Moods produce feelings and feelings produce behavior

AFFIRMATION

I am going to believe that today is all I have and when I begin to feel better, I will not kill this feeling by telling myself that it won’t last. I will refrain from criticizing myself now.  I do have a choice. All of the Twelve Steps ask us to go contrary to our natural desires…they all deflate our egos. When it comes to ego deflation, few steps are harder to take than Step Five. (10).

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

The other night at a Step meeting one of the participants suggested that the reason she continued to stay depressed was the fact that she was still  living a life that came natural to her. In other words, she was still continuing to think the what she always thought in the past.  Now that she is living and working a program that is spiritual, her natural inclinations are not the driving force in her life. Her natural way of living kept her depressed. Her recovery program of living  in the Twelve Steps is providing her with some serenity.

Hugh’s comment

I want to add my comments here in response to the Depressed Anonymous participant quoted above. When she started to feel better she would put herself down–much like I did when I was beginning to feel better.  When my sad mood was beginning   to lift, my  first reaction was to tell myself “it’s not going to last,” which shot that good feeling  down almost immediately. I got hooked back  onto my old natural self of negativity and hopelessness.  It took me a while to get back on  track.  I realized that I scuttled myself. I had always scuttled myself with a running diatribe  against my self. And when I finally got free of my natural inclinations to beat myself up, primarily by living out in my daily life  the spiritual recovery program of the Steps. I also began   participating in the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous. I began to listen, not to my natural self, but to the  Steps of recovery,  now armed with the  spiritual armor provided to me,  I began the reconstruction of my life–one day at a time.

In a helpful look at depression and mood, Jonathon Rottenberg  tells us that

“Our perspective here is that, although depression’s pain is never entirely welcome, moods offer meaningful information about our status and prospects in the world. Without trivializing  how difficult it would be to “listen to depression” to extract evolution’s warnings, to find the signal amid the pain, this listening particularly in its aftermath, can be a vehicle to foster rebirth and transformative life change. Certainly it will be difficult to learn from depression if we don’t listen at all.”  (The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic. Basic Books. NY.2014. Page 195.)

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It is intended that my life be filled with hope and commitment to myself so that I can live out my life with a peace that overcomes fear. “To admit to  God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.” (Step Five).

This is not the natural way to live. The naturel way to live is to deny that we have a problem. The more I work and live out my program, the better I am beginning to feel.

MINDFULNESS

We believe that the God of our understanding will help us visualize ourselves as happy and free persons. We will visualize in our mind all the good things that can happen to us if we believe that they can.  If God is with us and cares for us, why worry? (Personal  comments).

SOURCES: Copyright(c)  Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for Twelve Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Kentucky. Pages 169-170.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. (1998,2008, 2011). Depressed ANONYMOUS  Publications. Louisville. Ky.

 

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.