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.

 

 

How to live outside the box? The depression box!

If you really want to begin to “live outside the box“, a description of what the box feels like and looks like might be helpful to you.  First of all, a box has an identifiable shape. It is a box mainly because it contains something–whatever that might be. And when we speak of the subject of depression, we talk about depression having us boxed in. The box as it is used here, in this context is a metaphor for feeling enclosed and which there is no exit. It is like being trapped or like in a prison.

Now, in order to live outside the box we want to live creatively, which means  that we are having to learn  how to live outside the box. Now, if you  find  this hard to believe -stick with me now  as I will explain what I mean.

Just briefly, my own experience with depression can be used as an example. First of all, when I was depressed I thought that I was losing my mind. The box that I put myself in was getting more restricting by the day and making my life hell. I could see no way out. I was trapped. What could I do I asked myself?  As hard as I tried, I couldn’t just will these feelings and scary  thoughts away–like taking a broom and brushing them out of my life. No matter which way I turned I hit a wall. With no answers forthcoming on how to keep my head above water, my body slowly  was being sucked down into  the quicksand of despair. The thought came to me, much like that small glimmer, a tiny light so far away, but nevertheless  a light. It was  like the lighthouse which with its  intense brightness warns seafarers that rocks were nearby and to be watchful before approaching. My mind began to race here and there for a way out of the box and then it hit me —   get moving. Move the body. Get busy.  The key out of this prison was already in my hand. And now, those of us here in the Depressed program of recovery,who have been putting “out of the box” ideas to work in our daily lives, we want to share what has worked for us and we know, if you actually use them for your own recovery, they are  bound to  ultimately free you. That is the promise I share with you today.

The following activities,  listed below  are some of  the tools that will get you “out of the box” when you get serious about using them.

I think taking a close and personal look at the following tools will not only help you get  “out of the box” but can be tools that you will be able to utilize, day after day as you continue your recovery.

  1. Exercise is a great tool if you happen to be depressed.
  2.  Getting out into nature will also help put your mind on beauty and your surroundings.
  3. Overcoming fear is also a great place to learn how to get out of the box. Learn about “first fear” and “second fear.” Fear doe seem to be at the center of our life when depressed.
  4. Recite the “SERENITY PRAYER” as often as you need it.
  5. The present. Staying in the now.
  6. Making use of the God box. This is an exercise, a simple one at that, which helps us learn the discipline of “letting go.”
  7. Feelings need to be examined and expressed. We will look at why expressing feeling is  so important,  instead of having them bottled up and causing all sorts of physical and emotional problems.
  8. Disable negative thinking: learn how to short circuit negative thoughts when they pop into our minds.
  9.  Reading Depressed Anonymous literature and all material on the subject of depression.
  10. Learn how we all have choices. We make those decisions that bring us closer to freedom–not those that continue to imprison and box us.
  11. Journaling is a great tool for writing down what has been our experience for the day.  It helps to clarify our thinking and puts things into perspective.

NOTE

In the next post, I will begin placing attention on each of the eleven ideas listed above.  Gradually we can take time to evaluate  our response to each individually and make our own notes as how to use these recommended ideas  for our own recovery.

Hugh

I believe that misery is an option.

“If surrender of our wills to the ‘care of God’ is of the essence of the spiritual life, for anyone who truly desires to free themselves from a chronic and compulsive behavior such as depression, then the Twelve Steps can be your stepping stones to the path of a hope filled life.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I used to hear the word “surrender” as it made me feel like I was in the hands and under the total domination of another.  It was like I had no control whatsoever as to what I was to do or what I was to be. I was blind to the fact that in reality I had already surrendered my life to my sadness so that whenever I wanted to hide, or isolate myself, I just saddened myself and  so didn’t have to feel anything. I am surrendering to the God of my understanding;  slowly my life is filling with light and hope and this is what I really want for myself. I am finding that the ‘care of God’ is much better than anything I could ever  wished for.  My life is one filled with hope rather than being hopeless.

