Mental health concerns - Coping at Christmas

There’s been alot the last week in the news …in tv about loneliness and just how it affects us all at any age. Isolation …depression anxiety all words which we are all familiar with. Many of us going through our different journeys with blood cancer can relate to many of these emotions. As I think can family members who often go through this in their own ways…
I’ve found the last week and the last few days challenging. I 've had my own battles with depression but always got through it in my own way .thus I know the triggers or signals that set me off. I try and use humour to get through things …
Yesterday as I was cleaning all my door handles with bleach I kept thinking I was turning into an ocd cleaner. Why am I washing these handles… no one’s been in there’s only me and my elderly mum. My dog hasn’t learnt to open doors yet… I find I’m getting anxious about silly things. Letting my mind run off with itself. Its so easy to get lost in your own thoughts …I felt very alone very isolated and very tearful… I’m not looking forward to Christmas…I’m dreading it being honest…
I ended up watching gold tv just so I don’t lose myself completely. They say ring someone but I felt paralysed…just couldn’t it was an awful feeling …this lockdown is so isolating and very hard to deal with . All the time looking after my mum I dont want her to see how so very afraid I am. Being honest I don’t know what of …
Today’s a new day…that’s why I’m writing this
Stay safe everyone please if you know some one on their own …ting them just to say hello .

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Hi @Hmc63. Thank you so much for your honesty and openness and for starting this topic. Our mental wellbeing is just as important, I believe, as our physical health and of course one can effect the other. Fortunately I am someone who quite likes my own company but I have still felt isolated and lonely at times as I live on my own. What makes Christmas for me (in normal times) is celebrating with my church family. Obviously I don’t think that will be possible this year and so, like you, I am not looking forward to Christmas with all the talk of families getting together in some form or another? My tips for coping are 1) Writing in a journal about my emotions, including a daily gratitude entry. 2) Accepting that it’s okay not to be okay and showing myself some kindness. 3) Talking to someone and not bottling it all up. I have a weekly telephone session with a Therapist. We used to meet face-to-face before lockdown and I consider it money well spent. Know you are not alone in what you are expressing. Warm wishes. Willow

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Wow, @Hmc63 and @Willow I wish I had your honesty and eloquence, @Hmc63. thank you so much I am sure you will help so many of us put into words how we are feeling. I can relate to so many of the thoughts and feelings you express.
Thanks for your insights and handy hints both of you.
I am so fed up with nearly every advert portraying happy families round a festive table with no social distancing in sight. It is so unrealistic at the best of times.
I think we will all be supporting each other through the Christmas - New Year period (and always) on this forum as we all understand each other so well.
I am trying to change my negatives perceptions into into more positive ones, so I am off to phone a friend as opposed to thinking that she has not rung me.
Thanks again both of you.
I look forward to hearing others thoughts

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Thank you Willow…I think faith is important for anyone …I’ve found a local group at Durham Cathedral…community group which I’ve just joined. Think any thing that can give hope is good thing and a sense of belonging. I’ve listened to a few services from the cathedral and found them very moving and uplifting. It was lovely last week to see commutes celebrating Diwali last weekend. Thanks for for your advice. I’m surrounding myself in arty things today .plus strictly is on tonight and I am a big fan …I love dancing…I don’t dance just love watching it.
Take care everyone

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Good morning everybody. It’s really interesting reading this thread. I think mental well-being is often not completely understood by others and often feel I’m putting on people sharing how low I’m feeling. I know nearly everybody has been affected by this pandemic in some way, whether is being an experience with a loved one and COVID, not being able to see family, a death during the pandemic etc. However, as a vulnerable group I really feel this is heightened for us. Blood cancer is a lonely experience at the best of times and this, I feel, has taken me back to those horrible feelings of anxiousness and panic. Like you @Hmc63 I’m managing this, I think we all learn about out triggers and how we may get through them. Although at times I think managing isn’t enough, and if we can we need to reach out in some way. I’ve requested counselling again @Willow, it really helped me in the past. @Erica, you have made me think about going to phone a friend. I haven’t had the energy for conversation this week but I’m going to take a leaf out of your book.
Please take care of yourself everybody and keep sharing. It’s so important at times like this X

