Mental Health at Christmas

Christmas can be such an amazing time of year. However, it can be stressful, it can hurt, and it can be the worst time of the year. This post is all about how mental health at Christmas is so important, and how you can get any help you need.

Mental Health at Christmas

Stresses at Christmas

It’s no wonder why our mental health at Christmas suffers. There are probably 3 groups of people at Christmas:

  • Those who have the seemingly perfect life, without any stresses or strains. They like to post about 100 pictures on Facebook of their activities on Christmas Day.
  • Those who make compromises at Christmas to try and make as many people happy as possible. This can include spending time with ex-spouses or distant relatives for which there is a reason why they are distant.
  • Those who are separated from their loved ones at Christmas. It might be that relationships have broken down, or other commitments have caused a separation on Christmas Day.

I guarantee to you that each group of people will suffer with their mental health at Christmas. All three groups hide it well, we are British after all! But it doesn’t need to be like that. It is good to talk about these things. If we don’t talk about our feelings, we can’t improve our mental health.

You are loved

There is a wonderful quote in the film, “A Wonderful Life”

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many others lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

I guarantee that every single person reading this blog post will have someone who loves, cares and thinks about them. A lot.

Despite what this blog might show, I have found the last 5 years, post separation, difficult. Life wasn’t easy, and it still isn’t. Perhaps it never will be. However, I know that I have the love of others to hold onto. Even though I may not see Heidi for a while, and it hurts, I know that she is there, and she needs me.

Whilst I know everyone will be in a different situation, it is so important to hold on. Hold on for when things do get better, conversations are easier and relationships better. I promise that fighting for a better day is the best thing to do, because better days do happen.

Dads are parents too
Happy times

Part of me writing this entire blog is to highlight the good times that can happen, eventually. A lot of people have gone through things a lot worse than me. However, I guarantee that those people can be stronger than I ever can be.

Public Campaigns

To be stronger, it is important to talk. Talking about mental health at Christmas doesn’t seem like the natural thing to do. We are programmed to talk about all the positive things about Christmas, gifts, family, holidays. However, if we don’t talk, we will never be able to reduce the stress felt at Christmas.

As such, it is good to see a public recognition of this by some companies and a realisation that things have to change.

Mental Health at Christmas

Virgin Trains have teamed up with the charity, “Rethink Mental Illness” to promote mental health at Christmas. They have a number of public initiatives, which include:

  • Painting the script of “A Wonderful Life” on the London to Glasgow route, along the platforms
  • A link will be embedded within the script to information, advice and support around mental health
  • “A Wonderful Life” will be available to watch on the BEAM app on Virgin Trains.
  • Volunteers from Rethink Mental Health will be fundraising in stations throughout December.

You can find out more by following this link: https://www.virgintrains.co.uk/its-a-wonderful-line/

Without such public campaigns, mental health at Christmas will continue to suffer and we won’t find it easy to talk about these things. Anything that makes it easier to talk is so welcome.

Why is it so important to  talk about Mental Health at Christmas … and every other time

Mental Health at Christmas

Want to read more?

Check out this post titled “It’s ok to ask for help”

Where to go for help?

Mental Health support can be difficult to find, but the following places can and will help:


Rethink Mental Health

Mental Health at Christmas

Tel:         03005 000 927 Monday to Friday (9.30am to 4pm, excluding bank holidays)

Email:    [email protected]

Web:     www.rethink.org

Samaritans

Tel:         116 123 Anytime and free. You don’t need any credit on your phone and it won’t show up on your bill.

Email:    [email protected]

Web:     www.samaritans.org

Whilst I am not a trained counsellor in any way, I am more than happy to help and support anyone who needs help.

Continue reading Mental Health at Christmas

It’s ok to ask for help

Whilst part of this blog is meant to celebrate all the fun and exciting parts of being a parent, it is also important that it is a difficult job, and it does have its effect on us. Being a parent is hard work. Being a parent does have an effect on us both physically and mentally. As a result, it is ok to ask for help. You can’t do “parenting” on your own.

Ask for help

Effect of having children

Remember when life was simple? Remember when you could go out without a care in the world? The effect on having children on parents’ mental health is massive. The stresses of having to look after a new person is huge. The stress that coping with bills, childcare arrangements and practicalities can be tough. All this is forgetting the part where you’re absolutely shattered because your child doesn’t sleep.

The vast majority of parents love their children to the moon and back and there is nothing denying that. However, it is ok to ask for help to give yourself a break. It is ok to ask for help to talk to someone. We can’t be parents in isolation; we need our support network in place.

How I have kept going

For me, the world of blogging has really helped me through some difficult times. Seeing the pictures of others, reading how parents were going out and about really helped me. It gave me a challenge. It gave me some hope that things were going to get better.

And they did get better. I would never say that I was near to having a breakdown. However, I was a new father going through a separation. Life was tough. Life still is tough. At times, I was close to giving up hope. But I didn’t, mainly due my support network as well as the fact that I saw other parents having a great time, and that gave me the strength to carry on.

Blogging is my release. Blogging is helping me get through the tough times.

We needed each other – both then and now…

Effect

Without going into specifics, I have seen the effects of someone who couldn’t ask for help. It is horrible. Even years and years later, the scars are still there. Yes, they have faded, but they are there. Even if you are the loneliest person in the world, there are still people who love you, who care for you. It is ok to ask for help, either from them, or for them.

These people would be devastated if you left them. Even more, there will be people who are too young or who haven’t even been born, who will love you when they’re older.

Children provide so much hope in life. They need support and guidance. They need us.

Statistics

Doing research for this article, I found a couple of really telling charts. The first one shows that men are about 3 times more likely to commit suicide than women.

It is said that this greater risk is due to

  • increased family breakdown leaving more men living alone;
  • the decline of many traditionally male-dominated industries;
  • social expectations about masculinity

The second one is that divorced men are over twice as likely to commit suicide than married men.

Divorce increases the risk of suicide because the individual becomes disconnected from their domestic relationship and social norms. Also, there is a strong cultural emphasis on achieving a strong and happy marriage. Those who divorce may experience a deep sense of disorientation, guilt and emotional hurt.

Ways to Ask for Help

There are many, many avenues for support out there. For some, local parents/child groups are ideal, however, they tend not to work well if your child is school aged, or you work. For others, NCT work well. If your child is school aged, then your child’s school will be able to provide support and advice.

However, if things are much more pressing, you can contact Samaritans on 116 123 (UK and Republic of Ireland; this number will not appear on your phone bill), email [email protected], or visit the Samaritans website to find details of the nearest branch.

My virtual door is always open if you need support. If you’re a mum, dad, or just someone who cares about another human being, it’s ok to ask for help, from myself or anyone else. Just make sure you ask for help before it’s too late.

Continue reading It’s ok to ask for help