Day 25 (Monday 25th December 2017 - Christmas Day)
Paula selected her own illustrations for today's post.
It’s the first time ice contributed to Kate’s (@KateGL) annual Advent Blog although I’ve been writing the occasional blog on and off for a while now, some for the lovely folk at www.thecounsellorscafe.co.uk some on Medium and the odd few here there and everywhere, I started blogging after experiencing a bout of poor mental health which distanced me from my friends, family and work for a period of around eight months. I learnt a lot about myself during that time and have continued to do so. My first lesson was every cloud has a silver lining.
After some of my darkness had lifted I wrote The Day the Dam Burst it was a cathartic experience and one I’d recommend to anyone (even if you don’t publish it) as it serves as a reminder that you’re stronger than you think you are. I experienced loneliness which is hard to describe, if I think of it as a painting its Edvard Munch’s The Scream. The impact of feeling lonely was another lesson which in retrospect I was glad to be taught, it made me think differently about my lovely mum who lives alone and whilst we’ve always been close, thinking differently about what life is like for her has made a difference to how we spend time together.
Earlier this year I wrote A Genuine Smile about my mums seventieth birthday. I’m smiling now as I write this, as this year we carried on giving her some sort of treat each weekend from picnics in her lounge as she’s mainly house bound to buying her a stuffed dog when we got a puppy earlier on in the year, Mum’s dogs called Ralph as she sits cuddling him. We’re also trying to make December as special as possible for her again by giving her a treat each weekend leading up to December and each time we give her something she always replies “I’ll bloody kill you, don’t waste your money on me” at which point we all laugh.
This year Age Concern UK have launched their #NoOneShouldHaveNoOne campaign to help address the fact that almost 1 million older people feel lonelier at Christmas than any other time of the year. Loneliness is a social monster, it lurks in dark places and creeps up on our loved ones, I live and work in Bolton and its estimated we have around 4160 lonely people. We are lucky to have another Angel @KatieHuddleUp set up a business in Bolton this year and she’s not prepared to let this continue, Katie and her team are inviting anyone who feels lonely on Christmas Day to join them at @HuddleUpAllSouls
Whilst I wouldn’t wish poor mental health on anyone, my silver lining was realising that I could make a difference by talking openly about my mental health in the workplace and home, which I have done and will continue to do so as its enabled many conversations to take place and support to be put into place, for that I’m grateful to take something positive from the experience.