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.

 

 

Today is decision time! You can do something for yourself today

 

“Made a decision to turn our will and our life over to the God of our understanding. ” Step Three of Depressed Anonymous.

“Every decision that we make alters the world of meaning which we have created. Deciding to eat Puffed Wheat instead of Corn Flakes for breakfast may not be a major change, but abandoning ‘I am bad  and  unacceptable ‘ and replacing it with ‘I accept and value myself’ is.  Every decision you have made since you decided that you were bad and valueless was based on that decision.  Now, all these conclusions need reviewing and changing.”  Higher thoughts for down days. August 3rd. pg.155.  And D.  D. Rowe’s  BREAKING THE BONDS.

“In Step Three we have to make a decision. We don’t have to feel holy or extra nice but that we only have to make a decision – that is hard for someone who is depressed but it can be done. There is an old saying which goes like this: “Have a nice day unless you made other plans. ”

I want to really begin to turn things over to the God of my understanding. In Depressed Anonymous we call this God our Higher Power.

AS Bill W., (Co-founder of AA) tells us

“We realize we know only a little.  God will constantly disclose more to you and to us.  Ask Him in your morning meditations what you can do each day for that person who  is still depressed.  The answers will come, if your own house is in order. (See Step Four).

But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the great fact for us.”

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

PS.  WHAT PLANS HAVE YOU MADE FOR TODAY?

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.

Depressed Anonymous meetings are normally positive and the focus is upbeat!

WHAT IS DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS?

Depressed Anonymous is modeled after the 12 Steps (principles) of Alcoholics Anonymous and was  founded in Evansville, Indiana in May of 1985. It uses a group approach where members mutually support each other.

In Depressed Anonymous the depressed person admits that he/she is powerless over his or her depression. The depressed person admits that the various areas of his/her lifer are controlled by depression, and that he /she needs help from one’s inner resources, combined with a faith in a Higher Power to help work through one’s time of hopelessness and helplessness.

At Depressed Anonymous meetings, we do not pry into people’s personal lives. We also do not give advice at meetings but instead tell our story and how the 12 steps are releasing us from the tight grip of depression. Meetings are normally upbeat and the focus is positive! Each of  us set  small concrete  and positive goals for ourselves and begin to learn how to gain some mastery over our lives and feelings. Each of us has time at meetings to share our experiences with other member so f the group. As a new member you are ready to make a commitment to quit sadding  oneself, and that’s when results begin to happen.

This 12 Step recovery program can be a great healer  of personal wounds and provides the depressed with a new start in lifeIt also provides hope for people like yourself who have been where you are. Hope now resides where once there was only darkness and despair!

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SOURCE: (C)  I’ll do it when I feel better.(2013). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky. Pages 22-23.  Chapter Three: What  is Depressed Anonymous.

Please VISIT THE STORE and  discover the many exciting chapters, which will outline hope for the depressed and how the group can provide essential tools for unlocking the prison of one’s own depression.

“I realized that I was addicted to the self.”

” As a person that has suffered depression since childhood, I can say that until you start to open up, share your hurts and feelings, listen to the members of the group, watch them as they grow from the support of the group, you will not be able to get out of the prison of your depression. I have been going to Depressed Anonymous for four years and only until recently have I realized that I was addicted to the self.  Only then did I start to take a good look at myself and start to ask God for his help and truly mean it. I am learning to trust in God  and do His will and not mine. I feel better about myself. I can tell you it is a lot easier to be depressed than it is to work on yourself and admit to yourself that there is a problem. It is God’s will for us to live each day to the fullest because of our time on earth is limited. Live each day, not yesterday or tomorrow. Share with the group and your friends and you will be surprised who will be glad to listen  if you would give them a chance. Accept the fact that all of us at Depressed Anonymous are here to listen to you and not make judgments  on you or give advice. Even if you don’t want to share, come to the meetings because you can always get something out of them. Eventually, you will want to share and the group will listen.

In conclusion, trust in your Higher Power – God as you understand God. Support groups are the  way out of our addictions. We may have given  up on God, but God hasn’t  given up on us. Start your day out by asking God: God I pray for the knowledge of your will and the power to carry it out. ”

-Starr writing about her experience with depression and the healing support that she receives in the Depressed Anonymous 12 Step mutual aid group.

Read Starr’s whole story in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. (Personal Stories section/Pages 129-130 ).

