The common view is that Christmas is supposed to be a time of cheer, of excitement and general fun. But for many people, Christmas is the time of year where depression, fear, anxiety and loneliness get amplified many fold.
There are many different causes of sadness at Christmas. Each person’s story will be unique. But there are often common themes.
Perhaps you have managed to get through the entire year, just coasting along with the odd bump, and then Christmas comes. For people suffering from loneliness, this is when the sadness and depression can really kick in.
Maybe you’ve always been on your own but in recent years it’s starting to take a toll.
Or maybe you were in a long term relationship and through death, illness, separation or divorce, you now find yourself alone at Christmas. This can be particularly difficult. Where there were two there is now only one. The sharing of Christmas tasks and togetherness was a bedrock that got you through this season and now there is nothing.
Maybe a house that would have previously been decorated in style now doesn’t have a single bauble or piece of tinsel.
Problems are often amplified for the lonely person by everyone else being so enthused by Christmas, preparing for the big day and rushing around with an endless list of things to do and parties to go to. While there is nothing wrong with this in itself, the lonely person is constantly reminded about how happy society dictates they should be at this time of year.
It is little wonder that people suffering with loneliness talk about “getting through Christmas”. Almost pretending it’s not going on. Becoming numb to everything that is going on around them, often intentionally as a protection mechanism. Hoping that December will pass quickly, Christmas holidays will be over and we’ll be back to normality in January.
If you are affected by sadness and depression due to loneliness this Christmas, you are not alone, if you can pardon the phrase. Unfortunately knowing that doesn’t really help. But it is true nonetheless. There are probably people living on your street just a few doors away that are in the same position as you.
Everyone will have their own coping strategy for “getting through Christmas” and there are tips to be found throughout the internet. I’m not going to patronise you by telling you to go for a brisk walk, avoiding alcohol or any of the other corny suggestions that some websites recommend. Each person needs to find their own way.
If you are really depressed, keep a list of phone numbers on the fridge. Things like your local GP or doctor, counsellor or other support organisations like the Samaritans.
But whatever you do, remember that January is coming, and relief is not far away. And in the 12 months to next Christmas, make some plans that will help you deal with next year. Think about where you want to be, what you would like to be doing, and see if there is a way of working towards that in the coming year.
Most of all – Be safe.