<em>Here’s a Simple Tool to Help Fight Off Depression During the Holidays</em>

Here’s a Simple Tool to Help Fight Off Depression During the Holidays

There was a time when I walked around depressed and angry—an internal default setting that never seemed to move. Very few times do I remember being at peace or truly laughing because of joy or happiness.

Small things would send me over the edge.

My mind would cloud, darken like a moonless night, and the anger would be a quick, harsh scourge.

The after effects of such would pummel me deeper into despair because I would deal with remorse and regret over my stupid actions over such scourge.

This would almost always lead me, and way too quickly I might add, to thoughts of suicide.

And ever since I can remember, I’ve also been able to maintain an outward appearance that everything is great. All is well. I got my life together.

Yet, all the time inwardly, this internal swirling mass of dark ick tainted everything in my life.


Life is a tough business, and it’s almost unbearable for some.

And(!) during the holidays, this becomes more acute: the internal pain, confusion, depression, and anger of such.

Couple that with the media blitz that everyone should be happy and smiling and cheerful during the holidays, when in fact a person in real life may be dealing with a divorce, separation, recent death of someone close, financial problems, or a big career change (either intentional or forced), just compounds the already dark ick swirling around inside.

That comparison of how we should be versus how we really feel during the holidays is too much pressure.

The paradox in all of this is that as a law enforcement officer—career I retired from—I dealt with many situations during the holidays that involved suicides, homicides, and those who wanted to commit suicide.

I can’t even explain the bewilderment in my own head when I wanted to help these people all the while I had no answers for myself!

For some reason, Thanksgiving seemed to be the worst time of year; more so than Christmas.

Toward the end of my career, I began to search for ways to get better myself because the days and nights were becoming darker and gloomier and there was nothing that brought joy to my life outside of a few spots of relief from time to time.


As I’ve mentioned before, It’s never just one thing.

As I searched, one path led to another path that led to one item that I still do to this day…

Practicing Gratefulness.

It’s like a superpower!

Notice I did not say, Being Grateful, but Practicing.

There’s a difference…you can’t become unless you begin and practice being the thing you want to become.

Much of this depends not only on the choices we make but the habits we develop in our lives.

Habits are strong ropes that bind us to our core beliefs and transform us, either good or bad, to the thing we give ourselves to.

Gratefulness is no different.


The University of California, Berkley, has made a long study, and science, out of Gratefulness.

In an article published * in June of last year, they determined that individuals who incorporated practicing gratefulness every day had a significant improvement in mental health, sense of well-being, AND they had greater activity in the region of the brain associated with learning and decision making.

Practicing Gratefulness, in a sense, reprograms the brain. There are more studies out there that suggest the same, but the point is that this is what I began to do.

I started a Grateful List.

Every day, I would write down one or two things during the day I was grateful for.

It was a deliberate act that took a bit of effort. Remember, I didn’t see a whole lot of reasons to be wahoo happy for.

But, those little things I found to be grateful for—the amazing designs on a leaf, a sunset, or the colors on a grasshopper—seemed to me, at the very instant I was practicing gratefulness, my negative emotions seemed to cease.

That! Was a miracle to me.

And just like any new habit started, I didn’t really do it every day. Some days I’d forget. Those days were a repeat of the same old horrible dark ick I’ve experienced my whole life.

Gradually over time—the past few years—I started practicing gratefulness every day. Today, I think of at least 10 things, every day, to be grateful for.

I also make sure that each day I practice gratefulness, I don’t think of the same 10 items I used the day before.

This one practice I’ve incorporated into my life has truly helped my whole mental outlook. Healed if you will.

I still have off days but nothing like I had, and I’m quicker to practice gratefulness now that I’m aware of how to bring my head out of the pits when it does tank.


Yesterday evening when I left the office after a long, busy day that made my head numb, I happen to look up to see a jet trail.

The sun had just gone over the horizon, and the trail reflected a pinkish hue as the jet streamed overhead.

I thought, Wow! What a sight. I’m so grateful to see—

Then, before I could finish, a brilliant reflection of the sun bounced my way from the plane’s tail. It shimmered, flashed, and the plane seemingly disappeared behind the dark pink trail it left behind.

Again, Whoa! I thought of how lucky I was to be able to see such a sight.

The numbness was driven from my skull that instant and I had a smile on my face before I reached my vehicle.

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


* Here’s the link to Berkley’s site. Worth the few moments to read through.

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Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Change, Depression, Life Hack, Living Better, Reinvention, Self, Self-Improvement, Suicide
<em>As Long as There is Breath, There is Hope</em>

As Long as There is Breath, There is Hope

Recently, I went through a time of discouragement.

Ever notice that when times of discouragement happen, it’s not just one thing that causes it?

It’s always a combination of things.

Stress on all levels, in every area, and in each compartment of life…all at the same time.

Then, as you get older, you think back on the stupid mistakes, horrible decisions, and the failures in life.

Don’t get me wrong, when you’re young, you can beat yourself up pretty bad too.

But as you get older, there are more miles to look at in the rearview, which in times of discouragement, it seems much easier to point out all the collisions and debris fields in the rearview mirror than it is to point out the smooth roads traveled and great views experienced in life.

Maybe because it’s programmed into us.

You know…to look out for the dangers lurking behind us. The lizard brain telling us to be mindful of the lion sleeking through the grass that’s going to devour the slower ones of our tribe, and what if I’m not fast enough!?

Problem is, we don’t typically get eaten by lions anymore.

And sometimes, it’s damn hard to keep a positive view on things ahead because, well for me, I can get so crushed in the moment by the past.

You know…things I could’ve done, should’ve done, or said. Or, the things I should NOT have done or said.

Ugh. Life can be so freaking complicated at times.


I’m glad that at this point in my life, I’ve developed a strategy that helps in times like this.

In 2012, a lot started to change, and I began to answer to those changes instead of sitting back passively while life pulled and pushed me around.

— I began to write in a journal. This helped me sort through the crap in life and see what was important and how I wanted to live versus the way life, and others, were telling me how to live.

 I began to pray and meditate more on a daily basis and sometimes more than once a day. This gave me an ability to take my stress down a couple of notches and helped me get out of the mode of worrying about tomorrow because of my sins of the past and refocus on the present.

 I began to treat myself better. I began to exercise properly and start down the road of learning how to sleep better. The lack of sleep was killing me in every area: emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually.

 I found that practicing being grateful every day—I’m grateful for 10 different things every single day—began to change my thinking from being an Eeyore pessimist to believing that life is worth living.

Yet, even with all that under my belt now, I still feel discouragement at times.

My expectations meet up with reality. It’s like a head-on collision. My thinking of where I should be in the roadmap of life, and the time I should arrive, never seems to match up with real life…UGH!


So, there I am, going about feeling sorry for myself one afternoon and it was like I hit a brick wall while walking through the house.

An impression left on my soul and heart at that moment made me stop. I stopped to feel the impression throughout its vibration in my being. Listening for that still small voice.


“As long as there is breath, there is hope,” God whispered.


A slight grin brushed across my lips, and I slowly nodded my head while I breathed in reply, “Yeah…as long as there is breath, there is hope.”

Hope to change.

Hope that all will be okay.

Hope that difficult, discouraging times will pass and when it does, I’ll be a better person for it and have learned something new along the way.


May this little story help. May it inspire. May it give hope.

Thanks for reading.

Photo byjae bano on Unsplash

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Life Hack, Living Better, Reinvention, Self-Improvement, Suicide, 2 comments