Drinking Depression: One man’s story of recovery from alcoholism and depression.

 

DRINKING DEPRESSION:  One man’s story of recovery from alcoholism and depression and the parallels between the two. 

By Steve P.

“I have had experiences with alcohol abuse since childhood. I have also struggled since childhood with depression. I quickly learned to rely on both.

I call  this paper “drinking depression” because that’s exactly what I did when I no longer had the alcohol. The following thoughts will express my feelings and the parallels that I have seen between these two addictions.

RELIANCE

There was always an excuse to drink, mostly I was upset with something –I should say angry, for it was anger at the root of my depression that I was trying to suppress in medicating myself with alcohol. Later, I learned to do the same thing with my depression except to be in a depressive state high.  I didn’t even have to leave the house and after awhile I didn’t want to break the cycle of reliance that dependency had begun. Where I was absorbing alcohol into my blood stream  I was now   injecting the depression into my soul and absorbing it like a sponge

FAMILIARITY AND COMFORT

As a recovering alcoholic, I can look back on my drinking and see where I took comfort in being drunk because   eventually   the numbness became the only way I could feel better.  When I was drunk I could retreat into myself and not have to deal with everyday life.

The same escape tool was used in the form of depression. I could ball up like a wooly worm and the outside world was not going to hurt me. However, the more I wallowed in the darkness of my depression the deeper I got stuck  in the mud of despair and hopelessness.

DESPERATION

In order to deal with alcoholism and depression I had to hit rock bottom. I had reached a point in both that I had to call out for help or drown in my addiction.  I called on my Higher Power to help  deliver me from alcohol and he led me to a counselor  to  also help me with my depression. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit I am harnessing my talents now and I am seeing incredible results. My recovery has not been overnight but it is a day by day and step by step recovery process.

THE PHYSICAL

After some time had passed,  the drinking affects the physical body breaking it down. Once I saw a film in which the brain of an alcoholic was compared to the brain of a heroin addict and they were very similar. The depression I  experienced also had physical implications. For over twenty years the way my body would respond from too much emotional stress was to pass out. Instead of blacking out from alcohol I was using depression to numb myself and my brain.

THE SPIRITUAL

When I was drinking I felt alienation and guilt. I felt professing Christians did not drink. The more I drank the more guilty I became. I felt  much more distant from God the more I drank and spiraled further down into a cycle of despair.

In my depression,  I felt God had no time for  me and that I was unworthy of his love. Again,  it was a carousal filled with guilt and anger going round and round so that I couldn’t get off the merry-go-round.

SELF-ESTEEM

When I was drinking,  I was sure that no one cared or could understand what I was going through, so I had many pity parties and I was the guest of honor. Why should I care if no one else cared? This was my way of thinking.

From painful experiences in my childhood I felt  I was of no worth and just taking up space. It has taken therapy and the support of family and friends to finally look in the mirror and begin to like what I saw.

HOPE

I have been sober over two years although I often have the desire to drink I daily call  on my Higher Power to help me and march on one day at a time experiencing serenity and a release from my need to take that first drink.

I have been in therapy for almost a year off and on, although in order to recover one has to stay with it. I have to take my emotional and spiritual healing, like my drinking —one day at a time knowing   I can make it.  It is only by opening the door of the past that   the light of the present can get rid of the darkness  today,  providing  hope for the future.

It is my hope and prayer that this has helped you,  in some small way.  It has helped me by writing about my experiences. May God put walls of protection around you so that the way ahead for you may be crystal clear so that today may be your first step towards recovery.”

God bless.

Steve P.

+This article first appeared in THE ANTIDEPRESSANT TABLET, Spring 1994.

 

 

I was making myself miserable!

 

 

” I know that I needed help. I had been to counselors on three other times in my life, but nothing ever seemed to work or last. This time, I have been in counseling for about two months. I was sick and tired of being like this. I wanted a life and I wanted to be happy. Every week, someone would notice a change in me at the Depressed Anonymous meeting, but I still felt the same.  Then one day while watching TV (thinking thoughts at 100mph), it occurred to me that I was making myself miserable.

I had always known that I was hard on my self. I reamed myself out every time something bad happened. “Why can’t I find someone to love me?” “Why isn’t God looking after me?” But for some reason when I realized that I was doing this to  myself  it made me realize that maybe all I would have to do is stop doing it! All of a sudden it made sense.

If I tell myself  negative thoughts, I feel negative. If I tell myself positive thoughts eventually I will have to feel positive.

