Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Why is Christmas such a bastard?

I often refer to Christmas as 'Bastard Christmas', because I have found it to be a very depressing time of year.  I'm sure others agree with me, Scrooge for one, and the Grinch, but also because in my A&E dept we see a lot of suicides and domestic violence around this time of year.  Gruff Rhys, singer from the Super Furry Animals and solo artist, also agrees with me, he has released an EP called 'The Atheist Christmas EP' which includes such joyless hits as 'Slashed wrists this xmas'.  I would like to point out, however, that I am NOT what you could term a 'scrooge', I do make the most of the Xmas, I worked as a Santa's Helper in an actual Santa's grotto for 3 YEARS RUNNING!  I am a big fan of booze, chocolate and presents, and indulge in all 3, but usually I'm drinking booze and stuffing chocolate down my neck to try to get rid of the Yuletide despair I tend to suffer from every year.

   I had a little look at why when some fools go around squeaking about how much they love xmas, some of us would rather just fuck it all off and this is what I found.  Mind conducted an on- line poll in 2008 which showed that the main reason people feel depressed at Christmas seemed to be down to financial problems.  Christmas does cost a lot of money, and spending loads of cash on a load of old shit seems to fill people with disgust, especially during the current financial fuck up where people don't have much to begin with.  The Independent reports this week that the suicide rate in Greece has risen by 40% since their economy went to shit, prior to this it was the lowest in Europe, thus proving that if the economy is fucked, people start to get depressed.  I do agree that money problems cause a lot of stress and the daily grind to try and get enough cash together to get by does ruin your soul somewhat if you're unlucky enough to be that skint, but I don't think this is the reason why I hate Christmas so much. 
  The Depression Alliance has printed a leaflet specifically targeting people who feel depressed at Christmas, to provide information about services and support available if you're feeling low.  In this leaflet, the reasons for feeling low given are money problems and loneliness and isolation if you live alone.  This didn't really explain why I always feel shit at xmas, because I am lucky and have a family and friends, which I see at xmas and do the usual celebratory things with. 

 Ray B. Williams, writing for Psychology Today says:-
 "Xmas appears to be a trigger to engage in excessive self reflection and rumination about inadequacies of life"  This statement explains partly why I feel low at Christmas.  I look at my own life against the sickeningly sweet romantic and family based fantasies going on all over the place.  A lot of my horrendous romantic failures have occurred around the Xmas period.  I've been out with a few shit men, and they have often been known to dump me just before xmas (to avoid buying a gift no doubt), also the heart wrenching love affair I had with a married woman which all kicked off at xmas, leaving me distraught the following year when she'd left me and every Christmas event sparked off memories of the previous year with her.  I was to be found at midnight on New Years Eve, crying in the toilet.  It was shit.
  This goes some way to explaining why Xmas is a bastard, but I can't really put my finger on why I find it so particularly awful.  All I know is that it's 2 weeks of the year where I am vulnerable, confused and depressed. The benefit of it is that during this time I crave my normal life so much that when January comes around and I can go back to normality I am very grateful.

Merry Xmas

LL x

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


This is a picture of GDR if you are in any way interested:-

See what I mean???

LL x

I read a book and I liked it

By Gregory David Roberts
Shantaram was recommended to me, and described as ‘an epic’.  It suppose it is that, as it is very long and a lot of things happen.  It details the story of a man called ‘Lin’ who escapes from an Australian prison, flees to Bombay on a fake passport and gets up to various things there, such as living in a slum and becoming a ‘slum doctor’, working for the mafia, fighting in Afghanistan, and going to an Indian prison. 
  The first part of the book is mainly about his time in the slum.  This is quite a happy period, because Lin has a lot of friends in the slum, including Prabaker (the star of the show) and he has lots of funny experiences there, like when he is sent a dancing bear with instructions to give it a cuddle.  He also becomes a sort of slum doctor, treating minor medical problems in the slum.  It’s all very nice, there is a cholera epidemic which is a bit shit but this gives him the opportunity to have a little smooch with this woman he is in love with.  GDR uses pretty flowery language, right, and Lin is such an optimistic soul, and never slags anyone off.  He makes living in a Bombay slum sound like the best thing ever, and I started thinking am I supposed to believe that this hippy is a hardened criminal?  You should see how he goes off on one when he gets to have a shag with the woman he loves, he says shit like ‘Every moment was a satin skin cascade’ and I was like ‘Are you talking about the old in – out?’. 
  Anyway, my cynicism was quickly stopped when just after making luurve he pops out, only to be arrested and put in an Indian jail.  He has some hardcore times in there, and is on the verge of death on his release. 
  The story goes on, but the point is, you ought to read the book so I’m not gonna re - tell it here.  There were 2 key moments for me after that, where this book inspired strong emotions.  One was the death of a major character which left me bawling (I don’t often cry at books, mind!) and the other was the end, where I was disgusted to find that I couldn’t find out what happened to Lin next!  I went on Wikipedia and they said GDR was going to write more books in a series about Lin – hurry up you bastard!!  Although this book is allegedly based on his life, so maybe GDR doesn't know what is going to happen next yet.
  By the way, I saw a picture of GDR and he looks like a mixture between a hippy and a hardened criminal.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Random Ranting and Round up

