Finding a smile over the Christmas period is, you don’t need us to tell you, easier for some than others. This short piece – which you’re free to reproduce wherever you need to reproduce it – is thus split into two parts. We bolded up where the first and second bits start.
Firstly, we just wanted to have a quick word about loneliness, something that tends to become particularly – although not exclusively – pertinent at this time of the year. We don’t pretend to have anything even remotely close to a magic wand/weird sonic screwdriver to take it away, but hopefully we can try and help you find a smile if you’re feeling alone.
And as odd as this may sound, you’re not alone in being alone. That may not be much comfort, yet there are people out there struggling with the feeling of loneliness, and of not fitting in.
Please: if you can, talk to someone. Or post in the comments below, even if it’s just to say hello. Please know – as difficult as it may seem – that there are people out there who are on your side. Please try and take one small step forward, and we don’t pretend for a second that’s easy.
But still: just because the internet looks anonymous, if someone responds to your post, that’s a human being, not a computer. So talk about whatever you need to below. Again: we don’t have answers, but we will be doing our utmost to police comments below, so you can talk without fear that someone is going to come and troll your post.
If you’re feeling a little more than loneliness, and are facing the horrible disease of depression, or worse, then we’re also very much thinking of you. If anything, the above goes double for you, even though it must be excruciatingly tricky.
We posted this list earlier in the year, and it seems it was helpful to some. But please: try reaching out (gah, we hate that phrase too, if it helps) to one of these fantastic organisations. You don’t have to be contemplating the worst to have a chat with them. They’re delighted to help in any way, no matter how deep the feelings you’re experiencing are.
CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, aimed at young men feeling unhappy. It has a web chat service, and freephone phone lines. You can find its website here.
MIND is an organisation that aims to make sure nobody has to face a mental health problem by themselves. The MIND infoline is 0300 123 3393.
It’s an old cliche perhaps to call a Samaritan, but then the Samaritans do such wonderful work. You can talk to them around the clock on 08457-90-90-90.
PAPYRUS is a group that supports teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal. You can call them on 0800 068 4141.
The Depression Alliance can help those around you gain a better understanding of what depression is, and how it affects you. It has a directory of support groups around the country, here.
SAMH is the Scottish Association For Mental Health, and it has an excellent website right here.
Students Against Depression’s website is full of resources and information. It’s just as useful for those worried about a friend as it is if you’re facing depression yourself.
Maytree supports people feeling suicidal, but in a non-medical setting. Its website is here.
And to go back to he Samaritans. Again, this is a group that’s seen as a last resort in some circles, but – as with most of the organisations above – it’s actually anything but. Plus, you can just send them an email, and be as anonymous as you need to be. Mail email@example.com, and someone will reply. Even if it’s just to say hello.
Then there’s the second part of this piece. This is for those of you worried about a friend or relative. The Samaritans have two wonderful pieces of guidance that are worth checking out. One is on what to do if you’re worried about someone, and the other is about how to start a difficult conversation. Both those links have better help than we could offer.
Yet still: whoever you are and wherever you are, we wish each of you some warmth and happiness these coming weeks. It might not be worth much, but we’re thinking of you.