Of course  I am still testing it out, but I feel better and for the first time in 14 years, I have hope. It’s not that hard to find something positive about myself or my life now. So I remind myself of something positive every day and that is what I am going to do until I don’t have to remind  myself  anymore because I’ll know.

I’m always finding out that my life is not as horrible as I have made it out to be.  I used to tell myself that since it happened before, it will happen again –and that simply is not true.  Yes, my past was horrible and it is no wonder I ended up with depression. I want out of it and the only person to get me out is me. There is not a magic wand to transport you to the life you want.   Everyone knows what they wish their life could be like – so do it!  Make the changes you have to make, trust in God and always remember that good things come to those who wait. I’ve waited over half my life. I don’t have to be a victim of my past or of my mind any more, I’m more than ready for the good things! With love and hope!

–A Depressed Anonymous member.

 

RESOURCE:  Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Pages 120-121. (Personal Stories).

The Home Study program of recovery is always available online with an online sponsor. See more information about the Home Study Kit at the Depressed Anonymous Bookstore here at depressedanon.com.

Drinking Depression

Drinking depression: One man’s story of recovery from alcoholism and depression and the parallels between the two.

I have had experiences with alcohol abuse since childhood. I have also struggled since childhood with depression. I quickly learned to rely on both.

I call this paper “drinking depression” because that’s exactly what I did when I no longer had the alcohol. The following thoughts will express my feelings and the parallels that I have seen between these two addictions.

RELIANCE

There was always an excuse to drink, mostly I was upset with something. I should really say angry, for it was anger at the root of my depression that I was trying to suppress  in medicating myself. Later, I learned to do the same thing with my depression except to be in a depressive state High. I didn’t even have to leave the house and after awhile I didn’t want to break the cycle of reliance that dependency had begun. When I was absorbing alcohol into my blood stream I was now injecting the depression into my soul and absorbing it like a sponge.

FAMILIARITY AND COMFORT

As a recovering alcoholic I can look back on my drinking and see when I took comfort in being drunk because after awhile the numbness became the only way I could feel better because when I was drunk I could retreat into myself and not have to deal with everyday life.

The same escape tool was used in the form of depression. I could ball up like a woolly worm and the outside world was not going to hurt me. However, the more I wallowed in the darkness of my depression the deeper I got stuck in the mud of despair and hopelessness.

DESPERATION

In order to deal with alcoholism and depression I had to hit rock bottom. I had reached a point in both, that I had to call out for help or drown in my addiction. I called on my Higher Power to help me with my depression. With guidance of the holy spirit I am harnessing   my talents now and I am seeing incredible results. My recovery has not been overnight, but it is a day by day and step by step recovery process.

THE PHYSICAL

After some time had passed, the drinking affects the physical body breaking it down. Once I saw a film in which the brain of a heroin addict and the alcoholic were very similar. The depression I experienced also has physical implications. For over twenty years the way my body would respond from too much emotional stress was to pass out. Instead of blacking out from   alcohol I was using depression to numb my brain and myself.

THE SPIRITUAL

When I was drinking I felt alienation and guilt. I felt professing  Christians did not drink  and the more I drank the more guilty I became. I felt that much more distant from God the more I drank and spiraled further down into a cycle of despair.

In my depression I felt God had no time for me and that I was unworthy of his love. Again it was a carousal filled with guilt and anger going round and round so that I couldn’t get off the merry go-round.

SELF ESTEEM

When I was drinking, I was sure that no one cared or understood what I was going through so I had many pity parties and I was the guest of honor. Why should I care if no one else cared- this was my way of thinking.

From painful experiences in my childhood I felt I was of no worth  and just taking up space. It has taken therapy and the support of family and friends to finally look in the mirror and begin to like what I saw.

HOPE

I have been sober over two years although  I often have the desire to drink.  I daily call on my Higher Power for help and march on one day at a time experiencing serenity and a release from my need to  take the first drink.

I have been in therapy for almost a year off and on, although in order to recover one has to stay with it. I have to take my emotional and spiritual healing like my drinking.– one day at a time and know when I can make it because it is only opening the door to the past can the light of the present get rid of the darkness today and have hope for the future.

It is my hope and prayer that this has helped you, the reader,  in some small way. It has helped me by writing about my experiences. May God put walls of protection around you so that the way ahead for you may be crystal clear and that today be your first step towards recovery.

God bless.

—Steve P.  A member of the Louisville Depressed Anonymous Group.

 

Let’s get real. The “snap out of it” advice doesn’t get it!

Let’s get real!  How often do we hear people who’ve   never been depressed  tell people depressed to just “snap out” of their depression? Answer? Too many times.

