While many experiences the year ending as a time filled with exciting thoughts of the upcoming holidays’ others have an entirely different experience. For some, it’s filled with the dread of being exposed to the hole left by the absence of work while others are confronted with memories of lost loved one and better years. There are many things which can taint our experience of the holidays. Fortunately, all of them can be worked through or managed, and therapy helps.
If you have the sense that this might apply to you, then now is the time to plan and set up the support you’ll need. First prize is to have a schedule that ensures you spend time with people who love you and who can be there for you. If this is not available, you need more, or can’t bear the thought of leaning on others; there is still time to arrange professional help.
Establishing contact with a therapist is enormously helpful, even if you can’t begin sessions immediately. Merely knowing that you have started looking into a healing process or book a meeting for next year can produce enough hope and relief to carry you through. But where does one find this help?
If you have access to private medical care, then you can consider approaching your GP and asking them to refer you to a counsellor or psychologist in your area. Those who don’t have such access can visit their local community clinic and ask the attending sister to please place you on the psychology waiting list or to refer you to a nearby clinic that can provide the necessary help.
The very idea of approaching a doctor or sister is often so daunting that some people never take this first step. If this applies to you, you’ll be happy to know that several websites help you find the services you need. TherapyRoute.com is a good place to start. This platform includes informative articles, lists private practices as well as non-profit and community service facilities, automatically displays the services nearest to you and helps you discover which professionals work over Skype or the phone. This, together with the exceptional helplines on the SADAG is especially useful if you can’t leave your house or live out in the sticks.
In instances where you face struggles are clearly family related, you would do well to approach one of the many FAMSA missions. FAMSA is an established NGO with a nation-wide presence. Their dedicated teams of counsellors and therapists promote committed relationships that sustain family life. FAMSA ‘empowers people to reconstruct, build, strengthen and maintain flourishing relationships in the family, in marriage and in communities’ and they achieve this through offering workshops, training courses, counselling and other social work interventions.
Although I mention the South African Federation for Mental Health last, it is certainly not least. Especially for people living with or affected by mental illness. They have branches in every major city of South Africa, and the organisation offers a resource centre which provides information, support and referrals to those who need it.
Wishing you the strength to have the happiest festive season you can. Now is the time to ensure you have the support you need. Seize the moment!
Enzo Sinisi / Clinical Psychologist