Wednesday, 13 December 2017

BLOGMAS DAY 13: Mental Illness At Christmas

Hello! Welcome to my blog if you're new and welcome back if you're returning! I have decided that I am going to do 'Blogmas' this year where I will be posting every day from the 1st of December until the 24th of December, so come back every day for a new post!

First of all, for those who dont undertstand the terms 'mental health,' let me help you. Mental health refers to a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being. Throughout your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Everybody has a mental health.

Mental illness is a condition which causes serious disorder in a person's behaviour or thinking. A few example of some mental illnesses are depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, drugs, eating disorders, paranoia and self harm. There is a lot of stigma around mental illness as a whole, but especially around Christmas time as it is deemed to be such a happy time of year, but for some, it just isnt and they cant help that!

It seems that the majority of people believe that mental illness just disappears at Christmas time, and that sufferers of mental illnesses are just able to snap out of it and be happy for the duration of the Christmas period- this is not the case.

Mental illnesses do not discriminate. Anyone can have a mental illness, at any age, of any gender, of any race, of any religion and of any sexuality. Anyone.

Christmas can be hard for many people and the reasons for this can be very personal, you could have lost someone close to you and the Christmas period remind you of this because you're spending time with everyonem, but someone is missing. 

Perhaps you have stuffed yourself full of chocolate and you feel body conscious and low due to this, which I am sure most people can relate to, but if you suffer with an eating disorder, I know Christmas time can be absolutely terrifying and such a difficult time of year to deal with- I have a blogmas post specifically on this later to come!

Money issues can be a massive worry at Christmas for anyone financial difficulties may cause a great deal of anxiety with presents to buy, outfits to pick out and all the festive needs such as tree decorations and gift-wrapping but for people with anxiety this can be off the scale especially as the costs just keep racking up, and knowing that this will continue into the new year can make the problem even worse. 

 Busy shopping centres can be the worst thing at Christmas, especially nearer to Christmas day when everyone is last minute shopping and everyone is majorly stressed as they havent got everyones Christmas presents, for people with social anxiety and other mental illnesses this can be so terrifying and it may be worth shopping online however, then you have to wait for the post to come and pay for the delivery too which is a nightmare, but sometimes its easier than sweaty hands, dizziness, feeling sick, a dry mouth, shortness of breath and worries in the middle of a busy shopping centre.

Or maybe you just feel lonely and your mental illness is getting to you but there are lots of common things that might be triggering this feeling too- whatever it is, know that you are not alone and that there are people who care about you.

If you know someone who openly suffers with a mental illness, please reach out to them this Christmas (and always!) and see how they are and if you can do anything- it could really help them! Also, just remember: just because you dont know of a mental illness, doesnt mean that there isnt one- some people dont like talking about their issues and therefore dont share this information with the people in their lives. If you dont know, ask anyway! Talk to your friends and family and ask how they are doing and coping with the stresses of the Christmas period- you could be their lifeline!

If you are dealing with a mental illness, here are a few tips to try to look after yourself this Christmas:
- Talk about your feelings- it can be so good to talk about your feelings to anyone and it can make you feel so much better in yourself. If you dont feel comfortable talking to people in person, try messaging someone on social media, or even contacting Childline if you are under 18 or emailing or calling Samaritans if you are over 18- this can really help!
- Ask for help if you are struggling-  there is nothing worse than suffering in silence, and you dont have to! There are so many people around you who love and care about you and would go out of their way to help you, you just have to reach out!
- Eat well- your mental health will benefit from your body getting good stuff into it. Christmas can be a time of eating really rubbish stuff, but if you try to eat quite healthily, it should work hand in hand with your mental health too.
- Take a break if you need it- Christmas is a holiday and you should treat it like one! You have time off work/school and you shouldnt be rushed off your feet or stressed. Sit down and have a break, watch a movie, drink some tea. Take some time to yourself, stop and reflect!
- Do something you're good at/you love- if you have a hobby or a love for something,  keep doing it throughout Christmas to keep your spirits up, whether its painting, singing, playing the piano or so many other things, keep at it!
- Keep active- although it can be extremely tough to get out of  bed some days, it is important that you try to stay active. It has been proven that there is a link between mental health and exercise. You dont have to over do it, just a little walk outside in the fresh air for 30 minutes will do, you dont have to do a gruelling 2 hour gym session.
- Accept yourself for who you are- dont try to pretend your illness isnt there, accept it and talk about it, try to look after yourself and dont push yourself too far, little pushes are enough and you are doing great. Dont feel under pressure to do more than you feel up to this Christmas.
- Keep in touch with your friends and family- dont isolate yourself, especially if you are not having a good time mentally this Christmas, that is the worst thing you could do. Spend time with others and when you have had enough, leave. Facetime, message and stay in contact with people.
- Drink sensibly- alcohol can be a lot of fun, especially at Christmas when everyone is merry, but dont forget that alcohol is a depressant and cause more damage than good. The amount of alcohol consumed determines the type of effect. Most people drink for the stimulant effect, such as a beer or glass of wine taken to “loosen up.” But if a person consumes more than the body can handle, they then experience alcohol's depressant effect. Alcohol and mental illness do not mix too well together so please be careful.
- Care for others- caring for others can really give you the boost that you need and actually cheer you up as well as them, so give a little kindness this Christmas! Buying presents for people isnt the only way to do this at Christmas time, a few examples of little deeds you could do are here:

If you're struggling (or not!) I hope you have a lovely Christmas despite this, you spend it with your loved ones and you feel comfortable and safe. Have a wonderful Christmas.

 Telephone Helplines:
- Helpline: 01482 718130
- Resource Room: 01482 344084
- Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90
- Sane Line (self harm): 0845 767 8000
- R*pe Crisis: 01482 329990
- 999 (UK) for urgent help.

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