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 will face my fears!

I will take another small step in my own recovery  and face any uncomfortable  fears that arises. I will face it and let go.

“I had to surrender to God, quit controlling everything and everyone, including God.  Let go and let God.” (8 )

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

To think of letting go of my depression is like telling a drowning man to let go of his life jacket. When we have been depressed for so many years and this is all we know, we don’t know what to make of someone telling us to let go and surrender this experience to God.

I also know that for me to be in control, either by my sadness at home or my attempts to control every member of the family, I know that this keeps me from having to face all the pain in my own life. My thoughts don’t flow the way other peoples’ thoughts flow. My thoughts continually flow in a stream of heavy blackness. The blackness has always been part of my life and I feel that there is no way to escape it.  The only way out for me now is to “admit that I am powerless over my depression and that my life is unmanageable.”

I know that in the program there is much talk about giving over one’s life to a Higher Power and letting it guide us.  It’s somewhat like we are going down the road of life and we see a large narrow bridge which is spanning a river before us. We see the bridge and  can even see the other side but instead of crossing over we get out of our car, go down the embankment and begin to swim across to the other side. Depression and our own feelings of unworthiness won’t allow us to risk a way out of our sadness. Like so many life situations, the answers are hidden there in plain sight.

 

MEDITATION

We used to believe that our God was a God of wrath. We needed to believe that,  because we were feeling so bad, evil, worthless and unacceptable about ourselves. Now we believe God’s supply of love is endless. (See Step #3).

“If you want to eat an elephant, the best way to do it is one bite at a time.”

 

The following quotation is taken from our “Big Book” Depressed Anonymous (3rd edition) as it appears on page 95.

“All of us who are substance addicted (compulsivre overeating, alcohol, cocaine, pre- scription medication) or process addicted–addicted to a behavior ( the workaholic, sex, gambling, depression) know that in order to free ourselves from the intoxicating experience, we have to first want to give it up and live without it.  We best do this   one day or one hour at a time. Don’t say you will quit a self-destructive behavior for one year at a time and see how you do. No, trying to live one day at a time is a lot easier.  As someone once said “if you want to eat an elephant, the best way to do it is one day at a time.” We know from past experience that our  sobriety, our disappearance of sadness is due to letting go and admitting my powerlessness over my sadness. It  is turning it over to my Higher Power and letting it take care of my sadness. I can’t do anything to remove my compulsive behavior until I choose to live without it.”

***

If you happen to be part of our HOME STUDY PROGRAM OF RECOVERY, you will want to turn to page 80 of the Depressed Anonymous Workbook. Both the Manual and the Workbook come together as important tools in overcoming our attachment to the ruminations and isolation that depression brings upon us.

“All of our efforts so far in this Workbook have been directed toward overcoming  –cleaning house if you will —so that our will might be properly disposed to God’s will and that we might feel free and no longer hopeless. We know that our enthusiasm to change will grow the more we desire that change. The more we change the more  we will cast off the shackles from our lives that keep us imprisoned and isolated.”

COMMENT  Like the quote of how to eat an elephant, we also are most aware that you can’t just wish to get rid  of an obsession or addiction, it takes time and work–one day at a time. There is no easy or comfortable way to battle our demons except through work, prayer and meditation. And for me, one of the best ways to overcome my addictions is to use the 12 spiritual principles of the 12 Steps every day of my life. And again, it’s one bite, one step at a time.  Don’t wait. Do something today. Don’t tell yourself the lie, “I’ll do it when I feel better.” Take the plunge.  If there is no meeting in your  community then work with a DA sponsor/guide and participate in our HOME STUDY PROGRAM OF RECOVERY. Go to the main site depressedanon.com  menu under the title HOME STUDY PROGRAM. The program is operating presently.

****

SOURCES:   The Depressed Anonymous Workbook, (2002) Depressed Anonymous          Publications. Louisville. Page 80.

                             Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 95.

Please click onto The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore for more helpful literature on THE HOME STUDY PROGRAM OF RECOVERY  and information on how to order online.

If you would like to participate in the Home Study, please contact the director at Depanon@netpenny.net. Thank you.

 

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.

 

Spiritual Kindergarten

 

“We are only operating a spiritual kindergarten in which people are  enabled to get over drinking and find the grace to go on living  to better effect. Each man’s theology  has to  be  his own quest, his own affair.”  Letter. 1954.

*****************************************

“When the Big Book was being planned, some members thought that it ought to be Christian in the doctrinal sense. Others had no objection to the use of the word “God,” but wanted to avoid doctrinal issues. Spirituality, yes.  Religion, no. Still others wanted a psychological book, to lure the alcoholic in.  Once in,  he could take God or leave Him alone as he wished.

To the rest of us this was shocking, but happily we listened.  Our group conscience was at work to construct the most acceptable and effective book possible.

Every voice was playing its appointed part. Our atheists and agnostics widened our gateway so that all who suffer might pass through, regardless of their belief or lack of belief.”

