At a recent meeting we were reading from the Depressed Anonymous literature and the topic of being addicted to sadness came up. There were several people in the meeting who bristled at the idea of sadness being an addiction. Is depression really an addiction to sadness?
Instead of answering that question directly I think it would be helpful to list some common characteristics of any addiction.
- It’s an unhealthy coping mechanism for life’s ills.
- It worked for a while but now it no longer works.
- It has made your life unmanageable.
- It is a disease that tells you that you don’t have a disease.
- You lie about how often you do this drug/behavior.
- You think about it most, if not all, of the time.
- You have continuously done this drug/behavior even though it has done great harm to you and loved ones.
- It may have caused you to be fired from a job.
- It may have caused you to be admitted to a hospital/mental institution.
- It may have caused you to be arrested.
- It may have caused financial harm in your life.
Any addiction, whether it is alcohol, drugs, gambling, depression doesn’t have to meet all of these characteristics. Like the Jeff Foxworthy “You might be a redneck if…” jokes you might be addicted to sadness if say 5 or more of those characteristics are true.
Something doesn’t need to exactly match the medical definition of chemical dependence or physical dependence to be described as an addiction. Let go of your current belief on what is and is not an addiction. Look at the characteristics above and rate your depression against them. The magic number may not be 5. It could be 4 or 6 or whatever makes sense to you. Try it on for size. You may be able to let go of your skepticism.
Yours in recovery, Bill R