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.

 

 

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.

 

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.

Personal empowerment step by step

It is with a personal sense of awe that I see the empowerment  that comes to those persons working the 12 Step program of Depressed Anonymous. The empowerment comes to those who  are conscious of the various ways they will have to change if their lives are to grow and  change.  This is of course not without its risks.

One of the major obstacles that we have to face when we are depressed is to be willing to change the way that we think about ourselves, our world, and our future. We have to dwell on and experience our pleasant as well as the unpleasant feelings in the present. We have to be willing to  face the discomfort of living life with a sense of unpredictability. This is not an easy task.  It is a task that can be achieved with time, patience and work.

Empowerment comes from being informed and making choices that help us change our lives for the better. When I come to a Depresseed Anonymous meeting I am making the first major step –namely, admitting  by my presence at the group meeting that my life is out of control. My compulsion to depress myself is  at the root of my inability to take the challenge of living life with  risk, hope and  enthusiasm. But how can I say that I want to depress myself?   We are NOT BLAMING ourselves but are taking resposnsibility  for our own feelings, behavior and thinking. Now that I am conscious of some negative patterns of my own thinking and behavior,  I can get on  with learning new strategies for my own healing. With the heartfelt prayer of a monk, I now understand that it is by sharing the story of my life –and with the conviction that someone is there to listen to me, that this can in  time  deliver me out of my prison of fear and sadness.

I can be empowered by taking the bull by the horn and choosing each new day, one day at a time, where I can  start   feeling  different.  I now have the support of the group –support from people who have walked where I am walking.

I am investing in myself. I am  making my recovery my highest priority.  I may have been on all the antidepressant medications and  I may have seen all the best counselors and psychiatrists and doctors, but now I am coming to a group of depressed persons, men and women–people who will understand me, not judge me,  but will support me. I investing in myself and my future. What will I find there? I will find some of the most caring people on  the face of the earth. Some of the group members will have been coming for months, and week after week,  know that they are gradually feeling different and having more good days than bad.  And it’s getting better for them.  The more meetings they attend the better they feel and the more support they receive from the fellowship.  They are feeling empowered. It’s the miracle of the group. Instead of living with a compulsion to repeat old negative and life negating thinking, we now have a compulsion to live with hope. We  now  have  a desire for a brand new way of thinking. We want to change the way we live — not just the way that we talk to ourselves.

We  are seeking out a new way to live.

I now feel that I am getting better in learning how NOT to repeat my old way of thinking and bashing myself mentally with bad feelings. I am learning how dangerous it is for me to isolate and separate myself from others.    I now know that healing all takes time and with work and patience I will get better.  For most of us, it has taken a few years to get here (depressed) so why not take  time today — focusing  one day at a timeempowering ourselves, and finding the hope and serenity that others like me are living out today in   own lives. Will you join us?

SOURCES:   Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Copyright(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

THE  HOME STUDY KIT, A COMBINATION OF BOTH DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS, PLUS THE DEPRESSED ANONMYMOUS WORKBOOK CAN BE PURCHASED TOGETHER. PLEASE CLICK ONTO VISIT THE STORE AND ORDER ONLINE.

Our basic antidote for fear is a spiritual awakening!

 

 

Antidote: “A remedy to counteract a poison.” This is the definition as given by Webster’s dictionary. Fear is truly a poison in some ways and in others it is a gift. We need to fear only that which will keep us locked in the prison of depression. Sometimes our fears are of what tomorrow might bring or might be the fears from the past. One of the better antidotes to fear is trying to live, just for today. Today is all I have.

So often I hear others say that they have been depressed all their lives until – let me repeat- until they hear other stories as to how with work, time and belief in a power greater than  themselves that they did and are feeling better now.  I need to trust that once I have made my conscious decision to turn my life and will over to the care of God as I understand him, that my life will indeed begin to change.

“I am no longer alone in my suffering depression. I believe that by getting more active in my recovery that my life will begin to brighten up.”

“We of (AA) and  Depressed Anonymous find that our basic antidote for fear is a spiritual awakening.” Bill W.

