Pretoria - Those left feeling lonely or battling grief and depression during the festive period will not be alone or have to cope with their mental health challenges by themselves as hope is but a phone call away.
Counsellors at the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) will be available to offer support to sufferers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the festive season.
According to the support group, although social media feeds were filled with images of happy families, Christmas trees, holiday snapshots and exclamations about how incredible the joy of the festive season was, this was not the case for many others who were filled with loneliness, experiencing burn out, depression or battling with reminders of the ones they have lost during this time.
Sadag said although there were many articles that covered coping with grief during the holidays (which often provide oversimplified tips on what to do to feel better), the organisation understood that this was easier said than done.
“Most of the time, what we are really in need of is a listening ear to provide a space where we are allowed to not be okay. We are here to remind you that it’s okay not to be okay over the festive season. We understand that grief can take on many different shapes and forms including the loss of loved ones, relationships, jobs and financial security and that the festive season can be a bitter reminder of this loss.”
“It’s important to realise that grief isn’t something that leaves us after we’ve gone through the five stages of mourning. Grief is something that we learn to carry with us and the lenses through which we view the event or loss of a person can change at different points in our lives. It’s not about getting over your grief or putting on a mask and pretending that you're okay just for the benefit of others over the festive season,” said clinical psychologist Liane Lurie.
Lurie said grief needed to be felt, because if it was not worked through and not processed, it could manifest in other areas of our lives and cause difficulties in future relationships and more.
“Many people who experience depression, anxiety and stress during the holidays are told or believe that they should just get over it. But having the ‘holiday blues’ is more than just a down day and it isn’t something you can just ‘will’ yourself out of. Family, friends and loved ones may not understand what you are going through and feeling,” Lurie added.