How to work the 12 Step program of recovery and put them to use in your everyday life.

When someone new comes to a Depressed Anonymous meeting they will hear    about people  in the group working on the 12 Steps. What this means is that since the group of people are into working the 12 Steps  they intend to live out what the Steps mean.

The first Step that all of us make when we walked through that door into our first DA meeting was our admission that we were helpless over our depression. We needed help.

We need to admit that at the present time our will power is powerless over this constant sadness and emptiness that we have been carrying around most of our lives. We just need to talk to someone who will understand us and respect us and not tell us to “snap out of” our depression.

Working the 12 Steps means reading all we can about the Steps and  how these Steps relate to my own sense of aloneness and sadness. The manual, Depressed Anonymous is specifically designed to help the depressed person learn about  each Step  is treated with it’s own chapter in the book.

In order to have a change of feelings we have to work the Steps, which means putting them into practice  in all our daily affairs. It means that we have to try and live out the message of the Steps one day at a time.

A person needs to take each Step and reflect on how that particular Step speaks to our own life. If a Step that we are  studying is unclear as to how it applies to us then  we need to bring that up in a group discussion so that other members can share how that Step has been applied to their own lives. Sometimes persons who have been in recovery for a long time have more experiences with the Steps and they can share how this or that Step has helped them. We know that at the DA meetings there are people  who are each  at different levels of the understanding of the Steps.

Steps Four and Five really have to be faced head-on if our depression is to go away. Step four and five are all about cleaning house. We must square off with ourselves and begin the rooting out   processes that will in time free us from our sadness and our “feeling less than”  as a depressed person. So often a person depressed is afraid, panic stricken really, in facing some issues that were never their fault in the first place.

It is possible that our anger hasn’t as yet been released over some things that have been done to us as children.

Step Twelve speaks about practicing these principles in all of our affairs – that means exactly what it says – we have to practice these Steps day by day. We have  to say I’m sorry as soon as I am aware that I have said or done anything that is out of the way. We again need to study each Step, tear it apart and get every ounce of truth from the Step  as it relates to ourselves. We then write down how each of them has  a special application for my life. We also have a practice of finding quality time everyday of our lives for making room to listen to our Higher Power, or God as we understand God and how that power is going to operate in our lives today and everyday. It is like we must learn  to let go and let God operate in our lives.

For all of us who have had a dependency on depression and sadness, it is hard to let go of the sadness and thinking that somehow gave us an identity to our lives. Depression can serve as a safe defense  and haven againt the uinpredictableness  in our lives.

Practicing these principles in al our affairs or as we say  “walking  the talk and working the Steps”  means that we have to be ever mindful through our times of prayer and meditation, which is a way to find out  what God’s will for us is for my life. Hope appears on the horizon.

Practicing these Steps, for me,  means they will promote an ever growing awareness that the Higher Power is leading me  according to its will and promise.

RESOURCE:

(c)Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

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

Ordering online is possible through this website  at www.depressedanon.com.

 

“That which doesn’t kill you will probably make you stronger.” Nietzsche

 

Stress  put me in the hospital two years ago. First, pneumonia  put me in the hospital for a week.   Then, following  a diagnosis of clogged arteries with other assorted problems,  open  heart surgery.  Cardio/rehab for 24 straight weeks gave me my life back. But this was not my first experience with stress and /or depression.

Nietzsche had it right. In my case at least.  What made me stronger and saved my life was not only heart surgery but my new way of  dealing with stress. I now see stress for the trouble maker that it really is. The  stress in anyone’s,  continues to impress me how dangerous living under stress, of any kind, can be.

I know that the daily stress that I  had put my mind and body through every day,  every month, gradually destroyed my immune system’s ability to defend against  constant fear, worry and anxiety. Because of the environment  with which I was living in, day after day, finally caught up with me: pneumonia and then open heart surgery. So you might wonder  how can stress do all this damage to your mind and body?

