Friday, December 21, 2007

The Ghost of Christmas Past

First published 23/12/06. Edited for 2007.

Christmas is an incredibly lonely time for many people. Unlike any other time of the year the world seems to stop spinning and everything comes to a halt. In this country at least, this includes mental health services. This is just too much to cope with for some people; just knowing that no one is there for them if they need someone can cause an increase in anxiety. (See this news article)

Traditionally, it is a time for family and friends to come together. But some people don’t have any family. Many will be remembering lost loved ones, and some will be grieving new losses. Elderly ones in particular may have lost their spouses, siblings, and friends. Sick ones may struggle to form lasting friendships. For all of these ones, knowing that others are enjoying the company of people they love and who love them can make them feel more isolated than ever.

"The Silent Night" by Philippa King

For some people, going to the shops each day provides the human contact that everyone needs. But the shops are closed. I know people with mental health difficulties who wander around town all day, preferring the company of strangers than no company at all. How will it be for those ones when the town centre is completely deserted? When there is no one on that bench to chat to; no playing children to laugh at; no struggling mothers to joke with?

This weekend people may be writing a list of all their final arrangements, or their last minute shopping needs. Why not write a list of people who you know live alone? Maybe they’re elderly ones; maybe they have an illness of one kind or another. Maybe give them a ring just to show that they’re not forgotten. Maybe pop round for a cuppa and take them a slice of cake. At the very least you may just make someones day. Or you could even save a life. Maybe.


Catherine said...

I know I was surprised that the MHS in my city were completely closed down for the holidays, beginning early this week and lasting until until the 7th or so. While I understand that dedicated therapists and doctors have plans too, it just seems like an awfully long time for the centre to be shut down, especially when so many people have trouble during the holidays.

Mr Mans Wife said...

I agree Catherine. You would have thought it would be better for the staff to take it in turns to work one Christmas and not the next, like the people in so many other essential services have to, such as ambulance, hospital, fire service and police.

As the article which I linked to shows, mental health services are needed more at this time of year, not less.

slurry said...

Seems like the MH services close down everywhere over the holidays, bad news for most.

I am thankfull this year I am spending xmas with my family, and not in the local unit like the last 6.

Have a very merry xmas.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thank you Slurry :o)

That's lovely news that you will be spending the holidays with your family this year. I hope you have a very enjoyable time. x

Slurry said...

Do have a look over on Inspector gadgets blog, he seems to be some what deluded in to thinking every terrorist is a
"suicidal, psychotic child murdering extremist "

I think it is wrong that yet again psychosis is tarred with been killers again, just after the last posts aswell.

sorry makes me SO ANGERY

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thanks for pointing that out Slurry. I've always found Inspector Gadget to be a reasonable sort of fellow, and I see that he has taken your concerns seriously and has amended the post.

I'm sure he didn't mean it in a derogatory way towards those who suffer from psychosis. I think the problem is that "psychotic" is a word that has been over used and misused too many times in all areas of media and entertainment, and now it seems to mean something different to people than what it actually means. In fact, I bet if 100 people were asked what it means very few would get it right.

I'm not saying IG didn't know what it meant, but I think sometimes the way a word is used can rub off on people, especially when it is used so often. I can't think of another good example really, apart from "flu" maybe.

As usual, IG is obviously not ashamed to admit when he has made a mistake, and correct it. I respect that.

slurry said...

Yeah totally respect IG for editing it out and have found him very reasonable now and in the past.

I suppose it just hit a raw nerve as I am sick and tired of the whole child murdering thing.

How was your xmas? Mine was great much better than expected!

Mr Mans Wife said...

I fully understand what you're saying. I hope you don't think I was correcting you in any way, I just wouldn't want other readers to get the wrong view of Gadget.

I'm really glad that you had such a great time with your family. Christmas was a quiet day for us as usual. We don't do anything special, but there's something about knowing that everywhere is closed that I find very relaxing for some reason. Probably because I know I don't have to deal with any of those blasted bills!

slurry said...