In our Manual,   Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition  we read  “I don’t believe you can snap out of your depression, or suddenly   and dramatically get your life turned around by going to one Depressed Anonymous meeting, or reading the  12 steps  five times an hour. It just doesn’t happen that way, especially if you have lived with  your depression for any length of time. Even though we  emphasize  that  depression is not a disease, we do want you to know that depression over a long period of time can cause physical problems and upset the metabolism of the human organism. More and more, doctors see how  positive feelings, attitudes and emotions can help cancer patients maintain a remission and stay free of a recurring cancer condition. Unpleasant emotions such as fear, anger, resentment, tension and depression all work against recovery.

I would call the sadness  that  has  been with us for as long as we can remember,  a learned way to respond to certain negative stimuli. What you will be doing when you come to a Depressed Anonymous meetings is to get involved in your own healing. You will find other men and women who are struggling with the same pain as you are. You will discover that the first step in coming to grips with depression that won’t  quit is for you to surrender it,  quit fighting it.  Let the God, as you understand God  take over your life and help let it restore you to sanity, peace and understanding of the way in which you can find the path  out of your depression and pain. Depressed Anonymous works if you begin the work of the spiritual program that we’re going to outline in this book.  Depression is a moral problem and as such there needs to be a moral solution,  one part of which is to admit that we are responsible for ourselves and that we can’t blame it on genes, psychological predispositions or one’s spouse or some other situation.  We are going to take charge. We choose to un-depress ourselves. Today! One day at a time!

…But let me warn you — it isn’t easy to do something different from what you have been doing  most of your life. This is especially true when it comes to the way we see ourselves, our world and others. There are no magic pills and no easy answers to bring us immediately out of this inner pain and anguish. It does take time and work.

If you really want to leave behind your painful sadness, the daily tears, and the feelings of worthlessness, then begin now to admit the unmanageable mess of your depression. You have had it with feeling out of control!

That’s the way it is with depression – over the years you get comfortable with feeling miserable, which doesn’t mean you like it, but that you’re just too afraid to risk doing something different. When you want to change and leave your depression behind, the choice that you want to make is immediately dashed to the ground because you  feel there is no hope for you. “I can’t pull myself up by my bootstraps and start to feel better,” you tell yourself. Most the time, we tell ourselves that we will do it when we feel better. (See reference to” I’ll do it when I feel better”   below). Folks, let me tell you something – you will never feel better until  you begin to physically get moving! We all know that we feel better only when we get into gear and get busy – distracting ourselves  from those ever present miserable  thoughts which whisper how bad we are and how hopeless life seems to be.”

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SOURCES: (c)Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pgs. 31-32.

(c) I’ll will do it when I feel better. (2015) Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications.  Louisville.

(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook, (2002)(Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

VISIT THE STORE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON DEPRESSION AND THE HEALING POWER OF THE 12 STEPS.

ALSO LEARN HOW TO USE THE HOME STUDY KIT FOR YOUR  PERSONAL RECOVERY PLAN OF ACTION!

The goose who missed his flight! Almost.

Albert Schewietzer shares a wonderful story about one creature caring for another. He makes this an example of how we all can have a “reverence for all life.” This is his story.

”  It happened in a park where a flock of wild geese had settled to rest on a pond. One of the flock of wild geese had settled to rest on  a pond. One of the flock had been captured by a gardener, who had  clipped its wings before releasing it.  When the geese start to resume their flight, this one tried,  frantically, but vainly, to lift itself in the air. The others, observing his struggles, flew about in obvious efforts to encouraghe him, but it was no use. Thereupon, the entire flock settled back on the pond and waited, even though the urge to go on was strong within them. For several days they waited until the damaged feathers had grown sufficiently to permit the goose to fly.  Meanwhile, the unethical gardener, converted by the ethical geese, gladly watched them as they finally rose together and all resumed their long flight.”

SOURCE: Albert Schweitzer:  Essential writings, (2005)   Orbis Books. New York. Page 164.

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I love this story. So true about all living creatures, it’s in our  DNA to care for those  who are the weakest.  Even the geese knew it was for them to be sure this little goose was not going to be left behind..no matter what. And so they waited…and waited some more, till  he was able and  ready to fly with the rest of them. As they say in the military, “We got your back.”

I believe that the story about the goose who couldn’t fly is much like the stories you and I have shared. In other words, I too have had the time when I was isolated, alone and motionless. I was totally immobilized by fatigue, fear and shame.