THEN

This takes me back to my first  experience with sadness. It didn’t kill me, but it did force me to look  at my lifestyle, staying in a bad  situation and the ongoing ruminating which poured adrenaline into my veins, hyping up fear   and anxiety day after day.  Finally, all this  weakened not only my body but my mind  as well. My thinking started circling  around  and around as I tried to figure out exactly what the problem was  knocking me off my feet.  Not only that, I couldn’t concentrate. I would read a sentence or so  and then would forget what I had just read. I was always tired.  I always wanted to sleep. I never laughed anymore. My sense of humor went out the door. I started to isolate. I pushed friends away. I always had an excuse for cancelling meetings and appointments. Every morning I woke up, dead on arrival.  No energy. No purpose and nothing to look  forward to. I was losing all spontaneity and replacing it with boredom. I gradually was being sucked down intro the quicksand of futility and hopelessness.

After a year and half of this    pain filled  life I gradually walked out of the fog. I walked at least five miles a day-like a forced march looking forward to regaining my life. That was 1985.

NOW

Now,  I am stronger because I know all the red flags that pop up in my mind, wanting to  suck me back down into that environment which almost killed me in the first place.  I am definitely stronger now that I have a sponsor, a  12 Step   program (Depressed Anonymous) and  a daily plan   for my ongoing recovery.

My heart is stronger now. My commitment to taking good care of myself with proper rest, good healthy food, and physical activity at least three times a week or more. I also know that keeping in touch with those “still suffering from depression” by email, Home Study, website BLOG (depressedanon.com), phone and reading Depressed Anonymous literature.  What we give away comes back in countless ways. For me, continued sobriety and hope!

Resource: (c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

Online Depressed Anonymous International Skype meetings ( Check website Menu for listing and links).

Order online :The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore.

 

My feelings are becoming unfrozen.

AFFIRMATION

“I pray that God will give me the courage to live today with hope – hope that God’s leading will take me past the dead end of despair.

If we want to live life fully we must have freedom, love and hope. Life must be an uncertain business. This is what makes it worthwhile.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I  know how the feelings of depression, and the deadness and greyness of my sadness keep me holed up in the narrow confines of my dark past. Today my  feelings are gradually becoming unfrozen as I attempt new things, new connections with other persons. These cause me to reconsider that a life lived in unpredictableness is a risky but nevertheless a healthy way to live my life.

Since I hold on to the  belief that since bad things happened to me in the past, bad things will happen to me in the future.  I need to live each new day with the belief that I can change the way I think, feel and act.   I know now that I am not mentally ill nor am I losing my mind when I am depressed.  I want to live just for today to try to learn how to face the uncertainties of today.  Life is unpredictable . To have any certainty that it will  be other  than that  is clearly an illusion, and for sure one is being set up for many a disappointment.

MEDITATION

We see that it is only in risking., that is, getting a different map, a map that shows a number of different routes instead of the one that leads us down the road to narrow isolation and despair. I ask the God of my understanding to lead me according to it’s guidance. Hopefully the road that leads to hope and serenity.

RESOURCES

(C) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations  for members of  12  Step fellowship  groups.  Depressed Anonymous Publications . Louisville. KY. (January 5th).

(c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2018) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(20ll). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

Check out VISIT THE STORE for more material that can be ordered online.

Can I think my way out of depression?

 That very question is one which I myself have asked. It would have been neat if I could have just  set my mind to it and   deciding not to pay any attention to  those never ending  ruminations about my life and all those  crazy thoughts and  painful feelings that came to roost in my mind.  They were unending.  You know, sort of dig a hole and bury your head in it. Hoping against hope that all the noise would just stop. It got worse. I told myself–it’s only going to get worse. It did!

It was strange  how the more I didn’t want to have these thoughts  live in my head, day after day, the more my mood continued spiraling  down into that abyss where no kind word, no positive thinking, nor pleasant future for myself   dwelt.  My thoughts turned angry and my mood was  at a   ground zero. 

Now what do I do I thought to myself? What can I do? All these thoughts were accompanied with an anxiety that seemed to envelop my whole body and turned  my insides into  to what felt like a shaking bowl of jelly. At this point,  my mind was  not thinking of anything, but being  fixated on how rotten I was feeling. Again, what can I do? How to get this constant agitation  and jitteriness  removed? And how did it get this way in the first place. No answers.

