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The Holiday Blues

What Are The Holiday Blues?

The Holiday Blues refer to feelings of anxiety or depression during the period between Thanksgiving and New Years. They may be associates with extra stress, unrealistic expectations or even sentimental memories that accompany the season. They may include:

Loneliness and isolation


A sense of loss




The difference between the holiday blues and clinical anxiety or depression is that the feelings are temporary. They may come and go around specific holiday activities. However, if they are present for more than two weeks, especially every day, the mental health problem may be more serious.

Its also important to understand that people already diagnosed with a mental illness can feel the holiday bluesand need to take extra care of themselves.

What Causes The Holiday Blues?

Many factors can someones mood over the holidays, including:

Less sunlight (October March).

Changes in diet or routines.

Alcohol is a depressant. Too much alcohol can create or intensify depressive moods, and the holiday season is filled with parties.

Extra stress comes from holiday preparations or family demands. Buying presents, hosting events, preparing meals and even the pressure of getting holiday cards in the mail on time can wear a person down.

Unrealistic expectations, such as wanting to attend every gathering youre invited to or wanting to spend more than your budget allows on gifts.

Over-commercialization of the season through advertising and store sales.

Inability to travel or attend family gatherings.

Feeling a difference between past holidays and the present onesometimes because of the loss of a loved one or change in your living or work situation.

Children And The Blues

Child and adolescent psychiatric hospitalizations peak during winter months, including the holiday season.

Children are perceptive. They pick up on the mood of parents and other family members. They also feel the loss of close family members who may have died with whom they have celebrated in the past, such as grandparents. They can feel loss from other changes, such as a deployed parent or family upheaveals such as moving, divorce, etc.

Its important to keep in mind that children and teenagers also arent limited to simply feeling blue: 50% of lifetime cases of mental illness appear by age 14 and 75 percent by age 24.

Does The Suicide Rate Rise During The Holidays?

Its a myth. In fact, the suicide rate tends to be lowest in winter. Suicides increase in the spring. But symptoms of depression and thoughts of suicide must be taken seriously every time of the year, including the holidays.

Avoiding the Holiday Blues

Stick to normal routines as much as possible.

Get enough sleep or rest.

Take time for yourself, but dont isolate yourself. Spend time with supportive, caring people.

Eat and drink in moderation. Dont drink alcohol if you are feeling down.

Get exerciseeven if its only taking a short walk. Make a to-do list. Keep things simple.

Set reasonable expectations and goals for holiday activities such as shopping, cooking, entertaining, attending parties or sending holiday cards.

Set a budget for holiday activities. Dont overextend yourself financially in buying presents.

Listen to music.

Remember that holiday blues are short-term. Be patient.

Take things week by week and day by day.

Beyond The Blues: When It Becomes Mental Illness

If symptoms of depression or anxiety last more than 2 or 3 weeks, it could indicate a more serious mental health problem. There are basic steps that a person experiencing symptoms or family members and friends can take. These are steps that can be taken any time of the year.

Talk with your doctor (or pediatrician). A comprehensive physical exam needs to be part of assessment to rule out some physical causes.

Get a referral to a mental health professional; a call from your doctor may help you to avoid a long waiting list. Educate yourself or recommend a resource to a person. Someone may know that something is off, but not recognize or understand symptoms or how to find help.

If a friend or relative is showing symptoms, ask them privately how things are going. If needed, use a prompt like You seem a little sad or frustrated. Whats been going on lately? Dont be judgmental or trivialize what they may be feeling.

Offer to make the appointment for the person and accompany them to the doctors office or mental health clinic for moral support. It can make a big difference.

Local NAMI affiliates can be a source of support.