Looking at the news this week, I have to say I am quite pleased.  Regular readers will know that I am concerned about men and their mental health, and recently there has been a spate of well known blokes talking about how they have suffered from depression.  The Sun's website is full of them, including Stan Collymore, Jonny Wilkinson, Will Young and Russell Grant!  In the Independent it also says that since Gary Speed's death, many footballers have sought help from The Sporting Chance Clinic, a specialist mental health clinic.  It makes me happy because I worry about men keeping things to themselves too much, and not seeking help. 

In other news, David Cameron has done some survey on how happy people are apparently, where he asked a few people if there was meaning in their lives and they said they were quite happy.  The Metro reports that Relate counselor Christine Northam says the economic gloom is bringing out a 'blitz spirit' in people.  I'm sorry, but having to pay an extra £100 for a pension every month and not being able to afford to go to Disneyworld is hardly the same as sleeping in Hackney tube station every night for fear of being blown to shit by Hitler.  It is my opinion that the survey is bollocks, the idea behind it is bollocks, and David Cameron is a cunt.

Speaking of cunts, The Independent has also reported that people should swear in moderation, lest they will not feel the benefit when they do swear.  No shit, this is a study by Keele University that says swearing is a form of pain relief, but if you swear all the time and then shout a lot of profanities when you are in pain, the relief of the swears is lessened.  It's like swearing is an actual drug, and you can develop a tolerance to it.  Fucking brilliant?

Finally I am going to consider an article in the Telegraph about alternatives to antidepressants.  I'm generally not a fan of these articles as they tend to be quite negative about antidepressants, and I am not, because they have worked so well for me.  There are 3 'experts' giving their opinions about the alernatives, firstly the Consultant Psychologist (probably a bona fide expert).  He says that CBT is a good option, I have to agree there, although on its own it may not work.  I have found CBT to work best when you are feeling a bit better, as when you are feeling down it all seems a bit overwhelming, there's quite a lot of work involved, and also the thing about CBT is that I don't think it really exists.  I have been referred by about 3 different GPs to have CBT and nothing has materialised, I haven't even had one session.  You can do the CBT on line yourself for free at this site called Moodgym ( , which is pretty cool, but if you're trying to motivate yourself to do it, it's likely that when you are down you won't want to and when you're happy you'll feel you don't need to.

The second expert is a doctor of Chinese medicine, who says it is commonly known that depression is a physical illness that manifests as an emotional problem.  I like this, as it is true, and people are often forgetting the physical aspect of depression.  He suggests two herbs that might help, Rhodiola rosea and Ashwaghanda, which can obviously be found in your local Asdle (not, trawling Asian supermarkets will definitely help with the depression).  Then he suggests sticking needles in your ears to release some pain relieving opioids and endorphins.  Presumably, you can do this at home because all you need to do is cause yourself some pain and you will get the opioids and endorphins.  However, self harm is never a good idea, so I have included a link to the Harmless website, a page of alternative things to do instead of self harm:-

The last prick  expert is an Ayurvedic Herbalist.  These people are alright when you want a bit of incense, but when they start to try and get in on the doctoring lark they usually end up looking like twats.  However, this man suggests looking at your diet and lifestyle, which I would say is the VERY FIRST thing you should do if you're feeling down, so well done to him.  However, then he goes on to say that counselling will help you to uncover the underlying reasons for your depression.  This smells a bit like Freud, I'm not really of the belief that everyone has some sort of unconscious desire to shag their mum, or some sort of issue hidden deep in their subconscious that is fucking up their normal life.  Sometimes the underlying problem might be that your brain chemicals are screwed, and talking about stuff for hours on end is not going to uncover shit.  However, I do acknowledge that counselling can be helpful in some situations, when you have a lot to talk about and mentally sort through.  Consider the advice of cyberpunk William Gibson,
"Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you're not surrounding yourself with assholes"
Having a bit of counselling might make it easier to establish whether your friends are actually assholes, like if you talk about your relationships and the counselor recoils in horror at the antics of people around you, it might signify that getting some new friends/partner might help.

So this is my round up of some of the recent news related to mental health, (obviously excluding the Daily Express as I do not believe it is actually a newspaper).  See you next time!

LL x