The Counselor's Corner

'Tis the season

Happy December!

As the month gets underway and the holidays approach, it’s important to be aware of how this time of year can affect many people.

Under most circumstances, the holiday season is experienced with joy and love. However, for those with mental illness, it can be experienced as lonely and turbulent.

First, those who deal with substance addiction, the holidays can be an angry, sad and worrisome time. Attempting to be present for family dinners and gift exchanges while under the influence can lead to feeling chaotic and out of control, not only for the person addicted, but those around him/her.

Secondly, for those who live with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), perhaps the holidays bring back harsh reminders of frightening trauma. The smallest detail such as a smell or certain holiday song can bring someone right back to the source of a painful experience.

Lastly, anyone who struggles with an eating disorder, whether one of restriction or one of excess, the holidays are a slippery slope to navigate since food represents such a huge part of the season. Eating in secret, trying to “fake” eating by pushing food around on a plate, or consuming large amounts of food to help soothe one’s feelings, can cause confusion and fear.

So as we celebrate with friends, co-workers and family, let us temper that with patience and sensitivity. Many people, children especially, do not always have the ability to express thoughts and feelings verbally. Pay attention to body language, mood shifts and otherwise atypical behavior. Remember to be gentle with those who may not welcome the holidays with open arms. Let us be a source of support and comfort for anyone who needs assistance making it through this time of year successfully. That is the true spirit of the season.

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” -unknown