"Singing to a person who is depressed is like taking off a person's clothes on a cold day or like rubbing salt in a wound."
Elvis moaned through a song about it... and many experience it -- a "blue Christmas." In the midst of the time when lots of folks feel so wonderful and special there are those who feel so awful. Their experience can include grief from a loss, the "blues" for a few days, or clinical depression. Regardless of the form, it hurts -- it really, really hurts. I think that's what the writer of Proverbs was trying to say in the verse below my photo, "Be careful with others because depression hurts." (Ironic, isn't it, a several hundred year old saying offering the same message as a current television commercial?) Depression hurts.
It's important that we recognize how much depression really hurts if we are to avoid rubbing salt in the wounds. Sometimes it's difficult for those of us who have never experienced clinical depression to understand just how much it hurts. The first step in turning from unhelpful to helpful ways of relating is trying to get a sense that the other person's depression really hurts. Depression is not something the person is making up or using to try and manipulate others. It is a dangerous illness that takes many lives each year. Clinical depression often needs professional help.
Although the "blues" may not be as severe, the condition still requires patience and sensitivity on the part of those relating with the afflicted. The Proverbs writer warns against forcing things upon the afflicted. Follow their lead. Allow the one with the blues to participate and be part of things without pushing them to feel like the rest of us. Try not to make them feel like they're a "party-pooper" if they're not in the holiday mood. Let them know you're aware of their feelings and want them around regardless of how they feel.
For those suffering through a "blue Christmas," be careful not to listen to some of the distorted messages from the depression. You may have thoughts like, "I don't want to do anything," or, "I don't want to be around anyone." Those are not helpful thoughts. Christmas is the season we celebrate God's healing light of hope coming into the world in the presence of Christ. God's healing love is made available in many ways - through the help of various professionals, through the joy of fellowship, and even through the off-key song of a tiny white robe-bedecked "angel" in a Christmas pageant. Make plans to participate with others, and let them carry God's healing light of hope for you to shine in the darkness of a "blue Christmas."
I pray that God will help me carry the healing light of hope for others and avoid rubbing salt in "blue wounds." How about you?
Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Sand Hill United Methodist Church
Boaz, West Virginia
Help save lives! For more information on my new book, "A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression," visit www.survivingteendepression.com.
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