- Depression and AA

Depression and AA




Alcoholics and Addicts sharing their personal recovery story with us to help others who want to recover.

Depression and AA

Postby DebbieV » Thu Sep 24, 2009 6:00 pm

For more years than I can count I have suffered from depression, some of the times I just felt down and others were so debilitating that I wasn't able or cared to get out of bed. On July 21, 2008 it all stopped, I got sober. I was given a new life without the horror of depression, until two weeks ago when it came back. I have to say it wasn't as bad as it was when I was drinking and I didn't feel the desire to drink again, but I know from dealing with it that it is a very scary place to be.
I don't know what caused the episode, I just know that it hit and hit hard. I have been married a little over a month, my life is better than it ever has been, I wouldn't change a thing. So what happen? Why did it come back?

That is what I am here to find out. I know the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is not just for stopping drinking, for me it is for staying stopped and living a healthy, full, productive and happy life. So I am off on a journey to learn how you guys out there who suffer from the illness of alcoholism and depression manage life. I will, as I hope you are, be ever mindful of tradition Five.

I found the following from Bill W., I hope you find it as enjoyable and helpful as I did.

Thank you so much for being there.

A Letter From Bill W. on Depression
The following excerpts from a letter of Bill W.'s was quoted in the memoirs of Tom P., and early California AA member. Tom did not use the name of the person addressed—perhaps because he was still living.
Tom said:
Here in part is what Bill W. wrote in 1958 to a close friend who shared his problem with depression, describing how Bill himself used St. Francis's prayer as a steppingstone toward recovery:


Dear ......,
I think that many oldsters who have put our AA "booze cure" to severe but successful tests still find they often lack emotional sobriety. Perhaps they will be the spearhead for the next major development in AA ... the development of much more real maturity and balance (which is to say, humility) in our relations with ourselves, with our fellows, and with God.
How to translate a right mental conviction into a right emotional result and so into easy, happy, and good living ... well, that's not only the neurotic's problem, it's the problem of life itself for all of us who have got to the point of real willingness to hew to right principles in all our affairs.
Even then, as we hew away, peace and joy may still elude us. That's the place so many of us AA oldsters have come to. And it's a hell of a spot, literally.
Last autumn, depression, having no really rational cause at all, almost took me to the cleaners. I began to be scared that I was in for another long chronic spell. Considering the grief I've had with depressions, it wasn't a bright prospect.
I kept asking myself, "Why can't the Twelve Steps work to release depression?" By the hour, I stared at the St. Francis prayer ... "It is better to comfort than to be comforted." Here was the formula, all right, but why didn't it work?
Suddenly I realized what the matter was ... My basic flaw had always been dependence, almost absolute dependence on people or circumstances to supply me with prestige, security, and the like. Failing to get these things according to my perfectionist dreams and specifications, I had fought for them. And when defeat came so did my depression.
There wasn't a chance of making the outgoing love of St. Francis a workable and joyous way of life until these fatal and almost absolute dependencies were cut away.
Reinforced by what grace I could secure in prayer, I found I had to exert every ounce of will and action to cut off these faulty emotional dependencies upon people, upon AA, indeed upon any set of circumstances whatsoever.
Then only could I be free to love as Francis had. Emotional and institutional satisfactions, I saw, were really the extra dividends of having love, offering love, and expressing a love appropriate to each relation of life.
Plainly, I could not avail myself of God's love until I was able to offer it back to Him by loving others as He would have me. And I couldn't possibly do that as long as I was victimized by false dependencies.
For my dependency meant demand ... a demand for the possession and control of the people and the conditions surrounding me.
This seems to be the primary healing circuit, an outgoing love of God's creation and His people, by means of which we avail ourselves of His love for us. It is most clear that the real current can't flow until our paralyzing dependencies are broken, and broken at depth. Only then can we possibly have a glimmer of what adult love really is.
If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent demand. Let us, with God's help, continually surrender these hobbling demands. Then we can be set free to live and love; we may then be able to gain emotional sobriety.
Of course, I haven't offered you a really new idea ... only a gimmick that has started to unhook several of my own "hexes" at depth. Nowadays my brain no longer races compulsively in either elation, grandiosity or depression. I have been given a quiet place in bright sunshine.