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Hi @Hmc63, me again, thanks so much for raising that family members can go through the same mental health issues, they are so often the forgotten ones and it can be such a hard job with all the Practicalities, thoughts and emotions (but often with the mask on) plus trying to keep all the plates spinning.
Perhaps as you say battling with depression but that you still put the humour mask to get through things. I know that one.
I have also thought why am I cleaning this again but I suppose it is the one thing that I can control in this scary world with so many things I cannot control going on.
My mind also just goes off in all directions at the least opportunity and as the Mamas and Papas put it ‘the darkest hour is just before dawn’.
What are we scared, anxious and afraid of? I suppose for me it is all the ‘what if’s’, ‘it is going to be’ things like’ my CLL, Covid, Brexit and the unknowns and in isolation my emotions have been heightened anyway and I can burst into tears at the least thing. I think my batteries are depleted after having no summer goodness and Covid fatigue.
Since I was diagnosed I do not deal with what personally stresses me well and if I overdo it emotionally, physically or practically my fatigue sets in as well.
When I get run down or don’t feel well my mind starts going.
I got my winter coat out recently and then thought ‘will I get the opportunity to wear it this winter’.
If you would like to talk to someone you can contact the Support Services Team on 0808 2080 888 (10am-7pm Monday-Friday, and 10am-1pm Saturday and Sunday) or via email at support@bloodcancer.org.uk, the opening hours over the holiday period will be different and there are helplines that will be open over the holiday period.
You say you are dreading Christmas, what exactly are you dreading about it it?
Today is a new day and I am now going to chill out watching ‘Strictly’. Stay safe.

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Your reactions are entirely understandable @Hmc63 and @Willow. I dread Christmas most years as I find it quite shallow and I am often lonely. I can remember Christmas as a boy and feeling a great sense of excitement that I haven’t felt for many years. Made worse by the fact that my birthday is just 2 weeks before Christmas. Again I used to have big birthday celebrations even up until about 5 years ago, where all of my friends gathered round me. These days I never see anyone on my birthday and if I see anyone at Christmas it is usually a limited contact with family. This year will be worse as my church likely won’t be open or if it is any sense of gathering will blunted. I too have struggled recently and am dreading what the new tiers announced tomorrow will be and the consequences for the months ahead. Also from this week we will be working one less day on campus which will mean less contact with people. My employers have said that this arrangement will be in place until at least Easter. It will be good to talk to people on here in the next difficult weeks and I know that many of you feel the sense.

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Hi @Franko, it must be such a difficult time of year for you and as you say it is going to be even more challenging this year, yes, we will all support each other through these Covid times on this forum.
It must be very worrying for you on so many levels that you will be working one day less till at least Easter as well.
My birthday is 10 days after Christmas and I have a thing about when do we take the decorations down after a horrendous birthday when I was married to my first husband nearly 50 yrs ago now and me taking the decorations down in tears !!!
We will all be frequent posters on this forum over the holiday period.

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Hi @Franko. It’s going to be very strange and very difficult isn’t it. I know you enjoyed returning back to work and having some kind of normality again so to reduce that further must be hard. We will be hear to catch up with over Christmas. It’s at times like when the forum is so important!

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I dread the emptiness. Use to have family Christmas or I was working …front line emergency services for 30 yrs…that was a family. Weirdly gave me a sense of belonging…I retired 2 yrs ago after 30 yrs. I miss the people not the job.
Now I’ve joined an online prayer community with Durham cathedral…I’m not a religious person just find the faith and spiritual side uplifting and hope may give a new meaning this year
Thanks

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Hi @Hmc63. I’m glad you have found a group that I hope gives you some extra comfort over Christmas time and during these challenging times X

