Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


Mental Illness Takes No Holiday

posted by Beyond Blue

We often reach out during the holidays to the poor and homeless — sponsoring a family during Christmas, or distributing toys to children without presents. However, we often forget those that suffer just as intensely within the walls of psych wards or prisons, the mentally ill that can be so awkward to visit. I was touched by this post by Sandra Kiume at Psych Central. I’ve published an excerpt below.

Click here to read the entire article.

But for others, Christmas is one of the worst days of the year. Maybe there is no family to be with, or family has turned their back on mental illness. Maybe it’s a grief anniversary that worsens depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Maybe poverty prevents full participation. Whatever the reason, there are a fair number of Christmas “orphans” who won’t be singing along to Jingle Bells.

Readers in the former category will be offline busy with their celebrations but as a web veteran I know that people in the latter group will be online feeling worse because nobody’s posting. So, I will be here, with info and inspiration and empathy. Links and fun stuff.

Then there are those who won’t be online at all, people who are homeless or hospitalized or (shockingly) don’t use the Internet. Charities distribute hampers to poor children and some host festive dinners, etc., but often those attempts at inclusion take place weeks before the actual holiday and on Christmas Day itself the silence in the void is even more acute.

Every year, I go to my local hospital’s psych ward to deliver a pound of good (decaf) coffee to brighten the day of everyone in the ward, and a gender-neutral gift for someone in the ward who will not otherwise receive a gift. The nurses decide on the recipient.

Why? I am sure there are worse situations, there are those suffering from war and abuse and crimes, but really one of the most miserable sensations someone with mental illness may experience is being alone in the hospital on Christmas and utterly forgotten by people. Other people in the ward get visits and flowers, while the person with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder sits in a corner and feels more left out, stigmatized and abandoned than ever. It’s these people, and their online counterparts, I want to help on the loneliest day of the year.

Click here for the entire story.



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Razz2

    This brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. Although I have never had the unfortunate experience of being alone at Christmas I’ve certainly had that feeling. While the rest of the world seems to be all “happy and merry and bright” I was shrouded in the darkness of my depression. For years now I’ve hated Christmas. Oh, I’ve put on a good face and go through the motions of creating a happy Christmas celebration but inside of me I want to scream. Even during those years, like this year, when my depression was not too overwhelming the whole big “show” that comes at this time of the year just grates on my nerves. People have been complaining since I was a kid that it’s gotten too commercialized but that’s not it…. to me it’s become too de-personalized. It’s all about the “perfect” everything and society no longer focuses on the individual. On the people who celebrate Christmas in what ever way they can. Why we even have this celebration has long long ago lost it’s original meaning. To me it’s gotten just way too big…. HUGE even.

    What happened to the simple time of celebrating the birth of someone who would change the world in his life time? What happened to the remembrance of his humble birth, so much like our own births. Each of us perfect in our uniqueness and we don’t need inflated fake snow globes with polar bears in them to show off to the neighbors.

    This birth of an infant came with a message of love and peace for all mankind. It didn’t come all wrapped up in foil and a “perfect” wired ribbon bow!!!

    How much better I would feel at Christmas if only we could focus on the message and share our love and understanding to those we know and those we don’t know. The child whose birthday we are celebrating, long forgotten now among the retail frenzy, came with a message that we are all special in God’s sight. And even if we are physically alone on that date…. we are never really truly alone.

    Razz

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment stanley weiser

    What a truly noble and big-spirited gesture to do such a thing. Bravo to this lady.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Christie. Dunn

    Great idea to visit the psych ward. I’m a bipolar with a medium grade depression and I know that me out of me is the best I can b!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment john

    does the pound of coffee go to one person or the entire ward?
    thx
    John Oppenheimer

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Sandra Kiume

    Thanks for digging this up from the archives, Therese! I still do it annually, and plan to this year again.

    John – yes, the pound of coffee is for the whole ward, and I also sometimes bring snacks for everyone too.

  • http://www.talkwelisten.com Sarah mae

    wow, that is truly a noble deed. spending Christmas alone due to depression? well, I’ve experienced that several years ago. thanks to my therapist I was able to cope up with my mild depression.

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