Ever notice that the great holiday classic are about depression?its-a-wonderful-life-3

There’s George Bailey, the financially strapped father of a posse of rowdy kids in It’s a Wonderful Life. Then there’s Scrooge and the Grinch. And how about that Santa-denying mother in Miracle on 34th Street? Charlie Brown and his pathetic little tree.

Let’s not forget The Littlest Angel, a story about a little boy who dies, goes to heaven, can’t keep his halo on straight, can’t sing on key with the seraphim and misses his dog? Then there is that country western song little boy who want to buy his dying mama a pair of shoes. We have Elvis’ Blue Christmas and Do They Know It’s Christmas about people starving in Africa.

If you have depression like me, you’re probably already dealing with your own Christmas drama. The last thing you need is to watch a drunk father jump off a bridge on Christmas Eve. But there are lessons to be learned from these poor souls and how they pulled through.

They found gratitude. George Bailey’s gratitude came from seeing what the would would have been like had he not been born. Scrooge’s gratitude came in a dream, when he saw how his selfishness infected those who crossed his path and how he still had a chance to change.

These are all stories of hope and gratitude – two of the most powerful antidotes to depression. For me, antidepressants are necessary and easy but they don’t give me hope and gratitude. That’s an inside job. The antidepressants give me the ability to feel hope and gratitude but I must do the footwork and find it.

This has been a particularly difficult holiday season for me. Hope and gratitude have not come easily for me. I have had to search for it. I finally found it last weekend when I got off my pity pot and volunteered at a local bike charity, that gave away of 900 bicycles to kids who probably aren’t going to have much else under their trees.

Those three short hours of watching kids pick out the bike of their dreams filled me with hope and gratitude – hope that there still is big beautiful world out there and gratitude that I had been relieved of the bondage of my sadness.

I wish I could tell you that there’s an angel who will lift you out of your black hole. I wish Santa could take away your pain with a present under the tree. But this is real life – not the movies. Depression is real. But if we take our medications and do some footwork, we just might find some hope and gratitude.

For me this holiday season, that’s all I really want.

George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life available from Shutterstock.