December is here and there’s festiveness in the air! Whether you believe in Christmas or not, there’s plenty to smile about at this time of year – long days and warm nights, holidays and extra time to spend with friends and loved ones.

However, this time of year can be stressful for some, with extra financial and social pressures making existing stress worse or creating new conflict.

Access to health and support services may be limited due to holiday shut-downs and emergency services stretched by increased demand. The summer party season has started, for some this may mean late nights, drinking and/or drug-taking, shags and other fun but potentially risky activities. As always, stay safe, look after each other and all things in moderation.

For some LGBTIQ folks, Christmas brings extra pressure or conflict around family. Some may have family members who do not accept their “lifestyle choices” and Christmas can be a painful reminder of loss, lack of acceptance or unresolved family difficulties. Others may need to choose between spending time with family or spending time with partners and their chosen community instead.

GLCS understands this can be a stressful time and are here to listen and provide support should you need it – talking helps.

Our Counselling Line will be open daily with reduced hours of 6.30pm – 9.30pm from 20 December through January: (02) 8594 9596 or 1800 184 527 (regional freecall).

Lesbian Line every Monday 6.30pm – 9.30pm: (02) 8594 9595 or 1800 144 527 (regional freecall).

Our office closes over Christmas, reopening 4 January. SMART Recovery has 27 December off, resuming weekly Mondays 6pm in January.

Women’s Coming Out Group (COG)’s end-of-year party: Thursday 9 December from 7pm. Check our website in January for 2011 COG dates and info on new Men’s group.

By FIONA PASKULICH, NSW Gay & Lesbian Counselling Service

info: www.glcsnsw.org.au, admin@glcsnsw.org.au or (02) 8594 9500 (Wed – Fri)

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