Living With Mental Health Issues at Christmas

23/12/2013 11:36 GMT | Updated 20/02/2014 10:59 GMT

They're there throughout the year and we often don't know they're there. They are battles beneath skin. They live in those we love. They sometimes live within us. There are times and situations in which they can become amplified to an almost intolerable point. I am referring to mental health issues. Far too often people may forget how difficult it can be for sufferers of mental health issues to live and enjoy life but I feel and fear that these problems potentially intensify around Christmas.

This Christmas I'll be thinking of all the people who have difficulty just getting by during the festive period because of mental health issues. I'll be sending my love out to anyone with body dysmorphic disorder or any form of eating disorder from anorexia to bulimia to emotional eating. With the Christmas meal and looming threat of over indulgence building an insane sense of guilt and pressure this can be an extreme time for those uncomfortable in their own skin. I'll be thinking of all the people with agoraphobia who want to see their family at Christmas but even leaving their home brings about intense feelings of anxiety. I'll be thinking of those with depression trying to move around the heaviness of their feelings or their numbness to try and enjoy what should be a happy time. I'm thinking of those who become over stimulated and uncomfortable or anxious in social situations who are striving through family meet ups and Christmas office parties. I'll be thinking of those who experience panic attacks whilst out Christmas shopping and surrounded by noise and hustle and bustle. As someone very familiar with some of these experiences I can say that I personally know how difficult Christmas can be and how difficult it can be to discuss because it's a time of year everyone loves that presents problems for us as individuals. I think it's important to remember that if you're getting through the festive season with a severe mental health disorder that you are a very strong individual. Living with any mental health problems will pose personal, individualised problems that only you can truly understand and it isn't easy. The fact that you're still going strong despite it all is inspirational and I'm thinking of you. I'm rooting for you.

I will be thinking of all the people out there who, rather than feeling joy and mirth, find themselves stressed and anxious in the run up to Christmas. I think it's important that we all remember that Christmas, though wonderful in nature, can cause a lot of stress, sadness and anxiety especially in those who experience high levels of these emotions on a daily basis. Drink sensibly, eat well, remain active and care for yourself and others through this time. Christmas has the potential to be wonderful but also very hard. If you suffer from a mental health issue and are struggling with the holidays don't be afraid to speak to your doctor or any relevant help services. If you know someone living with a mental health issue then try to remain patient, kind and supportive at this time.