No No, I know you werent correcting me, I just went off the deep end!

And IGs blog is great and one I read regularly.

yup know what you mean about the whole everything been closed thing, just slow nice to know the country is at a stand still.

Mr Mans Wife said...

I'm glad we understand each other :o)

Yeah, I suppose it's not so nice for those who really need the company or important services, but I like it. I know I won't get any telesales calls either!

Anonymous said...

That really makes me think the next time a stranger sits beside me at a bus stop. I usually don't like talking to strangers, but what would it hurt, and after the way you put it, maybe they do just need someone to talk to. It reminds me that I need to get out of myself more.
Thank you.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thank you for your comment Anonymous. I think you're right - we should all take the time to talk to the strangers we meet. We're all so busy these days and get so wrapped up in our own worlds. We need to stop and think about what is really important.

You have made me think too. Thank you.

Polar Bear said...

What a compassionate post. Thank you.

I am one of those mentally ill, without support over the holidays. I am one of those that wander the town alone, like a ghost. I had gone days without speaking to anyone.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Polar Bear, welcome to my blog and thank you for your comment.

I am so sorry that the holiday season was such a lonely time for you. (((hugs)))

I love polar bears by the way! Give me another hug!

Polar Bear said...

(((((big bear hug. Big Polar bear hug))))

I'm glad it's finally over (the holiday season) for another year. Still, my therapist doesn't get back till end of January. Feels like a long way away when she is the only person who truly listens to me.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Yeah, I've noticed that psychiatrists and therapists seem to have the longest holidays. In an ideal mental health system they would work in pairs so that we could become familiar and comfortable with both, and then there would still be someone available for us when one of them skips off on holiday.

I hope blogging is sufficient therapy for you until the end of January.

*Mr Mans Wife buries herself in Polar Bears fur and gives a big squeezy cuddle* Ooh I love big polar bear hugs!

Helena said...

I'm lucky- I had a good Christmas this year. I usually dread it. Especially the cajolling from people to 'join in' etc etc.

Since stopping work it is easier as I don't get the entire office hounding me for two months about why I'm so boring I don't want to go to the office party... grrr.

I have appointment with a psych-doc this Thursday. I can't say 'with MY psych-doc' as, after going along there for some 3 years now, I have rarely seen the same doc twice. Hence, there is no plan, no progress. EVERY appointment is about asking me how many siblings I have and are my parents still alive blah blah blah.

This time they've changed the place I have to go to, too, so now I will have to take 4 buses. Presumably because the doc this time won't drive into town.

So. I wouldn't have turned to the NHS over Xmas anyway, I'm afraid, as my experience of NHS doc's has been very poor.

The samaritans and Mind have helped. Normally I would be ringing them....

Oh, wouldn't it be good if we could all hibernate?


Mr Mans Wife said...

Hi Helena, thanks for popping over and leaving a comment.

I'm glad the holiday season was better for you this year. Although people mean well, their lack of understanding can leave a person feeling worse.

Your experience with mental health services is terrible! I wish I knew what to suggest.

Your point about the Samaritans and Mind is a good one - I should have included their numbers in this post. Ahh well, maybe next Christmas!

Thanks for your comment Helena.

Anonymous said...

Hey. I stumbled upon your blog by accident and I'm rather amazed by the similarities I see in your life with my own.

"I know people with mental health difficulties who wander around town all day, preferring the company of strangers than no company at all. How will it be for those ones when the town centre is completely deserted?"

My brother was a schizophrenic and he often ventured to the mall alone. I always wondered why he did what he did and I regret not figuring it out earlier. There are many things I wish I understood better about him, and I hope by reading your blog I can see through this fog.

Thank you.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Hi there Anonymous, thank you for reading and leaving a comment.

I couldn't help but notice that you speak about your brother in past tense. It's not my place to pry, but whatever the situation I hope you find what you are looking for here.

Thank you again for your comment.