There is always someone there for you this Christmas and New Year
We all know that familiar feeling at Christmas when the shops are full of decorations and the radio plays endless Christmas tunes on repeat whilst the television is awash with ridiculous amounts of over-indulgent food and drink adverts… it can be really irksome and although some people love it, (which is marvellous) there are many who don’t. Instead it can reinforce feelings of isolation and frustration. Many people with chronic illness or long-term health issues find the holiday season a doubly difficult time of year to get through.
The important thing to focus on, if you feel this way, is that this season always passes and if you are struggling physically or mentally during it there is always someone to support you – please keep at the forefront of your mind that you are not alone.
Some people are fortunate to have close family members and/or good friends who can support them either physically or mentally or both at particularly challenging times. If you are lucky enough to have this support do turn to your loved ones as your first port of call; chat to them about how the Christmas season makes you feel. You will often find that others have a unique perspective which may help you.
However, there are many people who don’t have a significant other or friend to turn to and that is why PINNT wants to emphasise that no one in the UK needs to feel completely alone at this time of year. At the bottom of this short feature we have listed organisations that you can turn to freely if it all gets too much. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or send a text message if you feel that you aren’t coping or need to hear a friendly, reassuring voice. There is never shame in this – we are all human and every single one of us requires support at different times. It is also worth bearing in mind that not everyone on this planet is celebrating the Christmas season, you are not the only one – even though it may feel like that at times.
Worth a read!
A book that is worth a look and which may help you through the festive season - if you are feeling a bit blah about it all - is Last Christmas
curated by Emma Thompson and her husband Greg Wise. It is available at Waterstones (waterstones.com), Amazon (amazon.co.uk) plus most good book shops and comes in a hardback version and is also downloadable for Kindle. Prices vary from 0.99p for the Kindle version up to £11.99 for the hardback version. Watch this clip which tells you all about it: Last Christmas the book
The book is a collection of anecdotes of Christmases past ranging from tales from actors and comedians to those most marginalised in society such as refugees and homeless people. It focuses on the truth about the Christmas experience both good and bad. All profits from the book go to the charity Crisis (www.crisis.org.uk), which supports the homeless and to The Refugee Council (www.refugeecouncil.org.uk). Emma Thompson and Greg Wise are not making any money out of it.
Here is a review: "It only takes a few hours to complete, but this eclectic collection of personal essays provides a perfect antidote if you are struggling to identify and relate to the essence of Christmas. It really is a diverse collection ranging from the rich and famous to the most marginalised, from the devout to the non-believer, from Hollywood to the refugee camp. Compiled and curated by Emma Thompson and her husband Greg Wise, all the proceeds go to the charity Crisis which offers all year-round education, employment and housing for homeless people.
Christmas has a fascinating and complex history but for many it now seems to have been consumed by materialism and commercialism. But to many, and this is what lies at the heart of the book, it is a time for hope and a chance to assert certain values when the insidious spread of hate and distortion is all too apparent.
There are contributions from around the world, many from people who have and are struggling with daily life. The oppressed and forgotten providing some of the most moving contributions. Two of the most interesting pieces came from children of deeply religious families (Muslim and Jehovah Witness) who despite their parents’ objections nevertheless secretly celebrated Christmas. Sadness, happiness, sorrow and joy are all here and if you have time amidst all the other things going on during the festive season, then I would recommend that you read this thought-provoking book.”
Useful resources during the Festive Season and beyond…
Mindfulness apps, to help you relax and restore a sense of peace and tranquillity:
Headspace - www.headspace.com
Calm - www.calm.com
App for dealing with chronic pain
- The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris, www.thehappinesstrap.com
- Living with the Enemy, Ray Owen, published by Taylor & Francis
- The Reality Slap, finding peace and fulfillment when life hurts by Russ Harris
- The Grief Recovery Handbook (now in its 20th year edition), by John W James & Russell Friedman
Most of these books can be ordered online or bought in major bookshops. Prices vary according to where you purchase so it is worth searching online, prior to purchase, if possible or asking someone to look for you. Some of these books may also be available in audio versions, if preferred.
For people registered blind or partially sighted, RNIB offer a library of books in braille. Visit www.rniblibrary.com
A couple of anecdotes from PINNT members regarding their thoughts on the festive period. Both offer suggestions whilst acknowledging the challenges of life with artificial nutrition. All points of view are valid and can offer insight into different feelings and coping strategies.
