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.

 

 

Depressed Anonymous. Pollyanna or the real deal ?

Is Depressed Anonymous the real deal or is it just too good to be true. Are we much like the novel character Pollyanna, over optimistic about everything or are we the realists who take life on lives terms and then deal with it the best way that we can. For all of us who are program people we know the answer to that question.

The best way to deal with any problem or life situation  is to face it squarely and deal with it.  Feelings and all have to be felt, looked at and then dealt with. Take it from me and the  many others who come into our program depressed and who discover that we are not the” pie in the sky “people,  the people with the magic potions or the magic wand wafted over  our heads. But, we are the solution focused folks who will help you build a program that will last a lifetime, giving hope, with a fellowship of hopeful people with whom one can always be in contact with.

One of the areas of life that the depressed has not much experience with is to be like  little  Pollyanna of Porter’s  novels.  Most times the gloom that settles in our minds and heart are those feelings of despair and darkness which we are unable to shake off. It’s that feeling of hopelessness, the feeling of being completely helpless as we gradually make our whole existence one of inner pain  and anxiousness. We can’t sleep–or we sleep too much. We eat too little or we overeat.   Our life is lived out in what feels like a prison cell. It’s a prison without bars, granted, but we cannot  leave it just because we will to.  Will power is initially useless. I know, I tried that route. The Depressed Anonymous fellowship is one of the means which provide  us with a key–a way to leave this prison of isolation.

And then here comes this group called Depressed Anonymous.  Why go to a  group of people who are depressed and listen to stories  about their sense of futility and oppression? That would be depressing! That is, unless they are using in their lives the 12 spiritual principles of Depressed Anonymous. This is the  blueprint which build one step at a time the rest of the structure  that, like the Alcoholic, overeater, all build a structure that can  last a life time. Once they are onboard and begin using Steps for their own personal recovery to build a new life of hope, no adversity can force them to go back to their old and addictive behaviors.

The depression experience is what brings them into our fellowship and it is here that hope is gradually restored. But please, we don ‘t have the easy answers or  magic pills, or the magic wand to make our pain go away.  What we do is provide a plan, a blueprint if you will, a daily dose of hope with a lively  fellowship, sponsors and literature.

There is no sugar coating here. No whitewashing the pain of an individual depression experience. But just like the alcoholic who makes a commitment to keep from alcohol one day at a time, we too have the same program. We come in and decide that yes, I have a problem,  and yes  I will do all in my power,  plus with the ever present  God of my understanding,  change what needs to be changed in my life, one  day at a time.  This is the real deal. And so won’t you join us in this program of recovery and make the effort to discover how you too can live a life of hope and happiness.

Hugh

 

 

Does mid-life = half-life?

I accepted that God, as the God of my understanding is loving and forgiving. The 12 Step group and our God is the pillar of our strength and healing. The #2 STATEMENT OF BELIEF  of Depressed Anonymous.

In  depression the first thing that we must do is to take charge of our lives and incorporate a planned pleasant activity in our daily lives.  If  I don’t, I will continue to linger on alone and live a half-life. Nothing beyond my reach can absorb my pain of isolation and feeling worthless. This is especially true for many of us in mid-life where the dreams we once thought possible  remain stillborn. We seem to have lost the time to do something positive with our lives. We feel stuck. I want to get involved with  a  fellowship of persons who are learning new ways of living with a sense of purpose. We want to live our lives  with hope.  Step  Two of Depressed Anonymous states that “we came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. We will “let go and let God.”

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Comment: I am thinking this  morning and attempting to clarify some of my thinking about having a purpose for my life. I remember that it was at the  mid-life point of my life (45 years) where my life  gradually screeched to a   halt.  That is when my life, plummeted down to the   half-life point. My life’s meaning, instead of providing hope and purpose drew my resources down until the only purpose that I could envision was to try and get out of bed in the morning.  My concentration was focused–but only on my pain. Another way of looking at it is using  the   metaphor of looking at the gas gauge on your car’s dash and seeing that it reads empty.

When I discovered a group of people, just like myself, in the 12 Step recovery program  did my life began to happen. My experience with depression and living daily  the recovery process has provided me with a wealth of purposeful living and meaning. My half-life became a very full  life. Everyday I am blessed to be able to communicate with person depressed, be it locally or from the far corners of  the world. Whether it is with emails, SKYPE or to meet  face to face with fellow members sharing their  experiences and who are  desiring a  way out of their depression.

I know from personal experience that mid-life or really any part of one’s life  there may be a need for a reexamination of what our life is about and possibly for it to take a more purposeful direction. And no matter where our life stands today we are always poised on making it purposeful and filled with meaning. A full life is one filled with hope, service to others while embedded in a fellowship of persons like ourselves. For myself today, I know it is my fellowship group, Depressed Anonymous.

Take the plunge if you like and find out how you too can have a life filled with purpose, service to others like yourself, and part of a dynamic Depressed Anonymous 12 Step group.

SOURCES:  (c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

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

 

“We can’t blame it on our genes, hormones or a chemical imbalance.”

AFFIRMATION

I am taking full responsibility for myself and I am making a commitment to my own health and healing.

“Now that we have learned that we have to take care of ourselves and our recovery that we begin to look at the way we think and feel.  Even though we don’t want to blame ourselves for having been depressed most of our lives, we know now that we are responsible for finding a way out of this depression. We can’t blame it on our genes, hormones or a chemical imbalance.

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I am aware for the first time since I have been working my program that my thinking is cyclical in that my negative thoughts constantly keep going around and around in circles. I have found that I need to stop the negative self-destructive thinking that has dogged me most of my life. I am able to break the cycle of hurt and my own self-inflicted pain and come to my senses. I do have some good things going for me and I plan to use these good character traits as building blocks for a future filled with hope.

I am learning to take good care of myself. I am more interested in my own self-care than  I am of what others around me want or need.  I am not being selfish as much as I am being concerned about my own growth and development. In the Third Step we declare that  “we made a decision to turn  our wills and our minds over to the care  of God as we understand God.  To be in the care of someone means that they are concerned about us and are burdened with a concern for us.

MEDITATION

“Restore our fortunes, O God, like the torrents in the southern desert that those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing. Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves. ” Psalm  126.

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