Thursday, 15 December 2011

A Christmas post with a difference

I swore I wouldn't write a Christmas post. There are enough bloggers doing a great job at it.

But then I got thinking about the link between Christmas and Mental Health.

For many, this is a time of great happiness. You see the extended family again, perhaps go on holidays and water the festivities with a good dose of alcohol, which never fails to brighten the mood!

And how exciting is Christmas with little ones! The magic of believing in Santa. The sparkle in their eyes when they wake up and find he came to THEIR house and left them presents under the tree!!!

But... Christmas is a time of great misery for many.

Those who have lost loved ones. Jess from Diary of a SAHM knows a mum who died recently, leaving a husband and two little ones to spend Christmas alone.

Those who don't have a family. The homeless, the old. The suicide rate goes up during the festive season. Did you know that? I can't imagine being home alone on Christmas. No dinner, no friends or family to share the joy with, no presents. I'd go to bed early. Maybe watch some TV. I know I'd feel very sad. It's harder to forget that you are lonely on Christmas.

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And what about those in prisons? No matter how you feel about them being in prison, the reality is, this is not a happy time for them or their families either.

Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist who was also a survivor of the holocaust, wrote about his experiences in the concentration camps. He says that the death rate in the camps went up during the week between Christmas 1944 and New Year 1945. The food was not any worst than usual. The hard physical work had not changed. There was no epidemy.

What happened, was that the prisoners of the concentration camp had held hope that they would be home by Christmas. And when Christmas came and went and they were still living in those miserable conditions, they gave up and died.

I'm sorry to be raining on the good festive mood. I don't mean to depress anyone with this post. But maybe just to highlight that, for some, Christmas is a terribly sad time.

Maybe this Christmas, you could invite a lonely neighbour to join your dinner, or pay a visit to a long forgotten aunt, maybe just a phone call, and spare them the pain of a lonely Christmas.

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Is there something you can do this Christmas to brighten someone's mood?