Drinking Depression

Drinking depression: One man’s story of recovery from alcoholism and depression and the parallels between the two.

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 really say angry, for it was anger at the root of my depression that I was trying to suppress  in medicating myself. 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. When 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 when I took comfort in being drunk because after awhile the numbness became the only way I could feel better because 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 woolly 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 me with my depression. With 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 a heroin addict and the alcoholic were very similar. The depression I experienced also has 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 my brain and myself.

THE SPIRITUAL

When I was drinking I felt alienation and guilt. I felt professing  Christians did not drink  and the more I drank the more guilty I became. I felt that 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 understood 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 for help and march on one day at a time experiencing serenity and a release from my need to  take the 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 and know when I can make it because it is only opening the door to the past can the light of the present get rid of the darkness today and have hope for the future.

It is my hope and prayer that this has helped you, the reader,  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 and that today be your first step towards recovery.

God bless.

—Steve P.  A member of the Louisville Depressed Anonymous Group.

 

Spiritual Kindergarten

 

“We are only operating a spiritual kindergarten in which people are  enabled to get over drinking and find the grace to go on living  to better effect. Each man’s theology  has to  be  his own quest, his own affair.”  Letter. 1954.

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“When the Big Book was being planned, some members thought that it ought to be Christian in the doctrinal sense. Others had no objection to the use of the word “God,” but wanted to avoid doctrinal issues. Spirituality, yes.  Religion, no. Still others wanted a psychological book, to lure the alcoholic in.  Once in,  he could take God or leave Him alone as he wished.

To the rest of us this was shocking, but happily we listened.  Our group conscience was at work to construct the most acceptable and effective book possible.

Every voice was playing its appointed part. Our atheists and agnostics widened our gateway so that all who suffer might pass through, regardless of their belief or lack of belief.”

A.A., Come of Age.

 

SHARING ONE’S HEALING CAN BECOME A HEALING LIGHT FOR OTHERS.

Greetings and a warm hello to all.  So many persons, from so many different cultures, race,  spirituality   and national groups come here to find a bit of light and hope. I welcome you all. I continue to write from my own experience with the darkness and invite you to share whenever and however you would like your own experiences.

In my own life, my own brokenness brought me into another 12 step fellowship years ago. It was truly the dark night of the soul for me. The darkness for me was like being in a dark cave, paralyzed by my own blindness – unable  to find a way out. Then, because there was a lighthouse (12 step group)  in my small rural community,  I slowly came into the light of hope and found my way out.

Then once again, my life needed another shot of hope when I slowly slid down a slippery slope of hopelessness. It was then that  I  came to see that a group, which I had already formed, using the 12 steps for melancholia, came to my own rescue. I then began to help others form Depressed Anonymous groups. And gradually and slowly other depressed persons started groups in their own communities. Now here we are today, attempting to light and ignite hope in those who themselves want to discover how to leave the darkness of their own helplessness and darkness. For those who come and see how others have been able to climb out of the cave’s darkness into the light and use our spiritual recovery program of the steps, know that they too can have the light of hope in their own lives.

I often tell those in our groups that my own darkness and my coming into the light  has been a gift. A gift  for others. How often do people know that when I speak about my own experience in the darkness, there is  no doubt that my experience is  in many ways similar to their own.  It takes  one to know one.

In fact, the 12th step of Depressed Anonymous suggests that “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to the depressed, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.”  (Page 159. Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Kentucky. )

When you have some good news in your life –especially joy and hope –that is something to talk about!  I continue to carry on.

Hugh

FRED DIDN’T HAVE THE FOGGIEST NOTION OF WHAT GOD HAD TO DO WITH HIS SADNESS.

“I remember Fred on his first visit to Depressed Anonymous. He said that he had been depressed all his life. The group listened to Fred, and of course for the most part Fred said he didn’t have the foggiest notion what all this talk of God had to do with his sadness and how it was supposed to help him,. But it was the pain of Fred’s depression that brought him back time after time to the meetings and he started not only to feel better, but he began to look better.  Then as he heard about the Twelve Steps, he saw that he could trust this Higher Power, and that maybe the depression that had been such a lifetime companion was not for him anymore. Fred took the plunge, came to believe that a Power greater than himself could restore him to sanity — and it did just that.  Fred said he didn’t need his depression any more, got busy making amends to family, friends and co-workers for being such a negative person, and began to take inventory where he needed to Spring clean his house. In time, Fred began to reach  out to others in the group and he began to understand how he had  become like many others in the group – a saddict.   Depression for many was an addiction to sadness. The only way out of Fred’s addiction was to let go of it, admit his life was unmanageable and start to work on himself and his character defects. Fred still keeps coming back to the meetings to share his story with others on the how of his recovery. He talks about the way it was before Depressed Anonymous, and the way  it is now since he has been working the steps and handed his life over to the Higher Power.”