The spiritual life for me is filled with the excitement of knowing that  this God of mine, as I understand him, is  today wanting to lead me further into the light of his healing power. My spiritual life is filled  now with a close and personal relationship with a God who loves and guides me on a minute-to-minute basis.

MEDITATION

We are going to get as close to God today as we choose to get.

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SOURCE:  Copyright (c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups.  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 257-258. December 29.

 

 

 

 

GETTING A GRIP!

AN AFFIRMATION FOR TODAY

Just for today, I intend to believe and hope that my relaxing my hold on life will give me, paradoxically, a better grasp (grip) on where I need to be in life.

“I still get scared, I don’t know where I am going or what I want anymore, or what life will throw up at me next, but, for the first time in my life, there is no rigid life-plan, and I have been forced to take, and enjoy, one day at a time.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

After admitting that I am depressed I can very truthfully say that I now need to get on with my life and work.  I want to admit as well that the Higher Power will not let me travel down any roads that I need not travel.  Even though there are always a few bends in the road along the way, I will still trust in my God to get me where I need to get. I also know that by attaching myself to my God’s leading I cannot go wrong.

By the time I was almost a year old, I already knew who I wanted to attach myself to as well as I knew who I wanted to withdraw from.  Is it possible that early on childhood frights are still unconsciously scaring the wits out of me today.  I need to live in the solution and attach myself to what has worked for me in the past when I got myself out of depression.

MEDITATION

Just our surrendering our will to you, our God, gives us the liberty to attach ourselves to new and hopeful ways of reflecting about our lives.

SOURCE: (c) Higher Thoughts for Down days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for 12 Step fellowship groups. (1993, 1999)   Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY 40217. Pages 83-84. April 25.

LIFE IS UNPREDICATABLE

” Yes, life is unpredictable. Every living organism operates with a certain amount of unpredictability and uncertainty. The uncertainty of life creates in us a desire for predictability. If we did not believe in the possibility of change, we would all be hopelessly  lost and forever bored. Hope would be lost. Potential for a better life would never exist. When there is hope  change is possible,. The experience  of depression is much the same. Depression is so predictable and unchanging that we lose hope for the pain of our isolation ever coming to an end.”. (Source; Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.,)

When I finally knew that I had a serious problem facing me (sadness. ) I eventually became  proactive in doing something about it. I used my experience with the 12 steps and I   gradually was able to find hope and recovery.   I also found a lot of other things, such as  people who were willing to live  with hope and   taking  one day at a time. If they could make it thru  one 24 hour period, and face whatever life threw at them — then chalk up that day as a good day.

I WILL CLIMB EVERY HILL AND CROSS EVERY VALLEY…

I WILL CLIMB EVERY HILL AND CROSS EVERY VALLEY SO THAT  I MAY GET BETTER AND SHARE THE STORY OF MY RECOVERY WITH NEW MEMBERS AT MY NEXT REGULAR MEETING.

AFFIRMATION

Admitting our helplessness, we can abandon our desperate  attempts  to control everybody and everything, and simply ‘go with the flow,’ taking life as it comes. Many people, emerging from depression or from a major trauma, do this when they decide to take ‘one day at a time.'”

REFLECTION

This is the hard part, trying to stay out of the past and avoid living in the future. It’s wise to be as aware  as I can of what is going on  inside of me and around me. One man who is a regular at our group meeting said that the trouble with those who were depressed, including himself, was that he always felt sorry for himself.  He was overwhelmed that his self-pity would never help him feel better. He’s right. It won’t!

I need to study the steps, especially Step Eleven in which it states that I should make conscious contact with God as I understand God, praying only to do His will for me. This is the letting go that will help me to relax and help me try and live one day at a time.

MEDITATION

Jesus said don’t worry about tomorrow because there are enough  worries to concern ourselves with  today.  He was right. Just keep praying that God, as we know Him, will give us all we need when we need it, and how we need it. It will all come when it is supposed to.

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SOURCE: Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed  Anonymous Publications, Louisville, Ky 40217.

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