Two down. One to go.
Yes, we made it through Thanksgiving, rounded second base, aka Christmas, and are headed to third: New Years Eve.
At this point in the holiday season many of us with mental illnesses are merely “coping.” We are coping with the in-laws. We are coping with children in the throes of sugar detox. We are coping with long lines, stolen parking spots and endless renditions of the same Christmas carols. Seriously, how many different ways can you sing Santa Baby?
1. Thou shalt not drink.
2. Thou shalt not drink.
3. Thou shalt not drink.
4 .Thou shalt not drink.
5. Thou shalt not drink.
6. Thou shalt not drink.
7. Thou shalt not drink.
8. Thou shalt not drink.
9. Thou shalt not drink.
10. Thou shalt not drink.
Sounds a little harsh, but it’s not bad once you get the hang of it and understand why abstinence is so important for the mentally ill during the holidays. Alcohol is a depressant.
For those of us with depression, bipolar or any kind of addiction, including food, shopping and gambling, drinking alcohol is like dousing a raging fire with gasoline.
“But why can’t I have just a couple of drinks? What’s wrong with a glass of champagne or hot toddy?” Because during the holidays “a” doesn’t exist. There is no such thing as “a” glass of champagne — it’s at least two glasses of champagne on New Year’s Eve. Who drinks “a” glass of wine at a holiday open house or “a” beer while watching a bowl game?
We tend to overdo it during the holidays. We start out with the best intentions but at this point of the holiday, we are over-stimulated: Bright lights. Crowded stores. Hyper kids. Now comes New Years. We’re sentimental and nostalgic. A little holiday cheer can’t hurt, right?
Wrong. It’s hard enough to keep our heads screwed on straight when it is calm. Why take a risk with a few drinks on New Years Eve? Besides, that little label on the side of your brown prescription bottle just might have something to say about mixing alcohol with your antidepressants and mood-stabilizers. Mine do.
You will find being sober on New Years Eve has a lot of pleasant, unexpected rewards. You will wake up in the morning remembering everything that happened the night before, including that annoying guy who tried to karaoke Snoop Dogg. You won’t have to wonder what you said to your mother-in-law. You will have money and all your credit cards intact in your wallet.
You will have saved yourself a thousand calories in wine, cheese and snickerdoodles. Your noggin will not throb and your stomach will be calm. Your hands will not shake. You will not get a DUI. You will not look like the Grinch. You will start the year off healthy.
Two down. One to go.