Bottom Dog Bites

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It’s a sad fact that alcohol connects with depression.  Or anxiety.  Or stress.   Sometimes we don’t just drink booze – we use it.

In the Ready to be Thirsty challenge, there is a conscious effort to keep our dry month efforts light, fun, engaging.  And if you are doing the challenge, you’ll know that it really is those things.  You really do learn about yourself and your patterns, triggers…your emotional alcohol reflexes.  Unfortunately for some of us, those reflexes include regular use of alcohol to soothe ourselves.  From work, life or stress.

We crawl into the tub with a glass of wine, we drink out in the garage, we work our way down to the pub instead of working out…to distract ourselves from troubling truths.  This is talked about with delicate precision in a recent article from the New York Times that discusses how men often handle depression with work-aholism, alcohol consumption and competitiveness.

Yet, depression is twice as common in women, and women are more vulnerable to alcohol’s effects then men are, due to their physiology.

From many studies we know that alcohol and depression are correlated. Often the depression precedes the overuse of alcohol, but they can and do reinforce each other.

And of course depression has a social stigma, like any mental illness.  We remain reluctant to talk about it, still.  This, despite the fact it grows more commonly diagnosed and understood in our culture.  Despite the fact that it affects our families, our friends, our neighbors, our children, ourselves.

Without any shame I can say that I, like many, have suffered with depression personally in the past.  In those times, I can say that it has affected or exacerbated my alcohol use.  Because, well, I’m a human being… and my health both mental and physical, fluctuates.  Good days and bad days -they happen to all of us.

But I can also honestly say that while I’ve been Thirsty this February, I have felt mentally strong or stronger, and a break from alcohol is recouping my mind as well as my liver.

 

Photo by Stewart Black via Flickr.  Creative Commons.  No Changes. 

Author: Doug Ironside RN

Doug is a Registered Nurse (PHN) with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.

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