Holy Crap Break Out The Anti-Depressants And Spike The Eggnog With Lithium It’s Almost Christmas

“Oh Come All Ye Faithful”; Twisted Sister
Let me know if the YouTube’s missing…

Despite a commonly held myth that the Christmas season has the highest suicide rate of all the seasons, studies have proven that across North America, suicide rates are actually lower at that time of year. Studies suggest that while the holidays can bring up some very difficult emotions, they also tend to evoke feelings of familial bonds and these feelings may act as a buffer against suicide.”
The Canadian Mental Health Association

“Maybe it’s the added emphasis the people in our lives place on making sure we Manic Depressives are not alone over the holidays, or maybe it’s because we search out people because we feel as though the holidays are a danger to us, but there are no spikes in North America for suicides over the Christmas Season. In fact this time of year is one of the safer periods for Manic Depressives.

“This particular season, however, remains one of the worst times for common depression. The daylight is mostly gone; there are happy people all around us who appear to be having a much easier time coping with their lives than we are, and; every hour of every day advertising reminds us we are all too broke to properly show our love to our family and friends.

“While our disease creates depressions which are absolutely random, Manic Depressives are not immune to the Christmas Blues. It’s just very difficult for us to distinguish the difference between real emotion and the disease. It’s even harder to gauge what our response to a real emotional depression should be. Because we get hit so often by the same hard emotions over time our responses become almost automatic (“I can feel the wave coming on, I should just stay in bed and not move”). Then when we experience a common depression we completely surrender before we realize we only feel depressed because NBC has pre-empted The Office. If Pavlov wanted to observe conditioned behaviour he could have used Manic Depressives.”
Something I wrote here on Salted last Christmas

This Christmas shit really eats into our lifestyles… at least it has always eaten into mine. This is just about the time of year when the Vitamin D I stored up over the summer runs out. The only time I’ve seen sunshine in the past four weeks has been diffused through two snow storms, one Blizzard and a 45-minute trip to and from the dentist yesterday afternoon… and of course when I’m playing Grand Theft Auto.

I am so messed up it actually hurt to get dressed today, and during dinner with Mom my hands wouldn’t stop shaking. I am getting some Vitamin D through the three Litres of milk I drink nearly everyday and the multivitamin I take every morning, so I know I’m better off physically than most people…

I have been depressed over the past couple of weeks and I do think it’s weather and seasonally driven. But I’ve also been considering something else… when we’re at the point in our Recovery where we’re not dreaming about our suicide, is it possible we’ve kept the feeling even while tossing the idea?

All of the time we’ve spent dreaming and fantasizing and planning our suicides, all of that time never believing we had a future to worry about or plan for… what if all of that is still there, what if all of that has conditioned our behaviour to the point where the behaviour is still there even though we’re not having the suicidal thoughts anymore…

It’s like I’ve exchanged “I think I’ll kill myself” for “There’s no point making plans beyond next month because I’ll probably be dead or the world will explode.” I still have the same innate sense of nihilism, it has just become Passive. I’m not a threat to myself, I’ll probably not kill myself, but now I’m waiting… I won’t shoot myself but I probably won’t get out of the way of the bullet you just fired.

What kept me alive while unmedicated wasn’t a sense of optimism because there was no faith in a better tomorrow, it was either “I just don’t have the energy to kill myself today” or “what’s the point in killing myself Now?” To move past any of my suicide fantasies I was never thinking “boy, what about those grandkids?” I was mostly thinking “I don’t think I have enough pills to do it right” or “fuck, what if I end up in a coma?” or “I’d rather not have my brother be the first one to find my body.” But mostly it was “there’s just no point in killing myself Today”… the implication being “there’ll probably be a better reason later anyway.”

So I did that every day for eighteen years — give or take. This is kind of what I was getting at a couple of posts ago… the Stockholm Syndrome, where the disease is the SLA and we’re Patty Hearst. When you’re a part of a cult the Cult Leader beats on you daily, either physically or emotionally, until you believe what they believe. Well the Manic Depression, left untreated, beats on Us every day… until we believe what it tells us, until we’re left exhausted and with a view of the world that’s perverted and wrong.

“If Pavlov wanted to observe conditioned behaviour he could have used Manic Depressives.”

But now it’s Christmas and then New Year’s and both are times for thinking about Future Shit and planning events like Christmas dinners and New Year’s parties… it has actually gotten to the point where I’ve stopped lying about it (“Oh, well, I might do this or that or the Other thing”), when someone asks me what I’ve got planned for Blah Day I either change the topic or ask about their plans.

I will be with my parents and at least one brother and one sister and my girlfriend this Holiday Season, and I will enjoy all of their company Very much and I will participate and not be a Dark Presence in the corner… anyway, this was supposed to be about Christmas but turned into something else or something more…

Either way…

Merry Christmas. Really.




About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression when I was nineteen, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. It's now 2022, and I have an 8-year old son, and a 12-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in Bipolar, BiPolar Christmas, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Christmas, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, Depression, Depression And Christmas, Family, Health, Lithium, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Old men in red suits, Punk, YouTube. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Holy Crap Break Out The Anti-Depressants And Spike The Eggnog With Lithium It’s Almost Christmas

  1. thordora says:

    I’ve been depressed as shit this week, but I don’t know if it’s real, if the lithium is having some issues, if it’s PMS, if it’s just Christmas, I just don’t know.

    I do know that I’m beginning to hate Christmas, and I never did before. That sucks. But perhaps it’s because Christmas is the one time when it’s clear we’re a broken family, and the charade becomes strained at times.