Get connected!

AFFIRMATION

I  feel affirmed to know that I can always find a group of people who know how I am feeling anytime I want to get in contact with them.

“The isolation of depression begins as a place of safety and goes on to become a place of torture.”  Dorothy Rowe

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I hear it often in meetings and I see it in the faces of the new members to the group. There is the fear of the new and the different. One has to give credit to those people when they come to their first Depressed Anonymous meetings. They are admitting first of all that they are having a problem. Admitting that their lives are out of control takes courage. Secondly, they are coming out of their isolation and looking for help with their problem. They are willing to give up the safety of their isolation for the pain of telling others that they are miserable and have no hope of ever feeling different.

Every new move I make toward other sufferers when I am depressed takes me closer to another human being and help.  My torture is so great that I am willing to come and meet with a group of total strangers and tell them my story. The amazing thing is that they listen!  No one else wants to or has time to hear me tell my story. I have the key to gain escape from my misery if I just use it.

One of the telltale signs that I am depressed is when I begin to isolate and withdraw from others.  When I find myself wanting not to be bothered by anybody, I just get myself to talk to another person, who like me, understands and can predict the painful path of depression.”

MEDITATION

Our powerlessness lies in  not being able to snap out of our depression. We know now that God as we understand God or our Higher Power is going to get  us through this period of our lives.  We are on no time table with God, but we know that his power is inside of us and we want to be conscious of this power in our lives now and everyday.” (See Step 1.)

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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.  For January 28. Pages 21-22.

NOTE WELL!    If there is no Depressed Anonymous group in your community, please consider using the   HOME STUDY KIT. (VISIT THE STORE).

Service gladly rendered…

Carrying the message of hope to those still suffering from depression.

“Service gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted with God’s help, the knowledge that at home or in the world outside we are partners in a common effort, the fact that in God’s sight all human beings are important, the proof that love freely given brings a full return, the certainty that we are no longer isolated and alone in self constructed prisons, the surety that we can fit and belong in God’s scheme of things –these are the satisfactions of right living for which no pomp or circumstances, no heap of material possessions, could possibly substitute.” Twelve and Twelve, AA World services. Page 124.

 

Also, in The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) we read

“The part about carrying the message is so important if we are to remain out of the clutches of depression. It is important to keep in touch with the newcomers and others in the program. It is in this carrying the message that reminds us that we once needed help and it was through the unselfishness of the older members of Depressed Anonymous that got us through our depression.” Page 85.

“We soon discover in the program that no compulsion can be controlled by will power alone. It must be surrendered to the Higher Power or to the care of God of our understanding. It alone can remove in time the burden from our backs. This is the spiritual awakening that keeps us free from sadness as we take the message of healing to others in the group who are new to the program. We admit that we make no promises to anyone and that there will be no magic answer and quick solutions to their saddiction.  No, it all takes time and this is the message of the group. Such slogans as: “Take it easy,” “Keep  it simple,” and “Easy does it” are all meant to help you and me to live one day at a time and continue to try and live with serenity. When we practice these steps on a daily basis, starting our day with asking the Higher Power for guidance for the rest of the day we can then be  assured of God’s presence and help in our lives.”

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 106.

 

Depression dies in the light of discussion.

One of the 15 Statements of Belief in  Believing is Seeing : 15 ways to leave the prison of depression, tells us  in Statement # 9 that ” Withdrawing from friends and other social contacts is the first clue that you are slipping back into the isolation and pain of depression. Move toward a friend, get a sponsor and  go to a 12 Step  meeting. Ask your Higher Power for that nudge that can guide you onto the appropriate path.”

There are two times that we need to go to a meeting. One, when we don’t want to go to a meeting and secondly when we want to go to a meeting. From my own personal experience I can share with you that it’s when I go to my meetings that I am always able to come away from  it with something positive to think about.  I can always say that I feel better after a DA meeting. I know in my heart that when I just want to sit at home by myself and ruminate within my own head all the horrible things that have happened to me, are about to happen to me and are happening to me now, the more I find that I depress myself.

It’s our addictive thinking, our compulsive way of processing negative information,  which means that we habitually store the negative and dump the positive inflow of information and that gets us wanting to fall back into the old habit of staying isolated and avoiding others. We might fool ourselves and say that people have nothing to offer me so that I distance myself from everyone. Part of my nature when depressed is to avoid and distance myself from whatever I feel is threatening, like a child afraid of the dark.

