Despite my outward happy and panto-like character, unless I am somewhere I feel safe, I really struggle to force myself to do normal things such as using the telephone. The fear and anxiety of what could happen affects everyone, some more than others.
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At this moment there are 20,000 people in hospital and likely to miss Christmas due to mental health (See the very bottom of this post for more). Even more people will be struggling at home and work. Time to Change research shows that over half (55%) of parents in England have never spoken to their children about the topic of mental health (including wellbeing, stress, anxiety). I've argued that mental health is a spectrum or sliding scale but how many people out there are just ignorant about mental health? How many people are discriminating against mental health because they do not understand and/or are scared? How many people have mental health issues themselves, minor or severe, and simply do not realise it or how to ask for help? You might sometimes 'bite your lip' when it comes to the family members you see over this festive period but there are many people who really have to force themselves to socialise, let alone wash and smile.
Also, when you stop to reflect, think of those we have lost this year. Next week I go to my second funeral of 2015 as the drama club loses a third member. Is it only 'post mortem', you stop to reflect everything that person has done for you? All the good and positives that person helped into your life. Perhaps we regret not seizing more opportunities but either way, reflect upon those happier times and be happy you were there.
I will dearly miss Sandra, the drama club's Vice-Chairman who died last week; she was everyone's Nan. If I reflect slightly further back into the year, my best friend's mother lost her fight with cancer. Neither would want me sat around sulking but it is good to remember the cheeky jokes and the love and care we shared. I am sure the same goes for you.
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Even though I can seriously struggle with the confrontation and the shouting and the overwhelming positivity of Christmas, I am still very grateful for the friends and family I have and extremely grateful to you; my readers! Whether you are reading my recent post, or even a post from months ago, and sharing them on your twitters and Facebooks you help me feel understood and not as alone as the 'black dog' would let me.
So stop. Hold your drink. Take deep breaths. Remember where you were 12 months ago and where you sit today. So much has happened and it whilst it hasn't always been easy some of it was fun. You've worked so hard to get here and if your journey is like mine it may feel like you are falling behind on a cold race of life. Mental health will do that but keep on. I certainly feel that I am in a worse place than 12 months ago but all I can do is try.
Next week I will tell you of a few plans I have plus share some more positive memories of my 2015. In the meantime, thank you for reading and tweeting, and have a very safe caring christmas.
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An awesome idea! Hugs to @clairelouisef89 #stigma #charity #mentalhealth #christmas https://t.co/MuyqUPMnPM pic.twitter.com/qb70ixm5t7— Matthew E Streuli (@mattstreuli) December 17, 2015
Need help? In the UK, call Samaritans free on 116 123. Alternatively, further information plus legal support lines are available from MIND, the mental health charity, at www.mind.org.uk