    Or maybe I’ve been listening to the last NIN album far too much.

    Merry Christmas Gabriel.

  2. only4now says:

    I have thought about greeting everyone with, “Merry Fu**’n Christmas.”

    I don’t do it because, I don’t want anyone to fall over dead from the shock. (OK, I might want a couple people to fall over dead…)

    But, I don’t see the sense in ruining everyone else’s cheery mood.

    Actually, just the thought of saying it to people lifts my spirits!

    So, Merry Fu**’n Christmas to each and everyone. 🙂

  3. paulie11 says:

    I loved the you tube video. Dee Snider would be proud! A very hearty merry fu***n’ christmas to all!!

  4. dame says:

    may you have a warm, fuzzy, loving christmas, g.

    you shine too bright to be a ‘dark presence’ in any corner. your sweet shiny heart should top the tree.

    best wishes for a wonderful new year, my dear friend.

  5. markps2 says:

    you wrote “It’s just very difficult for us to distinguish the difference between real emotion and the disease.”
    I have to strongly disagree with this statement. Any and all emotions can not be diseased. Ones logic and thinking and decideing part of your brain might be “diseased” , but your emotions no.

  6. exactscience says:

    I don’t like events of scheduled happiness, too much pressure. Best Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) I ever had involved an in-depth discussion about my self harm with a friend and then learning to salsa dance with said friend, fun times and completely unexpected (sober too).

    I do however like Christmas, rather I like spending three days in the arse end of nowhere with crappy telly, my family joking/whining about crappy telly, being stuff full of chocolate and mugs of tea and a great deal of time walking my aunt’s dog through deserted frosted fields.

    The fact I get three days of being less ill is more than worth the three month run up and the four weeks of impossibly busy stores.

    Joyeux Noel

  7. crackheaddesigns says:

    Hi Gabriel,

    I was just browsing through blogs and burst out laughing when I saw your title “Holy Crap Brak out the Anti-depressants…”. It felt good to laugh, a REAL laugh, and I did because I feel the same way. In one sense, I love this time of year (being with family, presents, time off from work, etc.) but I also dread it. Nobody wants a party-pooper around at xmas, not even family, so a lot of energy goes into forcing it, which can be exhausting. Especially this year because my boyfriend of 10 years committed suicide in November. He struggled with manic depression. So, while your headline grabbed my attention, your stories and other people’s comments really touched me. While I do not suffer from manic depression, I have struggled with depression over the past few years and I can relate to alot of the emotions here. I wish you and all of your friends/readers a safe and Merry Christmas and a good start to the New Year.


  8. Gabriel... says:

    I think, if you run through the Recovery Blogs you read most, you’ll find the “Christmas Season” is particularly hard on people prone to depression… not necessarily limited to people with manic depression though. Most of the bloggers I have in my blogroll are posting less, but more often with posts about feeling down and crushed and depressed… it’s what I tried to make this post about. People with manic depression get used to certain behaviours so when we feel a regular depression we tend to react as though it were a Manic Depression, as if there was nothing we could do about it… but there are things we can do about the Regular Depressions. Those actually do have causes and effects and cures. What I meant by “Christmas can really interfere with our Lifestyle” is that having all of these people around and asking you to do shit really bites into the time we would normally be depressed and sitting on the couch… it’s not necessarily a Bad Thing.

    The Manic Depressions hit with a frequency and ferocity which makes certain activities nearly impossible, and after a few years living unmedicated we get used to not being able to do certain stuff. It’s like living with a permanently broken arm… it can still do stuff, but after awhile you stop moving it in certain ways so it doesn’t make your brain scream in pain. So being around people, while untreated, is a hard thing. It takes en effort, while depressed, to work up the balls to meet new people, while meeting with people you’ve known your whole life is more a matter of Tolerance than Friendship… it’s more likely you’ll meet a sibling as a favour to them rather than as something you’ll enjoy.

    It’s a Behavioural thing… we’re the Dog and manic depression is the Newspaper. Being around people hurts so we stop being around people, or make our groups smaller and smaller and more manageable. So when the Sunlight runs out and our Vitamin D stores drop and we get Regularly Depressed we react with our Learned Behaviour… so even though a Regular Depression actually Can be fixed with human contact, we react by pulling away from the people around us — and, again, if your Pervert Uncle Steve who abused you when you were six is going to be at dinner this may not apply to you.

    Bottom line is, if being around certain people make you depressed, don’t be around those certain people… but, chances are being around people (re: family) will get you out of your Regular Depression.

    Mark: Thanks for writing that buddy, I know it’s not easy to voice dissenting opinions on some blogs… I didn’t mean the emotions were diseased, I meant it was hard to tell the difference “between real emotion and the disease.” It’s because the depressions and manic’s fed to us by the Disease have no natural cause. They just Are. They are real emotions in the same sense that a flashlight gives off real light, but it’s not the Sun.

  9. Pingback: Analogy of the day « Psychiatric Survivor

  10. James says:

    I don’t know whats going on in my head. I used to be a big smile guy with to much energy and truly happy with so much hope for life. This year i just flipped out.. Mania, depression delusions…Panic attacks! Such self loathing. Such low self esteme…Im 28 what the f—- am i not supposed to be feeling on top of the world!

  11. jessi baby says:

    i am soo tired of the crap i get from my family at christmas so this year im gonna commit suicide so i dont have to put up with this holiday bullshit anymore and i think that the whole fact of suicide is absolutly wonderful people dont bug the crap out of u mwa ha ha no really im gonna eat a gun

  12. Gabriel... says:

    I guess you’ve got some time to decide but what calibre are you thinking of using?

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