So Christmas is, or at least should be a time for celebration, family, loved ones, gift giving, love & laughter right?
For so many people it’s a time of sadness, memories, depression & a very difficult period especially if you have a mental illness. It doesn’t matter how much you try to make it ok for them, if they are feeling depressed or having a bad episode of their illness, it’s just not going to happen.
My mums illness was triggered by a lot of things. There is debate that she has always been boarding on the manic depressive side especially when she was younger but then again she had lost her mother very young, looked after 3 older brothers (who could have looked after themselves!) & her dad who was quite frankly, a pig!
She had a loveless marriage, two young kids, worked several jobs, looked after everyone & still managed to be the life & soul of the party. Or was she? Now looking at the evidence & listening to what people who knew her back then have said, I’m beginning to wonder if actually it was all a cover. I’m convinced she has suffered with depression her whole life but just kept a lid on it for us kids. In those days you weren’t allowed to be depressed, it didn’t exist, you had to pull yourself together & get on with it. And post natal depression was unheard of! Just ‘the baby blues’ which you had to snap out of very quickly.
For some reason, Christmas seems to bring out Mental Health issues more than any other holiday. The pressure to be ‘in the festive spirit’ is put upon us everywhere we look, we can’t even do our weekly food shop without getting carols blasted in our ears. Everything on tv is about families sitting around a table pulling crackers, laughing & singing. In reality this just isn’t the case. If the truth be known, more people dread having to be forced to socialise with family that they don’t want to, be happy & cheerful & act like they are in a absolute bliss when infact they are going through hell.
My one bit of advice after almost 11 years of dealing with this is just to let them be. The more I fussed my mum the worse I made her. Just let them take in the surroundings, try not to push them into doing anything that night make them feel uncomfortable & most of all, just try to understand & be patient.