“Giving back helps me. Not being able to eat is something I’ve learnt to live with. It’s a fact and I can’t change it so why worry about it. There’s so much I miss; a curry and a pint with my mates, work – I miss getting up and being on a commuter train and lastly, I miss being well. That said, I do have a loving and supportive family and a roof over my head. Knowing what it’s like not to eat and drink, over Christmas we make a point of supporting a local group who feed the homeless over the festive season. We have so much to be thankful for; spending time with those less fortunate during what is a time of giving shouldn’t just be about big and expensive presents. Giving time and support to others who cannot guarantee a hot meal every day is the least I feel I can do; I know what it’s like to miss out.”
“I skip the washing up! Thanks to a great family and friends I’ve managed to cope with the festive season rather well. We have a running buffet that’s secondary to the festive fun – games, presents and the traditional afternoon walk. I switch off my senses to the sights and smells of the food and indulge myself in family time and making memories with those I love. We keep the whole day casual; I can spend the day with my rucksack on my back without feeling uncomfortable. In fact, I think I have the advantage; I put up my feed and that’s it; I can carry on for a few hours until I need to change the bottle. My enteral backpack is small and is not intrusive during the day’s fun and games. I am also excused from the washing up, okay loading the dishwasher… if I can’t eat I don’t see why I should help in the kitchen. It’s hard but if I don’t adapt my mind it could ruin a time I cherish with my family and friends.”
Useful organisations and contacts
Below is a list of organisations with contact details, which may be of help. Each organisation offers unique forms of support all year round but may be particularly useful during December and early New Year. (Please be aware that this list is not exhaustive and there are many charities and organisations which may be able to offer advice and help more specific to you and your situation. Search online using key words. Note also that these details are for UK residents and you will need to search online for support outside of the UK, if applicable.)
Please be aware that not all helplines are 24-hours and, with the exception of emergency helplines, some do incur a charge for calls – please ask if unsure.
When feeling desperate with feelings of isolation and/or disconnection.
116 123 - UK and ROI 24hrs a day, 365 days a year
Welsh language line
7pm to 11pm 7 days a week
Welsh language phone
A text service is currently in development but presently can only be used in a limited and targeted way so is not advertised nationally yet.
For urgent but non-emergency mental health issues
ask for your local crisis team
by contacting the NHS 111 service at any time of day and ask for their details. Crisis teams are available to offer support in times of a mental health crisis. This number works in England, Wales (most areas but where not available you can call 0845 46 47) and Scotland but is called different things in each area.
The disability equality charity in England and Wales. Providing practical information and emotional support when it's most needed. For independent support or disability information:
0808 800 3333
Phone line opening times: Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm - Saturday to Sunday and most Bank Holidays: 10am to 6pm.
Shout is an affiliate of the Crisis Text Line in the UK that provides free, confidential support, 24/7 via text. It’s the first free 24/7 texting service in the UK for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. Shout is available in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
SHOUT to 85258 in the UK to text with a trained crisis volunteer.
Suicide prevention society for young people under 35 years of age.
HOPELINEUK 0800 068 4141 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 10pm. Weekends and Bank Holidays, 2pm to 10pm)
For all mental health issues and crisis.
0300 304 7000 (4.30pm to 10.30pm 365 days a year)
For any issues at all for under 16s, free, confidential and 24 hours.
For individuals suffering from any form of anxiety disorder. No panic also offers support to carers of those with anxiety disorders.
Phone: Youth helpline
0330 6061174 (Young people ages 13 – 20 years)
10am to 10pm then pre-recorded support after this time.
British Red Cross
Borrow a wheelchair / disability aid line (please note there are hire charges).
Book online: https://www.redcross.org.uk/get-help/borrow-a-wheelchair/wheelchair-selection
0300 456 1914 (If you have questions associated with your booking.)
Mental health charity information line.
0300 123 3393 Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm (closed 25th
and 26th Dec and 1st Jan and all Bank Holidays).
Practical advice and support for those suffering mental illness.
0300 5000 927 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Friday.
Or send a message online via the Re-Think website: www.rethink.org/aboutus/what-we-do/advice-and-information-service/contact-our-advice-information-service/
Their crisis messenger text service for 13 – 25-year olds, provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK.
0808 808 4994
MIX to 85258.
Charity providing support if you've been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.
03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.30pm)
07537 416 905
CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35.
0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight)
Charity working with people with a learning disability, their families and carers.
0808 808 1111 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm)
For people battling eating disorders.
Beat Adult Helpline: 0808 801 0677
Email, adults: firstname.lastname@example.org
Beat Youthline: 0808 801 0711
Email, youths: email@example.com
Cruse Bereavement Care
For those suffering with loss and grief.
0808 808 1677 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm – excluding bank holidays. Extended opening hours until 8pm, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday)
Helpline for women and children dealing with domestic violence.
0808 2000 247 (24-hour helpline)
The Silver Line
Helpline for older people.
Providing confidential advice, 24 hours a day every day of the year.