Between 1 in 5 ( Or more) Australians experience a Mental Illness at any time of the year. Christmas in particular is a time where a lot of people putting added pressure on themselves to be joyful or merry or to buy that perfect Christmas gift. Over the next couple of weeks in the lead up to Christmas and New Year I am hoping to pen a couple of posts highlighting what many of us seem to over look in our rush for the perfect Christmas, those who are struggling silently. Today’s topic is depression and grief.
Just the same as people are struggling with Depression there are many people around the world that this Christmas will be a First. A first living away from their parents, A first for their child. A first with out that loved one that they held so near and dear.
Here is a list of some things to keep in mind.
- It’s okay to feel. Acceptance is one of the hardest part of Depression and most definitely grief. You do not need to be merry, you do not have to smile if you don’t want to, if you are feeling down. Accept and allow those feelings.
- Set your boundaries. You usually have a big family get together or two over the holiday season, but you want a quiet Christmas. You need to be firm with your family and let them know that you need to take care of your health.
- Know your limits, It is more then okay to say no! Dont look at me like that! Yes it is perfectly fine to say no! You need to understand what is going to be too much in order for you to keep at an optimal mental health. If you dont feel like you would have fun going to a party, dont go, Organize for a more comfortable time to hang out with that friend.
- Go for a walk. We all know the facts. Exercise releases the good endorphins that make you feel better. So, If you’re at the party already and you have gotten in to that stage where you just want to curl in a ball and cry, get up, go for a walk. But please be safe.
- Ask for help! I think this is the most important one here. It’s not a bad thing, you deserve to be okay, there are many services around the world, (which I will link below) that are there 24/7 that want to make sure you get through your troubles, I, we They want you to be okay, so please if you need it, seek it!
- Do things that make YOU happy. It doesnt matter if it’s laying in the rain, making a snow angel while listening to Metallica eating a whole tub of cookie and cream ice cream on your own while listening to Kelly Clarkson, do what makes YOU happy. The more to this, the better you will feel.
It’s a time of year where everyone feels the need to force a smile but there are people who are hidden away who would rather do anything but force another smile and sing jingle bells.There are many of us who have a friend who might be struggling.
There are some things you can do too that might help.
- Allow them to feel. Often with depression people need to feel the feelings to understand what is wrong. Whether this is crying, yelling, screaming, kicking a fence. As long as they are not harming themselves, getting them selves in trouble or harming some one else, let them feel.
- Listen to them. Some times all we need a shoulder to cry on, other times we need an ear to listen to us, if you are given your friends deepest thoughts in the time when they are agonizing pain, then they trust you. Listen to them, be their ear but dont try to save them by solving all their problems, just listen.
- Accept them for who they are right now. We often want our nearest and dearest to come to every event with us. They might have been the life of the party last year but this year they really are not in to it. Accept that. Let them say no. Let them be alone, trust that they know what they need.
- Offer help. Sometimes our loved ones dont want to talk to us, perhaps they need to be alone with some music, or to read a book, or maybe they need to talk to some one who is knows absolutely nothing about them. Mention that Movie or song that you know makes them feel a little better. Recommend a book that made you feel nice. Give them the number for a help line or a website that night help, (Sane and Beyond blue are great ones in Australia) but dont force it on them.
Christmas is a time where most of us feel joy and happiness, we enjoy our families, we celebrate the good things in our life. For many it highlights the divisions, the distance and the loss. Please if you are worried about a work mate, friend or loved one, reach out. They’ll be thankful that you did.