The winter holidays are one of the hardest times for many of us in the LGBT community. (Maybe that’s why Pride is always in the summer?) From dealing with family you may not necessarily enjoy (or who may not necessarily accept you!) to endless “festive” work parties to becoming more aware of just how little money you have, the holidays can feel less joyous and more like a burden.

’Tis the season for depression, but here are some ideas that may help:

1) Be realistic. Who among us hasn’t thought that this holiday will be the one that all those movies are about? Suddenly our family is supportive and loving, the love of our life appears, and for absolutely no reason we’ve got a billion dollars in the bank and paid off all our bills! (Plus, we lost ten pounds without even trying.) Reality: The holidays are not magic. Problems continue through them. Things likely won’t be perfectly perfect. And that’s normal. So, be prepared. It’s better to anticipate the norm than to be disappointed, well, the norm.

2) Be friends with your budget. So you’re not a baller. Now is not the time to spend like you are. In fact, now is probably the best time to use a budget because now is when most of us have more obligations and events that require funds. The holidays will be over before you know it – and gifts are not going to make anyone know you appreciate them, their friendship, or their love.

3) You can cry if you want to. Express your feelings and let it out. Crying to a stranger on the street might not be a good idea, but don’t bottle up your feelings. Express them in a safe environment, preferably with people you trust (or by yourself, if you need). Do your best to not wallow; that will only make you feel worse and will counteract all the good that “letting it out” does!

4) Reach out. It’s not you, it’s the holidays. They really do make people feel lonelier and more isolated. Especially if their families don’t accept their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Check out the listing of community events in OUTLoud or find local church events to go to (there are plenty of LGBT churches around). Volunteer your time to help others – it feels good and you will meet people. Call the LGBT Health Resource Center and see what they can point you toward. You’re truly not alone. Just take that first step and make some new connections.

5) Make an appointment. So: you feel like you’re officially depressed (or well on your way there). Or maybe you realized: it’s time to come out but you just aren’t feeling sure how to. Or you’re ready to begin your transition but you want some guidance on, hey, all of the stuff. Or you just need to deal with whatever it is that has a hold on you emotionally. Make an appointment with a therapist and get the work going to help you make the changes you want to see in your life. (Chase Brexton and the LGBT Health Resource Center both have therapy appointments available to help!)

You’ll make it through this and you have a community out there to help you! And next year, we’ll all be here with you, too!

The LGBT Health Resource Center of Chase Brexton Health Care has expanded to include a uniquely tailored, dedicated, safe space for Behavioral Health for LGBTQ individuals, couples, and families. Behavioral Health services at the LGBT Health Resource Center include access to the staff of the Resource Center, who will help patients find expert health wellness information available to the community. Additionally, patients can learn firsthand about upcoming events and programs being organized for and by the LGBT community. For more information, call 410-837-2050 x8810.