People urged to remember those for whom Christmas is just another day of struggle

Jason Hanson, Mansfield counsellor
Jason Hanson, Mansfield counsellor

The countdown to Christmas has begun, immersed in excitement and joy, writes Jason Hanson, a Mansfield counsellor.

The festive period has always been synonymous with children, presents, togetherness and a sense of hope and excitement.

Sadly this is not the experience for everyone and it’s perhaps worth giving a thought to those to which Christmas is merely another day of struggle and challenge.

For some, the traditional family meal will be substituted with a crowded food bank, others will eat alone, some won’t eat at all.

Unfortunately, things such as depression, anxiety, grief and relationship difficulties don’t take a break at Christmas.

Whilst for many of us Christmas is something which fills us with happiness, for others it is something to dread.

I have often wondered why around this time we tend to see more people gravitating towards therapy.

One of the explanations behind this is that people are more likely to recognise feeling low in a period within which they feel they should be feeling happy.

Whilst Christmas can be a time which highlights together-ness and warmth, it can also be a stark reminder of the things we don’t have.

For those who may be experiencing bereavement, especially when it is quite raw, Christmas can be an occasion which really accentuates those feelings of loss and sorrow, with even the distraction of festivities having little positive effect.

Very few of us will stop and take time to consider that for some, Christmas is a time of dread, at best, just another day.

For those who may fall into this category, please keep in mind there are some wonderful charities and organisations who are there to support.

It’s not weak to ask for help or admit you are struggling.

Remember, irrespective of the time of year, mental illness does not take a break or give you time off.

That’s why it is as important as ever for those affected to recognise this and ask for support, and for others and try to understand we don’t all share the same experience.