We all get the January blues. Dark mornings, cold days and even darker evenings arguably make it the bleakest month of the year once the fun of Christmas and New Year has passed.
But for those with mental health problems January can prove to be more than a ‘blue’ month – it can be one of the most difficult and stressful times of year.
KPMG Management Consultant, Jessica Carmody from Teddington, finds the festive period particularly overwhelming and admitted she struggles to put on a happy face when in reality she feels the opposite.
She said: “We often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to feel that we have to be a certain way or if people don’t know about our condition to pretend that you are fine even if you are not.
“At Christmas that gets multiplied because the adverts show that you are supposed to look happy and all the films are about happiness and family happiness.
“The reality is a lot of peoples’ lives aren’t like that.”
— Mind (@MindCharity) January 14, 2015
The thought of getting out of bed, getting dressed and plastering a smile on your face for that day proves to be incredibly stressful for more people than we realise.
Exclusive figures from South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust reveal that the number of inpatient admissions for the trust increased from each December to January from 2011 to 2014.
Admissions increased from 210 in December 2011 to 219 in January 2012, from 194 to 215 in 2012-2013 and 199 to 239 in 2013-2014, highlighting that the festive period has a huge impact on those with mental health issues.
In 2012-2013 there were a total of 2,474 inpatient admissions – that rose to 2,676 in 2013-2014. Jessica, now 34, spent time in hospital after being diagnosed with depression at 20 but believes she had suffered from the illness for more than two decades.
Associating Christmas as a miserable time since she was 14 years old, her coping mechanism is now to spend the day alone with her husband.
— Mind (@MindCharity) January 13, 2015
Jessica struggled with a previous employer who removed her from managing a project after requesting to go home one day – having never taken one day of sick leave.
Since moving to KPMG, Jessica has been able to manage working from home one day a week to allow her to deal with her illness.
She also works closely as an advocate for Mind charity which provides a network of support for people with depression at work.
Sue Scott, Development Manager of Westminster Mind, describes how the festive period is such a sensitive time of year particularly as the break up or dysfunction of families is a trigger for depression among people.
She said: “Christmas is a time where people reflect on their lives and often it can be quite hard for people if they’re thinking about family or friendships that have broken down because of their mental health.
“It is a time where people often in their lives have lost a lot because of mental ill health which reawakens that grieving process whether it is work or family homes.
“Many other people are economically excluded and it is a time of year where people are spending more money and that can create a lot of extra pressures for people with mental health problems.
“If you are already vulnerable then that can feel even more acute at this time of year.”
To read Jessica’s blog visit http://www.haslaptopwilltravel.blogspot.co.uk/
For more information on mental health issues visit the Mind website at http://www.mind.org.uk/.
Picture courtesy of dawolf-, with thanks