OK- I will admit it. Yesterday, I woke up a bit depressed. The high in my Utah community was going to be 18 degrees with the thermometer dropping below zero at night. Now I must admit further that this was a temporary depression and I got over it within a couple of hours. But it reminded me that this can be a tough time for many because the winter holidays can be a a time of year when depression can hit . . .and sometimes hit hard.
According to the experts, Seasonal depression, often called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a depression that occurs each year at the same time, usually starting in fall, worsening in winter, and ending in spring.
So during this season, I am hopeful that we will all watch for and lend a helping hand to those who suffer from Depression. And in this instance, I am not just talking about what I experienced the other day that is a passing feeling of ennui – a French word meaning boredom. No let’s try to recognize the signs of those who suffer from a darker scenario. To quote a wonderful religious leader, Jeffrey Holland, “When I speak of this depression I am not speaking of bad hair days, tax deadlines, or other discouraging moments we all have. No this dark night of the mind is more than just discouragement . . .it is an affliction so severe that it significantly restricts a person’s ability to function fully.”
Some years ago someone, during the holiday season, rescued a young Bradford family from a potentially depressive period in our lives. As my wonderful wife Linda and I began our lives as a couple, money was very tight, and the stress was difficult. One night, we heard a knock at the door of our tiny home in Canyon Country, California. Following the knock, a car sped off into the night. As I looked out the window, I could see a sack in front of the door. At the time, I was practicing law and there were some weird clients. I was worried it might be a bomb or some sort of explosive device. On my guard based on what I’d seen in my schooling, I told Linda, “Let’s just leave it there and go to bed.” About an hour later the phone rang. An ominous voice, said, “Look out your front door step.”
I looked out again and saw the sack. I said to Linda, “Let’s go back and wait until morning. Then we’ll figure this out.” About 2:00 in the morning the phone rang again. The voice again said emphatically, “Look out your front door!” The strained voice was so insistent and so demanding, we were scared. So, we called the cops. Within half an hour, we saw the red and white lights flashing down the street. This time a police officer knocked at the door.
“Mr. Bradford,” he said, “I think you can come out now.” We opened the door and saw not one sack of groceries but two. And around the corner, in front of our garage, there were four more sacks of groceries. The mystery voice had left us six bags of groceries with fresh meat and vegetables and dairy. The voice wanted to make sure we put it into the refrigerator because it was perishable. We were speechless.
For 35 years, we were clueless as to who had done us this magnificent kindness. Then, in the Spring of 2013, Linda and I found ourselves in the Salt Lake Airport preparing for a flight to Southern California. Virtually, out of a nowhere, an old friend named Greg Crow came up to me and gave me a big bear hug. The last time we had seen Greg was over 30 years earlier when we were living in Southern California. Greg had gone on to a great career as a Sheriff with the city of Los Angeles. As we reminisced while we waited for our plane, Greg said,”Hey, David and Linda, remember when I used to work at the 7/11 in Canyon Country?” We both nodded “Yes.”
Greg continued: “Well, do you remember David Fretz and Ron Riddle?” We said “sure. They were part of our LDS Church congregation.”
Greg went on: “Let me share with you something I still remember to this day. One night, David and Ron came into my 7/11 store. They said that the Bradford’s needed help. They were determined to find a way to bring you some food. So they proceeded to buy out the store of milk, bread, and fresh meat to deliver to your home that night.”
After Greg finished relaying this memory, Linda and I were stunned. The mystery of who blessed our lives with their resources so many years earlier, had been solved. Imagine the surprise and emotions that flooded us when we finally realized who had been so kind to us at this critical juncture of our lives.
So in summary, at this time of year, watch in particular for those who may need a helping hand or encouraging word. To quote Holland again:
“In preventing illness whenever possible, watch for the stress indicators in yourself and in others you may be able to help. As with your automobile, be alert to rising temperatures, excessive speed, or a tank low on fuel. When you face “depletion depression,” make the requisite adjustments. Fatigue is the common enemy of us all—so slow down, rest up, replenish, and refill. Physicians promise us that if we do not take time to be well, we most assuredly will take time later on to be ill.”
– Elder Jeffry R. Holland