Christmas is an emotive time of year. All around us, people are excitably announcing how many ‘sleeps’ there are left. Children (and adults) can barely contain themselves due to Santa’s imminent arrival and the radio is a hodge podge of Christmas tunes. There’s no escaping the fact, Christmas is on its way.
For many of us struggling with depression, Christmas is extremely tough. The excitement all around us highlights the lack of energy we have. The numbness makes us feel cold hearted and we can’t help but compare ourselves to the people who are genuinely in the festive spirit. Negative self-talk becomes louder and the pressure on us to take part in it all, is debilitating. There is no loneliness quite like the feeling of loneliness whilst in a room of all your favourite people. Overwhelming. Exhausting. Really quite scary.
We want you to know that you’re absolutely not alone in feeling this way. Honestly. Take a look at how many times our recent Facebook post was liked, shared and commented on. There are thousands of people who feel the same way you do.
Keep yourself safe
It’s important that you are aware of all of the places you can go to seek help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Reach out BEFORE it all gets too much for you.
You’re not a burden.
You’re not taking help away from someone else.
You deserve help as much as anyone does.
You do matter.
You are important.
People do care about you.
The Samaritans are available every single day, even Christmas Day, for you to call. Their number is 116 123 and is free to call from any landline or mobile.
If you feel as though you might be unsafe, a danger to yourself, act as quickly as possible and contact someone for support. We’ve put together this list of what to do if you’re in crisis. When you feel this way, the negative thoughts can be overwhelming, they can be persuasive in their tenacity – telling you you don’t deserve help, you’re a burden etc. Please don’t listen to those thoughts, they can be deafening but we can 100 million squadillion per cent guarantee that the help we mention is for those exact times. Don’t be afraid to use it. Fight the resistance to get help.
Peer Support is extremely powerful at this time of year too. Knowing there are people who understand you, who feel the way they do, who can use their hindsight as your foresight, is reassuring. There are a few places (links below) where you can seek support online, which means you can dip in and out when it suits you.
It’s KoKo is a social platform which helps people with stress and anxiety
Our lovely Closed Facebook Peer Support Group have put together a list of coping tips for you.
Laura Caillouet Boyles It’s okay to say ‘no’. This is your Christmas, too, and you get to enjoy it. Let the stress go and concentrate on the really lovely things like family and cosiness and hugs.
Nicola Foyle It’s ok to spend xmas by yourself if that’s what you want. There is no perfect xmas eat what you want, see who you want too. Plan something for after xmas to get through it small or big.
Laura Caillouet Boyles Maybe more one for next year, but: It’s also okay to say ‘let’s not do cards or presents this year’. You’ll be surprised how relieved your friends are – everyone feels the pressure of buying for so many people, and it’s not really in the spirit, is it? Lovely alternatives are actually meeting up for coffee and cake instead, donations to charity in lieu of cards and presents (Oxfam do great gifts like goats and school books for communities in need), and small homemade presents. I’m trying to slowly but surely rewrite our Christmas into something that’s really about happiness and warmth and family and friends instead of stress and panic and last minute shopping.
ANON Plan an escape route, somewhere you can go to where you can have some time out of things are getting too much. Mine last year was in the kitchen, I set up some music in there and it became my sanctuary, but anywhere will do. Volunteer to walk the dog, ‘accidentally’ leave something in the car you know you will need, check on the baby having a nap, have a lay down with a headache. Just knowing you have got a bolt hole makes it easier to get through.
Josie Pointer If things get too overwhelming, I go and take a break away from the festivities. I tend to time it around a television programme that I don’t wish to watch. My happy / safe place at home is my bedroom so I retreat there, where I’ll stick on a film and get into my bed so I’m more comfortable and try to relax and calm down from whatever’s triggered my anxiety or depression.
Sometimes even the giving of gifts sets me off so I have to disappear for awhile, I just get so anxious about whether or not the person will appreciate the thought I’ve put into their gifts and if they’ll like it.
Kate Street Make a “ME” box/bag. Fill it with things that make you happy like chocolate, lavender oil, favourite book, soft toy, pack of cards (to play patience with), a self help book, favourite dvd, you get the idea. Now make a sign to hang on your bedroom door saying. ” I am finding today a bit tough so I am taking a break. I will see you later when I feel a bit better”. Use as necessary! But most of all don’t feel guilty for needing a rest from the hurly burly of Christmas.
Jonathan Paxton If the thought of Christmas Day surrounded by extended family whom you don’t want to be with is too much, take some time out for yourself. Go for a walk (dogs are a great excuse) or just go for a lie down and have a nap. If the people you want to talk to aren’t there, why not arrange a phone call with them and share your Christmas horror stories. Take time for yourself and don’t feel guilty about ignoring Great Aunt Hilda or avoiding ‘Uncle’ Nigel.
Elaine Gardener It’s okay not to be okay at Christmas. Take time for yourself. Treat yourself to the simplest of things and try not to be hard on yourself.
Krissi Asher Divide your time between things you want to do, things your family expects and time alone. Don’t be afraid to say no and utilise time between Xmas and new year for what you want. Plan it down to the last detail if it helps you. Allow yourself time to come to terms with the holidays and remind yourself it’s okay to feel overwhelmed, it’s just a reminder that you need to look after yourself too. Don’t feel guilty at any point for saying no. Keep a little pamper kit to the side and try to keep routine as normal as possible.
Ian Young I just try to live within myself and not connect with Christmasy things.
Anon plan a walk and get out as soon as family things have finished. For me personally I find getting stuck into jobs stops me feeling anxious so I offer to help wash up, serve food etc as it saves me from worrying about what I’m not saying
Julie Jackson Texting with my friend on Christmas day.
Phil Swales Do what YOU want to do, not what other people expect you to do.
Frieda Blenkinslop Christmas brings up a whole mixture of things for me.. My prime strategies are – remembering that everything I do is my choice – if it’s too difficult, I need to change it for next year; being very grateful for over 20years of estrangement from my toxic family and the fact that I’ve protected my kids from them; remembering that the most important thing is to spend TIME with my kids, and this holiday is a time where I totally prioritise that – that makes me feel like a good parent and is great for me as I really slow down and all those things make me feel better about myself cos often I struggle to feel good enough; this year for the first time I’ve bought myself some presents and wrapped them up which feels really exciting, so I’d highly recommend that; I create my own ideal christmas within what i have – I’m a single hermity parent so it doesn’t involve much hanging out with others, but it does involve having a really deep chill out with the kids where there’s less screen time limits and we snuggle up together and watch films. It feels really fitting for the time of year, it does feel like hibernating and a time for recharging. I find the days after xmas hard, when folk are still hunkered down with their families, I can feel really alone then, and last year came down with a crash where i couldn’t stop crying for a couple of days. As I’ve got older, I realise that is probably the same for a lot of other folk too – a post xmas come down – and that is reassuring. I’m gonna try and plan some things to do in those few days this year – take the kids to the cinema or something. I genuinely feel very lucky at this time of year, and very aware of what a powerful thing choice is – that I have actively chosen this – xmas without toxic family – and get so much enjoyment out of expressing gratitude (via homemade crackers) for the people I do have in my life. There is something very deeply nourishing for me about being able to express that gratitude, and it be received – it sets me up in a good space for the more challenging few days after xmas. Create your own reality!!!
ANON Go out alone in the car when things get too much.
Take lots of care of yourself, twinkletoes <3