Coming Events

NAMI Georgia Walk Celebration Info

DATE: Saturday, October 26, 2013

LOCATION: Lewis Hill Amphitheater on the Courthouse Square, Moultrie, GA





This event is to celebrate the NAMI Georgia 2013 Walk, and south Georgia's participation in that event. Your participation in the Georgia Walk is strongly encouraged. Use the link above to begin. your participation in the NAMI Georgia Walk. You DO NOT have to attend the actual Walk in Atlanta. The event in Moultrie is your opportunity to have fellowship and celebration with fellow participants from the south Georgia area.

NAMIWalks is a nationwide fundraising and mental health awareness program that is being held in more than 88 communities around the country in 2013, including right here in Moultrie. It is expected that these walks will raise approximately 10 million dollars in 2013, so NAMI can offer more support and services to the hundreds of thousands of individuals and families across the country affected by serious mental illness.

There is no walker registration fee for the walk or the celebration event. All participants are encouraged to collect donations from family members, friends, co-workers and business associates in support of their participation in the walk then come to the celebration.

All the funds collected by walkers will be used to support NAMIs programs here in Georgia. These programs include support, education, research and advocacy involving schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic depression), major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and severe anxiety disorders.

All walkers raising $100 or more will receive a NAMIWalks event T-shirt.

Companies, organizations and families are encouraged to organize teams of walkers made up of employees, organization members, relatives and friends to take part in the walk. Teambuilding and fundraising materials will be given out to team captains at a Team Captain Kick-off Luncheon that will be held in Moultrie for the South Georgia Community.

The NAMI Georgia Walk Celebration event is a rain or shine event.

There is a wide-range of corporate sponsorship opportunities available to local companies and businesses relating to the walk. A brochure detailing the levels and their benefits is available for interested companies. This information is available at

For more information please contact Lynn Wilson, Walk Manager at

Family-to-Family Education Program

12 weeks beginning on September 15, 2013. Meeting Sunday afternoons from 2:30 to 5:00. Free of cost to family members and caregivers of persons with mental illness. Includes latest research (updated annually), support, resources, and coping strategies. Teachers are trained family members of NAMI Albany. Participants must commit to 12 weeks. For more information on this program or NAMI-Albany: Pam Barfield at 229 343 8791 (


Albany Declares May As Mental Health Month

On May 6 volunteers, professionals, and interested citizens gathered to witness Mayor Dorothy Hubbards signing of a proclamation for Mental Health Month. Mayor Hubbard stated that she strongly supports local efforts to make the public more aware of mental health issues.

Representatives from SOWEGA Council on Aging, the YMCA, and others committed to mental health joined NAMI Albany, Phoebe Behavioral Health and the Albany Area Community Service Board in supporting the proclamation.

Jere Brands, President of the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), stated, Many who are affected by mental illness arent aware that help is just a phone call away. Anyone can call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line to access local care or to find help in a crisis. Professional counselors and social workers staff this line 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The local proclamation cites statistics from the National Institute for Mental Health (

One in four adults experiences a mental health disorder in a given year. One in 17 adults lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder.One in 10 children live with a serious mental or emotional disorder.

NAMI Albany offers support and education for those with a mental health diagnosis and their families and networks of support. For more information about NAMI Albany, call Pam Barfield at(229) 343 8791.

The local website can be found by searching for NAMI Albany GA Home.For easily accessible information on mental illnesses and on recovery, go to

Anyone can call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line to access local care or to find help in a crisis. Professional counselors and social workers staff this line 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.#The number for the crisis line is (800) 715-4225.

The month of May has been officially designated Mental Health Month since 1949. This year for the first time the President of the United States also issued a proclamation in support of mental health.



In the coming months, NAMI Albany will sponsor a series of programs on local resources for mental health crisis. Each of these programs is on the second Tuesday evening of the month, 6:30 p.m., Phoebe Northwest on the Dawson Road in Albany:

- on Tuesday, March 12, Susan Moore, Compliance Coordinator, and Phoebe Behavioral Health staff will bring information about crisis services available locally and access, admission process for Behavioral Health Services (including emergency room, direct admission, and transfers), and the involuntary admission process (including 1013 and court orders)

- on Tuesday, April 9, Mimi Johnson, Nurse Manager, will bring information on the Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) . The CSU is located on 11th Avenue in Albany and is managed by the Albany Area Community Service Board (CSB), a part of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.May is Mental Health Month. The

- NAMI Night program on May 14 will feature recovery, with an interactive program presented by John Holt and Brian Williams, two NAMI members who will witness for their recovery journeys.

