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 am certain that our life doesn’t always have to remain the same.

I am willing to live in the uncertain moment and focus on the now, not yesterday’s  now or tomorrow’s now.

“So  if we are to make changes in our lives we must be courageous. Such courage can be found relatively easily in two kinds of situations. When we are certain that the new situation in which we shall find ourselves will bring us every advantage and happiness.

  1. When we are certain that the situation we are leaving is totally and absolutely  bad.

2. Thus, if the new situation promises perfection, or if the old situation is totally imperfect, we have  certainty, and, if there is one thing you crave when you are depressed, it is certainty.”

Copyright(c) Breaking the Bonds –Dorothy Rowe

“The only certainty that I have today is that if I want to free myself from  the attachment that I have to sadness, I must be willing to risk giving up the certainty that my life will always remain the same. I know that it is only by living with some uncertainty, that my life can be lived with any hope.”    Copyright (c)  Higher Thoughts for Down Days.

My own experience with depression plus the  fear that my depression pain would always be with me, had me totally imprisoned.  In  fact, it was this fear which got me motivated to change – to do anything that could  release me from its deadly clutches. I didn’t have a clue  why I wanted to sleep all the time, sudden loss of memory, unable to concentrate, thinking hopeless thoughts, always wanting to sleep and a rapid weight loss. I felt that I had fallen into some deep and dark pit.

I was no longer my “happy go lucky self.” Always positive and upbeat.  Always feeling confident. And then, the fog began to settle in on my life. My mind was like it was made out of cotton. Also, like many people who suffer the same as myself, the symptoms are all pretty much the same, and with different intensities.  And for some, the painful and hopeless feelings of depression can be a real life threatening situation.  That is why I write this BLOG, to give others hope that they too don’t have to go it alone. We, the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous are here to help. You are not alone!

In time, all I wanted to do after a days work, was to come home and go to bed. I was beginning to feel more and more isolated as my world  became uninteresting and without appeal. All the pleasant things and activities which in the past had energized me,  had all  lost their power to lift my spirits. I felt paralyzed. And worthless.

In a short period  of time, I grew frightened as to what my life was becoming as I grew more and more isolated. Since I didn’t know what I had I didn’t really know what to do.

I got motivated. I walked everyday. Five miles. Every day. No change came right away. Then those insidious thoughts such as “you are losing your mind, ” or “you’re going crazy. You have a brain cancer which is making you feel sad, hopeless and helpless.”

After many months, and many miles, I felt that the mental fog and physical  pain was gradually disappearing until one day I realized that I began to feel like my old self , with hope and the old familiar upbeat feeling that I had always lived with. My first thought when this happened, the fog lifting, I told myself “this won’t last.” And I was right. It didn’t. But I kept on walking and the fog completely disappeared over time. I was free once again. It was like a night and day experience all bundled up together in my brain. Finally, with work,  time and talking to the  fellowship members of Depressed Anonymous, I found the necessary tools to keep me from relapsing.  And now, others are learning how they too can follow our path and get the relief and the answers they need to work their way out of depression.

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You can read more of my own thoughts about how to leave the prison of one’s own depression in DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS, 3rd edition. (2011)Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

The Criteria of Emotional Maturity –William C. Menninger MD

  • The ability to deal constructively with reality.
  • The capacity to adapt to change.
  •  A relative freedom from symptoms that are produced by tensions and anxieties.
  •  The capacity to find more satisfaction in giving than  receiving
  • The capacity to relate to other people in a consistent manner with mutual satisfaction and helpfulness.
  • The capacity to love.