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.

 

 

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.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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!

Now you can have a renewed sense of purpose for your life! This is a Promise!

The   Fifteenth (15) Way out of the prison of depression.

BELIEVING IS SEEING.

Excerpts.

Depressed Anonymous believes that we are not to think of ourselves as “depressives” or permanent sufferers of depression. We believe that we can move out of our depression and help others out of their depression. To label ourselves as “depressives” is counterproductive to our own recovery. We will not define ourselves solely by our painful and personal experience with depression.  We are not victims. We also believe that once you have worked your way through and out of depression that you will continue to receive our support and appreciation. You can continue your recovery by reaching out to those persons still suffering from their depression.

We don’t have the magic pills and the easy formulas for success. We do admit that the time you spend in the group might seem wasted and of no avail in terms of removing quickly the pain of depression. But if you stay with the program and make as many of the meetings as possible, plus reading the literature, you will in time discover that your feelings and depressed moods will gradually be diminished.  Freedom from isolation, fear and pain will now grow, like a beautiful plant, well watered and nurtured with love and care.

If you are presently reading this, and happen to be depressed you might not believe it can be done. This is usually the reaction from those of us who have not found any solution to our everlasting sadness. But if you keep coming back to meetings and live out the beliefs listed here, plus putting them into practice, you will find a change occurring in yourself. The good news is that over time you will be experiencing a new feeling and a new view of the world, yourself and the future, one day at a time. You will  discover that you not only now have a renewed sense of purpose for your life, but your life continues to grow brighter. That’s a promise!

BELIEVE!!! 

SOURCE:  Copyright(c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2017). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 69-71.

Let’s get real. The “snap out of it” advice doesn’t get it!

Let’s get real!  How often do we hear people who’ve   never been depressed  tell people depressed to just “snap out” of their depression? Answer? Too many times.

In our Manual,   Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition  we read  “I don’t believe you can snap out of your depression, or suddenly   and dramatically get your life turned around by going to one Depressed Anonymous meeting, or reading the  12 steps  five times an hour. It just doesn’t happen that way, especially if you have lived with  your depression for any length of time. Even though we  emphasize  that  depression is not a disease, we do want you to know that depression over a long period of time can cause physical problems and upset the metabolism of the human organism. More and more, doctors see how  positive feelings, attitudes and emotions can help cancer patients maintain a remission and stay free of a recurring cancer condition. Unpleasant emotions such as fear, anger, resentment, tension and depression all work against recovery.

I would call the sadness  that  has  been with us for as long as we can remember,  a learned way to respond to certain negative stimuli. What you will be doing when you come to a Depressed Anonymous meetings is to get involved in your own healing. You will find other men and women who are struggling with the same pain as you are. You will discover that the first step in coming to grips with depression that won’t  quit is for you to surrender it,  quit fighting it.  Let the God, as you understand God  take over your life and help let it restore you to sanity, peace and understanding of the way in which you can find the path  out of your depression and pain. Depressed Anonymous works if you begin the work of the spiritual program that we’re going to outline in this book.  Depression is a moral problem and as such there needs to be a moral solution,  one part of which is to admit that we are responsible for ourselves and that we can’t blame it on genes, psychological predispositions or one’s spouse or some other situation.  We are going to take charge. We choose to un-depress ourselves. Today! One day at a time!

…But let me warn you — it isn’t easy to do something different from what you have been doing  most of your life. This is especially true when it comes to the way we see ourselves, our world and others. There are no magic pills and no easy answers to bring us immediately out of this inner pain and anguish. It does take time and work.

If you really want to leave behind your painful sadness, the daily tears, and the feelings of worthlessness, then begin now to admit the unmanageable mess of your depression. You have had it with feeling out of control!

That’s the way it is with depression – over the years you get comfortable with feeling miserable, which doesn’t mean you like it, but that you’re just too afraid to risk doing something different. When you want to change and leave your depression behind, the choice that you want to make is immediately dashed to the ground because you  feel there is no hope for you. “I can’t pull myself up by my bootstraps and start to feel better,” you tell yourself. Most the time, we tell ourselves that we will do it when we feel better. (See reference to” I’ll do it when I feel better”   below). Folks, let me tell you something – you will never feel better until  you begin to physically get moving! We all know that we feel better only when we get into gear and get busy – distracting ourselves  from those ever present miserable  thoughts which whisper how bad we are and how hopeless life seems to be.”

_______________________________________________________

SOURCES: (c)Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pgs. 31-32.

(c) I’ll will do it when I feel better. (2015) Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications.  Louisville.

(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook, (2002)(Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

VISIT THE STORE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON DEPRESSION AND THE HEALING POWER OF THE 12 STEPS.

ALSO LEARN HOW TO USE THE HOME STUDY KIT FOR YOUR  PERSONAL RECOVERY PLAN OF ACTION!

