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.

 

 

Higher Thoughts today and everyday

I start my day with reflections from  Higher Thoughts for Down Days,  providing me with a spiritual and meaningful kick start for the hours to follow. This work, contains a daily Higher Thought affirmation, a meaningful reflection,   and closes with an appropriate short meditation.

Some  Depressed Anonymous groups use this daily Higher Thought for their group meeting  discussion topic.   In my effort to produce a meaningful daily  reflection  book for persons depressed, especially those of us who work  a Twelve Step recovery program,  I found this daily  approach  to be most therapeutic for those of us who are or were depressed and isolated.

Now those of us who like the electronic handheld  Kindle  ereader,  Depressed Anonymous Publications has made available a new KINDLE version of Higher Thoughts for Down Days. Not only are you able to put the meditation for that day on your screen,  you are  able to scroll through and find that particular thought which has meaning for you today.

Higher Thoughts for Down Days starts your day off with a hopeful boost, be it by way of a  hard copy of Higher Thoughts or a KINDLE version.

To learn  more about publications produced by DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS, please VISIT THE STORE at this site. It’s in your hands!

In getting my priorities straight, my depression got better.

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

On this New Year’s Day, I find that my work for my life today is to reflect on a happy period of my life  where I have experienced   happiness and contentment.  If I can’t remember such a time,  then  I will construct a situation of contentment in my mind  and just imagine it happening right now.

In my relationship to God, I am beginning to realize that it isn’t so much that I don’t believe that I’ll ever feel better, but that I just  can’t know for sure. My first  priority is to admit that I do have a problem and that with God’s help I can get through my depression.

As soon as I give up my victim stance and begin to take responsibility for my feelings and my life, I can start to work as if my recovery is really up to me and that I will in time, succeed in getting out of this deep dark hole that I call depression. My priority  is to begin each day with the conviction that the Twelve Steps will be an aid in getting out of my depression. I know and believe without a doubt that WE have a solution for depression!

MEDITATION

God, we seek your guidance and your strength for our lives. Whatever we have lost or feel we have lost, please heal the holes in our soul and fill  it with your love and peace. In our quiet time today, show us what part of us needs to be healed.”

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HAVE A NEW YEAR FILLED WITH PEACE !

VISIT THE STORE TODAY AND DISCOVER THE TOOLS THAT WILL BE THE PATHWAY TO YOUR OWN RECOVERY, DAY AFTER DAY.

An excellent tool that is highly recommended for the Depressed Anonymous  group use or individual study is the HOME STUDY KIT which is composed of Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) and The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) both published by Depressed Anonymous Publications. These two books give a complete listing of the Twelve Steps and a commentary for each Step. The Workbook provides a coordinated listing of Steps with its appropriate questions related to each Step in the Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition..

 

 

 

I can still hope…

AFFIRMATION

I am finding a way out of my sadness and just for today, I will remain hopeful!

“…We have come a long way on our journey,  for the road to coping and recovery is widening and has its obstacles, but we have all fared well, we have braved the storms and found a hope that extends beyond tomorrow.”

  CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

Even though the journey out of this darkness might be longer  than I am wanting to admit, I can still hope that the end will be in sight at some time. There is going to be a light at the end of the tunnel. With time and with work, I will get better. I have already admitted, time after time, that I need help in learning how to free myself from my need to sad  myself, day after day.   This compulsion of mine has been with me for many years, but I have hope that it will not be long until my good days begin to outnumber my bad days with depression. I have the faith of a beginner, a novice if you will, in the ways of recovery. I can’t find a way out of this depression without hope. I know that there is going to have to be a change in the way I view life if I am to get better. I am going to take responsibility for my life and begin to change!

Troubles in one’s life may cause our persistence and endurance to grow and is the reason our faith is strengthened.

MEDITATION

God, help us realize that we are part of your plan and that we have a purpose here on this earth; if for no other reason than to let others like us know that we have a place where hope starts, namely, in you.

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

THE SIMPLE ABC’s of DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS: THE 12 STEP PROGRAM OF RECOVERY

Yes, learn your ABC’s of Depressed Anonymous and you are on your way to discovering how to live with freedom and with purpose. I learned my ABC’s back in 1982 in another  12 step fellowship. It did take me a little while to get used to them but in due time everything all came together. Once  I got serious about learning my ABC’s things started to happen. I not only found the key that opened a new world of serenity and a fellowship to me,  I also have a daily plan for my life that gives me purpose and serenity to this very day. Just as day follows night I am helping others learn their ABC’s.

First of all, you might be wondering what are the ABC’s of Depressed Anonymous? And how can I learn them? Well, let me tell you about them.

