If you live with depression & anxiety Christmas just isn’t the same.

Depression and anxiety don’t care whether it’s Christmas or not.  They don’t care that it’s a time of peace and joy.  They don’t care that you’ll be the one trying to but on a brave face, perhaps masking your symptoms with a little too much alcohol and trying to avoid making eye contact.

I was thinking this week about people like my dad.  My dad was an alcoholic.  When he was drunk he was either extremely “loving” or extremely “violent”.  It was hard to tell which way this personality coin would fall.  But, for the most part it would come down to two factors, whether anyone else was around, or not.

I often wonder whether my dad self medicated his mental health with alcohol.  I have no concrete evidence because he was my dad and he was who he was.  I never thought to attempt amateur psychoanalysis on him while he was alive and now he’s been dead for nearly 20 years, the evidence is purely anecdotal.  That leaves a lot of room for a misguided hypothesis in respect of his wellbeing.

Nevertheless, I see a lot of people who exhibit the same “symptomology” as my dad and I wonder what’s underlying their need to be awash with alcohol to the point of dysfunction.  Even I have a tendency to “relax” with a dose of chardonnay even though I know it will temporarily whack my chemicals and the result can be unpredictable.

I abandoned my dad because of his behaviour.  And, frankly he deserved it.  His behaviour was abusive and it affected everyone around him.  He was classically unlikeable and I was entitled to leave him to his fate; wasn’t I?

In a culture that happily submits to it’s convict heritage, enjoying its right to imbibe its “grog” and rebel merrily against authority; alcohol represents a handy treatment for the perpetually sad.  The fact that it might help you, for a time, to forget all your troubles makes it a much more palatable treatment than turning up to your GP to be told you can’t cope with err… living.

Interestingly, the “side effects” of our alcohol treatment can make us unlikeable to the people we love.  It makes our behaviour unpredictable and has the ability to mess with our already precarious chemical balance.  It’s also highly likely that excessive alcohol intake may even make our depression and anxiety symptoms worse.

Mr Wonderful has spent years being the designated driver so I could indulge my need to medicate while in company.  His tolerance is almost immeasurable and whilst from time-to-time I’ve embarrassed him, overall he understands.

As I grow in my ability to understand my illness I grow in my ability to moderate the symptoms.  Some might call it a cop out, but I know if I had a broken leg, I wouldn’t expect to walk on it.

So I look for strength where I know I can find it and I know the people who love me want to help me.   For that reason, I’m mindful of respecting their care and rather than reject their concerns, which has the potential to leave me abandoned and vulnerable, propose to rely on them when I need to.

My challenge now, is to have enough confidence in myself to ensure I maintain loving, healthy and respectful relationships where the benefits are mutual and the strength is abundant.

Today from Albert Schweitzer:  “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”

Deb Shugg is an awarded business woman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.  To contact Deb click here.

If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.  If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay.  If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)

(If you have a drug, alcohol, gambling or other addiction please seek help.)