Mental Health and Suffering at Christmas

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Ah Sunday… such a lovely day, isn’t it? Well, it would be except there’s no post on Sundays so no new Christmas cards coming through the door today from my Christmas Card Swap! But today I wanted to be a little more serious than we have been with the last few posts as we talk about mental health and suffering at Christmas.

TV, books and films all focus heavily on the happy cheesy side of Christmas. Often the character arc is someone who has suffered past trauma around the festive season (death of a loved one, relationships ending etc) who all of a sudden meets a stranger, listens to some crass Christmas song, and poof all their troubles disappear in a puff of smoke from Santa’s chimney. If only real life was as simple!

Why Does Mental Health Suffer at Christmas?

We all know I think the lead up to Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. However, for many people worldwide Christmas is not the perfect day that it is for some. For all sorts of reasons, your mental health may take a hit in December as we get prepared for Christmas, and that’s okay.

Whether you’re feeling low because of past Christmases, or it’s a new reason like the fact we’ve just gone through the year that was 2020, your feelings are valid, and you are not alone in these. Every year Christmas puts us all under extra pressure. Work often gets busier, you’re expected to visit friends and family that may make you regress in your journey to get help, there’s this insane pressure to buy expensive gifts that many of us already can’t afford, and that’s all before you take into consideration the actual pressure of pulling off Christmas Day if you’re the person hosting.

Whether you live with a diagnosed mental illness or not, feelings of loneliness are intensified, financial problems arise for almost half of us, and the pressure put on people to have the “perfect” Christmas is often very high. One in ten people feel unable to cope at this time of year, according to research by the charity Mind. We tend to overindulge in both food and drink, which can lead to lower self confidence or self esteem never mind exacerbate pre-existing mental health symptoms. Add in the fact that overexerting ourselves socially leaves us tired and anxious, and it’s a wonder any of us pull through the festive season! Finally, and one of the most common reasons we see an increase mental health sufferers in the lead up to Christmas is it can be a reminder of the loved ones we’ve lost. Especially in a year when so many families have lost loved ones well before their time. Kayleigh actually has a post that I will link to here about grief at Christmas, because I feel she puts it into words much more eloquently than I ever could.

Mental health and suffering at Christmas -  lonely woman in the dark

How to Help Your Mental Health

It’s not all doom and gloom though. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, and there are ways to help you through it all. Personally, I find taking time out from everything and everyone the most helpful. Whether it’s driving aimlessly in my car, or making the 90 minute road trip to visit my cousin, I find that often what I need is a chance to be alone and shut off from the world. During that time I listen to music, or play the guitar. I read, I listen to audiobooks, and I watch films that I know and love. For me, those colouring in books don’t really help. But talking does. As can a little bit of retail therapy, depending on the mood. As I say, these are things that work for me.

While we can all harp on about the things you can do to try to help your mental health, for a lot of people these ideas just don’t help. If you’re at the stage where you’re at breaking point, please reach out for help. Whether from a friend or a loved one, or from a trained professional. It’s not weak, you’re not wasting anyone’s time, and trust me when I say you are loved and wanted. So whether you’re concerned about yourself or someone else, here are some numbers and websites for you to take note of.

ANXIETY UK

A Charity that provides people with support if they have been diagnosed with Anxiety.Phone: 08444 775 774 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm)
Website:www.anxietyuk.org.uk

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

Phone: 0845 769 7555 (24-hour helpline)
Website: www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk

BEAT

Phone: 0845 634 1414 (adults) or 0345 634 7650 (for under-25s)
Website:www.b-eat.co.uk

BIPOLAR UK

A charity for people living with Bipolar disorders or manic depression.

Website: www.bipolaruk.org.uk

A NATIONAL VOICE

Website: www.anationalvoice.org

CHILDLINE

Emotional support For young people and Children relating to bullying, Child abuse and more.

