Festive Frazzle

Day 303: This time of year can bring the worst out in us. There is a seemingly universal expectancy in the first world to ‘show pony’ your way through the festive period. We spend loads of money, we obsess about gifting and our children obsess about receiving said gifts. We over-eat, we drink a lot of alcohol and we spend money we don’t have. We post on social media how amazing our families are, photos of present piles and even more photos of Christmas food spreads.

Of course I’m generalising but the above is very common and if you aren’t described above I bet there are people in your family or friendship groups who are like that .

I’ve been guilty of it too. I used to use December as an excuse to drink more and definitely eat more. I’ve always gone for a run on Boxing Day and would share this on social media as some kind of justification for over-indulging. “Look at me out running on Boxing Day morning. I haven’t got a problem with over-indulging cos I’m running it off”

Somehow I don’t think a couple of miles on one morning of the festivities makes up for the umpteen bottles of wine and several animals I’ve consumed over the holidays.

This year I’m determined to step back and try to appreciate the Christmas break for what it should be about. Rest, self-care, time with family and reflecting on the things that are good in my life. I don’t drink anymore. I’m really into my running at the moment so I want to maintain this throughout (and it will be far easier to achieve this without hangovers). Me, my wife and little girls are having Christmas on our own this year which is a first for us. It will be nice to just spend time as a four. Granted I can’t sit here and say I don’t overspend on my family but I’m certainly not going to spend to the point that I’m wincing at credit cards in January. Again, not drinking keeps the spending down.

I’m also going to have a social media free day on Xmas Eve and Xmas Day. It’ll be the longest I’ve not used Twitter, Instagram, Linked In and my Blog for but I need the down time. I spend far too much time on my phone and it’s the perfect time of the year to have a break. I’ll be back online on Boxing Day though because there is too much sport to enjoy to not be engaging on Twitter about it.

I can’t and won’t tell anybody how to live their life but my advice to everybody at this time of year is to remember to take time out for yourself and step back from the festive frolicking. Whether you choose to or not is up to you!

Do you consider any of these self care enablers?

Happy Daddy Day

Day 124: It’s not like me to blog as much as I have in the last week but I couldn’t not write a few words on Fathers Day. I’ve had a lovely day with my wife and two young daughters. From waking up this morning after my lie in to the excitement on my little girls’ faces to give me my cards and presents. My wife then made me a bacon bap (ok, I had two) and coffee before we headed off to my parent’s house so I could give my Dad his card and Prezzies. Oh, and I just happened to get my COVID vaccination on the way too. The vaccination centre was ran with military precision. Respect to all of the staff and volunteers involved. We had a lovely afternoon at a local park including ice cream, hot dogs and playing ball – the sun was shining and it was lovely to see so many families out enjoying their time together.

When I was in hospital I made the very difficult decision to not speak or see my children because I decided it was too confusing for them to try and understand why I was in a hospital away from them for so long. My wife told them I was working away and even on the day they picked me up from the reception of the hospital they just thought it was a workplace. Obviously mental health hospitals look a little different to your standard hospitals so even my 5 year old didn’t seem to notice. Anyways, the time I spent away from my daughters and wife was the longest in my life and I had some really hard days. I just wanted to see them, hold them, smell them. It was the best thing I could have done for them and me though because I don’t think my recovery would have been as quick if I didn’t completely disconnect from my family and focus on my own mind and how I was going to bounce back from rock bottom.

Since returning home and starting over I take a lot of pride in the time I spend with my family. I want us to use the time as if it was our last because it’s easy to think back to the time I was away from them and the fact I was wishing myself better off dead so I wasn’t a burden on them. Seeing the three ladies in my life smiling today and enjoying having me around (plus making a fuss of me) is very humbling and it’s probably the first Fathers Day where I can truly say that I fully embraced and felt the emotion of being a Father and what Fatherhood brings to me.

My friends often ask if I think I’ll drink again. Not if I can help it. The thought of alcohol now just reminds me of hospital and the mess I was becoming prior to me being sectioned. I was drinking in secret. I was drinking from the bottle. I was drinking to stop the anxiety. I was drinking to get through the day. Drinking was happening earlier and earlier each day. I actually remember one Friday morning I was off work because the schools were closed due to COVID. I’d been drinking (again in secret) late into the Thursday night and felt rough as hell the next morning. I knew I had a long day ahead with my two daughters and nowhere to go. I was drinking single malt whisky by 9am (swigging it from the bottle) as they had their breakfast and watched TV. In my head I was doing it so I could then function better for the day ahead. I looked at it as a short term fix to get rid of my hangover, anxiety and low mood. Did it work? Yes, for the day ahead I perked up but only because I was topped up again. I drank a full bottle of whisky that day. Just glugs from the bottle every now and again over the space of about 7 hours. When my wife came in I blamed the medication I was on for being a bit ‘slurry’ but all in all I was coherent and I had looked after the girls and had a fun day in the house. They knew no different because I always kept the bottle hidden.

As I write this I now feel disgusted with myself. What if something had happened to the girls that day? I might have felt ‘on it’ but let’s be honest, pissed up people do think they’re fine. What if I’d needed to drive somewhere? Would I have risked it?

It’s in the past now so I’m not going to get too deep into the what ifs. Writing about my past helps me in the present which will help shape my future. It further cements my decision to lead a life of sobriety and give my long term mental health a fighting chance.

Today has been a good day and if my daughters were to ever read this I just want them to know that their existence has helped keep me alive and sober. And my wife is they cherry on top.

So Happy Daddy Day to all you Dads out there. Hope you’ve had a good one!