  I told myself. Nothing can help me. I might as well give up– throw in the towel. Even my thinking was changing. I couldn’t read with any comprehension or even   wanting  to do the most common of my normal  daily activities.  All my thoughts seemed   like sand slipping through my fingers. I was losing my grip on reality. Was I losing my mind?

I knew that I couldn’t lie in bed all day and do nothing. I knew that my mind was not coming up with any solutions that would ignite my motivation to move. “That’s it”  I said to myself. I got to get moving. And so that is what I did. I started to move the body–and gradually my mind began to work, but I had to prime the mental machinery to get it operative once again. I made up my mind that I must walk myself out  of the  mental and physical mess that I was in. I knew that if I just moved the body my mind would follow–at least that is what I was hoping would happen. And after a year or so, my mind did began to work. My thoughts gradually became clearer  and by taking care of my body’s physical needs (exercise) my mind welcomed this healthy change. I also had my support group Depressed Anonymous help me at our meetings. I could call them anytime and get some help. I WAS NOT ALONE.

I noticed that gradually my low mood was spiraling upwards and my mood  began lifting  the fog that had me confused and dazed and immobile. 

Did I think my way out of depression? I don’t think so. What did happen  is that over time I learned how to create my own  “red flags”  alerting  me when I discovered   my thinking was getting off track. Now these “red flags ” pop up in my mind when old negative thoughts, negative behaviors and irrational thoughts want to start their cycling around in my head.  The old habits that create depression die hard. Now I  use  my many tools (see Tools for Recovery at site menu)  that defend me against  relapsing and spiraling out of control. In other words, I have brought a new and sane balance into my life and my thinking.

Before, when I was depressed, my mind was filled with horrible  thoughts,  suicidal thoughts and  my thinking was getting more and more erratic. In fact, the mind was telling me all sort of negative lies about myself–which I believed. I felt worthless and helpless in the midst of this  negativity,  an unyielding, relentless, and pounding me down tsunami-like, till   I was flat on my back.

My mind has learned a lot since those days when I was a prisoner of my own fears. My thinking no longer focuses on what is negative  about myself. Now I am  focused on what I like about myself and ways that will help me grow and be of help  to others just like me.  Now it’s all about the progress I am making on a daily basis and not worrying about  being perfect.

One of our best tools is to use the Depressed Anonymous Workbook where I can go through each of the 12 Steps and relate my own depression experience to myself, my past and discover reasons  how I got depressed in the first place. Questions in this book prepare us to make discoveries about ourselves and our lives which we never gave much thought previous to our getting into reovery.

I cannot think myself out of depression. I know that now. I tried that route. Funny thing though, is that I always came back to where I started with no more answers than when I started. It’s like a dog chasing its tail.

  (c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.
(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook, (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.
(c) Home Study Program of Recovery. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

          For more information on  Depressed Anonymous Fellowship publications, please check out the Depressed Anonymous Publications  Bookstore. Ordering online is available.

 

 

 

 

The impatient patient

 

It was not too long ago when I was an impatient patient. Have you ever been an impatient patient? If you have ever been admitted to the hospital for any length of time, as was I, then you know a little of what I am talking about. This was a few years back when I underwent open heart surgery. It was quite an experience to say the least. I got excellent care. The   staff said I was a very good patient.  Not much I could do to be an annoying patient. I had wires, tubes, and everything else hooked up to my anatomy. I felt that I must have looked like one of those huge electrical grids that we see alongside the road, all with a large chain link fence circling  them.

Because my numbers weren’t right (blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen level,  etc.)  the doctor told me that I would have to remain in the hospital another day. I had already spent three weeks, watching an  outside world,  all beginning to look like ne big beautiful garden.  Everything was coming alive.   I was coming alive too, but not fast enough. I did thank God that I was even alive: thanks to a great team of doctors and staff.