____________

Tom said:
"Bill's word's of wisdom helped and inspired me and many others. To those who have never been there, it is hard to describe the gratitude that overflows in men and women who are delivered from the black depths of depression into the light. As with delivery from the bondage to alcohol, it is a hosanna of the heart that never ends."
Last edited by DebbieV on Sat Sep 26, 2009 10:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Dallas » Fri Sep 25, 2009 6:39 am

Deb wrote:On July 21, 2008 it all stopped, I got sober. I was given a new life without the horror of depression, until two weeks ago when it came back.


That's funny. I remember it a little bit different than that. :lol: :lol:

Heck, I should have looked here before I sent you the PM... It would have been better -- what I wrote to you -- if I posted it here! :lol:

I think you're just suffering from sober-alcoholic memory lapses. :lol:

I understand. I do that too! That's why I have to force myself to keep coming back... more often. :lol:

I need to keep people from my past in my present -- to remind me of my reality -- when I start having those sober-alcoholic memory lapses. :wink:

For me, they're kind of like sober-black-outs. When I'm having a black out that isn't a black out. So, I call them my "brown outs." :lol:

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Postby gunner48 » Fri Sep 25, 2009 12:11 pm

I also was hit with depression at 5 years. Didn't have a clue of what happened, just hit hard. Getting with my sponsor and getting down to the truth I decovered there was a admends I needed to make and soon. Got into action and made that amends and got better. Again at 9 years I lost my father and again depression set in. Once again with the help of my sponsor I was able to find out why. I had never experienced going through a greaving process before. I worked that lose through and came out the other side.
Sometimes I just don't know what brings certain things on but I have found that anytime I am out of sorts the best thing for me to do is get with the sponsor, talk it through and find a solution that will woirk for me. Of course my first response is to shut off the outside world and isolate. Can't afford to do that so I have to turn back to the program.
I hope you find your solution soon, I know how uphappy I was.


Peace and Love
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Postby Tim » Fri Sep 25, 2009 3:47 pm

Depression can be physiologically based. Medical science has come a long way in recent years toward helping those with this type of depression. If it lingers or gets worse, or your attempts to lessen it using other measures don't work, you may want to see your doctor.
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Postby Dallas » Sat Sep 26, 2009 1:45 am

Gunner wrote:I also was hit with depression at 5 years. Didn't have a clue of what happened, just hit hard.


I hate to pass this bad news on to you... but, at 22 years... I still get hit! :lol: Not much to look forward to, huh? :lol:

However, I use that same solution that you wrote about above Gunner, and it works for me, too! Thank God, for sponsors and for others in the Fellowship!!! I think most of us would be drunk -- without them.

One thing I've discovered every time "I get hit with it"... is with a little bit of inventory... I observe that the real common denominator was: I got away from doing something that I was doing -- that kept the depression away. Often, it's the same thing I've had to do to stay sober. Not drinking never was enough, on it's own, to keep me sober. I have to take certain actions -- so that I can stay sober. And, the same with depression. I have to keep taking certain actions -- that keep me out of the depression.

Tim wrote:Depression can be physiologically based.


Depression is physiologically based. And, I agree, it's often good to see a doctor... and, often, more than one doctor, if the doctor only offers one solution.

I have yet to find any problem in this life that -- that only offers one solution. :wink:

That's why we, as alcoholics... are sober. Someone found an alternative solution to "just not drinking" and/or "getting religion." They discovered some actions that we could take... that would help keep us from drinking. And, if we take those actions -- for most of us -- we stay sober.

Depression is physiologically based -- because we are physiological beings. Every experience we have is physiological.

Our brain is a lump of meat -- turned into a chemical processing plant. It produces chemicals, so that we can think and act and experience.

Well, our actions are a chemical processing distributor -- that stimulate the brain to produce certain chemicals -- so that we can have an experience.

I can't control the chemical processing in the brain with my thoughts. That's because the thoughts -- are a chemical reaction in the brain.

However, I can control my actions: actions that will cause the brain to produce or not produce certain chemicals.

Therefore, my actions, can be like a steering wheel. The steering wheel doesn't cause the wheels to move... or not move... it controls the direction -- or path that the moving wheels travel.

Every time I have a thought -- there is a corresponding chemical produced by the brain. Every time I have a non-thought -- there is a chemical produced by the brain.

