To all the people in the world having an amazing Christmas already, who are looking forward to it, deep in the festive spirit and full of joys: that’s brilliant. Genuinely brilliant. Please don’t be offended that this article isn’t for you. May your Yuletide be amazing.
This article, though, is for those of us who are struggling a little bit, a lot, or somewhere in between. Because Christmas inevitably brings to the fore struggles too, be it being surrounded by people who appear far happier, or missing the people who are no longer with us.
We’re not looking to pry where we’re not wanted, but we do want to say this: whether it feels like it or not, you matter. That it’s okay not to be okay.
Also, that no matter how it may look around you, however perfect other people’s lives may seem, most of the time we just get a two-dimensional snapshot of them. That they may be putting a brave face on a very difficult situation. In short: this image of perfection and absolute happiness that tends to surround us at Christmas is just that: an image. Not that people aren’t happy, just that everyone has a cauldron of problems.
Again, though, that doesn’t mean in the slightest that yours don’t matter. They really do. And you know what? It’s fine not to be happy at Christmas. That doesn’t make you a party pooper. That’s just being a human being sometimes.
Life is difficult, friends. It throws horrible stuff at us sometimes and just expects us to cope. Yet we can’t always cope. And if I’ve learned anything these past few years, it’s that sometimes, it’s just best to admit you can’t cope. To talk to someone. To get some help.
Gratifyingly, over the past few years, the bizarre taboo surrounding talking about mental health has lifted enormously. It doesn’t make it easy, of course, but it does highlight just how many of us – myself included – have struggles.
What to do, then? Well, one simple suggestion: something. Do something. Because you are allowed to be happy too. The world has a smile for you somewhere, even though it may be impossible to see.
If you are feeling like you’re not in a great place, though, please do talk to someone. Is there a friend or relative you can have a quiet chat with? Is there a friendly website where you can talk about how you feel – anonymously or with your name on – in the comments? Sometimes, just writing stuff down and – here’s one of those words – ‘externalising’ something can help.
But also, so can talking to someone. And there’s a wonderful collection of groups who are on hand to help and support. Crucially, who want to help and support. I’ve said often before, in a variety of different places, that the thing with these groups is they want to support you whether you’re at the beginning or the end of your tether. You can talk to them if you just feel a little off. You can talk to them if things feel a lot more serious. They want to help you, and they are brilliant.
Here are a few groups that may be of help.
The Campaign Against Living Miserably, CALM, has a free and confidential helpline that opens from 5pm-midnight every day. It’s 0800 58 58 58. It also has a webchat service via its website: https://www.thecalmzone.net/2016/12/you-can-talk-to-calm/
If you’re struggling with bereavement, then Cruse is wonderful. It has a free helpline at 0808 808 1677, and you can find its website here https://www.cruse.org.uk/
If you’re older and struggling, then The Silver Line is a helpline for senior citizens. You can contact it on 0800 4 70 80 90, and it’s open all over Christmas and New Year. Its website is https://www.thesilverline.org.uk/
Conversely, if you’re young and struggling, then Young Minds is a brilliant organisation. You can find its website here: https://youngminds.org.uk/. Young Minds also has resources for parents, too.
If things are really bad, and you’re considering ending everything, then firstly, please just take a pause. Don’t rush. Stop. Take a day. Go for a walk. Talk to someone. We recommend the Samaritans for a quick chat too. They are wonderful people, very much on your side. Again, their details. Its freephone number is 116 123 from the UK, and you can email [email protected]. You can find its website at www.samaritans.org
Also, if you’re worried about a friend or relative, then this wonderful article offers far better guidance than we ever could.
Life, chums, can be a bit of a shit sometimes, and that’s no understatement. But please keep going. Please keep trying to find a little bit of light. Please talk to people, or comment, or something. Let’s all try and find a smile from somewhere over the coming weeks.
You all stay brilliant x