- on Tuesday, June 11, staff form the Albany Area CSB will bring information about Assertive Community Treatment and the Mobile Crisis Unit. Assertive Community Treatment consists of intensive outpatient attention for those especially in need of this. Mobile Crisis Units are a new service for use in rural areas.


From The Author of "Ben Behind His Voices"

In this real, honest and vivid story of a familys struggle with schizophrenia, author Randye Kaye shows the reader what it is like for a family to be in chaos due to mental illness. Struggling with the changes her son, Ben, undergoes a transformation from sweet child to troubled teenager to, eventually, an adult with schizophrenia. Kaye does an outstanding job of reflecting how mental illness can rule a family from a mothers perspective.

From dropping out of high school, to cross-country ventures, from one job to the next, the changes in Ben causes his mother to be worried, afraid, sad and angry all in one breath. From the confusion before Bens diagnosis to the trial and error to find the right treatment, through the ups and downs along the rocky road to recovery, the reader is almost instantly involved in this struggle, and feeling the desperate fear and pain of the family. Kaye is torn as a mother between her desire to stay involved, and knowing when to let go.

In Ben Behind His Voices, Kaye enthralls you into her familys story of warning signs, chaos, incarceration, hospitalization, recovery and hope. This is the story of so many families who are affected by mental illness. It is important to remember that while schizophrenia is a challenging disease; there is hope for normalcy and recovery. Ben and his amazing mother prove it in their story.

Recently I was able to talk with Randye Kaye about her book.

NAMI: Why did you decide to write Ben Behind His Voices?

Kaye: The story began with NAMI, in a way. My son is now 30. I was a radio personality when these symptoms began to occur, and NAMI really changed my perspective. This book is a love letter to NAMI. One of my main reasons was to increase awareness of NAMI, and one of the best ways to do that is through a story. Because NAMI was so instrumental in becoming educated enough, I wanted to let more people know abut he hope and education NAMI can provide; and how education can empower a family to help their loved one, rather than giving up. Whoever I get the chance to speak to; I always say the most important letters after my name are MRG, Mother who Refused to Give Up. Because of NAMI, I found the courage and knowledge to help my son.

NAMI Family-to-Family was my favorite part of NAMI. It gave me support, and something concrete I could useeducation without judgment. I quickly became a teacher, and then a trainer of teachers.

The reasons for writing it were always there, but finding time was another issue. And actually finding that time was a gift from the universe, in the six-month severance period following my last day at the radio station. I wanted to spread the message of hope and support further than just the people I met through NAMI. I wanted to help health care professions to see things from the family point of view. If the family is educated and empowered, they can be such a powerful ally in recovery. But if not, those families can just give up, or become detrimental to the process because they dont know how to help.

Every patient or client or case, is a person, who is someones son, daughter, spouse, parent, brother, sister, friend; someone who is loved, who has a past and hopefully a future. I named the book Ben Behind His Voices because I wanted to be clear that this is a person who had a bad stroke of luck because he has an illness. I wanted to spread empathy, offer hope, increase understanding and help others to not feel so alone.

NAMI: Did you worry about the impact sharing your story would have on your family?

Kaye: I really did. It was a risk, but its always a risk because no matter how much we tell ourselves that it isnt our fault and we should be able to be as open about this as other people are about an illness like cancer, I felt that by jumping over that hurdle and being open, we could do some good.