Therefore, if "an action" can produce a chemical process and chemical production in the brain -- a series of certain actions -- can alter the physiological elements and chemicals that the brain is producing.

What is depression? It's impossible to have depression without having depressing thoughts. If you don't have the depressing thoughts -- there is no depression.

The depressing thoughts -- are responsible for creating or not-creating certain chemicals in the brain. And, those chemicals produce a physiologic reaction.

I've discovered, that for me, there are two ways I can deal with depression: a. a substance to alter and effect the chemicals processed in the brain. Or, b. a certain course of actions.

So, why does medication work better for some folks? I believe, it's because it's a "packaged fix"... that can be prescribed -- to people, that have the inability to follow a path of certain actions -- that could be an alternative to the chemical reactions caused by medications.

Simply going to a doctor and getting a medication to treat any condition -- is not a long-haul solution, for recurring conditions.

For me, the medications would be like a "period of detox"... that would allow me to survive... until I could develop therapeutic actions, and continue with those prescribed actions -- that could treat or enhance what the medication does.

Similar to us alcoholics. Simply not drinking is not enought to treat our alcoholism. And, as science and medicine has discovered -- "medications" and labotomys... will not keep us from drinking.

What works for many of us is: a prescription of prescribed therapeutic actions. Those therapeutic actions -- produce chemicals in our brain, to produce states of serenity, peace, relaxation, and experiences of positive and good feelings. Those actions that produce the chemicals in the brain to have those experiences -- are able to do so, without adding "alcohol" or other substances into our body to make us "feel good."

We feel good... because we're taking good actions... and those good actions... are producing good chemicals in our brain... that make us feel good. :wink:

Another thing that we have to do to maintain our sobriety? A lifestyle, or many lifestyle changes.... in addition to the on-going series of certain actions.

A doctor cannot afford to spend the same amount of time with us... that sponsors and a Fellowship can spend with us. And, most of us could not afford to pay a doctor to spend that much time with us... even if the doctor was available.

So, the solution that the doctor offers? "Here. Take one of these to change the chemical processing in your brain, and you'll feel different."

They might also suggest a change of actions and change of lifestyle... in addition to their pills. But, they know that most patients will not take the efforts to change what they're doing -- but, will at least take the minimal amount of effort to take a pill -- that would do the same thing that a series of prescribed actions and changes would produce.

Some of us can't take the medications. Because, if a medication makes us feel good??? Hey... we'll go back to self-medication... and abuse... because it "solves our problems"... of "changing the way we feel".... "while sober."

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personal stories

Postby jujulynn » Sat Sep 26, 2009 6:00 am

Reading the posts, at least lets me know I'm not alone for I too, have been dealing with depression for probably ten years.

The really dark days come and go but the general overall fog is aree weeks always on the periphery. I meet with a LCSW every two or three weeks and it really saves me and helps keep things in perspective.

I always feel the fog nipping at my heels and some days I'm more successful than others fighting it off - this morning, it's really foggy in my world.
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Postby DebbieV » Sat Sep 26, 2009 11:02 am

Dallas Wrote:
Depression is physiologically based -- because we are physiological beings. Every experience we have is physiological.

Our brain is a lump of meat -- turned into a chemical processing plant. It produces chemicals, so that we can think and act and experience.

Well, our actions are a chemical processing distributor -- that stimulate the brain to produce certain chemicals -- so that we can have an experience.

I can't control the chemical processing in the brain with my thoughts. That's because the thoughts -- are a chemical reaction in the brain.

However, I can control my actions: actions that will cause the brain to produce or not produce certain chemicals.

Therefore, my actions, can be like a steering wheel. The steering wheel doesn't cause the wheels to move... or not move... it controls the direction -- or path that the moving wheels travel.

Every time I have a thought -- there is a corresponding chemical produced by the brain. Every time I have a non-thought -- there is a chemical produced by the brain.

Therefore, if "an action" can produce a chemical process and chemical production in the brain -- a series of certain actions -- can alter the physiological elements and chemicals that the brain is producing.


