Monday, 10 December 2018

THE DO'S AND DON'TS FOR MENTAL HEALTH AT CHRISTMAS




I really wanted to write a post on how to support someone who struggles with their mental health around Christmastime but since I’m not one of those people, I don’t think I’d be the best person to give advice!

I’ve always been a Christmassy person and whilst bad things have happened at Christmas – one year I was in a Psychiatric Hospital, another we lost our family cat… I haven’t let them shape future ones. I get people asking me all the time how I ‘got better’ and how I can just ‘move on’ from the abuse and these other bad moments and I just think that I don’t have the choice! I mean, how could I give someone or something the power to ruin such a joyful time of the year? And some people will say that they aren’t ‘allowing’ it to be that way and that if they had a choice then they wouldn’t ‘choose to be sad on Christmas.’ But I don’t think it’s about choice; I think it’s about acceptance. Accepting these things have happened to you, accepting they’re in the past, and accepting that you have a future without them.


I was talking to my Richmond Fellowship support worker earlier today about how I keep feeling sad when I think about how this will be my first Christmas without Dolly (my cat) and she pointed out that it’s also the first Christmas with Emmy (my kitten)! And sometimes that’s how you have to think – force yourself to think of the positive that’s come out of it. And I don’t just mean my kitten! My blog too! A huge positive to have come from what I went through is I’m NOT Disordered. And maybe you haven’t found a positive yet; but how will you ever find one if you don’t allow yourself to enjoy life again?!

Do

Utilise out-of-hour services/support e.g. Samaritans or your local Crisis Team – you’re not being a burden; it’s what they’re there for




Don’t

Change the usual traditions to fit around someone struggling – it’ll make them feel like a complete inconvenience and will justify any thoughts that family and friends are better off without them 

Do

Make the effort to keep in touch with those who are alone over the Holidays

Don’t

Overwhelm Eating Disorder sufferers with food – respect their struggle and make accommodations for them whilst also allowing others to still enjoy the festive foods

Do

Show gratitude when someone has put in a lot of effort for you – whether that be through presents, sending you a Christmas card, or offering to shovel your driveway

Don’t

Assume that everyone with a mental health illness will struggle at Christmas – some support services say it’s their busiest time of the year but that doesn’t make it a rule for everyone

Do

Find a balance between being selfish and selfless – at a time of the year when some people are being showered with gifts it’s important to appreciate that some are not in that position but it’s equally important that you enjoy yourself


Don’t

Allow other Christmases to shape future ones – it’s difficult not to associate bad memories with particular dates and occasions but there’s a difference between recognizing them, accepting they happened, moving on and allowing them to spoil the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ every year


Do

Tell your CPN, support worker, Psychologist… anyone! That you struggle at Christmastime - they can help you come up with a plan to keep you safe

Don’t

Forget your medication – a lot of people visit their family over Christmas and I always find that where I’m looking forward to something or planning for something, I often forget my medication – whether that’s to bring it with me or to actually take it!

Do

Allow yourself some sort of ‘treat’ – that will mean different things to different people but for me, it was buying a bottle of Baileys! (it’s on offer in Morrisons!)

Don’t

Expect everyone to feel the same as you do about Christmas – as someone who really enjoys this time of year, it’s difficult reign in my Christmas spirit(!) but it’s important to put the effort in where it’s necessary in the same way that I’d hope people would for me