But gradually and with a new intensity, I had this strong desire to  to free myself from  whatever kept me from getting free. I know what it was: it was the numbers. Always the numbers. So, the day came, finally, and the doctor tells me that if the numbers were right I could go home. Home! That word spoken by the one who had the power to free me. Yes, I could  go home– tomorrow! (That was like the big sign behind the bartender  which read in big red letters “Free Beer tomorrow!” Tomorrow comes and yes, Free beer tomorrow!). I knew from past experience, that that  “tomorrow”  always came with a conditional “maybe”  tomorrow.

That was it. . . I was suffering from what I felt was a terminal case of “cabin fever.”   “Cabin fever”  can only be cured by  getting out of the cabin. We all know that. So, I asked the doctor how I could go home today (the day was Friday) as there was no use staying the weekend waiting for my numbers to come down. The doctor told me, because I had to have a certain medicine over the next 48 hours to keep my numbers at the right place, I must  give myself some  prescribed shots , and then come back the following Monday for a check on my numbers. Other than that, I was good to be released.

The nurse came in and with a few practice shots– on an orange no less, and then  I was good to go! Halleluja! By this time, most of my tubes and  wires had gradually been removed, one after another.  Another patient told me that this was a good sign when they started removing wires from one’s torso. My mind went to another possible reason, but I won’t go there now.

Home. And all it took was just to give myself two shots a day. No problem.  My numbers finally returned to where numbers need to be for a good recovery and so it all worked out. Thanks to the medical team, first of all, that gave me my life back!

Fast forward to today,  as I look back over  life before my experience with depression.  The sadness, the lethargy, my whole body seemed to want to go into hibernation. Sleep. And more sleep.  And when I could hardly get myself out of bed  in the morning. reality hit me in the face. I had something that I didn’t have a name for. I was immobilized. So, I started walking. Walking. Walking. I knew that I was continually feeling very sad. Sometimes like weeping.

My life before was a life of “hurry” for this and a “hurry ” for that.  I couldn’t stuff enough  of life into my daily schedule.  And then my discovery that I had clogged arteries and need open heart surgery as soon as could be scheduled. But what about my planned vacation, my clients, my books I was working on ?  I couldn’t just sit by and let things slide.

OK. I said. Obviously I was in denial. We are talking about saving my life here and I was worrying about nothing really.  That was  before my numbers helped me face the truth about myself.  The talk with the heart surgeon definitely grabbed my attention. I got it! I needed open heart surgery!  No denial now.

I got it that my life, the “hurry” and the “impatience”  that  had produced the stress, a diet filled with all sorts of food that was bad for me as well as a life without exercise.  I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t slow down.  I was always in a rush–a hurry to get to the next important   thing, a meeting or whatever pushed me into serious health problems.

Today is different. Once back in recovery, both from a physical standpoint as well as from a mental health standpoint, I have learned how to relax, how to spend  time alone  with my God as well as to set small goals which are attainable and healthy for each new day. My prayer time and my meditating on the spiritual principles of the 12 steps,  plus taking time out for my Depressed Anonymous meetings on a regular basis. I also have a regular sponsor who helps me over the times when I am in a “hurry” and shoving too much activity into a life filled with activity. I have the tools to slow down and live. These are  a musty now in my daily life!

My new self with an awareness of staying out  of the “hurry” has helped my being patient with whatever negative situations  life throws at me. I think before I act. I think before I make decisions and do not rush into anything without first “looking both ways” (as I learned in Kindergarten) many  years ago.

And BTW  my numbers are great: 120-130  over 80. Heart rate 70’s.

Check out the TOOLS for Recovery here at this website  www. depressedanon.com

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

 

 

I accept and value myself today!

 

“Every decision that we make alters the world of meaning which we have created. Deciding to eat Wheat Puffs instead of Corn Flakes  for breakfast may not be a major change, but abandoning  thinking  ‘ 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. ” Dorothy Rowe, Breaking the Bonds. Fontana. 1991.