I became imprisoned. The key out of this prison eventually was found and I was free. I was free because of others who just like me had once  succumbed to the belief that they were worthless, useless and  hopeless. And thank God they came to my rescue and helped me learn to live again without the weight of depression forcing me to the dirt. And there you have it. They helped me, step by step, to sort things out in my life and I was able to not only live life again, but I also learned a lot about living the Twelve Step recovery way. Now we have Depressed Anonymous fellowship recovery groups  where we  are able to share our hope, strength and experiences.  If you are feeling stranded and alone, join us and fly with us.

 

 

Does mid-life = half-life?

I accepted that God, as the God of my understanding is loving and forgiving. The 12 Step group and our God is the pillar of our strength and healing. The #2 STATEMENT OF BELIEF  of Depressed Anonymous.

In  depression the first thing that we must do is to take charge of our lives and incorporate a planned pleasant activity in our daily lives.  If  I don’t, I will continue to linger on alone and live a half-life. Nothing beyond my reach can absorb my pain of isolation and feeling worthless. This is especially true for many of us in mid-life where the dreams we once thought possible  remain stillborn. We seem to have lost the time to do something positive with our lives. We feel stuck. I want to get involved with  a  fellowship of persons who are learning new ways of living with a sense of purpose. We want to live our lives  with hope.  Step  Two of Depressed Anonymous states that “we came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. We will “let go and let God.”

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Comment: I am thinking this  morning and attempting to clarify some of my thinking about having a purpose for my life. I remember that it was at the  mid-life point of my life (45 years) where my life  gradually screeched to a   halt.  That is when my life, plummeted down to the   half-life point. My life’s meaning, instead of providing hope and purpose drew my resources down until the only purpose that I could envision was to try and get out of bed in the morning.  My concentration was focused–but only on my pain. Another way of looking at it is using  the   metaphor of looking at the gas gauge on your car’s dash and seeing that it reads empty.

When I discovered a group of people, just like myself, in the 12 Step recovery program  did my life began to happen. My experience with depression and living daily  the recovery process has provided me with a wealth of purposeful living and meaning. My half-life became a very full  life. Everyday I am blessed to be able to communicate with person depressed, be it locally or from the far corners of  the world. Whether it is with emails, SKYPE or to meet  face to face with fellow members sharing their  experiences and who are  desiring a  way out of their depression.

I know from personal experience that mid-life or really any part of one’s life  there may be a need for a reexamination of what our life is about and possibly for it to take a more purposeful direction. And no matter where our life stands today we are always poised on making it purposeful and filled with meaning. A full life is one filled with hope, service to others while embedded in a fellowship of persons like ourselves. For myself today, I know it is my fellowship group, Depressed Anonymous.

Take the plunge if you like and find out how you too can have a life filled with purpose, service to others like yourself, and part of a dynamic Depressed Anonymous 12 Step group.

SOURCES:  (c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

 

Great ideas give energy of purpose and great wings to the soul!

“A great object to awaken resolute choice, must be seen to be within our reach.  The truth, that progress is the very end of our being, must not be received as a tradition, but comprehended and felt as a reality.  Our minds are apt to pine  and starve, by being imprisoned within what we have already attained. . A true faith , looking up to something better, catching  glimpses of distance perfection, prophesying to ourselves improvements proportional to our conscientious labors, gives energy of purpose, gives wings to the soul; and this faith will continually grow, by acquainting ourselves with our own nature, and with the promise of divine help and immortal life which abound in revelation… A great idea…if seized on clearly and vigorously, burns like a living coal in the soul.” –William Ellery Channing

Know what you want,  find out how to get it, and then go get it!

Within each of us is that soul spirit which urges us on to do what we know we must do. So often, almost  by a strange set of circumstances or coincidence we are presented with a person, an idea, or a situation by which we can fulfill the need which we search for.  Do not pass up this prompting, this nudge, but take it upon yourself to investigate and then to take it as your own if it appears to fulfill your need.

Did this fulfilled need just  “happen”  that I ran into an old friend?  Did it just “happen”  that I  picked up a book where my greatest need and solutions were outlined neatly? It was as if they were there all the time.

If you are reading this piece today, and feeling crushed down and alone, could it be that this message for you just didn’t happen but fulfills your own needs for healing and complete recovery from a depressed spirit?

Like all of us who  look for that nudge, that prompting which will push us to make an investment  in ourselves that can last a lifetime, and what I have done, these many years ago, and still use today, is the solution focused Twelve Steps of Depressed Anonymous for my everyday use and continued recovery. Was it the coincidence of a friend giving me a book on depression while I was searching for a way out of my depression  –did it just “happen” or did I see in this coincidence, that something, which had always been in plain sight, and knowing if I pursued this “happening” with vigor and tenacity I could be the serene person that I always wanted to be.

