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December 18, 2012 9:01 am

EDITORIAL: Making holidays happier

Written by Ilene Olson

Recent events in the nation and closer to home provide tragic reminders that the holidays, while cherished by many, are not happy for everyone.

People nationwide are shocked and are mourning alongside the families of the children and adults who were killed in the Connecticut school shooting last week. Though far removed by distance, our thoughts, prayers and emotions are tied to those who are grieving and hurting, especially at this time of year. 

During the holidays, people often face increasing personal problems and depression.

For most people who face depression, grief, addictions, post traumatic stress, financial woes or other problems that overwhelm them this time of year, the struggles they endure are much less obvious, much less public. While family members or close friends may be aware of their struggles, others likely are unaware of the inner battles they face each day, or of the sheer strength of will it takes for them to put one foot in front of another from the moment they wake up in the morning to the moment they fall asleep at night. The fact that this is a joyous time of year — or, at least, it is supposed to be — simply magnifies the hurt they feel.

It is important for anyone struggling with depression or seemingly overwhelming problems to know that help is available. A suicide prevention hot line is available at Yellowstone Behavioral Health Center in Cody at 307-587-2197 or Powell at 307-754-5687 for people who are having thoughts of harming themselves. Folks can call 800-457-9312 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255) any time or Wyoming Behavioral Institute in Casper at 307-237-7444.

Other help can come through a variety of sources, including mental health professionals, substance abuse counselors, pastors, support groups or friends who also are good listeners.

It also is important for the rest of us to be aware that some people are struggling. Watch for opportunities to reach out to a neighbor or a friend who seems upset or quieter than usual. A smile and invitation to lunch might be a good place to start.

Doing what we can to make sure the holidays are as happy as possible for everyone will help us feel better too, and it will be a much needed reminder that there still is good in human nature.

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