For many, it’s been a very difficult year or two and 2022 is still looking uncertain and a little murky. As Christmas songs are blasting messages of the most wonderful time of the year, adverts are reminding us that we must find the perfect gift and stores are decorated with so much Christmas cheer your own attempts at home with never seen to be enough, it’s normal to feel a little blue. For some however, they will join millions around the world fighting mental illness this Christmas season. As mental illness can be hidden and in most cases “invisible”, I thought I’d share some signs to look out for incase you yourself or someone you know may be struggling. Although these signs are not an exact indicator or a way to diagnose, they can be helpful in starting a conversation which is what someone may need.
Although mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression are often invisible, they do have some symptoms that can be visible though behavioural patterns and changes. The most common being (but not limited to):
-Feeling sad or down.
-Change in Routine.
-Negative or antisocial behaviour; excessive anger, hostility or violence
-Unable to concentrate, focus, get inspired or get motivated.
-Excessive fears or worries; extreme guilt
-Negative thoughts and conversation.
-Discussions or mentions of suicide and suicidal behaviours.
-Avoidance of interactions; missing school, work, social events etc.
-Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations.
-Excessive use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
-Change in sleep, sexual and eating patterns.
If you or someone else are experiencing suicidal thoughts, I’d like to encourage you to take positive actions. If you or someone you know is thinking of hurting themselves or attempting suicide, get help straight away.
-Call 000 or your local emergency services.
-Call a suicide hotline; Lifeline (AUS) 13 11 14. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA) 1800 273 8255.
-Seek help from your mental health specialist or primary care provider.
-Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
-If it relates to you, reach out to a minister, spiritual leader or someone in your faith community.
What to do if you or someone is struggling:
If you, or someone you know is showing signs of mental illness, especially if they are struggling, it’s best to have an open and honest conversation with them about their thoughts, feelings and concerns. I urge you to listen to them, make them feel supported, understood and not a burden. Please do not say things like “I have depression too” or “everyone struggles this time of year”, as you don’t want to devaluate their experiences. You may not be able to encourage someone to get professional help or care but you can always get support and encouragement. Offer making an appointment to a mental health professional and if comfortable, offer to go with them. If that is not an option, encourage them gently to change their routine, help them tidy up their space and take on some of their smaller issues such as doing the laundry, tidying the house or buying groceries. By completing these small tasks, you can really help boost your loved ones mood and encourage them to make positive changed.
Sometimes just being there for someone is enough. Being listened to is enough and being told you have value in this world, is enough. It really can feel like you’re screaming for help but no one can hear you so if someone asks if you need help and you do, please accept it. The Christmas season isn’t easy and we all have our own private problems, issues and battles; although we may not be able to change or remove ourselves from the problem, we can always get help and support.
WHERE TO GO FOR HELP, NATIONAL HELPLINES AND WEBSITES:
Information on symptoms, treatment and prevention of depression and bipolar disorder.
1800 242 636
Short-term counselling and emotional and psychological support services for carers and their families in each state and territory.
A national platform for multicultural communities and Australian mental health services to access resources, services and information in a culturally accessible format.
1800 650 890
Free online and telephone service that supports young people aged between 12 and 25 and their families going through a tough time.
1800 55 1800
A free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25.
13 11 14
Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention
1300 78 99 78A telephone and online support, information and referral service, helping men to deal with relationship problems in a practical and effective way.
An innovative website that can help you find free and low-cost, trusted online and phone mental health resources.
1800 61 44 34
An online and telephone clinic providing free assessment and treatment services for Australian adults with anxiety or depression.
Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and Aboriginal Medical Services in each state and territory.
1800 184 527
QLife is Australia’s first nationally-oriented counselling and referral service for LGBTI people. The project provides nation-wide, early intervention, peer supported telephone and web based services to diverse people of all ages experiencing poor mental health, psychological distress, social isolation, discrimination, experiences of being misgendered and/or other social determinants that impact on their health and wellbeing.
1300 364 277A provider of relationship support services for individuals, families and communities.
1800 18 7263Information about mental illness, treatments, where to go for support and help carers.
Information, resources, counselling and group support to those bereaved by suicide. Education and professional development to health, welfare and education professionals.
SUPPORT GROUPS AND ONLINE FORUMS
Talking about what’s going on with others who understand – or may be going through something similar – can really make a difference. Our friends at Black Dog Institute have a list of support groups in every state and territory that can help you connect with groups of people who meet regularly to discuss their experiences, their problems and their strategies for coping.
The Beyond Blue online forums are also a great way to connect with people online, in a safe and anonymous environment, to discuss anxiety, depression, suicide and a range of life issues. Anyone in Australia can participate in discussions, connect with others and share their experiences with our community.
FURTHER READING AND REFERENCES:
Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.