It’s hard to stay sober when you’re depressed. At least that’s what I found during my long struggle with depression.
Depression is something I had always struggled with. At an early age I was thrown into the world of treating my chemical imbalance through medications legally prescribed by a doctor. Eventually I learned the technique of self-medicating my depression symptoms and unfortunately this course led me down the path to an even darker depression. I lost interest in everything, even the things I had once enjoyed. Low energy, appetite changes and difficulty in concentrating became normal.
There is a part of the equation of substance abuse and depression that I couldn’t identify during my years of active addiction. That part is that my alcohol and drug use added to my depression. The chemical compounds that make up these substances are actually depressants. So at first, my use had me believe that I felt better emotionally. However, what it actually did was to make me feel even more depressed. This turned into a vicious circle, leading to more use. I was hooked onto the hamster wheel, trying to reach what I thought would make me feel better—yet never actually feeling better. I spiraled further into addiction and depression.
I have realized that it does not matter one bit whether the alcoholism or drug abuse came first for me or if it was depression. The bottom line is that I needed to treat both problems in order to recover.
I will always have to work on my addictive thinking. My stinkin’ thinking usually rears its head when I am feeling less than at times. These moments for me are often very brief and stem from uncertainties I sometimes face in my life. But what I have seen develop as a pattern is my willingness to look directly at some of my life’s problems and tackle them without procrastination.
After all, I did not know how to deal with my problems and that lead me to drugs, which of course led to more depression. It’s always the littlest of life’s problems that have always been the biggest challenges for me to handle. Things like paying a bill or the organization of work-related issues, such as finding an email because I didn’t categorize it properly. These are the things that sometimes seem hard for me. It’s these insignificant little things that I allowed to paint my picture of depression for me. But not any longer.
I have learned to look at my depression and addiction through the same lens. One directly relates to another: the same thoughts, the same negative thinking, the same tapes playing in my head telling me that I am no longer capable to live in reality with the rest of the world and that I should go into exclusion.
But through my willingness to look at these thoughts I have begun to master the technique to combat both. I now have the tools to understand that only I should be painting my picture for myself, and not a few stray thoughts that come from a place I no longer allow me to be a part of. The place where I stand today is one of hope and determination. There is no room for sadness or despair to cultivate depression. Sure, it’ll pop up once in a while—but now, it’s an option I’ll never take.
If you can find it within yourself to always love, always encourage and never let despair get in the way, then both your depression and addiction don’t stand a chance.
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