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.

 

 

“All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.” Michael John Bobak

 

How many times have we said “I’ll do it when I feel better(2016). ”  We all know that any new endeavor or activity in our behalf would definitely put us outside our “comfort zone.”  Any movement toward  walking out of our isolation is still too much of a risk. Depressed people do not want to take risks, especially as it involves change of    one’s lifestyle or behaviors.  We feel most comfortable staying parked in neutral! It’s better to know what we have than to  not know and get something for worse. We now know that to make progress in our lives and to live without depression we have to move courageously out of our comfort zone.

The following statement, How Depressed Anonymous Works,  is read at every Depressed Anonymous meeting and we quote it in full.

“You are about to witness the miracle of the group. You are joining a group of people who are in a journey of hope and who mutually care about each other. You will hear how hope, light and energy have been regained by those who were hopeless and in a black hole and tired of living.

By our own involvement in the group we are feeling that there is hope – there is a chance for me too -I can get better. But we are not the people with the magic pills and the easy formulas for success.  We believe that to get out of the prison  of depression takes time and work.

We have all been  wounded in different degrees by the experience of depression.  We also know that there is a method to regain control over our lives that is practical and workable. It is successful for all those who want to change their lives. Some of us believed that there was no hope and that suicide was the only way out.

In this natural world one of the first laws is that all growth is gradual -that belief is the bottom line for all of us who are depressed and who want to get better. The  more  we attend meetings the more we will learn and see the various ways to escape from depression. We also learn how important it is  to not give up on ourselves.” (Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Page 182. Appendix A.)

 JIM MOVES OUT  OF THE COMFORT ZONE

“…The group members all expressed to Jim ( a new member to  DA) how they each had made a  mental decision to turn their lives and their depression over to the Higher Power because they had no place to go but up. It was this  to the Higher Power or God as we understood God that was the beginning of the overcoming of some people’s addiction to the comfort of their depression. They are now ready and willing to live with some hope. In time Jim got in touch with his anger and shared it with people who accepted it, and so was able gradually to move out of the shell that kept him from the hope that life would ever be different for him. The depressed person just believed and takes on faith that he/she will always be depressed and sad. Now that negative belief of being depressed forever has  to be reframed and we have to tell ourselves that if we have a positive faith our life will be better and we will begin to see changes. Many times we get what we choose when it comes to our personal feelings.”

Depressed Anonymous. Pages 57-58.

In the Chapter Eleven we read more about  the COMFORT ZONE

” Every so often we come into contact with a person, place or circumstance that causes some uncomfortableness and we start to withdraw into the comfort of our depression. It is here that we have dumped our trust  of the Higher Power and choose the comfort of our sadness  instead.” DA. Page 112.

“…For us who find sadness our second nature we at times continue to revert to the comfort of old familiar negative thinking and are in actuality returning to self destructive activity. Sadness is overcome by hope.” DA. Page 124.

For the 31 Personal Stories of those persons who no long find depression a comfort and have since left the prison of their own depression, please click onto our Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore and read for yourself the amazing stories of these 31 people in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011)  Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville. Personal Stories, pages 128-176.

For those who would like to order any of our publications, you now can order online.

Today is decision time! You can do something for yourself today

 

“Made a decision to turn our will and our life over to the God of our understanding. ” Step Three of Depressed Anonymous.

“Every decision that we make alters the world of meaning which we have created. Deciding to eat Puffed Wheat instead of Corn Flakes for breakfast may not be a major change, but abandoning ‘I am bad  and  unacceptable ‘ and replacing it with ‘I accept and value myself’ is.  Every decision you have made since you decided that you were bad and valueless was based on that decision.  Now, all these conclusions need reviewing and changing.”  Higher thoughts for down days. August 3rd. pg.155.  And D.  D. Rowe’s  BREAKING THE BONDS.

“In Step Three we have to make a decision. We don’t have to feel holy or extra nice but that we only have to make a decision – that is hard for someone who is depressed but it can be done. There is an old saying which goes like this: “Have a nice day unless you made other plans. ”

I want to really begin to turn things over to the God of my understanding. In Depressed Anonymous we call this God our Higher Power.

AS Bill W., (Co-founder of AA) tells us

“We realize we know only a little.  God will constantly disclose more to you and to us.  Ask Him in your morning meditations what you can do each day for that person who  is still depressed.  The answers will come, if your own house is in order. (See Step Four).

But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the great fact for us.”

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

PS.  WHAT PLANS HAVE YOU MADE FOR TODAY?

The goose who missed his flight! Almost.

Albert Schewietzer shares a wonderful story about one creature caring for another. He makes this an example of how we all can have a “reverence for all life.” This is his story.

”  It happened in a park where a flock of wild geese had settled to rest on a pond. One of the flock of wild geese had settled to rest on  a pond. One of the flock had been captured by a gardener, who had  clipped its wings before releasing it.  When the geese start to resume their flight, this one tried,  frantically, but vainly, to lift itself in the air. The others, observing his struggles, flew about in obvious efforts to encouraghe him, but it was no use. Thereupon, the entire flock settled back on the pond and waited, even though the urge to go on was strong within them. For several days they waited until the damaged feathers had grown sufficiently to permit the goose to fly.  Meanwhile, the unethical gardener, converted by the ethical geese, gladly watched them as they finally rose together and all resumed their long flight.”

SOURCE: Albert Schweitzer:  Essential writings, (2005)   Orbis Books. New York. Page 164.

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I love this story. So true about all living creatures, it’s in our  DNA to care for those  who are the weakest.  Even the geese knew it was for them to be sure this little goose was not going to be left behind..no matter what. And so they waited…and waited some more, till  he was able and  ready to fly with the rest of them. As they say in the military, “We got your back.”

I believe that the story about the goose who couldn’t fly is much like the stories you and I have shared. In other words, I too have had the time when I was isolated, alone and motionless. I was totally immobilized by fatigue, fear and shame.

I became imprisoned. The key out of this prison eventually was found and I was free. I was free because of others who just like me had once  succumbed to the belief that they were worthless, useless and  hopeless. And thank God they came to my rescue and helped me learn to live again without the weight of depression forcing me to the dirt. And there you have it. They helped me, step by step, to sort things out in my life and I was able to not only live life again, but I also learned a lot about living the Twelve Step recovery way. Now we have Depressed Anonymous fellowship recovery groups  where we  are able to share our hope, strength and experiences.  If you are feeling stranded and alone, join us and fly with us.

 

 

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))