Christmas is supposed to be a time of family, of unity, of celebration, but for others it can be a time of hardship and darkness.
Reports show that calls to groups like The Samaritans rise significantly over the holiday period. People feel more alone or are reminded of lost loved ones. Others start to snap under the weight of the commercial side, always feeling like they could have bought more. There’s also the aspect of having to be more sociable at family or work gatherings. All this means is increased pressure on top of what can already be a stressful situation for some.
Family situations can be more tense around this time of year too (we have no choice in them after all) as some end up spending time around people they’d rather not. You can almost feel the tension rise in some family situations as people get more and more tense as the day goes on.
I know I can struggle around this time of year. I always worry that I’ve not got enough gifts for Sarah (which is quite tough as her birthday is Christmas Eve so that’s the ‘pressure’ doubled for me) even though we’ve both agreed to a financial limit. You look at the pile of gifts, run through a quick mental add up of the totals, find it’s correct then still worry that it’s not enough.
My social anxiety also rears it’s head. I love spending time with our families but find it tough going at times because of the way my anxiety works. I’ll often become quiet and a little withdrawn as I try to find my balance. Boxing Day will see me at mam’s surrounded by around thirty people, I’ll be standing myself in the kitchen self medicating with a bottle of red wine.
I know a few people who are dreading the next few days. The pressures of trying to provide a good time for everyone else seem insurmountable. It’s the time of year you notice your missed loved ones even more, the people shaped holes in our lives that can never be filled.
So, how do we make this better?
Try to look after yourself. Don’t overindulge. Try to get some rest. Don’t isolate yourself from others. Try to find something to focus on.
No matter what you’re experiencing right now, no matter how low you feel, I can pretty much guarantee that there’s someone out there who’s at a lower point, who feels like they’re alone in all this.
Like I’ve said before, experiencing mental illness isn’t a competition. It’s not a way for people to rate and compare their levels of misery. If you’re suffering, you’re suffering full stop. Don’t sit and try to qualify just how much hurt you have, just recognise that you’re hurting.
We’re all part of an international community that is the human race. We are all connected to each other, no matter what is happening. Depression in Germany feels the same that it does in Mexico or Japan, it just has it’s own local dialect.
It’s not about suffering on our own in silence. If you’re having a tough time of things, reach out to someone, anyone. There are plenty of ways to nowadays. The internet is an amazing thing that can help you stay connected with others. Just reach out.
If you feel okay and you know someone who isn’t drop them a message, a text, anything, just to remind them you’re there. Take them for a coffee or a quiet drink. Arrange to go round for pizza. Just hold out a hand for them.
If you really feel desperate, reach out to a professional group. Here in the UK we have MIND and The Samaritans, both amazing groups who try and help as many people as they can with their limited funding. There’s also there’ll also be a local NHS Crisis Team who will try to help and support you as much as they can too. Just remember that if you need to use any of these services they will be busy, especially at this time of the year, and the person on the other end wants to help you. I know it can be frustrating but try to remain as patient as you can.
And on that note I like to wish you all the best Christmas you can have. It might not be the merrirst one you’ll have but I’d love to make sure we all make it to the other side.