The first persons permission I had to get was my sons. He is inching towards some sort of acceptance with his illness, and to respect his journey I always try to partner with him. I told him I couldnt tell his story, but I am telling the story from my point of view as a mother. He agreed to let me do that, and asked that I change his name for privacy purposes, which I did. He actually chose the name Ben himself, and also gave me permission to use his poetry and some of his writings.

My son is a sensitive soul, and he doesnt lash out, so I try to keep a mothers eye on his feelings. When the books came from the publisher, I knew that this would finally seem real, and watched for his reaction. He just smiled and said, cool mom. Two days before the book launch Ben said he wanted to come to the event; that he wanted to support me. This was a surprise, but of course I was delighted that he wanted to be therebut I was also a bit wary.

The book launch was a reception and book-reading, so I asked Ben how he felt about that. I chose passages carefully, since he was in the audience and had never heard some of them before. He asked me to state a disclaimer that, If Ben were here, he would want me to remind you (the audience) that he may have a different version of this story; this is from the mothers point of view. This way, the people who didnt know him did not know he was there, and the people who do know him, already love him and know his story. This worked like a charm - and the evening went very well for us all!

NAMI: What advice would you give another parent in a similar situation?

Kaye: Find your NAMI Affiliate. If you dont resonate with your local affiliate, find another one that you do feel comfortable with. NAMI is a great place to turn for support and education. For professionals, hand out NAMI brochures to family memberskeep them on hand in your office.

I also read memoirs; others stories helped me so much.

Get as much education as you can. The more you know the better. An educated family is an empowered family. You will stop trying to fix things that cant yet be fixed; it will teach you patience. When you get support and education, its easier to get to a place of acceptance. You have to build your way to acceptance.

Use communication skills. The most powerful thing I learned in NAMI Family-to-Family was how to talk to my son without making it worse. I learned to set limits, and I safeguarded those limits. Families can feel stripped of power, and you have to realize what you are and are not willing to do and tolerate. Change what you can, and not trying to change what you cant. Limits are part of self-care. Taking care of yourself and do what you need to do, so you are not feeling resentful when you are offering help to a loved one. Understanding my needs helps my son feel less resentful of needing my help. Understand that it isnt your loved ones fault.

NAMI: You discuss some really painful and difficult times in your story. What was the key thing that got you through those struggles?

Kaye: These two mantras helped me a tremendous amount. They remind me to stay grateful in the moment, and stay in a place of acceptance and hope: It is what it is, now what? and Whatever happens, well handle it somehow.

We all know recovery is like a game of Chutes and Ladders. It helped me to remember that you cant jump straight to acceptance, but eventually you must work from that place. Whenever there is a crisis or setback, I allow myself my own pain. I allowed myself to cry when I needed to cry, and allowed myself the process. And I allowed my family their process. Allow yourself the grief and pain.

I also read When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Somewhere deep inside I think maybe there is a reason for this, but I sure dont know what it is. So I dont look for the meaning.

But I do believe that bad stuff happens to good people, and I dont know why. No, its not fair, and its not my job to figure out why. But I have a journey and so does my son. But I know there is some plan, somewhere, that I have no access to, and Bens life has a journey and I have to allow him that journey. However, he was thrown together with this family in this life so that we can be some support to him along his path, and vice versa.

A railing doesnt push, doesnt pull, its just there when you need it.

There is a huge difference between hope, dreams and expectations.

Dreams are safe because you havent taken any steps to prove them wrong. Hope is a little more concrete; you can take some action steps towards it, and you have seen the possibilities of hope. But you dont expect specific dreams, or you might feel your life is falling short somehow. Just dream, hope, and know youll be okay no matter what. Expectation can lead to disappointment if you pin your happiness on whether or not certain things happen - but we can dram, we can hope, and in working towards those hopes we find our happiness, even if things come out not exactly as planned. Hopes must have some flexibility! We take steps to hope for the best, but also know we have the ability to handle whatever happens. I dont dwell on the negativeI am toward appreciation of the positive. I like to be in the present and be grateful to be here.

NAMI: Any final thoughts?

