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 can make the hard changes.”

Your HIGHER THOUGHT  for today

Affirmation

I am gaining, day by day, a new and hopeful attitude about my life and my relationship with others.

“Strangely, I feel as if I’ve been incredibly lucky. Logically, I don’t believe in  luck. I believe the people make their own lives when they are what they  are, but still I feel so lucky to have been involved in a group which gave me the opportunity, and incentive, to start to make changes in my life: to understand why I am sometimes so angry, why I have been so  self-critical and self-destructing. Understanding why you feel as you do opens the gates for the even harder struggle of changing what you do.”

Making changes is part of making a life.  If I choose to stay mired in the deep pit of depression, I can choose that. I have that as an option. But, if I want to choose and risk changing  myself, I have the option of working to construct a different way of looking at my world. Just by changing my attitude about my life in the direction where I want it to go, I can make the hard changes. I want to change my attitude. I will now want  to listen to those who have been in recovery for months and/or years and listen to their hopeful attitude and how they are feeling better now that they are living one day at a time. They are no longer fearful that the old nemesis, the sadness, will sneak up and change everything back to the way it was.

I can only change myself. I will always try and keep the focus on how I need to change, not how others around me  need to change.

Meditation

God, we are always heartened  and  healed by the group. Please guide us and let us be led  to that healing community of persons who are  struggling to find the serenity that you promised to those who do you will. “Fear not, for I am always with you.”

SOURCE:   Copyright(c)  Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 step fellowship groups. Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Page 43. (2/27/18.)

In order to get started on your own recovery, at your pace, and in the amount of time that you feel you need, we offer a HOME STUDY KIT. Please click onto the Depressed Anonymous Bookstore menu for information on ordering these materials of recovery.

Author pens new book, “A Medley of Depression Stories.”

The following are excerpts  from a recent article, from the Edenton, North Carolina Newspaper,  written  by Staff writer  Rebecca Bunch.  Portions of the article have been edited and paraphrased.

“Author Debra Sanford has accurately captured the struggles behind depression in a deeper  way in her new book, “A Medley of Depression Stories.” The book most ably points out with stories the personal observations on the mental health issues that plague members but also shares the stories of others in their own words.

In the Introduction to the book, Sanford describes  it  as  a Medley  of  powerful  short stories from  different perspectives  and  experiences — meant to help  the  depressed person –  relate and to  understand that they are  not alone.

The author has the hope that the reader will be able to relate to the stories from others.  Debra hopes that you will find your wellness here.

But, according to one entry in the book by someone identified only as “Anonymous” the Depressed Anonymous meeting is promised as a ” safe place to fall.”

The meetings are  described as an accepting place with friends who truly understand what you are talking about, a place where you don’t have to be ashamed to have a mental illness or to be depressed.

Meetings of Depressed Anonymous are scheduled every week in Edenton, NC., as well as in Elizabeth city.These meetings are there to offer support and comfort to those who need not to feel alone or as they live out their day to day lives.

 Copies of Sanford’s book are available at  Amazon.com.

You can reach the author at www.depressedanon.com/edentonnc. You can also contact Debra at (252) 333.8855.”

She will be happy to hear from you.

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A short review of A Medley of Depression Stories by Hugh Smith,  Depressed Anonymous member.

First off, I met Debra and  members of the newly formed DA groups from Edenton and Elizabeth NC., about three years ago. It was a wonderful experience for me to meet face to face with a very enthusiastic and dynamic bunch of people. Yes, they were there to support each other and discover the ways the 12 Steps would lead them out of depression.

Debra’s work has stories, 35 of them written by Debra and some who struggled with the pain and isolation of depression.  I could pick out a few titles of these short stories but as I look over and read the stories I must admit that they all definitely strike home. I am inspired and given hope that  I  can get  help.

Everyone who reads these stories will find parts of themselves in each of the accounts. I find myself in so many of them myself.  If you are looking to find hope, and a way out of depression which has imprisoned all of us, then you have found here a  key that will free you.

If you are a member of a local DA group looking for topics to give hope, especially to Newcomers, then I advocate that this book and its stories be selected to be read at all the meetings.

I am proud to have the opportunity to know Debra personally and to see how her love of others is the reason for it being written. And with Debra, we all can say “my story is not over yet.” At every DA meeting another hopeful page has been added to our own story !

Hope is the door that leads into tomorrow!

“…spiritually engaged individuals (depressed)were in touch with something important…” David Karp

As a professor of Sociology at Boston University, David Karp  describes in his book SPEAKING OF SADNESS his spending  time interviewing 50 men and women about their own personal depression experiences. The following are some of his thoughts about  those persons whom he interviewed and who saw a connection between spirituality and depression.

I too found that  this connection  also  provided  me  with  a solid and healing plan for leaving my own depression.

