Nicky Chinn, co-writer of the 70s Christmas Number One Hit ‘Lonely This Christmas’, launches a campaign to reduce loneliness for over a million people living with bipolar in the UK.
In support of Bipolar UK, Chinn has dedicated his song to the national mental health charity which provides peer support for people affected by bipolar disorder – a condition he was diagnosed with more than 50 years ago.
The song will form part of the charity’s Christmas messaging which aims to provide support to those living with bipolar and their families, even on Christmas day.
For the over 1 million people living with bipolar in the UK, symptoms of the condition can create feelings of loneliness and isolation due to misunderstanding and stigma.
According to research people living with bipolar are more likely to live alone which means that, as the festive season approaches, these feelings can be exacerbated.
Now an ambassador for Bipolar UK, Nicky Chinn said: “Back in 1974 when the song was a hit, mental illness was ‘pull yourself together’ territory and my diagnosis left me feeling completely excluded and isolated. I needed to be told bipolar was a genetic condition and I needed to be told it wasn’t my fault. Coping with bipolar alone was tough.
“The turning point came when I found the courage to ask for help, found a brilliant therapist who helped me unravel everything and now I know the condition will always be there, but it doesn’t have to be a prison sentence.”
Chinn believes that peer support and talking with others who have shared experiences – is a key component to staying well with bipolar.
For the first time in recent history, Bipolar UK’s peer support line is open over the festive period to enable people living with bipolar to access one-to-one support from someone who really understands. Bipolar UK’s eCommunity is there for everyone affected by bipolar 24/7, 365 days a year – even on Christmas Day.
Chinn added: “If you’re feeling lonely this Christmas, Bipolar UK is here for you. The eCommunity is a safe and secure place where you can ask questions, share experiences and discuss any challenges with other people who are affected by bipolar.”
Speaking about Christmas for people affected by bipolar, CEO of Bipolar UK, Simon Kitchen, said: “While Christmas can be a time of great joy for many, for the over one million people living with bipolar and their families in the UK it can be isolating and overwhelming.
“Financial pressures, alongside lots of social events and overindulgence can trigger symptoms which, if they’re not treated quickly, can lead to a relapse.
“Similarly, the festivities can provide sensory overload for people who have bipolar, causing hypomania which can lead to lack of sleep, overspending and a loss of judgement.
“Many psychiatric services close over Christmas which can have a significant impact on those trying to manage their symptoms, so our peer support services are vitally important.”
Bipolar is a severe mental illness characterised by significant and sometimes extreme changes in mood and energy, which go far beyond most people’s experiences of feeling a bit down or happy.
Nearly three-quarters of Bipolar UK’s eCommunity members reported that using it makes them feel less alone, particularly over Christmas and well over half said that it empowers them to seek more help.
Bipolar UK will also host a series of Facebook Live sessions throughout December to discuss some of the challenges around the festive season and strategies for coping.
For the many people living alone with bipolar, free support and resources from charities like Bipolar UK are vital to ensure they can live well.
Diagnosed with bipolar eight years ago, Nathanael Coakley, 33, says that Bipolar UK’s eCommunity is a safe space where he can share his experiences with others who ‘get it’:
“I registered with the eCommunity and now it’s a key element of my support network.
“I don’t have a family structure. Sometimes I feel so alone with my bipolar, especially over the Christmas holidays when it can feel like everyone’s with their perfect families in their cosy houses.”
“It’s good to know that I can log on at any time of the night or day and there will always be somebody there who’s been through similar experiences and who really gets what it’s like living with bipolar. The eCommunity gives me a sense of family, a sense of being a part of something I can always depend on every single day of the year.”
- See details of the Christmas appeal here.
- Find out more about Bipolar UK’s peer support services here.
- Make a donation here.