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.

 

 

Before attending my mutual aid support group, Depressed Anonymous, I felt that I had nothing to live for.

 

Tommie tells us in Depressed Anonymous(c) 3rd edition,  how she honestly thought  “she had nothing to live for.  As a mother of five beautiful sons, a wife,and  a mother to be of quads, I wasn’t sure that I was a  member of the human race. I couldn’t eat, sleep, and cried for no reason. I wanted to be alone. It even got to the point that I didn’t know who I was. I was a physical body without a life.”

I’ve been going to Depressed Anonymous now for about five months. The program and my new found friends have been a  miracle of God. So many people have a big misconception about our meetings. They think we all sit around, tell our stories and cry on each other’s shoulders. Well there is a news flash for them – we learn that each and every one of us has experienced some degree of depression in our lives. We find out how to laugh, to comfort each other and  sincerely understand what each one is going through because we all have been here one time or the other. I  also learn that there is always  hope. Since coming to Depressed Anonymous, I have learned to grieve for my lost children and how to live with my depression. I still have good and bad days. …My life is not perfect, but now with the love of my God, my family, my friends and my husband, life is now worth living. But, the most important thing is that there is life after depression.”

SOURCE: Copyright (c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 132-133. Personal Stories section of the book.

Please VISIT THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS BOOKSTORE for more information about Depressed Anonymous and how to order books online.

Why does the dog chase it’s tail?

Good question. It could be for many reasons. It might have fleas. It might have gotten hurt in some way. It itches. The reasons can go on and on.

I  suggest that one of the reasons may be that the dog is unaware that its  tail is part of the dog. It is an attachment which comes with the dog. However, no matter how fast and furious the dog chases its tail the dog will never get hold of it. I gather it soon discovers this important fact!Anyway, why think about this fact here?  What has this to do with the information we normally share here at our Depressed Anonymous website.

So often as a   therapist  I have  heard  how some persons believe that their depression just came out of the blue.  You know, like the rain, snow, and stormy weather.  And ironically, I felt the same way. I just couldn’t understand how  it was that I felt so bad with no prior  warning.

In our manual Depressed Anonymous I give the reader a brief account of my own experiences with depression and how I always felt that this plague of the spirit just happened. I too felt that It just came out of the blue for no apparent reason.

Here is a little bit of what I wrote in the introduction to Depressed Anonymous and I want to share this with you now.

What it was like. More than ten years ago, I began to notice that something was very wrong with the way I was feeling. I can tell you exactly the place and the time when this terrible sadness began to swallow me up;. I felt myself, without warning, sliding down and into the dark pit from which I was not able to climb out for a year of painful months. Feelings of inner pain and numbness descended upon me, and began to rule my life.

At the time, I thought that this descent into hell came from “out of the blue” but, like all feelings we experience, I knew that because of situations in my personal past, my emotional reservoir was overdrawn. My reactions to these situations had allowed thoughts and feelings to accumulate a wealth of debt whose note had come due.

“…Looking back over my life and experiences, I discovered that my thoughts produced the feelings, the feelings produced moods and the moods produced my behaviors. The mind-body connection is never as much in evidence as it is in the human experience that we label  depression.”

In another chapter of the Depressed Anonymous book we hear Mary tell us how  she felt about her own depression experience:

“…Because of shame, Mary was never able to share her story with any of  her friends. In time, she began to think that  her feelings were disloyal to her parents, whom she felt she had to love because they were her parents.  She said she got confused because they seemed to want her around sometimes but at other times they told her what a worthless and lazy girl she was. The thing that hurt most, she said, is that she believed them. So now she wonders how this Fifth Step  applies to her when it’s her parents who need to admit their wrongs to her. Mary was puzzled. All she wants to do is to get over some of the anger that she still holds for the way her parents neglected her when she was growing up. She says that every time  she goes back home a sadness just seems to come over her -as though out of the blue -and for no apparent reason. She also says that her stomach gets all  knotted up.”

And now, why do we seem to have a mental disconnect between our  life losses and the depth of pain that we are presently suffering?

The author gives an explanation here:

“To have lost a parent  early in life, either through death or divorce can have a serious effect on the life of  a young child. Early losses in life cause a lot of hurt later on in life and many people  think that their depression just happens, out of the blue without rhyme or reason, but usually there IS  a reason and most probably it is buried deep in the unconscious because it has been too painful to look at.  It is in sharing with a trusted friend, group member or therapist that you can gradually let out the bits of the secret that has been under lock and key for years. It is also when we can be in contact with persons we trust that the hurts of the past can be revealed.”

And finally to answer our questions: why does the dog chase his tail? I honestly don’t have a clue. But what I do know that when I was depressed   I could sit and think for hours about why I   felt so miserable –but   never coming up  with the reason. No matter what avenue I went down trying to understand my present pain, I really  couldn’t stop chasing false leads and dead ends of why I was so despairing of relief.

Later, with a mind cleared of the fog of sadness, and with a new ability to process where I had been in my life, I finally began to see that nothing just  comes out of the blue. There is always a reason.

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If you would like to read more of how other members of Depressed Anonymous share their stories of recovery  in our Depressed Anonymous manual  and how they found their way out of depression.  They all discovered how their symptoms of depression didn’t just  come out of the blue.

SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 20,67, 79.

Visit The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore here at this site depressedanon.comOne may order online.

No pain–no gain! We pay a price to free ourselves from any and all addictions.

 

First of all we know that the first step to freeing ourselves from the deadly clutches of any and all addictions is to ADMIT that our life is out of control, unmanageable and that  we are powerless  over what has us by the throat! Our lives have hit the wall and there is no place to go but to seek HELP. Humbling it is. To ask for help. But it is absolutely necessary if we are to free ourselves from the pain of any addiction.

I am speaking from my own experience with that deadly and scary reality that we all know as  depression. I finally came to the frightful reality that if I wanted my life back then I would have to do something that I had never done before.  I had to admit that I was beat. I had it. My life was a mess and I had created it by gradually drifting away from taking care of my mental, emotional, physical and spiritual life. Just by my admission that my life was in shambles, I realized, begrudgingly, that I had to take full responsibility for cleaning up the mess. And where was I to find that  solution to the cancer-like illness  which was eating me up with each depressed and hopeless breath?

From Alcoholics Anonymous I found my solution. They told me that my pain was the door that I had to go through if I was ever to find any peace for my troubled life.  And so I went through that door which opened me up to hope and belief that there truly was a way the  out of the daily mental grind of sadness and despair. It came  to me that the fellowship of those using and working the 12 Steps of recovery  had all found a home.

“There was a time when we ignored trouble , hoping it would go away. Or, in fear and in depression, we ran from it, but found  it was still with us. Often, full of unreason, bitterness, and blame, we fought back. These mistaken attitudes, powered by alcohol, guaranteed the destruction, unless they were altered.

Bill W., continues sharing,     “Then came A.A. Here we learned that trouble was really a fact of life for everybody – a fact , that had to be understood and dealt with. Surprisingly, we found that our troubles could under  God’s grace, be converted into unimagined blessings.”

“Indeed, that was the essence of A.A. itself: trouble accepted, trouble squarely faced with calm courage, trouble lessened and often transcended. This was the A.A. story, and we became a part of it. Such demonstrations  became our stock in trade for the next sufferer.”

Because of my own terrible pain of an insufferable depression I founded a group centered on the 12 Steps  and which made these spiritual principles part and parcel of my daily life.  This group is aptly called Depressed Anonymous.

Yes, I still have troubles, but now I can help others by sharing my own story of hope and serenity . Even though we may not be alcoholics, we can have a hope that these Steps can help me as well to leave the prison of depression.

For more information about who we are and what we are about please take a look at the menu that appears on the first page of our website Depressed Anonymous.

The Depressed Anonymous Workbook  tells us  how “Where humility had formerly  stood for a forced feeding on humble pie, it now begins to mean the nourishing ingredient which can give us serenity.

This improved perception of humility starts another revolutionary change in our outlook. Our eyes begin to open to the immense values which have come out of painful ego puncturing. Until now, our lives have been largely devoted to running from pain and problems.

We fled from them as from a plague. We never wanted to deal with the fact  of suffering. Then in A.A., we looked and listened. Everywhere we saw failure and misery transformed by humility into priceless assets.  We heard story  after story  of how humility  had brought strength out  of weakness. In  every case pain had been the price of admission into a new life.  But this  admission price  had purchased more than we expected. It bought a measure of humility, which we soon discovered to  be a  healer of pain. We began to fear pain less and  desire  humility more than ever. ”

Are you will to pay the price?

SOURCES:    As Bill sees it: The A.A. Way of life…selected writings of A.A.’s co-founder. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc., New York.

  The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. pg.60-61.

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

For more literature please VISIT THE STORE. Also note that the HOME STUDY SELF HELP STUDY combo can be purchased together. All purchases can be made online at this site.

 

I WILL TRUST MYSELF…

A HIGHER THOUGHT FOR TODAY

AFFIRMATION

I will trust myself to risk getting better by way of the Twelve Step program.  The first step is to admit that I will beat my depression in a group rather than trying to do it all by myself.

“Many  of us can’t allow ourselves to trust anyone. We are so distrustful of ourselves that we can’t trust ourselves to feel.  The painful and terrible hollowness of depression is such that we cannot allow it to be felt…When we hear other members share their stories of hurt and isolation we become more at ease within ourselves and we gradually allow/trust ourselves to touch the nerves of the past pain and hurts. ”   (9)

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

One of the better ways I have found to get out of the prison of my depression is to trust my story with someone who has experienced  the pain and the hurt.  To know that I am not alone in my misery is quite a relief.  To know that there is someone out there who understands where I am coming from does much for raising self-esteem. I know that it is only when I begin, today, to start taking care of myself that my life will improve and so will my thoughts.  I also believe that there is no problem too great to be lessened.

I know that wanting control, wanting things my way, has made my life unmanageable!  I want to trust my Higher Power and give my program and my friends who are in  it my  very best. I trust that I can be as honest with them as I am with my Higher Power.

MEDITATION

God, we  turn our will and our lives over to you and we know things are getting better because of that surrender.

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SOURCE:, Higher thoughts  for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowships. (1993, 1999) Louisville. June 1.  Depressed Anonymous Publications.