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.

 

 

“Hope is Something more, Someone more, so keep going!”

In Man’s  Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl describes  how hope is a key to survival and the heart amid the horrors of a concentration camp. The prisoner who was able to find meeting – in nature, in the memory of a loved one, and a generous act – would more likely not to give up. When we hope, in whatever circumstance, the future we long for comes closer, an experience of mind and heart that sustains us now and impels us forward.

Thomas Aquinas named hope as a theological virtue. It is a gift from God that we receive now, fueling our journey to a fuller union with God. Hope is the way God encourages us. It stirs up memory of God’s abiding faithfulness. Hope expands our vision beyond the immediate horizon. It breaks open our heart to dispel fear. It stokes our imagination to realize unexpected opportunities. Hope whispers, or shouts, when we need it “There is Something more, or Someone more, so keep going!”

Hope is not sentimental optimism. Optimists to easily escape reality, denying challenges in making promises that the are hard to keep. When we hope, we face reality because God is found in what is real. We know that things  may not turn out as we want, but we strive  valiantly nonetheless.  God is faithful, we insist, so there is meaning even in the toughest and most unexpected circumstances.

When we hope, we live generously and gratefully in the present because deep down we know that all will be well – not perfect, but well. With every word or deed steeped in  hope, the future opens up to reveal a present beyond our imagining. ”

Source:  Fr. Kevin O’Brien

The Ignatian  Adventure: Experiencing  the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in Daily Life.

 

Kevin O’Brien, SJ, is Dean of this Jesuit school of theology of Santa Clara University he is author of the nation adventure: experiencing the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius and daily life.

 

“Only by sharing my pain can I hope to reduce its size.”

Empowerment and prevention are two realities that give us the push and the power for talking day after day with persons still suffering from depression. I know that some who hear about us will go with an expectant faith that they will find hope and peace in this group(Depressed Anonymous).  This hope in itself may keep them from sliding down the slippery slope of depression. Life is too short and the pain so devastating.  Only by sharing my pain can I ever hope to reduce its size.

Today I can experience hope. I will believe I can live this day with pleasant thoughts. I will do one activity that will give me hope and light for today.

Today I will believe that I can live this entire day “hopeful” and that I can return to the above activities anytime and as many times as I need,  just for today.”  

SOURCE: I will do it when I feel better. (2016) . Louisville.  Page 70.  Quoting from  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011)Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 136.

 

THE FEELINGS OF USELESSNESS AND SELF-PITY DISAPPEAR. THIS IS A PROMISE OF DA.

Why do I continue the work of bringing hope to those still suffering?  What motivates me to continue to try and help others?  What has made the change in my life where now I  want to share what I know and how I feel? Basically, I know that the program  of recovery works. I no longer feel powerless over my depression.  In Depressed Anonymous  group meetings members speak my language. We see how useless it is to waste time to  look back over our shoulder to see if the dark shadow of my own inner fears are going to overtake me. I now have attained small amounts of hope and strength as I go from day to day. I am prepared for those moments of despair that at times overtake me and cause me to feel paralyzed and out of control.

In the First Step “we admitted we were powerless over depression and that our lives had become unmanageable.” It is a paradox that it is in the admission that our lives are out of control that we begin to take control of our lives.”

Source: I’ll do it when I feel better. Depressed Anonymous Publications.(2013) Louisville. Pages 42-43. Promise # 6.The feelings of uselessness and self-pity disappear.