DEPRESSED? LEARN FROM LOIS HOW TO BECOME A SURVIVOR!

Two days ago,  quoting from her piece in the Personal Stories section of Depressed  Anonymous (pages 111-112) we continue to read what she has to say about being a survivor of depression and not the victim.

Step Three (“Made a decision to turn my life and my will over to the care of God as I unstand God”) required much time, thought, and daily meditation. My Higher Power no longer was a permissive parent whom I begged would give to me what I thought I wanted. All the love, the caring, and the intelligence was there. I just had to accept it for myself. Today, the God of my understanding is different than when I began the journey. As a professional educated woman, spiritually I was in kindergarten. I badgered my counselor for a guide to assist me in taking my Fourth Step inventory. I wrote for months and then quickly moved to Step Five before I could rationalize it all away. The therapist who is responsible for beginning Depressed Anonymous in our area became another human being from our Fifth Step

During my recovery there were times when I would begin to interfere and I would remind myself of what it was like when I was attempting to run the show.  Aloud I would say: “Oh, I turned that one over to you and I trust you. I don’t need to take it back.”

Today I view the situation as “unfolding” and my spiritual journey is unfolding with it. My Higher  Power is in charge.”

___________________________________________

SOURCES:  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. (Personal Stories/Pages 111-112).

The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

The Home Study Project, includes both  WORKBOOK and the DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS can be purchased together. Please VISIT THE STORE on  how to order the HOME STUDY PROJECT  on  our secure line.

A therapist speaks out about Depressed Anonymous

“One of the greatest resources I’ve used in working with many depressed persons has been Depressed Anonymous. The transformation it causes in an individual’s life is truly miraculous. This stems from it being primarily a spiritual program of healing and recovery.  It encourages a person to seek a personal relationship with God, whoever they understand God to be. In doing this, it helps a person to look inside for healing, rather than in a pill or some quick “cure.” Many persons who suffer with  depression look on God as being one who judges them harshly. This thinking usually leads  to much anger towards God, which results in more negative thinking. I know this from my own experiences with depression, and the angry relationship with God I had during those times. This is where Depressed Anonymous offers hope by getting a person connected to a group who also suffers with depression, and are working the Twelve Steps. In doing this, it helps a person come to a realization that it will only be through a power greater than themselves that they will find sanity in their life.  Depressed people cannot do this alone because of the compulsion to ruminate endlessly over negative thoughts. It is only through coming together with a group of people like Depressed  Anonymous that they are able to break the cycle of negative thinking. ”

To read more of what therapists have to say about Depressed Anonymous please read  their thoughts in  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications.  Louisville. KY.  Page 67-68.  ( The therapist who wrote the above is Ms. Denise List, doing therapy in Louisville, KY.)

As a therapist myself, I have found, as  Denise herself found, that our own struggles with the isolating and painful reality that we call depression, made a difference in our relationship with clients. To have a mutual aid group such as Depressed Anonymous  to which we could  refer them had  special and positive outcomes.

Our manual contains a veritable host of testimonies from persons from all walks of life who found Depressed Anonymous to be the “real deal.”  It is  here where they found acceptance tools for recovery and most importantly a safe place to share their story.

Please VISIT the STORE here at our site.  And if you are a therapist reading this now, it would serve your clients well for you to suggest  that they pick up  this book and begin to see and find hope for themselves.

“I WANTED TO GET WELL SO BADLY. I THINK PEOPLE DO HAVE TO WANT TO CHANGE…”

Yes, people do have to want to change as Helen attests so succinctly in her PERSONAL STORY in DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS (3rd edition). And yes, people do have to want it so badly that they will go to any lengths to find help. Let’s continue to read Helen’s words and how by being an active member of the Depressed Anonymous 12 Step Fellowship group she found  where she was no longer alone.  She says “Then I finally knew after two years or more of sleepless nights that someone had to help me. I found a card saying “Depressed Center” in the  back of the phone book. It had a phone number and that was all. I talked to the man on the other end of the phone. I said to myself. “This man is too busy to talk with me,” but anyway, I made the first appointment myself. I made myself go. I thank God that I did.  I thank God that I went for help. It was a whole new beginning for me. I wanted to get well so badly. I think people do have to want to change. I went in with the attitude that I have to get well. I heard things about counselors that scared me, but this was just all the old negative feelings that caught up with me and boxed me in.  I got better and started to think differently. I started to get rid of some of my negative thoughts. I began to feel better and I continued to see my counselor. I started in Depressed Anonymous some weeks later.” Page 146.

You know, sometimes it takes just that  one person, with their own liberating story of being  freed from the isolation and pain of depression that we feel that there is hope for me. If it worked for Helen, it surely can work for me as well.

If you would like to read Helen’s working free of depression,  see the full account in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition. (2011) Depressed  Anonymous Publications. Louisville.