Kaye: Part of the effect I want the book to have, is I want to put one human face behind the symptoms of mental illness, in the hope that professionals realize, that every person they come across is a person with a past, with strengths, and is a human being with an illnessand to treat the whole person.

We must continue to advocate for early detection, better research, and fair media coverage for people living with mental illness. Services cannot be cut; we must fund them, make them available, improve themso that people with mental illness can reclaim their futures, not be lost in a system that too often puts them out on the streets, or in jail.

I advocate for increased research and treatment, for strength-based support, for stomping out stigma, for insurance party, for more railings in the stairwell. I advocate for my son Ben, and for others like him. I advocate for possibility and support, not limitation and hopelessness. See the worth!

A Very Special NAMI Walk on October 13th

Citizens from across southern Georgia will be joining together for NAMI Walks Waycross in support of mental health on Saturday, October 13 in Waycross, Georgia. Registration for the walk will begin at 9 AM with the walk kicking off at 10 AM. The walk will begin at the Mary Street Park (between Isabella and Mary Street) and proceed through downtown Waycross.

NAMI Albany and the surrounding area's team "Sowega Stigma Stompers" has a very special quest in their fundraising goals this year. Our local chapter will be the first in the nation to host an online "Peer-to-Peer" education program for people who have a mental illness. Although this program has been successfully educating and assisting mental health consumers with being pro-active in their own recoveries, people who live too far away from those programs have been unable to take advantage of them. Once enough money has been raised to furnish our state office with the necessary equipment,we will be able to begin the online program. If you would like to be a part of this incredible new version of an already successful recovery and education program for consumers, please join us in our fundraising efforts. By sponsoring a walker (or team) or walking with us (and being sponsored) you can help so many people who cannot fight for themselves.

The SOWEGA Stigma Stompers, will be offering rides to the event in Waycross. For more information about joining or donating to the team, contact Pam at 229-343-8791 and follow the team's link:

NAMI Walks is a fundraising and mental health awareness event that is being held across the country in 84 communities. Three walks are scheduled in Georgia: Waycross and Rome walks are on October 13, while the Atlanta walk will be on November 4. The walkers in Georgia will be joining tens of thousands of other walkers nationwide to support, educate, and advocate for everyone living with mental illness.

Together we will raise over $10 million in 2012 for NAMI and the mental health services it provides to thousands of families across the country. All of the funds collected through NAMI Walks in Georgia will be used to fund NAMI programs here in this state.

Registration for NAMI Walks Waycross is free for everyone, but fundraising is encouraged. Companies, organizations, families, and friends are all encouraged to organize a team of walkers to walk with us on October 13. Teams and walkers can register for the walk at A full list of our generous sponsors can be found on the website.

For more information, contact Marc Gibbons, State Walk Coordinator, (678)-923-2957 or Jere Brands, NAMI Albany team captain, (641)-220-5610.

Building NAMI Albany; We're Off To A Good Start

NAMI Albany is doing it's best to provide support and education to our community. Just since the beginning of the year, we can now say we have 5 newly trained Connections recovery group facilitators and 1 newly trained family education instructor for a new program to Albany called "NAMI Basics."

Our Connections group meets twice a month and provides support for people in recovery from a mental illness. Our team, headed by Peer Support Coordinator Kim Burnette, have added so much to NAMI Albany. We hope to be offering a weekend support meeting in the near future.

From left bottom: Carol Grawe, Beverly Adams, John Holt, Charles Boshoff and Elizabeth Dede.

We also have a new trainer for the special NAMI program "NAMI Basics." NAMI Basics is a six week class for parents and caregivers of children and adolescents with a mental illness. Lynn Wilson, of Moultrie, will be holding NAMI Albany's first NAMI Basics class soon.

For more information on Connections support groups and NAMI Basics education programs please go to our "Programs" section.

Related Links

State Mental Health Budget Cuts
NAMI Voice Spring 2012
NAMI Voice Winter 2011

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