A.A., Come of Age.

 

“We can feel a change happening…”

THE FIFTH WAY OUT OF THE PRISON OF DEPRESSION: AN EXCERPT

“Remember that an oak tree was once an acorn –recovery begins by taking one step at a time as well as reading DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS literature and regularly participating in the meetings.”

How often do we meet people in the program who want the quick fix, the easy way out, the feeling getter -now! But just as it might have taken years for the person to learn how to get themselves  depressed, it will take time and work to start to feel better. I do believe that all good growth in nature is gradual and that if we want the good growth to continue, we need to follow certain steps  to make sure this growth will continue. One of the first things that we want to do is to admit, like any  thing, person or substance to which we are attached/addicted to,  which we cannot free ourselves from the attachment by will power alone. We ask our Higher Power, this  power greater than ourselves, to free  us. We begin our recovery by meeting with our local Depressed Anonymous group and admit by our presence that we want to change.  We are dissatisfied where we are now and decide to work on ourselves so that we will feel better. By our taking one step at a time we can feel a change happening. Many people have  been depressed for years-they are in so much pain that they want relief now. The members of the group are taking full responsibility for their feelings, moods and behavior.

If you want some inspiring stories of persons who have freed themselves from the deadly grip of depression and isolation, please read their stories  in DEPRESSED ANONYNMOUS, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 110-152.

THE  HOME STUDY PROGRAM: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition is combined with another publication The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002). These two separate publications provide an individual with an opportunity to further their recovery on their own, with the possibility of getting a Depressed Anonymous  mutual aid group started in their own community. The best help for ourselves is in helping others.

Please VISIT THE STORE to discover  a plentiful resource for books dealing with depression and our 12 Step recovery program, Depressed Anonymous.

 

 

“We believe that no one can love us…”

We come to believe that if we do consider ourselves bad and worthless, we just know that no one can really love us or accept us. We just know the more we look at ourselves and our few remaining relationships, that we really aren’t accepted – people just put up with us.

“…There is  one great advantage about seeing yourself as helpless and in the power of others. You don’t have to be responsible for yourself. Other people make all the decisions and when things turn out badly you can blame other people. And things always turn out badly. You know this. That’s why you always expect the worst.” Dorothy Rowe.

Responsibility is the name of the game in recovery and it is here that we need to focus our attention.  As we get into discussion with other people who are depressed, much like ourselves, we see that they talk abut feeling better while at the same time acting on their own behalf. These people who are doing better are also talking about taking charge of their lives and doing things for themselves. In fact, at Depressed Anonymous meetings, the recovery people often delight at how assertive they are becoming now that they have gained a sense of mastery over their lives. They are also committed to their own recovery. People who want to change begin to swallow their pride and ask for help.  They get in touch with their feelings and feel!  This is truth and this is getting in touch with one’s best self. ”

___________________________________________________________________

SOURCE: Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 91.

Where do you plan to live today?

Today is all that we have. Don’t let dwelling on yesterday’s hurts and fears or about tomorrow, rob you of peace today. Contrary to what you might have thought — you are responsible for how you think and feel..”

Many of us in the program, no matter what our compulsion happens to be, prefer living in the past and/ or the next day.  We have a difficult time living through each day–it’s too risky to have to feel the pain of  the moment. But we know that the pain of the present needs to be felt if we are to reduce the lifelong misery which is ours unless we face the enemy and deal with it.  It is a promise of the program that we hand over and let God deal with us in God’s time and in God’s own way.  We know that God, with our assistance and work, our life can be straightened out. Like the old Russian saying.   “Pray, but keep rowing to shore”

Now that we have learnt how to take care of ourselves and our recovery, we now believe that we are responsible for finding our way out of depression. We can blame our sadness on our genes, hormones or a chemical imbalance. All this finger pointing can’t prevent us from having to take full responsibility for finding and using that map which points the way out of the darkness of depression. Since we have been involved in the 12 Step program of recovery we continue to learn the “how” of working our way out of sadness in the context of the fellowship of the group.

The best way to live today is to be fully conscious of the present moment and create that strong desire to be part of it.  Let’s not live in yesterday –the rent can kill you.

How often do I spend  time in tomorrow and so miss the joy of today?  I think one of the more serious occupations (aren’t  they all serious?) of the depressed is just to sit and think, and think some more about how bad life is and what awful people they are. The self-bashing makes one’s ability to change even more difficult, as continued depressive ruminations promote a great sense of unworthiness and confusion.  We feel  that we have no control over what happens in our life. Actually we are not so sure that we should care.  Everything seems hopeless. Living in yesterday is to pay some high price rent –and when you’re done paying the rent, you still have nothing to show for it.

I have to live in the here and now –I can’t run and hide in the unknown  of tomorrow  or disappear into the gloomy fog of yesterday.”

Where do you plan to live today?

Sources: Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 37-39.

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