It's not the most wonderful time of the year for everyone.
I hate Christmas.
Cue the shocked responses.
How dare anyone say that! Christmas is a happy time for family and friends and happiness and presents and food and happiness. And did I mention happiness? How could anyone possibly not be happy at Christmas?
That right there is the reason I hate Christmas - anything less than Santa level jolliness is simply not good enough.
Of course, Christmas can be lovely. You get to see family you mightn’t have seen in ages, you catch up with friends from home, you get all the food, treats and of course presents.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a happy time for everyone. In fact, it’s the social obligation to be happy that makes things even harder for some people. You don’t have to be an avid follower of news to notice the increase in people going missing and in deaths this time of year.
Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression suffered by many during the darker, colder months. Mentalhealth.ie estimate one in 15 people are affected by it.
It makes sense, regardless of diagnoses, that a lack of sunlight might leave many feeling under the weather.
There is a lot of pressure this time of year for students as well. Exams before or after Christmas are always more stressful than summer exams. Semester one seems to fly by and then suddenly you have to reproduce 12 weeks of work in a few two-hour time slots. A lot of students working part time will have their hours increased coming up to Christmas too, only adding to the pressure.
And then there’s buying presents. Whether you have a big family or small, siblings or children of your own you want to give them the best. And on a student budget that’s not easy. Some people think that by not spending all they have and more they’re ruining Christmas. That’s just not true. People understand that budgeting as a student is hard and appreciate any effort and thought.
I don’t want to put a dampener on “the most wonderful time of the year” but I think people forget around this time that it's ok to not be ok. Look out for friends and relatives. Rather than saying “cheer up it's Christmas”, ask them why they’re feeling down. A text saying “everything alright?” might make all the difference to someone who is just worn out pretending to feel the Christmas cheer.
And if you relate to anything above, please tell someone. You’re not ruining their Christmas or wasting their time by sharing. If I could help a friend through a tough time, it would be better than all the Christmas presents in the world. And I’m sure everyone will agree.
List of helplines and services: http://www.mentalhealthireland.ie/need-help-now/
Pieta House (Suicide & Self-harm): 1800 247 247, www.pieta.ie
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