A Merry Fucking X-Mas

It’s Christmas Eve.  

But, I’m not supposed to be able to feel the joy, or, if there is some, the pain.  Because I take anti-depressants.

Do you know what an anti-depressant does to you?  It flat-lines your brain.

It is designed to keep those feeling down from being able to feel down.  It also keeps you from feeling good.

Do you know how we counteract it?

Alcohol.

It is the only way to counteract anti-depressants.  

If we want to feel, we drink.

The bad part is, if we feel down, we feel really down.  If we feel good, we feel really good.  But, getting drunk is the only way to counteract the medicine.

And… I drink.

I’ve done so for 20 plus years.

It started with me entering EOD school.  Explosive Ordnance Disposal.  The elite military school where you learn to be the experts of bomb disposal.  We drank.  You had to, if you wanted to deal with the pressure of the school.

Then, after we graduated, it was simply who were the “party crowd”.  

I was at Kirkland AFB, NM, when we were TDY.  I watched as 15 EOD techs took over the NCO club, chasing out some people, and watching as our Senior NCO took the club manager aside to tell him just how much money we were going to spend that night.  

My liver took out a restraining order against me 20 years ago.

But, being on anti-depressants, I know the only way I can feel now is to drink.

I have a wife.  A step-daughter who is about to finish her Junior year of college, and, btw, she is holding such a grade point average that she can write her own ticket.  And I have two cats, both of whom love their momma.

I do have good things in my life.

My health isn’t one of them.  The fact that my body failed me, leading to spinal surgery, and losing the ability to do my jobs, isn’t one of them.

Being unemployed for years… isn’t one of them.

But, if I want to FEEL… I have to drink.  That is the only way to get past the drugs.

So, I drink.

Sometimes, it is bad.  Sometimes, not so bad.  That is the trade-off.

Like a roller-coaster, you can go up, or down.  But, at least you feel again.  That is what the drugs are designed to do… to keep you from feeling.

It’s Christmas Eve.

Merry Fucking Christmas.

I’m not feeling down.  I’m not feeling “up”.  It’s just another Christmas Eve.  

I’ve spent them away from home before, when I was in a warzone.

I’ve spent them alone, though, not lately.

I’ve never spent a Christmas Eve before where the soul of our nation was about to be given away… until now.

President Obama and his “health care bill” is about to give away our medical future to the insurance industry.

Never before, ever, have we had a national mandate to buy insurance upon pain of penalty… until now.

It didn’t come from the Republican’s… but… from the Democrats… and from a Democratic President.

Yes… I drink.

I drink a lot.

My doctor doesn’t like.  My wife doesn’t like it.  But, I do it so I can feel again.

Merry Fucking Christmas…

The Democrats sold us out.  For the first time ever, we have to buy health care insurance or be fined, maybe jailed.

Merry Fucking Christmas…

20 comments

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    • Miep on December 25, 2009 at 3:47 am

    impressively honest.

  1. and for many of us, at best, the holidays represent a stew of mixed emotions, a stirring of memories both happy and sad, the constant reminders on the television that we are not normal if our Christmas is not filled with joy, and wondering to ourselves whether the times we live in today may someday seem wonderful compared with the world that will host the Christmases of the future.

    Some have said that knowledge is power.  Those of us who have taken the time and trouble to understand the world as it really is assume an even heavier burden in the “bargain.” Even the most serious-minded among us need to take a breather from such difficult toil, hence the diversionary diaries on this site, many taking the form of sharing photos, humor and music with each other.

    I sometimes have to struggle to avoid falling into despair when I consider the direction this country, and to some extent, the entire world seems to be taking.  There is little I can do, at least individually, to change what is occurring on those fronts, although this does not relieve me of my self-imposed responsibility to do what I can.  That said, I cannot afford to ignore that world which exists within arm’s reach, where I can exert a far greater and more immediate impact.  

    I’ve heard it said that if we can somehow force ourselves to bring a smile to the face of at least one sad, dejected person a day, that we will soon begin to feel better ourselves.  

    I have worked in the mental health field for more than thirty years, and have learned that depression imposes an incredibly heavy burden on those it afflicts, like that of carrying about a heavy weight, day and night.  I would never presume to recommend to anyone that they start or stop taking medications, since for at least some, such a change may potentially represent a life or death issue.  I do remain convinced, however, that medications are overprescribed.  An article that more fully explains this contention can be found here.

    Oftentimes a physician, during the five minutes they have allotted for each client, may not have the time to ask the questions that need to be asked.  The easy solution and the one that would most certainly protect one liability-wise would be that of reaching for the prescription pad, for, along with the adage, “First, do no harm”, might also be the corollary, “Be able to demonstrate convincingly that you took definitive action to prevent your patient’s suicide.”  