Simply put, the ABC’s stand for three realities which anyone can learn. The first reality is to 1) admit that I have a problem. That is fairly easy to understand. Having a problem is what usually brings a person into our 12 Step fellowship in the first place.  We know something is happening and we know we can’t go on feeling as bad as we do. “We admitted that we were powerless over depression and that our lives had become unmanageable.” There you got it.  You just learned a bit about the A of the ABC’s — to admit. OK, I know that to admit something is out of kilter in our lives is not easy but to also know that the pain  is so great we have to take the bull by the horn and find help. We also know how scary life becomes when we feel we have no control over the way we feel and think. I know. When I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning and had this awful feeling of hollowness in my body which was unbearable I knew then that something serious, possibly deadly serious was going on. Yes,deadly serious.

It was then that I  believed that I had to take action. I had to seek help and find out what was causing my life to take a nose dive or extreme proportions.  For me to feel that I had no control over the way I felt and even to the point that I  could not get myself out of bed in the morning with will power alone, it was then that I knew what I had was serious.  I ” came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” I didn’t know what this Power was that was going to restore me but I had to find out. I sought help and finally got the help I needed. I moved the body and my mind followed. I was forcing myself out of bed a morning and started walking. For awhile I felt I was an incarnation of the movie hero, Forrest Gump. But over time I found the key to my recovery and learned how to use the C of my ABC’s. I learned how to commit myself to this Power that was greater than myself. Actually, it was my decision to commit myself to going to as many 12 Step meetings as  I possibly could. It was there that I learned to live my life. I now had a plan. I had a purpose and I made sure I was about doing the next right thing for my recovery. It has been 30 years since that day when I had to admit that I had  serious problem on my hands. I am still doing my ABC’s every day and helping others learn their ABC’s of recovery. I know the program of recovery takes time and work–but it is worth a life. Your life!

If you want to learn the ABC’s of Depressed Anonymous, it would do you well to get  to a meeting or get the  BIg  Book, DEPRESED ANONYMOUS, 3rd Edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications.  ( By the way, this book was written by a group of depressed persons who learned their ABC.s and wanted to show others a plan that worked for them.  They found HOPE. Their Personal Stories are in the book).

I CHOOSE TO THINK ABOUT THOSE GOOD THINGS THAT I SEE IN MYSELF.

AFFIRMATION

I am making a choice now to like myself and focus in  on only the good things that I see in myself. I am imagining happy situations from my past and putting myself in the happy picture so that now I can feel happy.

“Proving yourself to be a man or woman can be a positive activity of learning, exploring and discovering who you are, or it can be the meager, self-destroying activity of trying to hide what is experienced  as essential worthlessness.” (4)

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

When I attempt to avoid my feelings and to dig in deeper to what I am experiencing in the here and now, I pass up a golden opportunity for growing and for being more human.  It is only in the here and now that I live and breathe. When I try to avoid what I am feeling and continue my frenzied feeding on all the bad things that I accuse myself of, I find that my feelings of sadness get even worse.

Now, today, I am taking the risk of being responsible for my own recovery. I know that it is difficult to change my way of thinking negative thoughts. If I change it often, in time I will cling not to the awful things I say about myself but I will hang onto the positive statements I am now making about myself.

I need today to engage in activity of the positive type. I want to start a daily exercise program.  I want to write down a list of five positive qualities that I would like to have and then imagine myself possessing these qualities. (By this same time tomorrow on May 20,  we will have our five positive qualities written down and we will reflect on what we have written down. We will have more discussion on choices and feelings tomorrow here at this BLOG).

MEDITATION

God, come to our assistance and help us discover your way out of this darkness. We trust that you will there  for sure  right at this moment. We will have courage!

SOURCE: Copyright(c) Higher thoughts for down days:365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. May 19. Page 102.  (See website VISIT THE STORE  for more DA literature.)

Higher Thoughts for Down days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for 12 Step Fellowship Groups.

May 15

  AFFIRMATION

I will forgive myself for my past faults, mistakes and live just for today and try not to be afraid.

“Even without using not forgiving as a way of controlling people, taking other people’s thoughtless slights and bad temper personally and vowing never to forgive them soon leads to loneliness….If you see forgiving as something you ought not do, then when you do something wrong, you must not forgive yourself.” (7)

CLARIFICATION IOF THOUGHT

Today, I am becoming more aware of how I cannot control life because life is so broad and expansive.  The area that I do control is quite small when compared to all areas of my life. To live means to let life happen and life is spontaneous. The more we try to control our relationships, our friends and what happens  to us we short circuit any serendipitous intervention into our life today by our Higher Power.

The best place for me to experience  life and the stories of others like myself is at Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings, Al-Anon meetings, Dep-Anon Family  Group  meetings, Depressed Anonymous meetings and the many other Twelve Step program meetings.

One of those absolute truths that live in every cell of our bodies when  we are depressed is that I can never forgive myself – nor anyone else for that matter. It is this absolute truth that we hold about ourselves that continually imprisons us in our depression.

MEDITATION

Just for today, we are going to really attempt to forgive ourselves for what happened to us yesterday and act as if today, the first day and only day of our lives, that I will be a new me. We are beginning life all over today. God, let your peace fill us now, and forever.”

Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Kentucky  Page 99.

A MOST EFFECTIVE STRATEGY

AFFIRMATION

I will be a better person today than the person I was yesterday.

