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.

 

 

The difference between depression and despair is…

The difference between depression and despair is that despair is static, whereas depression, underneath its lassitude, is all about transformation. Depression is a temporary opting-opt, to enable you to adjust to life more successfully. The process has its own dynamic, like water, and you can float on its surface, if you trust its buoyancy.

Despair is much more  dangerous because it insists on a fixed position. Even when adopted as part of an intellectual fashion, it doesn’t  allow for a way out of its own stance.  It won’t release you, as depression  does, as a matter of course. No doubt it has its pleasures, but it’s a mask that merges eventually with your face..

When despair is a statue, depression is a waterfall.

For wisdom moves more easily than motion itself; she is so pure she pervades and permeates all things…she is but one, yet can do all things, herself unchanging, she makes all things new.”

The Wisdom of Solomon, Chapter 7: 24-25, 27. The Apocrypha. The Revised English Bible.

* Comment: “…depression is a temporary opting out..” is a great way to say that I am no longer able to stay focused on what is before me…only what is past and what lies in the future. I cannot and will not stay in the present. My opting out is a way of saying I am attempting to  gather my thoughts and senses, so that I can figure out why I feel the way I do and what is the way out for me. I need this time away from me and my pain to lick my wounds.  I was trying to escape and run from whatever was  chasing me.

Hugh

A remedy for depression

 

” Years ago, Dr. Alfred Adler prescribed this remedy for depression to a patient: “You can be healed if every day you begin the first thing in the morning to consider how you can bring a real joy to someone else. If you can stick to this for two weeks, you will no longer need therapy.”  Adler’s “prescription,” of  course, is not much different than the suggestion that we work more intuitively The Program’s Twelve Steps to rid ourselves of depression. When I am depressed, do I keep my feelings to myself? Or do I do what friends in The program have suggested that I do?  (Author’s emphasis)

Today I pray

May  I turn myself inside out, air out the depression which has been closeted inside me, replace it with the comfortable feeling that I am cared about by real friends, then pass along that comfort to others caught in the same despair.

Today I will remember

The only real despair is loneliness.

SOURCE:   A DAY AT A TIME.   Hazeldon.  September 10

“We’ve got work to do.”

 

When my grandson  was  3 years old  and older he would always say “papa, we ‘ve got work to do. ”  When he would see me with a hammer in my hand or a can of paint and ready to work on some repair project around our house,   without fail he would always be willing to pitch  in and do his part. As a little guy he always seemed so much older than what he was because of his strong desire to help his papa. He is 19 today and now he is doing his own  work. But not surprising is his continued willingness to help me when he can. Now that I am in recovery, thanks to our Depressed Anonymous program of recovery  and  after these many  years,   I am still free from depression.  I attribute that  this freedom is due to what I did learn  when I was depressed and continue using these tools on  every basis. I have found  that it does take some work to get through the darkest periods of the depression. It also takes a supportive group of men and women who know what we know,  and feel what we have felt when depressed.

Every meeting that we attend, and every step that we take on the road of our recovery, we find the fog lifts, the desire  to live again returns. Not all at once–but in short spurts – the fog lifts and we feel the hope churning in our hearts and minds.  And at every Depressed Anonymous meeting we hear the following words read from HOW DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKS.

“You are about to witness the miracle of the group. You are joining a group of people who are on a journey of hope and who mutually care for 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 your 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 wand and the  easy formula for success. We believe  that to get out of the prison of depression takes time and work.

And so at each and every Depressed  Anonymous meeting the group listens as we hear  what it will take to escape  from the prison of depression. ”

Also, at every meeting of the fellowship we hear how by using the spiritual tools, our Twelve Steps, we can gradually find the path that will that can lead us out into the light of freedom. We come to believe that a power greater than ourselves  can restore us to sanity. And then we make a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God as we understand God.”

SOURCE:  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Page  67.

PLEASE VISIT THE STORE for more info on depression and ways to free ourselves from the agony of sadness.

Go to Groups on Menu to see if there is a DA group in your State or LOCATED  outside the USA.

 

 

 

” 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.

I WAS ALWAYS THE ONE WHO HELPED OTHERS. NOW I WAS TOLD I NEEDED HELP!

