The most wonderful time of the year … or is it?

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The sound of the bells leading into “It was Christmas be babe” on the radio marks the start of the festive season.

Even before the first chime of a Christmas song on the radio, this year, possibly because everyone was just fed up, the decorations started appearing earlier. Ever increasing lights appear EVERYWHERE, and, every year there seems to be more of them. Between the lights, decorations, tinsel, music and chincy decorations its just all so wonderful, magical, and uplifting. Or is it?

The sad but true fact is, that while for many people it is a wonderful time, for many it simply is not. For some people this is the hardest loneliest time of the year.

Some people are lucky to have family and friends around them, but some people  so may be spending the festive season alone. Some may have fantastic relationships with their families, but they are not based in this country. Many people don’t celebrate the festive season and find themselves alone because their network is tied up with other plans and suddenly, they’re  isolated.

What about Christmas in direct provision? If you celebrate Christmas, its not much of a ‘celebration’ if you’re doing it in a direct provision centre.

Think about people who are homeless, sofa surfing or living in a homeless hub. This might seem very far removed from you if you haven’t experienced it but, there’s so many families in this situation. So, there’s a good chance someone in your course may be experiencing this right now.

Also, there’s that fact that so many people are living in abusive environments, with nowhere else to go or, fear of leaving. Abuse doesn’t just stop because it’s Christmas. In fact with the general increase in alcohol consumption, oftentimes, sadly, it increases.

Then there’s grief and bereavement. This could be someone’s first Christmas without someone.
Even if they are usually the embodiment of Christmas, the first Christmas without someone is hard. The first everything is hard, but big occasions like Christmas, which generally see lots of family get togethers is a big trigger.

That’s a few examples of why people might be struggling. There are so many other people in different situations struggling for different reasons.

So… What can you do about it?

What I want to convey is; firstly if you are lucky enough to be in a positive position this festive season, looking forward to all the joys and merriment, that’s wonderful. However, please bear in mind those that are not. Check in on friends and family who might be experiencing difficulties. A quick call or message throughout the season could go a really long way.

Secondly, if you are going through a tough time this Christmas, even if you feel very alone, you are NOT alone. There’s so many people the same as you right now. It’s OK not to be OK. Please don’t carry this weight alone. Reach out to someone. This might be a text to a friend saying you’re having a hard time right now. That may feel like a really difficult thing to do, but don’t overthink it. Just type it out and hit send, to let them know you might just need a little support.

If you don’t feel like you can talk to a friend there are LOTS of other supports available PLEASE reach out to ANY of them. I have listed a wide selection of supports available below. The first step is to make contact via the details given or by clicking onto the websites. Taking that first step can seem daunting. Please know, when you do speak to someone you will feel a sense of relief. It will probably make it feel like some of the weight you are carrying has been lifted. Stay with it if it doesn’t. These things can take a little time. There’s a reason when you sign up to counselling. for example, they ask you to do a minimum of 6 sessions. Because, sometimes it takes a bit of time to start feeling the benefits of support. Particularly, if you have been carrying it alone for a long time.

In finishing, I wish you all a pleasant seasonal break and, for those that celebrate it, Merry Christmas. Here’s hoping 2021 is better than 2020! Slan 2020. Agus Céad míle fáilte 2021!!!

USEFUL SERVICES OVER THE FESTIVE SEASON!

TU Dublin free counselling services https://www.tudublin.ie/for-students/student-services-and-support/student-wellbeing/counselling-service/

Pieta House Freephone 1800 247 247 or Text ‘help’ to 51444

Jigsaw Freephone 1800 544 729 or Text ‘Call Me’ 086 180 3880

Samaritans Freephone 116 123 email jo@samaritans.ie

Aware Freephone 1800 80 48 48 Email Supportmail@aware.ie

Text “Hello” to 50808 to have a text chat

Your Mental health has loads of information on supports and advice nationally 1800 111 888

Women’s Aid:  1800 341 900

Men’s Aid: 01 554 3811

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre: 1800 77 88 88

Teni Phone 01 873 3575 or email office@teni.ie

BelongTo  Phone 01 670 6223 email info@belongto.org Text LGBT+ to 086 1800 280

LGBT.IE Phone 1890 929 539 email info@lgbt.ie

HSE Drug & Alcohol helpline 1800 459 459 Email helpline@hse.ie Freephone: 1800 459 459 or 076 6955500  or  01 620 6000

Tallaght Rehabilitation Project Phone (01)4597705 E-mail:  info@tallaghtrehabproject.ie

YoDA, Youth Drug and Alcohol Service 01 466 5040

National Support Groups

Bereavement Support National Information available on Citizens Information

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland Phone 01 889 7570  Email info@mrci.ie

Directory of Migrant Organisations & Support Groups in Dublin can be found here

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