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

Making  a decision is the first step in getting free and being liberated from my depression. From this step follows the  many other steps that are to be taken that will allow me to begin to see how the thoughts I think,  definitely affect the way I feel. My next step is to review the different ways in which I can value myself.  My first new response to my own negative thinking about myself is to believe that today I will  begin my exit from the prison of  my own negativity and pessimism.

My struggle to wrest myself free from depression means that I am to make some initial steps in my own health. I want to believe that it is the fact  that I want to value myself and my life that I will no longer allow myself to wallow in self-pity, but decide to start to make an effort to take mastery again over the way I feel and think.

MINDFULLNESS/SELF REFELCTION

We will let go of our ignorance about how this universe is operated. I let the God of my understanding take charge. I continue to dip my oars into the water of life and risk letting   God be the rudder master.

I want to make a plan today, to decide how I can do one thing differently so that I might value who I am as a human being. I will write down how I will dip  my oars in the water in the next 24 hours and change what I need to change. 

(Check out The Depressed Anonymous Workbook at   THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS  BOOKSTORE for that excellent tool for self reflection and personal recovery.)

 

++ 6 Ways to help yourself through depression ++

    6 WAYS  TO  HELP YOURSELF THROUGH  DEPRESSION.

+ Don’t bottle things up. If you’ve recently  had some bad news, or a major upset in your life, try to tell people close to you about it and how it feels. It helps to re-live the painful experience several times, to have a good cry, and talk things through.  This is the mind’s healing  mechanism.

+Do something.  Get out of doors for some exercise, if only for a long walk. This will help you to keep physically fit, and you may sleep better. This will help you take your mind off those painful feelings which only make you more depressed when allowed to sweep over you.

+ Eat a good balanced diet,  even though you may not feel like eating. Fresh fruit and vegetables are especially recommended. People with severe depression can lose weight and run low on vitamins, which only makes matters worse.

+Resist the temptation to drown your sorrows. Alcohol actually depresses mood, so while it may give you immediate relief, this is very a temporary and you may end up more depressed than ever.

+Don’t get into a state of not sleeping.  Listening to the radio or watching TV  (it’s on all night) while you are resting your body will still help, even if you’re not actually asleep, and you may find that you drop off because you’re no longer worrying about not doing so!

+Remind yourself that you are suffering from depression–something which many other people have gone through –and that you will eventually come out of it, as they did, even though it does not feel like it at the time. Depression can even be a useful experience, in that some people emerge stronger and better able to cope than before. Situations and relationships may be seen more clearly, and you may now have the strength and wisdom to make important decisions and changes in your life which you were unable to do before.”

SOURCE: Depression. pg. 9. Pamphlet published as a service to the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Reprinted in THE ANTIDEPRESSANT TABLET,  Number 1  Number 4.

NOTE: This post was first published as a BLOG in September 30, 2015.

You can click onto the “tools of recovery”  listed on the  drop  down   menu at the Depressedanon.com website to discover more helpful tools for recovery from depression.

Got too much on your plate?

 

Yes, I have too much on my plate. So, now what can I do to make my plate lighter? How can I slow down, smell the roses and deal with  all those pressures coming at me at the same time?  Even before I get out of bed   I get depressed just thinking of all the things which are facing me today.  I just want to take the bed covers, pull them over my head  and say goodbye to it all. I keep telling myself “I don’t want to do this anymore.  My life is  a metaphor for a roller coaster. I just wanna get off!”

Ok, my life is out of control. My life is unmanageable.  I feel like the clown in the circus,  who has  dinner plates all spinning around at the same time  – all zipping around at top speed and not a one crashing to the floor. Amazing!  Today we call this multitasking. Yes, I  multitask  and it’s killing me! But I want to know how to keep life simple? How to  gain control of what is on my plate and how to rid myself of those things which I can live without.

In Higher Thoughts for Down Days, I read how ” I can learn to keep my life simple. I plan to do that by first of all admitting that I am powerless over my depression and that my life is unmanageable. I also believe that I can get out of this mess by focusing on respected and workable solutions rather than keeping focused on my ever present difficulties.