I can only do what God wants me to do and I find out what this is by spending time alone with my God in meditation.  Whatever we do, we need to know that our isolation and our withdrawing from friends and family, is an environment by which our depression can grow strong. Depression dies in the light of discussion.

SOURCES:

Copyright (c)Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Copyright (c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications, L0uisville.

Copyright (c)Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step Fellowship groups. ( 1999) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

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“I will continue to have faith in myself.”

France’s way out of depression.

“I joined DA in 1988. At that time, I was totally depressed, with no interest in anything or anyone, and especially no interest in myself. I felt I had no worth, a feeling  I am sure that I had for many years, as  a very young child.

Having lived with this feeling for so many years, I guess I thought this was normal, probably most people felt the same way. I had all the symptoms of depression but I know nothing about the sickness except to live with it, which I have found to be a terrible fate, until I discovered Depressed Anonymous.

I attend the Depressed Anonymous meetings quite regularly. I have found that if I can attend the meetings regularly, I get the support of the members, who I have found to have about the same kind of problems as I have, maybe not quite as bad as mine, but I guess each of us feels that our problems are worse that anyone  else’s, I know mine are.  But with the regular meetings and my friends support, I find that I am able to manage pretty well from week to week. I have more faith in myself since I work the Twelve Steps the best that I can and trust my Higher Power  (God) with all my heart. I pray to the fullest extent that I will continue to have faith in myself and others. I have become a more human being than I have ever been. I work a lot, I volunteer a lot and have a far better outlook on life than I have ever had, and I attribute all of these good feelings to DA.

I just hope that I will always be able to attend DA meetings regularly and wish people had the opportunity to do the same. DA has helped me so much. I cannot begin to explain sufficiently the support the meetings  can give one who is depressed.

DA has been and is my salvation and I know the Twelve Step program is the only way to go to get one on the right track and it takes the meetings to keep you there. They are a “godsend” for me and I know for a lot of others who are depressed also.

I thank DA and my Higher Power for a life worth living.

SOURCE: Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. (Personal Stories)

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NOTE: For more information about the  12 Step literature, please VISIT THE STORE  here at our website.

 

 

 

“When the pain gets bad enough, you will seek the cure.”

“…Recovery is a gradual and pains taking process for both the person addicted to alcohol (depressive feelings)  and the person addicted to the addict…I had journeyed to counselor after counselor and program after  program seeking to get my husband well. But as the saying goes, “when the pain gets bad enough, you will  seek the cure.”  Recovery, however is looking for more than relief from the pain. In my case the cure involved a counselor, Al-Anon meetings, Al-Anon Adult children meetings, daily readings, meditations and new supportive friends. It also involved a constant struggle to be honest with myself, and to stop denying the feelings I had refused to recognize for  so long.  Recovery for me is a miracle. I still remember the craziness, but today my life no longer resembles a jigsaw puzzle of a thousand pieces that someone has dropped on the floor…Painful though recovery may be, it is well worth the effort and is definitely not as painful as no recovery at all.” The Forum, May 1991, Vol.39.No.5. p.11.

Comment: I know that recovery does take time and it does take work. Could this possibly be the worst thing a depressed person hears who wants to leave the prison of depression. Time and work? They tell us that they  can’t even get out of bed in the morning. They  have no desire to do anything, nothing, zilch!   I know what that  is all about. When I was depressed I too felt the pain of living  like a zombie. No energy. No motivation. Stuck in my own juices of nothingness. But like the person said,  quoted above, I knew that I had to do something because the pain became unbearable. That is when the  12 Steps of recovery pushed me toward a cure. They provided me   a way out of my own homemade emotional prison. I had to quit denying my painful feelings and get started  to work on myself. It was here at the Depressed Anonymous meeting that I was given my “toolkit” of recovery. There was no rush to get cured. There was only the desire to find a way to relieve myself from the pain of isolation and the lack of motivation to do anything for myself. My first job was to quit saddening myself.  With my “toolkit” and the 12 Steps I gradually, and with time, dismantled all that was keeping me prisoner.  I found the key that unlocked my prison door.

My life today is good. My feelings are no longer painful and crippling. The Depressed Anonymous Promises are true.  ” …a power greater than myself restored me to sanity.”

SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed  Anonymous  Publications. Louisville.

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