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.

 

 

Valuing yourself is risky business

MY PERSONAL  AFFFIRMATION FOR TODAY

I choose again to read my 12 Step Manual (Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition) on a daily basis and from it find the courage to make decisions that promote my well being and my joy.

“There  are two problems about deciding things for myself. First, it means that you can’t blame anyone else when things turn out badly. (But you can take credit when things turn out well). Second, other people can get very angry with you for not doing what they want. Valuing your self is a risky business. What risk is preferable?  The risk of making your own decisions or the risk of not valuing yourself? ”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT
I  see myself as part of the solution to recovering from my attachment to sadness. I was a sadness addict. Now I am attached to the joy of risking myself so that I can live. That is what I value most now — the desire to live with uncertainty  and be unafraid.

I blame when I no longer want to look inside of myself. I feel that when I admit my former need to sad myself, I no longer blame anyone, but instead, I am putting my energies into sharing how I feel with others.

MEDITATION

God, we trust in you. We commit ourselves to you. We know that you are ready to act in our behalf the more we commit ourselves to you and your will. Give us the courage to keep in contact with you daily. Our time with you is our daily bread. (Personal comments)

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

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.

 

What am I feeling?

WHAT AM I FEELING?

                                 Anger? Hostility? Aggression?

Anger: An emotion that says “Something is wrong.” That  it can be expressed to tell others about your personal limits, values, rules, and boundaries. The respectful expression of anger is an important way to educate others about how their behavior affects you. It can result in mutual respect between you and another person.

Hostility: An attitude that contributes to the violation of another person’s rights, values, rules, or boundaries. This attitude can include ruminating or brooding about another person’s real or perceived injustices toward you and ways that you can  “get even” with him/her   and this attitude leads to feelings of powerlessness. It can often lead to aggression our withdrawal as a way to punish others.

Aggression: A behavior, acted on with the intent to harm others, either physically or emotionally for real or imagined  “wrongs” done to you. This behavior always results in disrespect for yourself or the other person. It creates distance between you rather that brings you closer.

                           Learning how to express anger respectfully.

1.  Admit your anger. Accept that you are angry. Shouting “I am not angry!” at the other person only escalates you more. It can be safe and growth producing to acknowledge that you are angry.

2. Take a “timeout” to cool down if you need it.  Learning to deal respectfully and constructively with your anger takes time and practice.

3. Identify the source of your anger (look for your primary feelings). Make sure you perceived what happened correctly. Ask yourself questions like: ” what is my negative self-talk?” “Am I  dealing only with this issue at hand or are there other stressors that have already escalated me before this?” “Am I looking for a reason to blowup?”

4. Separate the energy of your anger (pent up feelings inside you seeking release) from the issue your anger is about (the condition, idea, event, or person you feel angry at).

5. Decide how and when you will express your anger.

6. Talk to the other person involved with your anger. Share your anger and any  primary feelings you can identify in an open, direct, and respectful way.

7. Make  “I” statements. Take responsibility for your own feelings. Resist the temptation to blame someone else for  “making you” feel angry.

8. Listen closely to the others point of view. Recognize and accept that their view may be quite different from yours. Remember that they have a right to their perspective and feelings.

9. Get in touch with your expectations and your intentions in sharing your anger. The purpose is not to “win” the argument (or discussion) or to make the other person agree with you or your point of view. Rather, it is an opportunity to give  both of you a time to express feelings.  Also,  explore alternatives such as compromising. Or you can “Agree to disagree” and table the discussion until another time.”

Source: The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. (2002). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 34 to 35.

Please VIST THE STORE  for more information on the Depressed Anonymous Workbook and the Depressed Anonymous Manual, both of which comprise the HOME STUDY KIT which can be purchased online.

The human experience of depression.

“It is my belief that the experience  that we call human depression, can very much be like the early designation of alcoholism as partly an allergy as well as being a mental obsession. And depression is very much like alcoholism, in that it very much causes the sufferer much the same symptoms, namely, feelings of being isolated, lonely, angry and  in a   deep dark pit, hopeless and helpless. Also, the depressed who decides to become more isolated and alone likewise digs a hole just a little more deeply. The fellowship of the program is combined with a belief that a power greater than oneself is ultimately what is going to save the person depressed from killing themselves  or floundering in a morass of self-will, resentments and self-pity. Many depressed basically are afraid of people and so tend not to trust others. They also hold a negative view of themselves and think themselves unacceptable to others and to themselves. (P.3)

In primitive human kind there was a system in one’s physical makeup that helped a primitive relative of ours flee or fight when danger approached.  In those days the person faced with a mortal danger got the adrenaline flowing that enabled the pursued to evade his/her captor. It also gave the pursued victim  the energy  to fight and overcome the adversary. In today’s world the days of being pursued by some ferocious tiger or beast is not our problem. But we are still pursued and the fear of the consequences of being caught by whatever is pursuing us  shoots the chemicals  into  our blood stream just as it did in our ancestors – with one major difference — our fears, anxieties, continual worries keep pumping those juices through our system until we are too tired to flee or even to fight. However it happens, the result is that our bodies suffer the damage of the stress of continual unpleasant emotions and feelings coursing through our veins.  We are at war with ourselves and depression is the last wall of defense in which the body says I need to take a rest from all this stress and so I surrender. I am closing down. I don’t want to fight any longer. And when one begins to feel a little better and the energy of one’s spirit starts to flow back into us again and we start  to feel renewed and it is here that our old ghost of fear starts to feel renewed and it is here that our old ghost of fear starts speaking to us saying “Hey, don’t trust this feeling of beginning to feel better. Stay with what you have — at least it’s predictable. At least you know what you have. Don’t try to change anything as you might get something far worse than what you have now.”  (P.5).

SOURCE:   Depressed Once -Not Twice: The  autobiography of a spiritual journey out of depression.  (2000) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. (Pages 3, 5).

Comment:  In this important work, the founder of Depressed Anonymous the author shows us that even in the midst of the pain, isolation and a mental paralysis of will, the 12 Steps provide a plan,, a program of recovery. The author shows how by using the Steps himself in overcoming his own experience of depression that these same Steps  can now be used by those “still suffering from depression.