I believe that with all my heart Dallas, when I was laying on the couch, in the middle of saying WTF, I knew that I was the one that got me where I was. I don't think I wanted to admit it...I think I wanted to blame it on the physiological aspects of depression, but it kept coming in my head what you have always told me.."If you want what you had, keep doing what you did to get it". so yes my world was perfect, so I didn't need to take the actions I was taking. I wasn't doing step work, calling my sponsor, praying, asking for Gods help, helping others, reading and studying the Big Book, all the things I had done to produce the positive chemical change in my brain in the first place.

Dallas Wrote:
So, why does medication work better for some folks? I believe, it's because it's a "packaged fix"... that can be prescribed -- to people, that have the inability to follow a path of certain actions -- that could be an alternative to the chemical reactions caused by medications.

Simply going to a doctor and getting a medication to treat any condition -- is not a long-haul solution, for recurring conditions.

For me, the medications would be like a "period of detox"... that would allow me to survive... until I could develop therapeutic actions, and continue with those prescribed actions -- that could treat or enhance what the medication does.

Similar to us alcoholics. Simply not drinking is not enought to treat our alcoholism. And, as science and medicine has discovered -- "medications" and labotomys... will not keep us from drinking.

What works for many of us is: a prescription of prescribed therapeutic actions. Those therapeutic actions -- produce chemicals in our brain, to produce states of serenity, peace, relaxation, and experiences of positive and good feelings. Those actions that produce the chemicals in the brain to have those experiences -- are able to do so, without adding "alcohol" or other substances into our body to make us "feel good."


That is classic...A period of detox.... I take medication for my depression, and I will continue to do so until my doctor and my sponsor together tell me it's time to stop. I was also taking medication and seeing a physiatrist the last time I relapsed . I was not however taking actions that produce the positive affect in me and my brain that I need to keep me sober.

The reason I posted about depression is because it is so dibilating, and I know from first had experience that it feels hopeless while you are in the midst of it and it feels almost imposable to do anything about it.
I also know that I am not alone as JuJuLynn pointed out. That is why I get on here and read and post, I know others go through the same things I do and they can share with me how they have overcome. I posted to get the solution for myself and for others who suffer, now it is up to me to act on the solution, that for me, Dallas has given. Action and more action...... And how do I stop the next episode? Action and more action. It is not easy, I know...but it does work... It may not work every time, I may still get hit from time to time. but I do believe that it is true what it says in the book...I am not a saint, but I am willing to grow along spiritual lines, it is a guide to progress not perfection. With that being said, let me point out one thing about me. I can take that progress not perfection and run with it. my alcoholic mind hears that as an OUT. Debbie's alcoholic mind says: "Well the book says it progress not perfection so if I don't try any actions and get hit by depression then it's just progress, maybe I will do better next time. BUT I have decided to do something about it." It's like that old story: three frogs were sitting on a log and one decided to jump off..How many are left? Three, no action was taken.

My sponsor wrote this to me and I would like to share it with you guys. I hope he doesn't mind.

My Sponsor Wrote:
Depressed? Angry? Pissed off? Resentful? Unhappy? ... Geeee. I didn't think that would happen to me sober!

Why do you think we have the 12 Steps, work with others, the Fellowship, and getting off our butts to do it????

The answer? We're sober! And, sober = depressed, angry, pissed off, resentful and unhappy!!! (for an alcoholic of "our" type).

That's why we keep someone... an AA, in our back pocket! And, we force ourselves to keep connected with them, even when we don't want to, because we've got better and funner things to do!

Why do you think I "try so hard"... to pick up the phone and call my sponsor weekly? I need to keep him in my back pocket!!! What if I reach and he ain't there??? What if... I get depressed... and I'm sober???

This is what Steps 10, 11, 12 & the Fellowship are for. To keep us from getting to where we "don't want to be"... and for a way to get out of "where we are" if we find out we landed where we "don't want to be."


If you don't want to go through weeks like you've been through... you've got to force yourself to be disciplined in taking action. That's what "structure" is about. And, often, we need someone with their foot up our ass... to keep us on the sidewalk! Or else, we have a tendency to run out in the middle of the street when it's high-traffic time!

You got a new pc. You've got this site. There is not one reason for you to be alone with your head... which leads to "depressed while sober."

Anyhoot! Guess you forgot that.

Thanks for going through it -- so, I could remind myself of what I need to do to keep reasonably happy while sober! Lest I totally forget, and land where I don't want to be -- and forget how to get out of there!