 

SOURCES:

Copyright (c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed  Anonymous Publications. Louisville. May  10. Page 95.

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

Copyright (c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2013) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

 

How do people change?

People change by facing themselves and discovering a process, a step by step process, where we begin to be aware of why we are the way we are. In THE  DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKBOOK, a companion volume to DEPRESSED ANONMYMOUS,  3rd edition, (HOME STUDY PROGRAM)  we  will  find  answers on how to change.

We learn that depression distorted us from the truths of life, namely, that life is to be lived with hope and serenity. Nursing along a good habit can in time wean us from old and debilitating  habits of thought and behavior. We want to daily fill our day with the gratitude that we are indeed getting better and that the trust we have is indeed placed in the Higher Power.

In order for us to escape depression we need to begin to be aware of the process of how people change. That process is of a nature a spiral instead of a straight line. In other words, now we are willing to risk feeling differently and we have been gearing up to improve our situation. In other words we are making a very important decision right now about our lives.

 

  1. AWARENESS STAGE: We become conscious that we can’t go on feeling the way we do. Something has to give.
  2. MOTIVATING STAGE: I am going to prepare  myself for needed changes in my thinking, acting and feeling.
  3. DOING STAGE:   I am going to take charge and be responsible for positive changed that have to be made by me if I am to feel differently.
  4. MAINTAINING STAGE: I will continue to seek out and sustain my recovery with people, concepts and my personal working of the 12 Step program for recovery.

Now apply these  four stages which serve as antidotes to our character defects (ideas and habits which continue to make us feel sad). These defects of character cause us to stay imprisoned in our prison of depression.

In the days to follow we will examine  THE FOLLOWING THREE  issues which confront the daily lives of most of us when we are depressed.

(1) BLAMING ourselves and/or others for our problems.

(2) BEING A VICTIM.

(3) ANXIETY AND INNER JITTERINESS.

For those of you who desire a more complete approach to finding what depression is, what it does to our self esteem and ways to overcome our isolation and sadness, persons  depressed  have utilized the HOME STUDY PROGRAM.

THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORBOOK, with its question and answer format,  provides a pathway leading  to the road to serenity and community. You find that others just like yourself started where you are starting and found answers to why we have become depressed in the first place.  By the time you have worked out answers to all the questions posed by the author in the WORKBOOK you may discover your best self. And, isn’t that what we all are looking for?

With the WORKBOOK, there is the DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS Big Book, 3rd edition., which is coordinated with each Step in the WORKBOOK and provides a recovery process which will complement one’s own progress in working the program

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

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

VISIT THE STORE, which lists all literature from DAP.,  and order online if you wish, the HOME STUDY PROGRAM.

I LIKE BEING A RESPONSIBLE PERSON AND I WILL NO LONGER BLAME OTHERS FOR MY SADNESS.

AFFIRMATION

Responsibility is the name  of the game in recovery and it is here that we need to focus our attention.  As we get into a discussion with other  people who are depressed  – much like ourselves – we see that they talk about feeling better while at the same time acting on  their own behalf. ” (8)

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

To blame someone else for all my problems, and to focus on someone else and not on myself, never  accomplishes anything therapeutic. I believe that as I commit myself to  my program of recovery I begin to feel a shift in the way I think and act.  I know that the only way out of my pain is to get into dealing with my sadness and the way that I sad myself.  I need to begin with Step One  and admit my problem. I need to admit that my life has become unmanageable because of my attachment  to depression.  I must remember not to blame myself for depression  – I just know that right now, today, I want out!  I tell myself I’ve had  it!  I intend to get better.

In order to change my life, I have to begin taking responsibility  for it today.  By setting a goal, just for today, I can plan some success into my life.”

MEDITATION

We know that our Higher Power wants us to live just this one day. God is neither a vengeful God nor is my God a punishing God. My God is there for me and the more I open up and trust God, I trust myself to change and be a better and more serene person.”

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SOURCE: Higher Thoughts for down days:365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications . Louisville, Kentucky  P. 69.