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This is such a good chat as I think we are all now tired of it all, I know everyone is but being in this high risk group because of our blood cancer has added many pressures and fears and it is good that we can all understand each other - as anything in life sustained stress and concern takes its toll and it is supportive to be able to access everyone else in like situation, we “get” each other - I so identify the above comments about random cleaning of door handles etc etc - I live alone bar my dog and no one bar me has been in my house since March - but antibac spray and wipe I do - often!! I have reverted back to local walks early morning but if on occasion I am remotely near someone walking rather than across the road I feel a panic especially if it’s someone younger than in my head more likely has the virus. I smile really as I am not that sort of person at all in “normal” life, so it shows the effects of risks long term has got to us all.
I find anyway just take one day at a time (which we all fail on at times I know I certainly do) and find things to enjoy each day - invariably as I walk the dog even around my roads I have found some lovely things to home in on the gold and copper colours of autumn and I take lots of photos on my fone which makes me really look at things and by the time I am home again the anxiety and emotions I felt on getting up has receded and I can go through the day in a better way.
I have been reading a great article on pandemic fatigue on the website jw.org so rather than sharing the link if anyone wants to look they can do so (as I respect that all have their own thoughts) but it is so good and good experiences of others. One bit I liked was whilst we have to keep distance physically we don’t have to socially - to use all the tech available these days ! - and just what we do on here reach out to others and being kind just helps us so much too.
Keep going all, better days will come in due course.

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Hello @Jilly20. I think one day ata time is the way to go x

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So trueNichola, been isolating since March and to honest quite like it, time to do your own thing catch up with reading a bit of DIY decorating etc
Maybe I’m lucky living in a rural area I do get to have a nice long early morning walk with the dogs and without the worry of crowds
And we are very lucky to live in an age of video calls and chats so we can see our families, children, grand children
Rather be isolated and safe that meeting up with all the risks, the vaccine is not far away
Think its very risky if they open up things for Xmas Covid don’t take a holiday so look forward to even more restrictions come the new year
Another month or two of these restrictions is surely worth it rather than risking this virus getting out of hand and running riot
Think positive we could all be returning to normal by the summer

Stay safe, keep strong

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Thanks @BedrockFred, I think the word of 2020 will be ‘Zoom’ and the slogan of December will be ‘Covid, does not take a holiday’ !!!

Hi @BedrockFred. I quite like some aspects of being home. However, it’s hard when children are sent home from school, that’s when working from home can be a challenge. As much as I miss the social aspect of work and feel very out of the loop, I must say I’m feeling really anxious about returning to work. I’m not sure how I’ll be any safer on the 3rd December than I was four weeks ago!

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This is where I am lucky I have retired so no children coming home from school and no pressure going back to work.
I do miss not seeing my children and grand children face to face but we have the next best thing with video chats etc
I understand some have problems with this isolation all I say is take each day at a time don’t dwell on it, find things to do you will be surprised what you can turn your hand to and how quickly the time will pass
Really don’t understand this clamour for mixing at Xmas wasn’t all this fuss for Devali or Eid, surely its a recipe for the virus to get out of control save the big parties for when the vaccine finally puts this virus to sleep it’s now within sight a few more weeks of control will save many lives
Just my opinion thats all

Stay safe

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Christmas has always been family. With three children all married with two children each it has been such fun. This year I am happy to see them go to ‘the other Grandma and Grandad’. We will see them in videos and our family chats on WhatsApp frequently. What I will miss is my brother in law, who is a priest, coming for a week on Boxing Day. It is so important for him to get a break from what can be a lonely and stressful job. He is in one of the worst areas of the country and has been visiting hospital and doing several funerals each week or month. He will be unable to come and stay because of the risk to me but I worry about his well being because of that. I think for him and all those working in hospitals this could be a very tough Christmas. I am retired like BedrockFred and feel safe and protected at home. I do think churches will be able to give support at Christmas. We have watched my brother in laws Sunday Masses online. They fill me with peace even if we cannot support him so much this year.

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Hi @BedrockFred, aren’t we lucky to be in an age of modern technology and video chats are becoming the normal, but a touch and a hug would be good sometimes.
Who else is planning video chats with family and friends over the holidays?

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Hi @GrandmaJo, yes, perhaps this year phone usage and online support will be utilised more, but as you say it is not the same as seeing family and friends.
It sounds as if your brother in law’s role is very stressful in these times.
It must be wonderful to watch your brother in law’s masses and feel peace.
Does anyone else get support from online groups or faiths?

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