I appreciate you. And, I appreciate the misery that you go through, to help me keep from being miserable. It really does help me.


Thanks Dallas.

Debbie
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Postby sunlight » Sat Sep 26, 2009 6:20 pm

Along with the physiological - I was subject to monthly depression that was strictly hormonal. There are solutions that are NOT mind altering and are natural.

Paul posted once about taking a daily inventory of everything, and by doing this, I'm able to see what changes have occurred that may have thrown me off, and what changes I need to make to get me back on keel.

Yep, good old action. You gotta love it! :wink:
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Postby Dallas » Sat Sep 26, 2009 10:01 pm

DebbieV wrote:The reason I posted about depression is because it is so dibilating, and I know from first had experience that it feels hopeless while you are in the midst of it and it feels almost imposable to do anything about it.


I understand!!! :wink: I relate. I've experienced it and from time to time, experience it again. And, again. It's because I, too, have to contstantly work towards the dicipline and structure -- to do what's going to keep me better. It's not easy. It's work. It's difficult to keep doing the things that made me feel good -- after I feel good. After I feel good, I want to play... or rest... ALL the time. :lol:

I know, that for myself, as a kid, I was suffering depression way before I took my first drink. Alcohol was my Rx for depression... when I had no clue what depression was. So, I treated myself until I became alcoholic, where the alcoholism and the depression progressed.

If it were possible for me to simply go from one substance to another substance to treat my depression -- I would have done that. Medication? That's why I tried drugs Rx and non-Rx, until I became addicted to those, too. When that stopped working, I became a designer-pharmacist bartender -- studying a PDA, to discover what medications I could mix with my alcohol to fix me. :lol:

So, why would it be any different for me, if I stopped one substance and began relying on another substance to treat my condition? When the other substance stopped working -- I would abuse it until it worked. And, if that didn't work -- I'd begin to mix and add things to it.

Why? Because I'm lazy. I don't want to work at taking actions to change the way I feel. That's work. That takes discipline. Have you ever met an alcoholic that loves discipline? :lol:

The newcomer argument??? It's on page 32, BB:
"Then he fell victim to a belief which practically every
alcoholic has—that his long period of sobriety and self discipline
had qualified him to drink as other men. Out
came his carpet slippers and a bottle. In two months he
was in a hospital, puzzled and humiliated."

That's also the old-timer argument... as an excuse to have the next drink.

However, I believe that argument, as it is written in the book, applies to the person that has maintained their sobriety through the self-discipline of "just not drinking." Yet, it could equally apply to the alcoholic with some time... doing the deal... and then they get away from doing the deal.

Others try with religion. They pray and wait for God to bring them relief. When that doesn't work, they do what I did, when that was my solution... they drink. :lol: "Well if God wanted me sober He wouldn't have made my life so miserable and then became unwilling to help me!" :lol: :lol:

What I try now, instead? Spiritual progress. And, it takes discipline to make spiritual progress. (Ever wonder where the word disciple came from? From discipline). :wink:

The solution that works??? Page 88, BB:

"We alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline
us in the simple way we have just outlined.
But this is not all. There is action and more action.
“Faith without works is dead.â€
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Postby Dallas » Sat Sep 26, 2009 10:15 pm

More about depression...

More about the physiology of depression?

Did you know that certain foods can make certain people depressed? And, that a lack of certain nutrients and foods... will make ALL people depressed??? :lol:

The body requires food, water, nutrients, vitamins, exercise, sunlight, and association.

By altering any of those Seven elements, or combinations of them:
food, water, nutrients, vitamins, exercise, sunlight, and association ... you're more likely a candidate for depression and disease.

So, if an alcoholic is attempting to stay sober, and they are depressed, or get sick often... they should first look into each of those elements.

Those elements alone, are often able to treat many forms of depression and disease or conditions.... Of course, it's easier to just pop a pill. :wink: Until, it becomes pill, after pill, after pill, after pill... then drink, after drink, after drink, after drink. :lol:

We hear a lot of alcoholics talking about going to therapists (the-rapist) :lol: and psychiatrists... and church... etceteras... but, how many do you ever hear that talks about seeing a professional in regards to diet and nutrients?

As a society... I think we're prone to look for "the easier, softer way".. and often, a complex way, rather than looking for the simple and obvious solutions that can fix our problems.

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