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.

 

 

Our thought life will be on a higher plane…

 

“On awakening, let us think about the 24 hours ahead. We ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity and from dishonest or self-seeking motives.  Free of these, we can employ our mental faculties with assurance,  for God gave us brains to use.  Our thought life will be on a higher plane when our thinking begins to be cleared of wrong motives. If we have to determine which of two courses to take, we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought, or a decision. Then we can relax and take it easy, and we are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while.

We usually conclude our meditation with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what our next step is to be, asking especially for freedom from damaging self-will.” Page 243 (As Bill Sees It).

And some more thoughts from our friend Bill W.

“In meditation, debate has no place. We rest quietly with the thoughts or prayers of spiritually centered people who understand, so that we may experience and learn. This is the state of being that so often discovers and deepens a conscious contact with God.” Page 108(As Bill Sees It).

The secret of life is that there is no secret. Sartre

This morning, before the rising of the sun, I was up and asking God to bless me for this next 24 hour period of my life. All I had left from yesterday was my memories of it. And the memories were good. My family and assorted friends came together for my wife’s brother’s birthday party. It was a lot of fun and lots of old memories from earlier times surfaced. From the youngest, a five year old grandchild to a 94 year old aunt. Anyway, I thanked God for family and friends. Today, I have memories of that time yesterday. But I live here now, in the space of these next few hours left in this day.

I have learned that yesterday is gone forever and tomorrow is not here yet. How true that is. Just try and live today.One day at a time. If I have a worry today about something coming up  tomorrow, I just keep informing myself, that I will have to  worry about that later. Later never comes. That’s the beauty of this strategy… later is interpreted as “push it off ” till another time in the day. It’s really a matter of making a choice at this point–worry or try and let it go. So,right now, I am going to enjoy the sun rising  over the horizon. I am also trying  to be mindful of what is right in front of me. Mindfulness is a very important habit to carry with us these  24 hours.  Be mindful of what is happening around us. Be mindful of the person with whom  you may be having a conversation. In other words, be present with your whole person to the person who is with you. When I look out now, with the sun beginning to cast its warm crimson glow in the East, I think God that I have shelter, food on the table, and a family that I love and care about. Morning is a gratitude time for me as I think about my ministry with the beautiful aged persons in a nursing home, the people  I may be able to  visit in the hospital today.

I also thank God for my sobriety, my spiritual recovery program of Depressed Anonymous, and the fact that I am mindful of  trying to be  honest with myself and others, that I am open about who I am. I  am willing to share with others how it is that I have the tools now  to stay out of the prison of depression. I love to tell the story of how it was when I was depressed and now how it is that I am part of a fellowship that uses a daily program of healing and serenity. (See Depressed Anonymous, 3rd ed., DAP. Louisville). You can also go to our site menu and find important and helpful literature there for your life.

Can you think about and write out all the areas of your life for which you are thankful? Try it. And then tonight before going to bed, reflect on how you still have hope that life can get better. I have found that living life one day at a time—with gratitude —  makes it a whole lot better!

LIFE IS UNPREDICATABLE

” Yes, life is unpredictable. Every living organism operates with a certain amount of unpredictability and uncertainty. The uncertainty of life creates in us a desire for predictability. If we did not believe in the possibility of change, we would all be hopelessly  lost and forever bored. Hope would be lost. Potential for a better life would never exist. When there is hope  change is possible,. The experience  of depression is much the same. Depression is so predictable and unchanging that we lose hope for the pain of our isolation ever coming to an end.”. (Source; Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.,)

When I finally knew that I had a serious problem facing me (sadness. ) I eventually became  proactive in doing something about it. I used my experience with the 12 steps and I   gradually was able to find hope and recovery.   I also found a lot of other things, such as  people who were willing to live  with hope and   taking  one day at a time. If they could make it thru  one 24 hour period, and face whatever life threw at them — then chalk up that day as a good day.