I found a spirituality that produced my own personal transformation  by using the 12 Steps of Depressed Anonymous. These steps are based on the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps and take the depressed person through a process of incremental  healing actions  which gradually can loosen the bonds of their sadness.

Here are some of the findings  Karp shares with the reader of  his own feelings about  those who spoke about the power of  a spirituality   which provided them hope during their depression experience.

” I was leaving many of my interviews awed by the courage and grace with which certain people faced unimaginable   pain and loss. I was especially impressed with those who spoke of their depression as a gift from which they had learned valuable lessons. While I could not relate emotionally or intellectually with visions of reincarnation or explanations of depression as central to a God -given  life mission. I left many interviews with a sense that spiritually engaged individuals were in touch with something importantThe issue was not a matter of evaluating the truth of their particular brand of a spirituality. What I felt was a measure of envy of those who displayed an acceptance that seemed to me incongruence with accounts of exceptional pain.  The people possessed or knew something that I didn’t.”

SPEAKING OF SADNESS by David Karp. (1996), Oxford University Press, Inc. pg. 191..”

And K. Duff shares with us that

“…illness is an opportunity for enlightenment, that, seen the right way, we do not cure illnesses –instead, they have the potential to cure us. This happens when we realize that illness is “not so much a state of being as a process of transformation.”  In K. Duff, The Alchemy of illness(New York):Simon and Shuster, (1993). pg. 191.

In  our  Step Manual , Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition,( 2011)Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville., a work which includes many stories shared by those who use the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps for their own recovery and transformation.  Also, this book is written by those who were depressed and graciously share their stories on how Depressed Anonymous transformed their lives.

Like Karp states in the  section quoted above how I too see my depression as a gift, as for the last 30 or more years my life mission has been to bring hope to those still suffering from depression. Almost every day I speak, write to someone , or continue to get the message out with  our DA publications how  I have been and continue to be transformed  by putting  to use in my own life  the spiritual principles of these Steps. For this  reason we continue to   establish   mutual aid groups for persons depressed.

In some of our next  blogs I will continue this most important discussion about depression and its connection to the power spirituality.

VISIT THE STORE for more information about our DA literature.

“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.

 

SPIRITUALITY AND DEPRESSION AND THE POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES.

The following discussion about depression and spirituality has been excerpted from a recent DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS (2013)  titled I’LL DO IT WHEN I FEEL BETTER. ( 2nd edition )Smith, Hugh.  Louisville, KY  40217. (p.86-87).

Bob P., a charter member of Depressed Anonymous shares his thoughts on the subject of SPIRITUALITY AND DEPRESSION.

Spirituality involves the recognition and acceptance of a Higher Power beyond your own will and intelligence, with whom you can have a relationship. The Higher Power can provide you with an experience of joy, security , peace of mind, and guidance that goes beyond what is possible in the absence of the conviction that such a power exists. Spirituality can be seen as being distinct from religion. Different world religions have proposed various doctrines and belief systems about the nature of a Higher Power and humanity’s relationship to it.  Spirituality, on the other hand refers to the common experience behind these various points  of view – an experience involving the awareness of a relationship with something that transcends your personal self as well as the humane order of thinking.

The ‘something” has been given various names –“God being the most popular in Western society  — and is defined in ways too numerous to count.  You can choose to define what that means to yourself in whatever way feels most appropriate to you.  Your own sense of Higher Power can be as abstract as cosmic consciousness or as down to earth as the  beauty of the oceans and the mountains. Even if you consider yourself a non-believer,  you may get a sense of inspiration from taking a walk in the forest or contemplating a beautiful sunset or a small child’s smile may give you a special sense of joy.  Whatever inspires to and takes you beyond yourself into a larger perspective is the direction of what is referred here as your Higher Power. ”

In the following quotation, Bill W.,  gives uis his concept of God.  By doing so he has basically reframed all of our understanding of God.

When therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God. This applies too, to others spiritual expressions, which you may find in this book (Alcoholics Anonymous). Do not let any prejudices you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you? At the start,  this was all we need to commence spiritual growth, to affect our first conscious relation with God, as we understand him. Afterward  we found ourselves accepting many things, which often seemed entirely out of reach. That was growth, but if we wished to grow we had to begin somewhere. So we used  our own conception, however limited it was.

We had to ask ourselves but one short question: Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a power greater than myself?  (see, BELIEVING IS SEEEING: 15 WAYS TO LEAVE THE PRISON OF DEPRESSION. DAP, (2114)  Louisville, KY 40217.) As soon a person can say that he or she does believe or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him or her that they are on their way. It has been  repeated proven among us that upon this  simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built.”

For literature, focused  on the subject of Depression and the  12 Steps of Depressed Anonymous, please visit our store.

We will continue our discussion about depression and spirituality in the posts to follow. Please, stay tuned. Your comments are always appreciated.