Patrick AFB, Fla. --
While many of us look forward to the upcoming holiday season with the wide-eyed wonder of a six-year-old, there are many, many people - including some working and living right here - who won't be having those same "visions of sugarplums" dancing in their heads.
Something much darker may be spinning around in there.
So says Ms. Mindy Phelps, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at the 45th Medical Operations Squadron, 45th Medical Group.
The reasons for these "Holiday Blues," she said, are right in front of us, but not all of us see them. Or even try to look.
"Holiday depression is big, it's real and it often goes unnoticed amid the bright lights and colorful presents we decorate our world with during the holidays. Many may try to pretend everything is okay but the bottom line is holiday blues creates many unhappy feelings.
"It is hard on people for so many reasons. Maybe they have no money, maybe their jobless - or worried about losing the one they now have," she said.
"Maybe they are missing family members due to geography or death, or to the many deployments our service members are doing on a rotating basis.
"Or maybe it just something as simple (in your mind) as being unable to go home for Christmas", she added.
"The list just goes on and on," she said. "And each and every one of them is viable."
The reality, she said, is that many of us work and live near folks dealing with these feelings - and more - but never seem willing to "butt into" someone else's life, or find the time to offer a helping hand or a sympathetic ear.
"As the holidays draw nearer, please keep in mind this season in not 'just about you,'" she said with emphasis.
"We have friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors who are really hurting. It really isn't asking too much to keep them in our thoughts this holiday season. Ask them over for dinner, share your family times with those less fortunate," she said.
"Many of you may never have been in their shoes. It's not a pleasant thing. It doesn't take a lot of money or effort to do something big. It's all about caring," she said.
For those feeling the blues, she offered this advice:
- Keep your expectations balanced. You won't get everything you want, things will go wrong, and you won't feel like Bing Crosby singing White Christmas. Remember that everything doesn't have to be perfect and don't worry about things that are out of your control.
- Don't isolate. If you're feeling left out, then get out of the house and find some way to join in. There are hundreds of places you can go to hear music, enjoy the sights or help those less fortunate.
- Don't overspend. Create a reasonable budget and stick to it. Remember it's not about the presents, it's about the presence.