Phone: 0800 1111Website:www.childline.org.uk

CRUSE BEREAVEMENT CARE

Phone: 0844 477 9400 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)
Website:www.crusebereavementcare.org.uk

CALM

CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.
Website:www.thecalmzone.net

DEPRESSION ALLIANCE

Charity for sufferers of depression and has a network of self help groups.
Website:www.depressionalliance.org

FORCED MARRIAGES

Service provided by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to protect young people from forced marriages abroad. Service offers help to young people in these circumstances to help get them back to the UK.

Phone: 020 7008 0151Website:www.fco.gov.uk

GAMBLERS ANONYMOUS

Website:www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk

MUSLIM YOUTH HELPLINE

Helpline providing culturally sensitive support to Muslim youth under the age of 25. Outreach services including family mediation, face to face counselling and befriending.

Phone: 0808 808 2008 (Area served London)
Website:www.myh.org.uk

MENTAL HEALTH FOUNDATION

They provide support and information for anyone who has mental health problems or learning disabilities.

Website:www.mentalhealth.org.uk

NATIONAL YOUTH ADVOCACY SERVICE:

Provides information, advice, advocacy and legal representation to young people up to 25 through a network of advocates through England and Wales.

Phone: 0808 808 1001Email: help@nyas.net
Website:www.nyas.net

NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS

Phone: 0300 999 1212 (daily until midnight)
Website:www.ukna.org

NO PANIC

Voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and OCD. Offers a course to help overcome your phobia/OCD and has a helpline.
Phone: 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am-10pm)
Website:www.nopanic.org.uk

NSPCC

Children’s charity dedicated to ending child abuse and child cruelty.
Phone: 0800 1111 for Childline for children (24-hour helpline)
Phone: 0808 800 5000 for adults concerned about a child (24-hour helpline)
Website:www.nspcc.org.uk

OCD ACTION

Support for people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Includes information on treatment and online resources.
Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm)
Website:www.ocdaction.org.uk

PAPYRUS

Young suicide prevention society.
Phone: HOPElineUK 0800 068 4141 (Mon-Fri,10am-5pm & 7-10pm. Weekends 2-5pm)
Website: www.papyrus-uk.org

RUNAWAY HELPLINE

Runaway Helpline is here if you are thinking about running away, if you have already run away, or if you have been away and come back.You can also contact the Helpline if you are worried that someone else is going to run away or if they are being treated badly or abused.You can call or text for free, 24 hours a day. It’s all confidential.Phone: 116 000
Email:116000@runawayhelpline.org.uk

Website:www.runawayhelpline.org.uk

RAPE CRISIS

To find your local services phone: 0808 802 9999 (daily, 12-2.30pm, 7-9.30pm)
Website:www.rapecrisis.org.uk

REFUGE

Advice on dealing with domestic violence.
Phone: 0808 2000 247 (24-hour helpline)
Website:www.refuge.org.uk

SAMARITANS

24hr service offering emotional support.

Phone: 116 123
Email: jo@samaritans.org
Website:www.samaritans.org

TURN2ME

This is a website that helps people GET HELP, lets people know that they are not alone and facilitates a safe online community space that allows people to open up and reach out for help.Website:https://turn2me.org/The above are all UK based, so if you want to leave directions for anyone outside the UK, please feel free to do so by leaving a comment below.

9 thoughts on “Mental Health and Suffering at Christmas

  1. thedoubtingthomas

    Really important to remember this Katie thank you – especially as so many people’s lives would have changed quite dramatically this year. If even one person can benefit from one of the websites/charities you have posted, you can feel proud!

  2. kayleigh zara

    This is honestly such an important post Katie, and I can’t thank you enough for linking in my post on grief at Christmas. Christmas can be such a challenging time for so many people, especially this year when alot of people are trying their best just get by in the pandemic. Thank you so much for sharing the relevant charity numbers they are really going to help so many people out x

  3. Amanda Zoya

    Very useful resources there for UK citizens. Sometimes we forget the pressure the holidays put on people with mental health challenges.

  4. Fiona

    Nice post! I agree with your ideas. Also, I love knowing that there’s a lot of organizations in your country that advocate mental awareness and is ready to accommodate someone who needs it. I really wish the same for us…

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