Problem drinking and depression are so intertwined that it's often impossible to tell which came first; do we drink because we're depressed, or are we depressed because we drink?
In fact, it can work like a downward spiral, sucking us in, like a spider down a plughole.
As you drink you flood your brain with dopamine. Do this often enough and heavily enough and your brain reduces the amount of dopamine it produces naturally to compensate. This means that without alcohol you will feel depressed. Then, when you drink, the dopamine produced just takes you back to normal levels. In other words, you start to feel - because it's true - that only alcohol makes you happy.
To be honest, I didn't think that I was depressed. I just felt flat. A bit bleurgh. Like all the colour had been leached out of the picture, leaving it sepia. But because it happened so gradually, I hardly noticed.
But now, especially down here in glorious Cornwall, it feels like the knobs have been adjusted and we're back in glorious technicolor. The old brain has turned up the volume on the rusty dopamine producers and I don't need to booze to feel high.
So today I was walking up a cliff path with #3 picking blackberries. She'd put a few in the bag, but even more were smeared over her hands and face. I pretended not to notice as I imagined the crumble we'd make later. I could smell the sticky, tart blackberries and the sweet, crunchy topping. Custard or clotted cream....? One of life's eternal dilemmas.
I saw a woman walking towards us. I smiled at her. I was pretty sure that the sweet old lady was admiring my great parenting. Healthy, outdoor fun with the kids. Well done, Mrs SM!
As we passed each other she looked at #3 shoving another blackberry into her mouth.
"Dogs pee on those, you know," she said.
She took my happy balloon and pricked it, the miserable old crone.
Which made me think: do you want to be the person smelling the crumble, or the one seeing the wee?
Because I'm smelling the crumble, and it's only now that I realise how much time I wasted looking for wee.
Love to you all.