Source: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky. (pgs.96-97).

I can relate to Fred in such  a personal way when I too came into the Twelve Step program of recovery. I belonged to a Church that professed certain dogmas and doctrines –not some vague, impersonal Higher Power that the group say they espoused.. I came back week after week to the meetings, and when  I  gradually weaned myself  from all my negative thoughts about the Twelve Step program,  I finally “got it” as they say. I,  too, after all these thirty years as a member of Depressed Anonymous have the deepest confidence that the “God of my understanding” has everything to do with my own  recovery from depression. And by the way, I still belong to my Church with its dogma’s and doctrines, while having a “spiritual awakening ” along the way, thanks to the spirituality of Depressed Anonymous. Now the God of my understanding is my Higher Power.  Please go to our website here at the Menu if you are interested in finding hope and information  on the way out of your own sadness. Please join us on this journey! You’ll be glad you did.

Late UN-breaking news!

Wow!  How about that? Late UN-breaking news? Everywhere you go–it’s late breaking news. Come on folks.

I would be satisfied with more late UN-breaking news myself.  Put a trailer at the bottom of the screen and just let the late breaking news pass us by–like a watching the #17 bus head down the street. Well, anyway, I have some late UN-breaking news for you. As you can tell from the title of my BLOG, what I share here is pretty much your regular UN-breaking news. You know, like hey, if you are depressed have you ever considered doing this or trying that or whatever for your melancholia. By the way, that is what they used to call it–melancholia.   That is about as UN-breaking  as you can get. If you feel depressed,  paralyzed by fear, fatigue and purposeless in your life it might be the news for you to know there is hope. Maybe you know or don’t know that many times people who come into  counseling  for their symptoms of depression want relief–and they want it now. Not tomorrow–not next week–they want it now. Yes, that is what they want. So did I when my life was falling   apart. I couldn’t even put a label on what was happening  inside of me. I felt helpless. Hopeless. But the REAL BREAKING NEWS is that we have discovered, like millions before us, that once I began to believe in a Power greater than myself, my life gradually began to change. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t have the magic potion or the magic wand to all of a sudden remove   feelings of pain, anxiety, fear and lack of a desire to want to live. Let me share with you what we do have to offer.  We have a suggested solution. (This is really old news.)

In the coming days  I would like to share with you   my thoughts -solutions- about depression and its relationship to spirituality. What this means is  there a Power greater than yourself that you believe in?

Stay tuned for more UN-breaking news to come. I think what we have to offer will provide you with HOPE!

A POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES: OUR GO TO PERSON.

A POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES: OUR GO TO PERSON

The more time that I spend in daily prayer and meditation the closer I feel to this Power greater than myself. Now, let’s be honest, it isn’t everyday that I feel this or think this way, but for most days I feel energized by my time in quiet listening. It was when I first joined a Twelve Step recovery program that I I knew that I was truly home. I had always been looking for a home where I could feel acceptance, nurturing and fellowship. It was at my first meeting, 32 years ago, that in all my brokenness, guilt and shame, that I felt I had made it home. It was here that I could reveal who I was, who I thought I was and get a plan for my life, just one 24 hour period at a time. My own feelings of being totally accepted in this new fellowship created in me the belief, without  doubt, that  sanity would be restored to me. How did I know this? What made me a believer? Simply the fact that the members of the group had pretty much the same story as my own. But for all of this, what stood out was the basic belief among all of the members, that there is a Power, and it is greater than me. And that this Power, whom we understand as God, is my GO TO person every day of my life. And the two things this group taught me early on,  is that THERE IS A GOD, AND IT IS NOT ME!

If today you are feeling alone, lost and frightened, please join me here everyday, as I speak about spirituality and the Power greater than myself,  and what it has to do with my recovery, and how it impacts  on our search for  that serenity that we are all seeking. Remember what you seek, seeks you!

