Friday, 19 December 2014

Mental Health & Where to Find Help at Christmas

This time of year is magical; full of twinkling lights, Christmas music and people making an extra effort to be kind, but it also be really tough. 

This photo popped up on my Timehop this morning and it reminded me of the position I was in this time last year. I've mentioned before on my blog that I've struggled with my mental health for almost half my life now. There have obviously been all sorts of ups and downs and all over the places but this time last year I was in the midst of the worst episode of my life and weeks away from a serious breakdown. 

Mr D had started to notice my behaviour was a bit strange and that I wasn't coping very well around October so I did what years of therapy has told me to do and asked for some support. Despite having been in and out of secondary care for the last 13 years I was added to the waiting list and told to go away. As things got progressively worse I got increasingly determined to power through and just get on with it. I decided I could still do All The Things and part of that was hosting Christmas at our house for my family. Both my mum and Mr D tried to convince me that it wasn't a good idea but when I'm in that place I will not listen to anyone (see mum, I do admit you're right sometimes!) and ploughed on. 

It's difficult to explain but it's quite childlike behaviour; blind to consequences and being convinced that you're capable of anything. (Actually I'm not sure that's not just my entire personality rather than my mental health!) I genuinely had fun and enjoyed myself in whatever it was that I was doing but I had no concept of what it was doing to my brain. Inevitably though I would end up an exhausted, sobbing, crazy mess unable to move or do anything for the couple of days after. I think (but I can't remember too well) I may have even gone to some blog events and although I really, really enjoyed being there and was happy as larry at the time my brain didn't feel the same way.

Once the excitement and joy of Christmas and New Year had passed and I had nothing to occupy my mind with, it all came to the surface in a very unpleasant way. Fortunately for me my mum was at my house on the worst day so she took care of me then decided to come to stay with us for a few weeks. Between her and Mr D they kept a constant eye on me and I didn't have to go through it alone. Thanks to a medication change, some intense therapy and my mum's no nonsense attitude with the mental health services I've improved a lot over the year and feel like I've made serious progress.

As much as I love this time of year and Winter in general (and I really, really do) it's always a little bit difficult. End of term assignments and feeling like I still have tonnes to do for next week has left me feeling quite frazzled this week but I've taken a step back, prioritised and taken care of myself which is not something I've been able to do before. Stress is a big trigger for most people with any mental health issue and Christmas is the epitome of stress. It's incredibly easy to get overwhelmed and feel out of control.

As cliched and cheesy as it sounds, you are absolutely not alone. There is so much support to be accessed and although it's scary to pick up the phone or send an email saying 'help', it's scarier being alone with unpleasant thoughts. Just knowing that someone else knows how awful you're feeling can be comfort enough and often, a kind word from a stranger will do wonders. I've lost count of how many times a few simple tweets of support have made me feel that little bit less alone. It's scary being honest and for some people it's a very hard thing to do but in my experience honesty has only ever brought me love and support, whether it's from a stranger or someone close to me.

I'm not sure where I wanted this to go really and I've closed this window more times than I can count. I've listed some helplines and ways of getting some support online below, please feel free to copy and share it elsewhere.

Whatever you're doing this Christmas, be safe.

Mrs D x


Telephone: 08457 90 90 90 (24 hours a day)
Provides confidential, non-judgmental emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide. You can phone, email, write a letter or in most cases talk to someone face to face.
Telephone: 0300 123 3393 (9am-5pm Monday to Friday)
Web site:
Mind provides confidential mental health information services.
With support and understanding, Mind enables people to make informed choices. The Infoline gives information on types of mental distress, where to get help, drug treatments, alternative therapies and advocacy. Mind also has a network of nearly 200 local Mind associations providing local services.

Rethink Mental Illness Advice Line

Telephone: 0300 5000 927   (10am-2pm Monday to Friday)
Provides expert advice and information to people with mental health problems and those who care for them, as well as giving help to health professionals, employers and staff. Rethink also runs Rethink services and groups across England and Northern Ireland.


Telephone: 0845 767 8000 (6pm-11pm)
Saneline is a national mental health helpline providing information and support to people with mental health problems and those who support them.


ChildLine is a private and confidential service for children and young people up to the age of nineteen. You can contact a ChildLine counsellor for free about anything - no problem is too big or too small. 


Elefriends is a supportive online community where you can be yourself. Elefriends is run by Mind. 

1 comment

  1. I remember this last year, and I remember feeling for you, I've suffered since I was a teenager. I've had a truly rubbish Christmas (again, trying to host etc.) and it ended in me and my husband having a very temporary separation at the weekend. I'm not sure anything will ever be the same again but as one of the few places I can openly admit that I thought it was all over because of my mental health issues, I wanted to say it. Keep on rockin' Elena because you rock so well!


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