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.

 

 

“..we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life.”

Promise #4: We comprehend the word serenity and we know peace of mind.

Agitation, anxiety and jitteriness were all part of my life as I muddled through day after day, one foot in front of the other.  Serenity was definitely not a part of my life.

As with any attachment to a negative behavior, serenity and peace was the farthest thing from my life. The new beliefs and thoughts which I heard expressed at Depressed Anonymous meetings started to help me change the way I thought about myself, my world and my future.

I believe that it takes work, time and prayer and quiet periods of meditation to achieve the peace and serenity that we are talking about here.

  PEACE OF MIND IS THE RESULT OF:

  1. A clear conscience
  2. Living in the present
  3. Gratitude everyday
  4. Belief that the God of my understanding will get me through the problems of my life
  5. Forgiveness of myself and amends to all person I have harmed
  6. Doing God’s will means letting go

I am firmly convinced that in order to continue any semblance of peace and serenity I will have to structure a daily quiet period into my life. This is an essential part of the prescription for getting well and staying well. Also, I believe that when I am quiet, God can give to me all that is mine to have. My will and my life  have to be attuned to God’s presence and love.  We will know that in order for God to make itself present to us and demonstrate its love we have to sit still, be quiet and listen with purity of heart. This is an essential part of the formula where we will find our sobriety and serenity.

It is my belief that God does speak to those who remain quiet and have a design to listen. Peace is defined as “an undisturbed state of mind, absence of mental conflict.”   Serenity is defined as “a quality or state of being serene; calmness, tranquility.”

The quality or state of being serene all takes time, work and discipline. I believe that  the big book of AA says it best: ” When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts   of remarkable things followed.  We had a new employer; being all powerful he provided what we needed, if we kept close to him and performed his work well.

Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in plans, our little designs  and ourselves.  More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of his presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or hereafter.. We’re reborn.” ( Page 63, AA).

————-

SOURCE: Copyright(c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2014) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 36-38. The Promises of Depressed Anonymous.

 

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

LONG TIME ESCAPISTS

AFFIRMATION

I will not be afraid of the shadows in my life and my personality, but I will face them and look at them and find serenity.

“They knew what to do about those black abysses that yawned to swallow me when I felt depressed or nervous. There was a concrete program, designed to secure the greatest possible inner security for us long time escapists.  The feeling of impending disaster that had haunted me for years began  to dissolve as I put into practice more and more of the Twelve Steps. It worked. ” (1)

 CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I am now having more periods of serenity and quiet as I begin to work the Steps of my program and trust more in my Higher Power. I know that my God is there right now waiting to help me through this time of sadness  and disease.  I believe that my help is coming from a  power greater than myself. I know that it is never to my advantage to run away from my problems or hide from the fact that I need to construct a new way to look at myself.

When you are depressed you are not even aware of the fact that you are unconsciously making an effort to escape from your sadness as this running away that we do is so subtle and so chronic.  Now that I know that I am responsible for setting myself free from my depression the more I am going to face my fear, anxiety and loneliness. I no longer intend to escape my responsibility  for myself, my serenity and happiness. Only I can make myself happy.

MEDITATION

Our fears began to dissolve once we begin the process of believing in this power greater than ourselves. We no longer put our trust  in the sadness that appeared to us to be like a God in that it was all powerful and all important. It ruled every moment of the day. It also comforted us with its predictability.  We are, today, choosing a God who loves us and will lead us into the promised land of hope and security.

SOURCE:  HIGHER THOUGHTS FOR DOWN DAYS: 365 DAILY THOUGHTS AND MEDITATIONS FOR 12 STEP FELLOWSHIP GROUPS. DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS. LOUISVILLE. JULY 14.