“The first step to change is to see  it is as possible in our scheme of things. The next step is to accept and cope with the anger and frustration that change bring ..coping with anxiety involves accepting it into awareness and permitting its full expression.  This may not lead to a comfortable stare in the short run, but in the long turn it is a most effective strategy.(6)

  CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I believe that all growth is gradual and that each day I have only twenty-four hours in which to live out my life.  In these twenty four hours I can get a lot  accomplished in my efforts to surrender my need to be dependent upon my depression. My depression will no longer be an excuse that keeps me from starting my recovery program.

I know from personal experience that my life is very different from the way that it was before I turned my life over to my Higher Power. (Step 2 of Depressed Anonymous)  Now I can live with the belief that this power is going to walk with me. I can now be assured that life is going to get better for me. It is better already.  Since this program of Depressed Anonymous is spiritual, I know that my healing of my depression is accomplished by my desire to let God, as I understand him, direct my life. (Step 3 of Depressed Anonymous).

The program  of the Twelve Steps has no pat answers  and it will not allow you to be comfortable where you are–in fact it will cause you to want to move out of the prison of your depression and into the light of daily efforts to change.

MEDITATION

God, we are aware that this day and this day alone we are going to trust in you and we will commit  ourselves to you so  that we might commit ourselves to a positive change in our attitudes.

SOURCE: Copyright: HIGHER THOUGHTS FOR DOWN DAYS. Depressed Anonymous Publications  Louisville  Page 90. May 3rd.

I DON’T HAVE TO FEEL THIS WAY!

As one person told Dorothy Rowe: “When I think of all those years I wasted being depressed, I wish  I would have listened. I’d wish I’d realized that all I had to do was say that I had enough of being put upon and put down,  feeling that there was something wrong with me. I’d like to go up to the hospital and tell everybody: ‘You don’t have to be like this.’ Up there nobody ever told me that.  I’d see those people going on and on being miserable. If I’d have seen someone like me now, it would have given me hope.”

SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous. 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications,. Louisville. P.72.

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How often do we present this message to those who enter into our world.  Our world is one of hope, possessed with the awesome reality that I am different. I have changed.  I can use my tool kit of the 12 steps to gradually dismantle and replace the negative features of my life with new directions, new behaviors and continuing to put into action those positive beliefs about who I am. The Depressed Anonymous fellowship helps us meet others who were depressed and  who now are living a full life.  We are grateful for coming into contact with those who  have a  story of hope to share. So, if you are feeling miserable and helpless, just know  that what you read here will definitely make a difference in your life. We don’t have a magic wand that will take away your pain but we do have a step by step recovery process that can  lighten your load and give you courage to live one hour, one 24 hour period at a time. You are no longer alone. No “snap out of it” from our group. You can make your decision today to join us and  begin a journey that can  lead you eventually  to say,  “I don’t have to be like this.” I did!

Hugh

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DECIDE TO CHANGE? WILL I FEEL BETTER? I HAVE TO KNOW FOR SURE BEFORE I CHANGE!

TO LIVE IS TO CHANGE

To live is to change. I choose to live with uncertainty today so that I can live with hope today.  I choose to monitor all the negative and unpleasant things I say to myself today.

“TRUSTING MEANS ACCEPTING UNCERTAINTY, AND THAT IS NOT ONE THING THAT YOU ARE PREPARED TO  DO.” (3)

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

How often do I hear others who were once depressed say that it is only when they become vulnerable –that is, trusted others, that their lives took a turn for the better.  So often, because of my need to completely control past, present and future, I can give my trust to no one else, including God.  I must live my life with total certainty which the certain sad feeling of depression assures me, that what always  has been (sadness) always will be.

To believe that my depression will never lift is to possess  an irrational belief like saying the sun will never shine again because the sky has been overcast for days. It is living with certainty that gets me so depressed.

MEDITATON

God, we want to begin today to trust you with our lives. We hear others who work the Twelve-Step program claim   a new feeling of hope for their lives when they begin to live with trust in their Higher Power. We accept your plan for us today. We surrender our will to you now –we’ve only got our depression to lose. ”

Again we can’t promise anything about what will happen if you decide to change.  I just can talk about my own experiences with depression. The only thing I knew was that I had to do something–I had to take responsibility for my life–I didn’t know for sure that my walking everyday and forcing myself out of bed a morning would make a difference in my mood. I didn’t know for sure that the Twelve Step Promises would work for me. I just knew that I was vulnerable and was willing to live with that uncertainty that possibly the sun would shine again for me. I just believed that if I moved the body–the mind would follow behind (which it did) and soon my own uncertainty about me ever feeling different than my everyday sadness–changed into hope as I did feel different. The fog of my depression did lift. I was almost caught up in one of those six immutable beliefs that Dr. Rowe speaks about, namely, “since bad things happened to me in the past, bad things will happen to me in the future.”  The certainty of this belief will definitely hinder us from taking responsibility for our lives.

Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for Down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. 1993, 1999. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. 40217. (p. 53))