“My life is joyful. The blackness –  the despair – withdrawing more and more into myself – the hopelessness – there was NO joy and I could no longer pretend. My husband said, “You need to get some help.”  I knew that he was right but I was always the one who helped others.  Our newspaper carried a listing of all the support groups in the community and I found the notice for a 12 Step Depressed Anonymous group.  I had never heard of it before but I knew it fit.  The group was just forming and was there when I needed it. I had knowledge of 12 Step programs and actually believed that I lived that life. Today I know that I had a head-knowledge but today I live the 12 – Step life…”   Lois, in her Personal Story in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.  (2011) Pages 110-111. (More from Lois tomorrow)

YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE YOUR LIFE PARKED IN NEUTRAL!

I just returned from a combined (Edenton and Elizabeth City, North Carolina) Depressed Anonymous fellowship  workshop which I was asked to give. It was an all day workshop, with morning open to the public and then the  afternoon sessions committed to the two groups speaking to each other about their own personal experiences with the Twelve Steps and how their lives have changed since being part of these two groups.

These groups both were formed right before Christmas 2014. Both groups now have a strong presence in their communities because those in recovery now want  to “carry this message to those  who are still suffering from depression.” This is the bottom line for all of us who have found hope and healing in practicing and putting the spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps  into our daily lives. Hope is what we are sharing. You don’t have your life parked in neutral.

“THE MOST COMMON FORM OF DESPAIR IS NOT BEING WHO YOU ARE! ”  —  Soren Kierkegaard

”  Depressed Anonymous is a spiritual  program where you will find people like yourself, honestly, openly and willingly dealing  with their character defects (staying isolated) and gradually admitting that they have to change their lives and lifestyle, if they are going to be a whole and honest human being.  The decision is yours. You make the choice!  The Twelve Steps and your own personal story can now be shared with others and can help them in their own life’s journey. Give the hope that you have now with those who have lost hope. Build it  (mutual aid) and they will come! ”

Source: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 108-109.

I witnessed the “miracle  of the group” again this past Saturday in Edenton, North Carolina when the participants of both fellowship groups came together and shared their stories of how they moved into drive and  out of neutral. I thank  all you beautiful people in North Carolina as you continue to work your program of recovery! You are becoming who you really are and whom God means for you to be!

BEAGLES/RABBITS/CIRCLES

What do beagles, rabbits and circles have in common?  I know you must be curious. Well, first of all, let me tell you that when I was growing up in a small community in Indiana, my Grandpa took my brother and I hunting. We hunted a lot. We mainly hunted squirrels and rabbits.  Grandpa also had some great help when hunting the rabbits. He had the assistance of Red and Dukie. They were awesome beagles!   When you are out in the wild hunting rabbits it always helps to have your helpers stirring up trouble. That is where the beagles come in. They always made things happen. When you heard the beagles with their high pitch cries you just knew the rabbits had been found out. Here is where the circle come in. Maybe you are aware or maybe you are not aware that when rabbits are running away from danger, they appear  to run in a circle. How do I know this? My grandpa told me. So one morning we three, my brother, Grandpa and myself heard Red and Dukie starting  their high pitched cries, Suddenly through the opening in the brush, two rabbits whizzed past, right in front of us. Then here come the beagles in hot pursuit right behind them.  Grandpa told me to stand on a stump facing the opening. He told us that they might come back this way. The cries of the beagles grew faint —  but not for long, as Red and Dukie’s cries started to increase in volume. And then, presto!  first one rabbit came through the brush, and then the second, I raised my shotgun,  fired a shot  at the second rabbit and missed. Those rabbits for some reason made a full circle and there they were again. I missed my chance.

So that was the day when I learned how some animals, who knows maybe all animals tend to run in circles. I do know that when I had gotten lost hunting squirrels and thought I was heading away from where I started I found myself back in the spot at which I started. What is it I thought? Why do we go in circles–does it have to do  with a dominant foot always turning us left or right?

Somebody smarter than me will have to help me here with this one.

With my symptoms of depression, I too keep circling trying to figure out in my head why I am depressed. The more I spiral downward in the unending circle of despair, the more I return  to those many places I have been before. None of these places gave me comfort or answers to the why I am depressed–only the fact that I have been here before. The mind when burdened appears to run in circles as well. What’s chasing us?

Hugh