This blog post is inspired by reading someone say on a social media network:
Oh my God, if one more person says ‘cheer up, it is Christmas’ I will scream. Clinical depression doesn’t go away just because it is Christmas.
I tried responding to this but the person immediately deleted it. I asked why and they said that they were wary in case people thought it was aimed at them.
So since they felt wary about speaking out about this, I thought ‘hey, why not do it for them’?
So here is some information about clinical depression and the Christmas season. And really most of what is said here can be applied to most mental illnesses – not just depression.
- Saying ‘cheer up, it’s Christmas’ won’t help someone with depression;
- Clinical depression doesn’t go away just because it’s Christmas;
- In fact, clinical depression can often simply get much worse at Christmas. So much pressure and so many expectations on people.
It’s difficult when ’tis the season to be jolly’ but you have an illness that is completely pulling you down, that is completely sucking the life out of you, that perhaps even leaves you unable to function.
When you feel like you want to be able to feel a part of all the fun that everyone else is having, that you want to really enjoy the Christmas experience, but it just not happening.
When you can’t get the bad thoughts out of your head, to even give any real thought to the positive stuff.
When every Christmas carol, every cute Christmas ad, every nice Christmas gesture, just gets you so emotional and you don’t even know why.
When you want to enjoy it all, but you find yourself just wanting to curl up until the festive period is over… and again, you don’t even know why…
I could go on…
But clinical depression doesn’t go away just because it is Christmas. And neither does any other mental illness. Oh, wouldn’t that be lovely.
And one other point that is really worth stressing is this:
- No one with a mental illness can ever ‘just cheer up’ or ‘pull themselves together’ or even ‘get a grip’.
After all, if they could just cheer up, or pull themselves together, or get a grip, wouldn’t they just do so?
As someone pointed out online last night ‘It’s like telling an asthmatic to ‘take a deep breath and get over it’. Not possible.
No one would choose to feel this way or live this way.
Being mentally ill is not a lifestyle choice.
People cannot just switch off their mental illness. After all, it is just that – an illness, not some kind of act.
So spare a thought for those who are struggling this Christmas. When we are caught up in all the fun and festivities it is easy to forget what some others are going through. Christmas or not – the mental illness will still be there!
Filed under: mental health awareness