raise the heart-rate and have fun doing it.

 

It is Brave to walk and deal with Depression. We recognize that for some, the desperation may be leading to thoughts of self-harm or suicide, or you may be concerned for a friend.  The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day on 1-800-273-8255. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness; it is a step of recovery.

 

 

Jesus is the Hope of Our Nation, the Hope of Our World and the Hope of Brave's this Christmas time.  

 

Jesus attends to our hopes and our fears.  

 

He sees beyond the tinsel on the Christmas tree and beyond the Gingerbread Latte. He decorates each of us with the joy of the season, as we seek to clothe ourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12 NLT)
 

To hear Sunday's talk by guest speaker Dr. Greg Jantz, click here.

 

For depression resources see below: 

 

- Dr. Jantz' book can be found here

- Seek help with treating depression using resources from Anxiety and Depression Association of America website

- Compilation of online mental health resources found here.