The NIGHTMARE of Christmas for the depressive & what you can do to help them at this time of year
Updated: Jan 28
Having spent the large majority of my adult life in suicidal hell, I can confidently say that everything I write on here is accurate.
So forget the 'fluff post' blogs and articles that are being churned out at the moment (which, although well-meaning), don't reflect the true horror of severe mental illness in even the smallest way.
Today's post is a realistic shout-out to all of those who are heading into Christmas in deep suffering because as I know:
Christmas is the absolute worst time of year for those in the suicidal hell of depression and other mental illness
Because (as is the case with birthdays, bank holidays, or any other kind of celebration):
There is an expectation of happiness which does not come your way at all.
You are in a whole world of pain and misery while everyone around you celebrates, expressing emotions such as peace, joy, and love - exactly the emotions which have been decimated from your mind and ruthlessly ripped out of your soul.
So what the hell is the sufferer to do at this impossibly difficult time of year?
For the supporter and sufferer (who will struggle to even read this post) let me break all of this down with a bullet-point list:
For the sufferer
Ok, I know what you're going through and you've been having to fake wanting to even live for months at a time so the exhaustion and pretense of Christmas is filling you with sheer dread and vehement repulsion...
I know the feeling because I've spent so many Christmases carrying my bed of nails around, literally dying to stay alive while no one around me even looks up, that I've almost forgotten what it would be like to actually enjoy one...
So, rather than encouraging you to force yourself to fake it one more time and join in, my advice would, in fact, be to do almost the absolute opposite!
Do what feels right for you
If this means staying in bed with the curtains closed then do it.
Trying to feign happiness when exchanging presents will make you want to die even more than you already do.
If someone presented you with a cheque for 1 million pounds right now it still wouldn't make the slightest difference - faking gratitude will exhaust you - so only do what's right for you.
Forget buying presents
If you feel anything like I have for the last few Christmases then you'll be having trouble even getting from bed to bathroom.
Do NOT make matters worse for yourself like I always did by beating yourself over the back with a stick to get to the shops to buy presents.
After torturing myself to get out of the house one year, I remember crying at the kitchen table surrounded by wrapping paper and sellotape - wanting to die so much - yet knowing that I had to get these presents to my godchildren.
Do not put yourself through this torture.
If someone had the equivalent physical illness they'd be hooked up to wires and tubes in intensive care - you are in severe pain so go to bed and do not feel guilty about it!!
Tell everyone the truth
This will be impossible for them to hear but tell them that in fact the last thing you need is for them to try to improve your mood with games and champagne (which, by the way, is the last thing you need right now)...
Just say - I am struggling to stay alive. I will be down if I can & in my own time
Leave the option open but don't commit to anything either.
Allow yourself to do whatever it is that will give you the best chance of survival.
For the supporter
I know you probably want to help by encouraging the depressive to interact, but try to understand that this is in fact their worst nightmare, and they would rather die than have to go through the charade of faking it anymore.
If possible keep family and friends away
The worst TORTURE for the depressive is when people come to the house.
They already feel guilt x 1,000,000,000 so putting them in a situation where they feel as though they have to politely interact is a hell they could really do without.
Keep it to bare minimum (immediate family only) and shelter them as much as possible
Tell them they are loved
The suicidal person has gone past the point of even being able to 'like' anymore so they need to be constantly reminded that their presence is valued.
Do not hound them, but periodically go to their room, lie on their bed, hold their hand, HUG them, tell them that you love them and that you are so PROUD of them for staying alive when every nerve in their body is telling them to give up and die.
Tell them they are LOVED and that you UNDERSTAND why they can't join in.
Tell them that there is a chair waiting for them at the table and that you want them to be there but there is no pressure. At any time of the day they can join in or not - the decision is theirs.
Pray for them
Remember the story of the baby in the crib?
Christmas is not just about getting drunk and over indulging on rich foods, it's a religious festival that carries an important meaning.
Remember why you're celebrating and if you can't do this then maybe you shouldn't be celebrating at all.
Think of those less fortunate, pray for them.
Pray for healing, pray for strength & courage.
Be empathic, be loving, be understanding, be patient, be caring, and above all be kind.
For more information on how to help the suicidal person, please see my 'post for the supporter' which you can find here.
There is also a list of helplines and charities which offer 24 hour advice and support which you can find on the homepage.
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,