The word simple comes from the Latin word “simplex”  meaning one fold. Also, it means to just have one part. I think to keep it simple means to be single-minded and keep the focus on the solution and practice that particular solution in all my daily affairs.”

Here at our site (depressedanon.com) we have listed a number of tools which each of us can use for our own personal recovery.  (See Tools for Recovery at Site Menu). I guarantee that if you begin to use these recovery tools, on a daily basis,  you will begin to   free yourself from being overwhelmed and your life  will no longer feel out of control and unmanageable.  Each of the tools  describe a particular action to take which can give you more control over your life.  You will in time be able to  take issues off your plate, which  once immobilized you,   providing  you  with a sense of hope.

I recommend that you take one of the listed tools, read up on how to  put its action into your daily   life. Take one at a time and get good at doing it on a daily basis. This will form a habit and habits determine what  course our behaviors will take.  Please write to me and let me know how you are doing with this exercise of hopefulness.

I will leave you today with this riddle:

QUESTION

How do you eat an elephant?

ANSWER

One bite at a time!

==================================

SOURCES:   Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. June 26. pg. 128.

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

Copyright(c)   I’ll do it when I feel better! 2nd edition. (2017) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

VISIT THE STORE at  Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore for more information available. Ordering online is available.

#METOO. Shouting out our anger and rage

THIS SOUNDS RIGHT

Dorothy Smith has shown how women are forced into a secondhand understanding of the world. Women are trained to invalidate their own experiences, understanding, and feelings and to look to men to tell them how to view themselves. Ideas, concepts, images, and vocabularies that women use to think about their experiences have been formulated from the male point of view by universities, churches, and other social institutions.

In Women and Madness Phyllis Chesler  describes  women’s experiences as psychiatric patients. Very few of the women she interviewed appears to have a mental disturbance. Most were unhappy and responding to the oppression in their lives. Seeking help, Chelser  pointed out, is not valued in our society, and women seemed to be punished “for their own good” by the institution for exhibiting such weakness.

Jean Baker Miller looked at the relations between dominant and subordinate groups. She isolated certain characteristics of subordinate groups as typical of any irrationally unequal power  relations based on ascribed status such  as race religion or sex. Those in  a relationship of subordination need to survive, above anything else. Direct response to destructive treatment must be avoided, as it may be met with rejection, punishment, or even death. Women who step out of line Miller noted, can suffer a combination of social ostracism, economic hardship, and psychological isolation. They may even be diagnosed as having a personality disorder if they do not conform to the male-defined norm for a woman.

If conflict cannot be expressed openly, it is turned inward and the ground is fertile for depression. Once depression is identified, the victim is blamed for her illness, and she accepts this responsibility until she is helped to examine her own self-defeating patterns, to see how she allows  herself to be victimized.”

SOURCE:  Melva Steen, Ph.D, RN. Historical Perspectives on Women and mental illness and preventing of depression in women using a feminist perspective. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 12:359-374, 1991.

Appeared in THE ANTIDEPRESSANT TABLET in the Spring  edition  (v.5, #3: 8-9).1994. 

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

The following is an excerpt from the Basic Text for the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous world wide.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition , 2011,2008, 1998. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Page 82.

“Maybe I need to make amends to my children for  making a clean house the number one priority the number one priority and never allowing them to give expression to their feelings. Or maybe I was the good daughter or son who never told anyone how I really felt because I was afraid of how my parents would react. Now we might be dredging up all the old feelings of anger and resentment that we have submerged under a mask of  kindness ands sweetness over the years. We need to voice our anger for having to act like someone we aren’t. I can think of many women who in therapy begin to get in touch with the times when as little girls, they were conditioned to think that good little girls didn’t get angry, and so they stuffed and sat upon all these powerful and unpleasant emotions. Feelings that are not expressed can accumulate in our bodies and can’t get out until we share them and express them. These stuffed feelings get lodged in our bodies and immobilize us until we feel completely wrung out!

Some have heard all their lives that you shouldn’t get angry as mother won’t love you anymore. This makes it quite difficult suddenly to shout out our rage and anger at a world that has made women in general feel less than second-class citizens. ”

 

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.