PHYSIOLOGICAL PORTAL GIVES US AN ENTRY POINT INTO THE CLOSED SYSTEM OF DEPRESSION.

Again, today we want to show how by entering any one of the six portals into the closed system of depression and connecting with the other five entry points, can gradually produce positive results.

The physiological  symptoms of depression are  insomnia, decrease in sexual drive, low or non existent  energy level, hard time concentrating, memory problems, tired all the time, weight loss, gain, continually irritable. By trying to understand and employ  other portals of entry, such as getting ourselves motivated, we know that daily exercise of some sort, can in time  help reduce one or the other of the physiological depression symptoms. This portal is connected powerfully with the behavior, thinking, feeling, motivation and spirituality portals.  Starting  to focus on just one of the closed system’s symptoms, will have a positive effect on all the rest of the system. We might even get motivated to go to a 12 Step meeting of persons like ourselves.  For me personally, it was the behavior portal (going to meetings/ refusing to stay isolated ) plus motivating myself to believe In a God of my understanding (spirituality) that began the process of getting a ‘leg up’ on my sadness.  My thinking was also changing. I began to feel and think that there was hope for me too.

As we continue to chip away at each area of depression symptoms, and clarify our thinking,  we  see that an improvement of mood in one area can  effect all the others as well! Til next time, reflect on the physiological symptoms mentioned above and pick one or two symptoms and then choose a positive alternative to replace them. Tomorrow we will want to discuss some of the characteristics of the behavior portal. Hope to see you tomorrow. “God give me ‘the courage to change the things I can…’ “

HOW TO OPEN UP THE CLOSED SYSTEM OF DEPRESSION SYMPTOMS: SIX DIFFERENT PORTALS TO CHOOSE FROM.

Just what does it mean to “open up the closed system of depression symptoms? ”  Basically, it means that we have determined that there are 6 major  portals, with their own unique and negative characteristics. The strategy is to develop a number of positive  and opposing  procedures for the characteristics of each portal, which can  in turn do just the opposite of those which continue to keep us in the pit of desolation and helplessness. In a sense we will be opening up that closed system, which like the bars of a prison cell, keep us locked down and isolated. By learning something about each of the six gateways to our personal lives, we will possess the tools that can open up and break down the walls of each of these portals.

Let’s talk a bit of what these portals look like.  Together we are aware how they form a massive obstacle to our moving out of the closed and deadly system. But taken each alone, we have a chance to break down their individual  negative components and replace them with small positive steps of motivating ourselves toward change.

  QUESTION: How do you eat an elephant? ANSWER: One bit at a time. And the same holds true for what we are proposing to you today.  Let’s consider  the following categories which make up the essential attributes  of the human person. By entering any one of them and making changes in their unique characteristics we are indirectly affecting for good all the other five categories. These portals with their unique  identities are all inter related and what affects one affects all. By the same token, the symptoms of depression affect all the other portals and together promote a tightly closed system which is highly impregnable.

The six portals that open us to   the closed system of depression are the following: (1)THINKING (2) FEELING (3) BEHAVIOR (4) MOTIVATIONAL (5) PHYSIOLOGICAL (6) SPIRITUALITY.

For today, let’s take a look at the first portal: the thinking gateway. Here are the characteristics of this portal: mistaken beliefs, worthless, guilt, self-accusations, self-dislike, failures, self -hatred, suicidal thinking, hopeless and helpless thinking. Now, with these characteristics staring us in the face, we can choose to look at each of the above and decide which one or ones can I muster up the energy to defeat and turn around? For starters, how can I change any beliefs about myself? I can give you one solution   and that  is to get into a fellowship of folks like yourself who will mirror to you the strengths that you really possess.   In other words, by  taking  a more solution focused approach  to oneself rather than concentrating on the negative,  this continues that gradual diminution of all that keeps us imprisoned. And just to show connections between portals, the Behavior portal discusses social withdrawal. If I think that I am worthless and inferior I surely won’t want to move around in social environments. We gradually with time and work  open the tight grip of the closed system of depression on our lives. We now have the toolkit whereby we can dismantle those old beliefs that undermined our best selves. We now are at the beginning of  a new system filled with hope and the courage to let go of the past!      More tomorrow.