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 beginning to feel a change stirring in my relationships with others because I am changing. It’s all positive!

A HIGHER THOUGHT FOR YOUR DAY TODAY

AFFIRMATION

“The journey out of the prison is not just a matter of changing yourself, for in changing yourself, you change your relationship with other people.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

 As I look around me I begin to see others like myself talking the language of hope and experiencing the sometimes occasional lightening of  their mood. I know that it is in the wealth of individual interactions among members of the group that I am beginning to withdraw from my need to sad myself. I am seeing that any change in myself has a direct bearing on others and the relationship that we have with each other.

I came  to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity, and in fact, it already has. My addiction to my sadness has come more to be my habitual response to the stressful, day in and out thoughts that say that I am worthless. I am now changing these negative thoughts remembered from childhood into a new personal language that speaks to me and about me in positive ways.

I know that when I am depressed I don’t want to be around people because I felt so tired and sad. But now, the more I attempt to make new relationships and get  involved with other people, the more I desire to grow and become what I want to be. Progress is our aim and we tend to grow in little spurts, day by day.”

MEDITATION

God, we pray that our relationship with you will grow stronger day by day. (Personal thoughts)

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SOURCES:  Copyright  (c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 75.

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

 

Why does the dog chase it’s tail?

Good question. It could be for many reasons. It might have fleas. It might have gotten hurt in some way. It itches. The reasons can go on and on.

I  suggest that one of the reasons may be that the dog is unaware that its  tail is part of the dog. It is an attachment which comes with the dog. However, no matter how fast and furious the dog chases its tail the dog will never get hold of it. I gather it soon discovers this important fact!Anyway, why think about this fact here?  What has this to do with the information we normally share here at our Depressed Anonymous website.

So often as a   therapist  I have  heard  how some persons believe that their depression just came out of the blue.  You know, like the rain, snow, and stormy weather.  And ironically, I felt the same way. I just couldn’t understand how  it was that I felt so bad with no prior  warning.

In our manual Depressed Anonymous I give the reader a brief account of my own experiences with depression and how I always felt that this plague of the spirit just happened. I too felt that It just came out of the blue for no apparent reason.

Here is a little bit of what I wrote in the introduction to Depressed Anonymous and I want to share this with you now.

What it was like. More than ten years ago, I began to notice that something was very wrong with the way I was feeling. I can tell you exactly the place and the time when this terrible sadness began to swallow me up;. I felt myself, without warning, sliding down and into the dark pit from which I was not able to climb out for a year of painful months. Feelings of inner pain and numbness descended upon me, and began to rule my life.

At the time, I thought that this descent into hell came from “out of the blue” but, like all feelings we experience, I knew that because of situations in my personal past, my emotional reservoir was overdrawn. My reactions to these situations had allowed thoughts and feelings to accumulate a wealth of debt whose note had come due.

“…Looking back over my life and experiences, I discovered that my thoughts produced the feelings, the feelings produced moods and the moods produced my behaviors. The mind-body connection is never as much in evidence as it is in the human experience that we label  depression.”

In another chapter of the Depressed Anonymous book we hear Mary tell us how  she felt about her own depression experience:

“…Because of shame, Mary was never able to share her story with any of  her friends. In time, she began to think that  her feelings were disloyal to her parents, whom she felt she had to love because they were her parents.  She said she got confused because they seemed to want her around sometimes but at other times they told her what a worthless and lazy girl she was. The thing that hurt most, she said, is that she believed them. So now she wonders how this Fifth Step  applies to her when it’s her parents who need to admit their wrongs to her. Mary was puzzled. All she wants to do is to get over some of the anger that she still holds for the way her parents neglected her when she was growing up. She says that every time  she goes back home a sadness just seems to come over her -as though out of the blue -and for no apparent reason. She also says that her stomach gets all  knotted up.”

And now, why do we seem to have a mental disconnect between our  life losses and the depth of pain that we are presently suffering?

