When you live with depression and anxiety one more drink might just do the trick!
Well, we’ve just a couple of weeks to go before we officially bid goodbye to the year amid the chaos that Christmas brings.
I’ve written before about who’s the unlikable person at your Christmas festivities. Who’s the one who drinks more than they should? Says more than they should? Complains more than they should? (Click here to read it: Peace. Joy. Anxiety. Depression.)
If you don’t have one of these in your family, lucky you!
I’ve believed for a long time that the use of alcohol and illicit drugs have provided a stopgap measure for those self-medicating their way through emotional health issues. However, it seems strange to me, that those who are vehemently opposed to taking prescription medication because of the unwanted side effects, willingly imbibe ‘alternative’ treatments with much riskier possibilities. (Notwithstanding no accountability.)
Anyway, I recently began to wonder if alcohol and illicit drugs, like all prescription drugs, have unwanted side effects what would happen if they came with similar warnings on them.
– WARNING EXCESSIVE USE OF THIS PRODUCT MAY TURN YOU INTO A VIOLENT ASSHOLE, MAKE YOUR FAMILY HATE YOU, COST YOU YOUR JOB, SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE THE RISK OF DEATH OR SERIOUS INJURY AND TURN YOU INTO A DICKHEAD –
It seems when we read anti depressant medication might make us nauseated, we’re suddenly overcome with a reluctance to take it because of the ‘side effects’. Even anti depressant medication that may include suicide as a side effect, in respect of alcohol related deaths each year, is a remote (and measured) possibility. But, we still live with the seemingly misguided preconception that the side effects of mental health medications will be too awful to endure. Preferring to self-diagnose and treat our emotional turmoil or allowing friends and family to do it for us.
So what does Christmas mean in a family where alcohol addiction will be making it’s annual pilgrimage to the family get together? When the problem the wider family can ignore for an entire year becomes the elephant in the room. Because amid the intricacies of family relationships, dysfunction and general personality differences we, in a western culture, are primed to believe that Christmas is an opportunity to display a family’s genuine fondness for each other rather than the forced endurance that’s the experience of many.
For those who use alcohol to self-medicate their way through emotional illnesses, family matters can exacerbate the need for medication; to bury unwanted feelings; to build courage to speak the unspeakable and create numbness to avoid the unavoidable or endure the unendurable. Because the reality is, that family members hurt each other. Where we can more easily break the bonds of a friendship, family bonds really are forever.
I have real problems dealing with other people’s drunkenness. I’m aware of the reasons for doing it, but the excessive abuse of alcohol that leads to poor decision making, violence, aggression and an inability to live a useful and productive life is a real challenge for me.
You might think this is acceptable because of my family history. However, I’m often challenged by my lack of empathy and my inability to help. I can’t, just by pleasing someone, make them sober. I can’t, just by telling them what’s wrong with it, enable them to change.
Sadly, I find my solution is to fuel my disdain by massaging my self-righteousness and well-controlled self-control. The problem? I believe I’m at my most unlikable when I’m self-righteously admonishing others for letting their problems get the better of them. After all, I’m just someone who’s avoided that particular trap, not someone who’s better than it.
From RINGO STARR: That’s all drugs and alcohol do, they cut off your emotions in the end.
If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.
If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor or contact an organisation such as Beyond Blue.
(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)