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.

 

 

I will face my fears!

I will take another small step in my own recovery  and face any uncomfortable  fears that arises. I will face it and let go.

“I had to surrender to God, quit controlling everything and everyone, including God.  Let go and let God.” (8 )

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

To think of letting go of my depression is like telling a drowning man to let go of his life jacket. When we have been depressed for so many years and this is all we know, we don’t know what to make of someone telling us to let go and surrender this experience to God.

I also know that for me to be in control, either by my sadness at home or my attempts to control every member of the family, I know that this keeps me from having to face all the pain in my own life. My thoughts don’t flow the way other peoples’ thoughts flow. My thoughts continually flow in a stream of heavy blackness. The blackness has always been part of my life and I feel that there is no way to escape it.  The only way out for me now is to “admit that I am powerless over my depression and that my life is unmanageable.”

I know that in the program there is much talk about giving over one’s life to a Higher Power and letting it guide us.  It’s somewhat like we are going down the road of life and we see a large narrow bridge which is spanning a river before us. We see the bridge and  can even see the other side but instead of crossing over we get out of our car, go down the embankment and begin to swim across to the other side. Depression and our own feelings of unworthiness won’t allow us to risk a way out of our sadness. Like so many life situations, the answers are hidden there in plain sight.

 

MEDITATION

We used to believe that our God was a God of wrath. We needed to believe that,  because we were feeling so bad, evil, worthless and unacceptable about ourselves. Now we believe God’s supply of love is endless. (See Step #3).

“A rock in a rocky sea which we all hold onto.

“Remarkable things happen to us when we are willing to admit defeat and talk about our powerlessness over our depression and how our lives had become unmanageable. This first step is the beginning of the flight of steps that takes us up and into our new way of living.  At our fellowship of Depressed Anonymous we talk hope, we act hopeful, and we think hope. We learn that our thinking depressed and negative  thoughts might have gotten us in the shape that we are in today.  What you think is what you become. 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. Hope is overcome by  sadness.

When we become convinced that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, we found ourselves turning many times during a twenty four hour period to that power.  It is a rock in a rocky sea that we all hold onto when we find it easier to just give up and sadden ourselves instead of facing the storm and living through the fear. What Bill W., said about the alcoholic applies equally to the saddict: “He or she can settle for mediocrity and self-satisfaction even though this may indeed prove to be a precarious perch. Or he/she can choose to go on growing in greatness of spirit and action.”

You never stop using and following the steps of the program. We are  in recovery all our lives. You don’t graduate. When we return to saddening ourselves, we return to the old compulsion that can again reduce us to that bankrupt individual who is bereft of peace and hope. We want to grow in the conviction that the Higher Power will restore us to sanity. One of the best ways to grow out of our  saddiction  is to start acting the healer instead of being the passive victim.  We are under the care of no one except our God.

This spiritual awakening is enhanced even further when we make a decision to turn our wills and our minds over to the care of God. Without a doubt this is a very big step for many people to trust anybody – and now especially to trust a God who they have spent a lifetime fearing. It is this decision which allows us to feel freedom when  we start to practice the daily turning over of our will to God. It frees us up and as we pray and listen in our meditation times, we find that our spiritual capacity to connect with the Higher Power is greatly magnified.”

SOURCE:  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Page 107.

_________________

” It has to be that what one believes is what one can become. Actually it is a self fulfilling prophecy  that how we conceive of our self is what we can become. This having a dream and setting out some life goals can lead to a life filled with hope and promises.  And for those of us who take our 12 Step fellowship seriously and stay actively involved one day at a time, soon discover the joy and serenity that this spiritually rich recovery program provides.”

SOURCE: I’ll do it when I feel better. (2016) Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY. Page 85.

 

“My depression is such a comfort to me.”

How many times have we heard this from those who are depressed.  Many depressed people say that this feeling  of worthlessness and hollowness is all that they have ever known. In fact, they add. “since it is all I’ve ever known I’m too scared to feel something different.”  In other words, their feelings of sadness is like a life-long friend and to change now is asking the impossible. Their whole identity has ben centered on how bad they always feel. Even though they are sick and tired of being sick and tired they cling on to the familiar and secure sadness.  This is all they know and can’t trust themselves to surrender this debilitating sadness and attempt to feel something different. It’s a risk to try and feel cheerful. Being sad all the time is predictable –at least  they know what they have. Getting oneself undepressed is almost too frightening to think about, much less spending  a lot of time  and energy trying to figure out how to escape it.

How can I help myself out of this deep pit if I believe what I have is better than what I might get?  I recommend first of all that a person admit that their life is unmanageable  and out of control because of their depression.  Your compulsion to depress yourself might make you feel secure but it does  make for a life lived in misery and fear. You have to admit that you no longer want to live this way.  You have to say that you are NOW wiling to listen to other people and find out how they are able to risk feeling something  other than sadness.  You have to want to quit  saddening oneself!  If you have felt this sadness all or most of your life then you can now learn a way to escape the personal sadness and constant fatigue that feeling disconnected from yourself and your world makes you feel.”

SOURCES:  Material taken from the Home Study Combo:

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) and The Depressed Anonymous Workbook, (2001)  Depressed Anonymous  Publications. Louisville. [VISIT THE LiTERATURE STORE for more excellent resources. ]