Oh, Christmas. The time of year where almost everyone is wearing a smile, nostalgia floats around us in the buzz of the colourful lights and the air smells like cinnamon. Why wouldn’t you be happy at this time of year?!
The truth is, Christmas can be one of the hardest times of year for those of us that suffer with mental illness. The stress that comes with the arrangements, the pressure of celebrating in large groups, the expense of it all, (and my least favourite of all) the shopping experience…
I’ve put together a little list of things I do at Christmas to make the whole event a little easier for me when I’m not quite feeling myself.
So Christmas Day is almost upon us... and I wonder how many of us have been approaching this with a slight sense of unease and dare I say it even dread?
It's a well-known fact that Christmas can cause untoward stress and anxiety but when a family is supporting someone with a mental health condition these added stresses can compound difficulties and sometimes just plainly and simply make things worse.
Emma and Steph are the founders of #MentalMovement; an online multi-author blog and newly published wellbeing/mental health maga-zine. Their aim is to provide a therapeutic resource for people dealing with mental health. We asked them a few questions in the run up to Christmas!
Christmas is fast approaching and we’ve all most likely been bombarded with Christmas party event invites from each one of our social groups. For me and many others who suffer from mental illness, this time of year can become very difficult - with keeping up appearances and trying our hardest to get into the festive spirit, just surviving a Christmas party alone can spark up unwanted feelings of stress, anxiety, and paranoia.
It is important to remember that you are not alone and Christmas parties are generally awkward for everyone involved, but if you're finding yourself in a situation where the thought of attending a Christmas dinner/party is unbearable, then fear not; I have accumulated a Christmas Party Survival Guide that I hope you find helpful.
Maggy Van Eijk has been the Social Media Editor at BuzzFeed UK for over two years now, and lives in Hackney with a grumpy cat called Polly. We spoke to Maggy about her journey with mental health and how she takes her of her wellbeing during the Christmas period!
Christmas time always seems so jolly, happy and twinkly. The fairy lights, tinsel, Santas presents, the ‘Coca Cola Holidays are coming’ theme tune, Carol services and lets not forget, the John Lewis Advert. However, what if this time of year provokes more anxiety in you than happiness? If you dread spending the days over Christmas alone or with your family and friends?
Over the past few months, we have been working with Steve Wheen – The Pothole Gardener – to create a small garden based on the mental health journey of our young champion, Mariam. Steve and Mariam met to discuss her story and find ways to incorporate her journey that into one of Steve’s signature, little holes of happiness.
We hope you enjoy the video below and it encourages you to speak up about your own mental health, and spread happiness to others!
Ian works at Rethink Mental Illness and has been kind enough to bake sweet things and bring them into the office. We know that Ian has his own lived experience and that baking has been a very important part of his wellbeing. Below you will find Ian's story along with his special mince pie recipe!
Back in 2012, Rethink Mental Illness published a landmark report highlighting the fact that people with a mental illness die, on average, 20 years earlier than the rest of the population. This means that people with conditions like schizophrenia in the UK today have a worse average life expectancy than the general population of 1930s Britain. When people first hear this startling fact, many assume it must predominantly be due to suicide. But that’s not the case. By far the biggest reason they die younger is due to higher rates of mostly preventable physical illnesses. They include the impact of antipsychotic medication, lifestyle factors, poor health monitoring and responsiveness by the NHS, and the dismissive attitude of some health professionals towards people with severe mental illness.
When Adrianne was 13 she was diagnosed with depression. She has had varied experiences with the Mental Health Act, ranging from frustration with forced treatment, to time spent in a mental health hospital where treatment was personalised and she felt properly listened to. More recently, Adrianne was diagnosed with symptoms of BPD (borderline personality disorder). She is living with and managing her mental illness, and is a fiction writer with her first book due to be published in 2017.