    I know nothing about your own situation, other than what you’ve described, however, many have found that a variety of approaches have relieved their depression, or at least reduced it to manageable levels.  Among these approaches are: 1) taking St. John’s Wort (commonly prescribed in Europe for mild to moderate depression), 2) cognitive behavioral therapy (oftentimes in conjunction with a board certified psychologist who is qualified by experience and training to provide such interventions), 3) participation in a Twelve Step Program (if not AA or NA, Al-Anon, Emotions Anonymous, etc.) and/or 4) perhaps one of the most powerful, and overlooked, antidotes — that of locating someone whose burden in life is even greater than our own (such a person may not be as difficult to find as we might initially imagine) and do something to help brighten their day.  

    The helping profession can sometimes provide great satisfaction, that of witnessing a client whose life improves before our very eyes, almost always owing to their efforts, not ours. And all too often, there is also the sting of acute disappointment, occurring when someone who has worked diligently for months or even years to achieve painstaking, considerable progress, inexplicably commits a destructive act of self-sabotage.  A slogan I heard nearly thirty years ago has helped me hundreds of times to keep matters into perspective:

    We are responsible for the effort, not the outcome.

    Certainly, the Serenity Prayer has oftentimes served that function as well:

    Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

    The courage to change the things I can,

    And the wisdom to know the difference.

    When I find myself heading in the wrong direction, I try to apply the template of the Serenity Prayer to the situation, and oftentimes, when I finally do this, wonder again why I didn’t think of it sooner.  Almost without fail, I discover that I’m trying to accept something I can change (but have procrastinated for various reasons), am trying to change something that is unchangeable, and, at times, having attempted these two options, remain uncertain for a time as to whether a situation before me can, in fact, be changed.

    By taking any or all of the preceding steps, can someone go entirely off their medications? It’s difficult to say, however, this should only be done only under the supervision of the best mental health professional available (there is much variability from one provider to another). Even in cases where completely stopping medications is not possible, people are able to manage on lesser dosages, resulting in a lower side effect profile.

    Whatever your situation may be, I sincerely hope you’ll become better acquainted with the simple pleasures of more and more frequent happy moments, however fleeting they may be. Such a journey, however rewarding, rarely follows a straight line.

    Please take care, Michael Gass, and may you have the best winter holiday season possible.

  2. I’m an atheist… but I just have some music for you by way of response.

    Peace to you.

    • Inky99 on December 25, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    If alcohol counteracts the antidepressants, why take both?

    I’ve noticed antidepressants can increase my alcohol tolerance.  

    I quit drinking about eight years ago.   I highly recommend it.

    There are better drugs for dealing with anxiety, although they can be plenty addictive.  But alcohol’s addictive, too, and it’s really bad for your health and for the depression.  

    I would recommend looking into those.   Maybe Ativan?

    You seem pretty determined to drink, however, so ….. just trying to let you know what helped me in the past.

    Just keep in mind that you used the phrase that you “had to” drink.   To deal with the stress.   I would suggest that’s another macho emotional attachment, and while I don’t actually want to claim to be analyzing you from afar, just one man to another I’d suggest that a lot of what you seem to talk about here are your macho emotional attachments.  To your old jobs especially, and now to your drinking ability.  

    I used to think I “had” to drink, too.   I remember when I was in therapy and my shrink (who I believe is a genius) told me I should lay off the alcohol while I was going through that time, and I remember thinking “how the hell am I suposed to do that?”   I didn’t, then, but I did later.   To each his own.  

    I’m sorry about your health.   I know how depressing that can be.    I think I’ve told you this before, but if you can just take things a day at a time, it can really help.   Just make it through the day as best you can, the next one might be better.   Or not.   If not, worry about it then, and just get through that one, too.  

    • Diane G on December 25, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    I feel for you, buddy. Wish I had more, but there it is.

  3. And proud to have served alongside you.

    Personally I think the whole antidepressant thing is like juggling chainsaws. They’re very overprescribed and their effects are still not well understood. My father was prescribed Zoloft after his heart surgery, he ended up having suicidal reactions. As a woman with ADD I have seen the pill pusher mentality in some of my doctors, and I will categorically tell you right now that they are no longer my doctors. I will NOT serve as a guinea pig or a cash cow for the medical industry. Folks got along in this world quite well before these Valley of the Dolls candymen came along with their umpteen pills that people fashionably mention they’re taking at parties as if it was some form of new designer apparel; and I am guessing they’d function quite well if there was a future without Medication Nation.

    Alcohol is a depressant so of course it counteracts an antidepressant, but again, this is like juggling chainsaws. Many a movie star and rock star has been lost to riding this chemical rollercoaster. Judy Garland was one of the most notorious victims of trying to chemically manage her time and emotions. Better living through chemistry this is NOT.

    Hang in there. You’re hardcore and tough, that is a given. Please stay with us. We really, really need you.

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