Happy Christmas Everyone! I truly hope you are having a fun filled, festive time with family and friends.
And if you are, please spare a thought for those who might not be. For so many reasons... the loss of loved ones, a reminder of ongoing illness and yet another year passing, or the sheer loneliness.
I love Christmas. And for the past few years, every September or so I get excited about the joy and fun that is ahead. I picture a perfect Christmas - smiles, laughter and happiness. But actually, as the day draws closer I often start to feel a bit down - ANOTHER year where I’ve not been on top form.
Let’s be honest, it’s been an amazing year - I have kicked post natal depression in the backside, learnt how to use social media to run a hugely successful #ShoutieSelfie campaign to raise awareness of maternal mental health, and am in spitting distance of launching my app to help mums beat loneliness!
But there have also been really bad days, where I’ve wondered if I truly have recovered. Talking to so many of my peers this is totally normal. Everyone has bad days. But when you’ve struggled with mental health they remind you of the truly bad days with the added sting in the tail that you wonder if it’s coming again. It’s not, but you’ve experienced those dark times and it knocked your confidence.
So this Christmas, amongst all the celebrations and frivolity I want to focus on loneliness. It’s something that touches all of us at some stage - whether as the uni student heading off into the big world, the new mum at home with a baby they don’t quite know what to do with, or the elderly person who isn’t visited quite as often as they used to be.
It’s such an important issue to address, as scientists are now suggesting that loneliness could be a preclinical sign for Alzheimer’s disease.
So, instead of a five gold rings and a partridge in a pear tree for the 12 days of Christmas, I will be doing a 12 days focus on loneliness. Each day I will be sharing the story of a different person I have come to meet this year on my mission to reduce loneliness - how they have experienced loneliness, and what they are doing to help others overcome it now.