Christmas can be a very difficult time for anyone struggling with mental illness, and Counsellor Sarah Barr has three tips to help support a loved one at this time.

Invitations for family gatherings and christmas parties are starting to arrive with more guaranteed to come. For some, it will be a rush of excitement, laughing with friends and spending time with loved ones.

For those who are living with a feeling of dread, anticipating family gatherings and nights out.

For anyone in your life who is struggling with a mental illness, Christmas can be a very difficult time.

Here is a few things that may help this Christmas;

1. Not a choice.
Mental illness is not a choice.
It is not about attention seeking, being awkward or being lazy.

Anyone who is living with a mental illness, does choose to fight it. They get up and face it each and every day. This takes alot of bravery.

Show compassion and listen as their perception of Christmas may be different from yours.

2. Plans.

Last-minute changes may cause panic for those loving with anxiety.

If you have to change a plan, give notice and explain any changes.

Show awareness, how you view the world, is different for those who are living with a mental illness.

3. Acceptance.

Accept your loved one for who they are now. Don’t talk or dwell on past stories about how they used to be. Focus on the here and now.

Show your loved one how proud you are of them and of their strength. Love your loved one for who they are now.

Mental illness is an invisible illness. It’s devastating and hard.
Christmas is a reminder of our past, and this can trigger feelings of trauma, grief, anxiety or depression in your loved ones.

Show understanding this Christmas,

Take Care ~ Sarah.