The author gives an explanation here:

“To have lost a parent  early in life, either through death or divorce can have a serious effect on the life of  a young child. Early losses in life cause a lot of hurt later on in life and many people  think that their depression just happens, out of the blue without rhyme or reason, but usually there IS  a reason and most probably it is buried deep in the unconscious because it has been too painful to look at.  It is in sharing with a trusted friend, group member or therapist that you can gradually let out the bits of the secret that has been under lock and key for years. It is also when we can be in contact with persons we trust that the hurts of the past can be revealed.”

And finally to answer our questions: why does the dog chase his tail? I honestly don’t have a clue. But what I do know that when I was depressed   I could sit and think for hours about why I   felt so miserable –but   never coming up  with the reason. No matter what avenue I went down trying to understand my present pain, I really  couldn’t stop chasing false leads and dead ends of why I was so despairing of relief.

Later, with a mind cleared of the fog of sadness, and with a new ability to process where I had been in my life, I finally began to see that nothing just  comes out of the blue. There is always a reason.

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If you would like to read more of how other members of Depressed Anonymous share their stories of recovery  in our Depressed Anonymous manual  and how they found their way out of depression.  They all discovered how their symptoms of depression didn’t just  come out of the blue.

SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 20,67, 79.

Visit The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore here at this site depressedanon.comOne may order online.

Taking pleasure in simple things

AFFIRMATION

 

I am going to make an effort today to take pleasure in  some simple  things as I did when I was a child.

“We need to get in touch with these feelings from our childhood days and try to remember when we made ourselves sad and what situation today makes us feel sad. There  sometimes is a connection between the two.  We know this return  to early childhood feelings is one of the best ways to get a beginning  in our self-healing.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I can never forget  how in the third grade I was unable to satisfactorily answer the teacher’s question to me and she immediately told me how I would never by like my brother. I had felt the blood flush to my face as I was humiliated  for not knowing the  right answer. I can still see myself standing in front of the class and feeling like I wanted to die.

The best thing that I can do to overcome the times when I want to run and hide in myself and withdraw from others , is precisely the time that I should be with someone.  I am going to promise myself when these feelings come, I will think of those different persons that I know in my recovery program and call them. When I do this the feelings gradually disappear.

I want to feel better today. In order to do so, I am going to choose to work the Steps  of my program and enjoy the fellowship whenever I am able. Whenever I go to my   Depressed Anonymous meetings, I always come out feeling better.

MEDITATION

I thank God today for all those persons in my life who support me and accept me just as I am today.

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SOURCE: Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step  recovery groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville

” We are what we repeatedly do. ” Aristotle

“It is our own real, lived experience which leads us into the prison of depression. It is not a gene, or own hormones, or our dysfunctional and illogical thinking, our lack of faith, or our complexes and inadequacies which have brought depression  upon us, it is what happened to us  and, most importantly, what we have made of what has happened to us: it is the conclusions  we draw from our experiences.

That sort  of conclusions which lead us, finally, into the prison of depression was not drawn illogically or fantastically, or crazily, but were the correct conclusions to draw,  given the information we had at the time.

If, when you were a child, all the adults whom you loved and trusted were telling you that you were bad and that if you  didn’t mend your ways terrible things would happen to you, you wisely and correctly drew the conclusions that you were bad and had to work hard to be good. If, when you were a child, all the people you loved and trusted left you or disappointed or betrayed you, you wisely drew the conclusion that you must be wary of other people and that you should never love anyone completely ever again.  You were not to know that if we grow up believing  that we are intrinsically bad, and that other people are dangerous, we shall become increasingly isolated, the joy will disappear  from our life, and that we shall fall into despair….” SOURCE: Dorothy Rowe. The Depression Handbook. Collins. London.

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I believe that in my own case what Dr. Rowe points out is so true. Our childhood experiences are so important because they set us up for how we think about ourselves as we mature. I remember vividly when I was in the 3rd grade, a teacher shamed me in  front of the whole class because I couldn’t get something right. She told me that I  would never  be like my brother whom was brilliant or my uncle who was also brilliant. For many years after when I thought about that moment in the 3rd grade I could still feel my face getting hot with shame. The worst part is that what she said that day I believed. As I grew into middle age it became important to me that what she said had no bearing on me really, as I was not my brother or my uncle. And that that was OK.