Here are the books that gave me the nudge to fulfill the Promises of the Twelve Steps. These two books, combined in use together are the source of my strength and the “idea”  that fulfilled my need. Follow your nudge! And if you have decided that you are reading this BLOG today, and that it’s message applies to your situation today then take a look at the HOME STUDY KIT and make something great “happen” for your life today!

HOME STUDY KIT (Visit the store)

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(2011)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville

The Depressed Anonymous Workbook, (201) Depresses Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Our relationship with other people improve: Promise # 9 of the Promises of Depressed Anonymous

Why wouldn’t our relationships with  other people improve?  After we have begun to put into place our daily program of recovery, through prayer and meditation we now are expectant and hopeful. We reflect upon each Step, and we complete a piece of the structure that in time will be the new me. I think that one  of the more critical areas to mend in our lives is the thinking part of ourselves.  Depression appears to start with the way our minds react to and perceive events outside of ourselves.  So, from the start we need to promote to those persons depressed to get involved in as much physical activity as possible, namely., walk, express personal feelings to others, go to meetings, talk on the phone with supportive people, in other words, get connected as much as possible.  Most importantly we discover at our  group meetings that there are many persons, much like ourselves and at the same level of recovery. We know we are not alone.

One of the immutable truths, according to Dorothy Rowe, who wrote the mental health award winning book, Depression: The way out of your prison. is “that other people are such that I must fear, envy or hate them. ”  If we believe that we are bad and valueless then it follows that we must  fear other people because they can find out how bad we are and so reject us.

Once newcomers hear  the before and after of our lives it will make it easier for them to believe us when they  experience our own enthusiasm and cheerfulness.”

SOURCE: Copyright (c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. (Pages 46-47).

“The world breaks everyone, then some become strong at the broken places.” Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway got it right! I believe that if you were ever depressed and began to find yourself gradually finding hope, is it because  you  have become strong at the broken places  of hopelessness and worthlessness.  It seems like a paradox doesn’t it? How can I become strong at the places which nearly destroyed my life, my purpose, and my peace?

In Depressed Anonymous, the author speaks about how “we had given ourselves to the belief that this growing feeling  of helplessness is what must govern our lives, mood and behavior. We have given it license to run roughshod over every part of our life and over our relationships. Most people can’t see inside us and discover the pain that make up our every waking lives.  For the most we are able to hide how miserable we feel. ” (Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition).

This book, written by those of us who were depressed, using the 12 Steps of recovery, discovered a way out of those places where we were broken. We have become stronger because of what we have learned about  HOW our lives had became broken.

” As soon as we admitted the possible existence of a creative intelligence, a Spirit of the universe  underlying the totality of things, we began to be possessed of  a new sense of power and direction, provided we took other simple steps. We found that God does not make too hard terms for those who seek him. To us, the realm of the spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe to all men (sic) …We needed to ask ourselves but one short question. Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?”  As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he  is on his way. It has been repeatedly proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built.” AA, Pages 46-47.

As Bill W., (co-founder of AA) tells us, “our seeking always brings a finding.”

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SOURCE:  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011). Depressed Anonymous  Publications. Louisville.

I can still hope…

AFFIRMATION

I am finding a way out of my sadness and just for today, I will remain hopeful!

“…We have come a long way on our journey,  for the road to coping and recovery is widening and has its obstacles, but we have all fared well, we have braved the storms and found a hope that extends beyond tomorrow.”

  CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

Even though the journey out of this darkness might be longer  than I am wanting to admit, I can still hope that the end will be in sight at some time. There is going to be a light at the end of the tunnel. With time and with work, I will get better. I have already admitted, time after time, that I need help in learning how to free myself from my need to sad  myself, day after day.   This compulsion of mine has been with me for many years, but I have hope that it will not be long until my good days begin to outnumber my bad days with depression. I have the faith of a beginner, a novice if you will, in the ways of recovery. I can’t find a way out of this depression without hope. I know that there is going to have to be a change in the way I view life if I am to get better. I am going to take responsibility for my life and begin to change!

Troubles in one’s life may cause our persistence and endurance to grow and is the reason our faith is strengthened.

MEDITATION

God, help us realize that we are part of your plan and that we have a purpose here on this earth; if for no other reason than to let others like us know that we have a place where hope starts, namely, in you.

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Source: (c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.