Author helps those with holiday depression as rates climb


WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The holiday season is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can feel extremely isolating if you deal with depression.

One in three American adults suffer from sadness, loneliness, and anxiety.

Mental health has been a major topic all throughout this pandemic. A woman who has successfully battled her demons is now sharing coping techniques to help others.

“I have been there in the trenches, in those feelings of despair,” author Ashley Bernardi said.

Entrepreneur, author and former network television producer Ashley Bernardi’s battle with depression, she says, started as an 11-year-old when her 49-year-old father died suddenly of a heart attack.

“I did not want to face the trauma of losing my father as a child. I ignored it and it ended up coming out in other ways in work addiction and alcohol addiction and people pleasing and destructive relationships,” Bernardi said.

But she learned an important coping technique: grieving the loss of a loved one by still maintaining or honoring that relationship. Since her late father was an Army colonel, Bernardi recently ran the Army Ten-Miler, then visited his gravesite.

“I felt like his presence was there. I was so proud of myself. I could feel, like, my father there proud of me, too,” Bernardi said.

But there are simpler ways, too, like journaling your thoughts or even writing a letter to your lost loved one.

“If it’s your mom or dad, a sister or brother, a loved one. Just write them a letter and give them an update on what’s going on in your life,” Bernardi said.

Bernardi has written a book just released called “Authentic Power: Give Yourself Permission To Feel”. She says we need to be reminded holiday depression is only temporary.

“Just in the same way we have these very happy moments, they also don’t last forever. So by telling yourself when you’re feeling these depressive feelings this feeling is temporary, this moment is temporary is a great reminder to yourself that you’re not going to be stuck in this feeling forever,” Bernardi said.

Other coping techniques she recommends include calming, breathing exercises and creating what she calls a coping sheet. But if practical steps don’t work…

“Get professional help if you’re able to get professional help. A psychiatrist, a psychologist, a therapist, get that professional help because it can be very hard to express yourself,” Bernardi said.

Bernardi also says don’t underestimate the power of your circle of friends or family. She says her experience has been that people want to help if you’ll only ask.

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