November 20, 2012

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health, suicide or substance use crisis or emotional distress, reach out 24/7 to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) by dialing or texting 988 or using chat services at to connect to a trained crisis counselor. You can also get crisis text support via the Crisis Text Line by texting NAMI to 741741.

“I can’t wait for 2012 to be over.”

I’ve heard this a lot in the past few months, from friends across different social and professional groups. Maybe you’ve heard it among your own friends and family.

The thing is, even though this year has been challenging for me and many of my peers, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the same exact sentiment from one person or another every year as it winds down.

It’s a statement that blames the year itself, as though a collection of days and months can be blamed for the ebb and flow of life’s joys, challenges and inevitable losses.

I lost a friend in July to suicide. It shook me to my core. I had sensed that she was sad and unhappy with her life but I didn’t feel that I was a close enough with her to explore further, to offer help or to acknowledge the sadness I saw in her eyes. I regret not taking a quiet moment to just sit and be with her as a friend in need of companionship, support and love. On a professional level it made me question myself; couldn’t I have done something to help her?

No one is a stranger to personal tragedy or loss and these feelings can be amplified during the holidays. In this season of thanks we focus on the good and positive in life because that is the nature of this special time of year.

With that in mind, remember to take good care of yourself, your friends and loved ones during this holiday. Taking a moment to check in with a friend or relative in a quiet moment, without provocation or motive other than to simply show you care can make all the difference for someone who may be struggling to maintain their emotional equilibrium.


Life is fleeting and I have learned this past year that it’s often shorter than we anticipate for the ones we love. It’s easy to forget that between the punctuated moments of revelry and fun, there can be real pain and personal crisis that is all too alienating. 

Show those around you that you are thankful for their presence in your life and open yourself up to supporting and helping them when they need it. You will never regret taking the time to show empathy, love and thanks.

Lisa D'Alessio is a licensed professional counselor and works with people living with mental illness in Northern Virginia

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